The Messenger of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam is reported to have said:

“That person who taunts and ridicules his Muslim brother over a sin he finds him in, will not die until he himself commits that same sin.” (Tirmidhi)

Often we come across Muslims involved in various types of sins. Some we learn of when they are done openly whilst others we hear of from others. So what do we do? Almost instantly our egos become bloated as we assume a holier than thou attitude. We look down at the sinner and hold him in great contempt. Some of us even go to the extent of condemning him to Hell-fire as if we hold the keys to the Fires of hell. And then to add insult to injury we begin broadcasting what we’ve seen or heard which needless to say, is a heinous sin of its own class.

The above hadeeth is a warning to those who carry this evil attitude and adopt this practice.

It is true that a sin deeply alters one’s connection with Allah Ta’ala. It is also true that all it takes to mend that broken connection is the beautiful act of Taubah (Repentance).

Through repentance a person has corrected his relationship with Allah Ta’ala. Through repentance not only has the sin been forgiven, it has also been erased from his book of deeds in a way where there are even no traces left! Allah Ta’ala has erased it from his book of deeds but we, because of that sin which no longer exists in the sight of Allah Ta’ala, are thinking low of him and treating him with contempt. We relentlessly taunt and ridicule him without realising that now the positions have changed. It is us who is still in sin whilst our brother is sinless. Allah Ta’ala is now pleased with him and angered by us.

 Remember! Abhorrence should be for the sin and not the sinner! Hatred should be for sins not the sinner. Allah’s Messenger Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam did not teach us to despise those who sin but he taught us kindness and compassion for every sinner which he himself displayed. This fact is proven in many hadeeth.

As per the prophetic teaching, every sinner is worthy of pity and compassion more than anything else, for in reality a person in sin has been overtaken by a spiritual sickness. I’d like to call this AIDS-Acquired Imaan Deficiency Syndrome. If a person is overtaken by a physical sickness, do we distance ourselves from him and hate him or do we take pity on him and try and encourage him and give him hope of recovery? Does the sick person become the target of our hatred and ridicule? Obviously, no sick person is deserving of hatred because of his sickness. Likewise no sinner is deserving of our hatred because of his the spiritual sickness that has afflicted him. What do we do or are expected to do for the sick? Are we not taught to make Dua for the sick?

If someone is a disbeliever then by all means we despise his disbelief, but do not despise him. Make Duaa for him that Allah Ta’ala guides him. How much did the disbelievers persecute the Messenger of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam? They shot at him with arrows, they pelted him with stones to the extent that the blood clogged his shoes, called him a madman, a sorcerer and magician, but the words that flowed from his mouth were only the following: “O Allah! Grant my people guidance, for they do not know (Deen).

Take note that that he did not despise them because of their disbelief, oppression and transgressions. Rather, while expressing pity and affection, he made Duaa for them that ‘O Allah! These people are ignorant. They are unaware of the reality; therefore they are treating me in this manner. O Allah! Grant them guidance’.

So when seeing someone involved in a sin, the right thing to do is to have pity on him and make Duaa for him and try to steer him away from sin with tact and diplomacy. Advice and counsel him but do not think low of him. Perhaps tomorrow Allah Ta’ala accepts his repentance and he surpasses you in the sight of Allah Ta’ala whilst your standing now drops.

Hadrat  Moulana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi Rahmatull laahi Alaihi once gave the following advice which is very relevant to the topic. He said, “I consider every current Muslim and every non- Muslim, as far as the future is concerned, to be superior to me.” “As far as the future is concerned” means that although the person is presently in the condition of disbelief, maybe Allah Ta’ala grants him the ability of repenting which frees him from the burden of disbelief. Thereafter, Allah Ta’ala raises his status so high that he surpasses me!

This malady of regarding others with contempt is mostly found in people who have reformed from their evil past and now have turned towards Deen. They were not concerned with Deen previously but now have changed and became steadfast on salaah and fasting. They have made their dressing and appearance in conformity with the Shari’ah. They have started frequenting the masjid. They have become regular in performing salaah with congregation. This is good but there lurks a danger which we cannot be unwary of. Shaytaan induces such a person with this thought that you are now on the straight path and those who are involved in sin are ruined. The result of this thought is that he starts thinking low of them and treats them with contempt. He now starts criticizing them in a hurtful manner. This results in Shaytaan involving such people in vanity, self-regard and pride. When a person suffers from self-regard and pride, all his good actions are destroyed. Is this not exactly what happened to shaytaan? Did he not develop a holier than thou attitude because of his ‘piety’? Did he not look down upon those who he felt did not match up to his levels of piety? At the end his ‘piety’ brought about his own destruction!

It should always be remembered that those who are presently involved in sin and are considered low and worthy of contempt may later on receive the tawfiq of repentance and surpass you!  If you have been granted the tawfiq of abstaining from sin then be grateful to Allah Ta’ala. If they haven’t as yet received the tawfiq, then make Duaa for them that Allah Ta’ala grants them guidance.

Anyway, despise disbelief, despise sin and transgression, but do not despise the person. In fact, you should treat him with love and kindness. When you speak to him, speak with softness and affection. Speak with feeling and love so that it may have a good effect on him. This was always the method of all our pious elders.

The pious servants of Allah Ta’ala never despised people but despised the evils perpetrated by them. Doing the same would make us truly pious.

Holier than thou is only an attitude. In reality it is far from holiness. And that which is not holy is unholy. Another word for sin!

May Allah Most High grant us the understanding and the guidance to practice on this indispensable aspect of our Deen, Aameen.

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