Back in university one of the ladies in our lot got pregnant in the middle of the semester. Or at least that’s when her belly started revealing. The lady was very quiet and reserved. She wasn’t a Muslim but she always seemed decent. Soon as her pregnancy became vivid, some of my mates started saying, ‘See she was acting all innocent but now she’s been exposed.’ I thought about it to myself for a moment and I said, ‘But that’s not fair.’ I mean, for the years that I knew the lady there was no single day she declared herself ‘innocent’ nor was there any day that I saw her pointing fingers and slandering others for their wrongdoings. There was no day that she acted or even spoke like she was ‘holier than thou’. How was it really fair to slander someone when they slip just because they weren’t openly showing their horns or posting it up on social media for the whole world to see?
See, wrong is wrong however we try to sugarcoat it. But there’s always more to the story. The world we live in at the moment is the kind that expects you to put up your dirty laundry outside on broad daylight in the name of ‘I am being myself. At least I don’t pretend.’
I once had a conversation with a lady who was talking about her personal situation and some sort of scheme she was plotting. Okay, no judgement whatsoever. But then the conversation rolled on to a point where she said, ‘Hawa wakimya ndio nawaheshimu. Utaona hakuna innocent kama wao then just one day they shock you to the peak with their actions.’
I mean, where did this mentality come from? That one should either be openly sinning and making mistakes or be the perfect angel as we see you. Where was it written that exposing your mistakes makes you any better than the one who doesn’t? Or that the one who doesn’t is a hypocrite? Isn’t it silly that we consider the reserved, seemingly pious people to be 120% right, 360 degrees all round perfect?! Like ‘Oh my God, he is PERRR-VECT, nur ala nur 😀
We see it all the time. With sheikhs, famous people and colleagues. Someone does a mistake that is exposed and poof! Everyone has a reaction and an opinion and we just blow it completely out of proportion because ‘they were hypocrites all along’. That same thing, if it were to be done by anyone else we would go on with our lives like nothing happened. But hey! this is so and so…we have to break the internet about it.
We come out each day showing people our displeasing actions because we want people to see us for who we are and accept us as is. But in the process of doing that, we unveil any sense of shame left within us because the moment someone approaches us to humbly correct us we are so quick to say, ‘Don’t judge me’ or ‘You shouldn’t judge me.’ The same goes to those who openly reveal the good that they do and slander everyone else who isn’t like what they perceive themselves.
Truth is that there is no angel. There is no one who can look back and confidently say, ‘I am perfect or sinless’. We are all struggling with something, whether it is visible or not, we are. Even the best of sheikhs and the people we consider our role models. We all have skeletons hidden in our wardrobe and chapters of our lives we don’t read out loud. There are people we have harmed or caused pain, whether intentionally or not, we have. So the next time a certain sheikh or role model does a mistake and the internet family actively discuss about him/her, remember that they too are human beings. They wrong just as you do. The mistakes or sins may be different but they are still there. And just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean you should forget that they too have flaws and weaknesses and things they are not proud of.
Fair enough, you’d probably be disappointed because you looked up to them but never allow that to overshadow your judgment on who can or can’t sin and who should/shouldn’t be forgiven.
Most importantly, don’t let the current world push you to exposing your sins in the fear of people having overly high expectations on you. You being ashamed about your mistakes and sins is the first step to repentance. Or how else do you expect to sincerely repent after posting it on your social media page with your sparkling smile as you sin?!
Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Every one of my followers will be forgiven except those who expose (openly) their wrongdoings. An example of this is that of a man who commits a sin at night which Allah has covered for him, and in the morning, he would say (to people): ‘I committed such and such sin last night’ while Allah had kept it a secret. During the night Allah has covered it up but in the morning he tears up the cover provided by Allah Himself.” [Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim]
There is a famous story of the sahabi Nuayman ‘ibn Amr Al-Ansari RA who was known to have issues with alcohol. Despite knowing the ruling of Islam towards the intoxicating drink, Nuayman RA struggled with breaking his addiction, and was flogged twice for drinking. Upon the second flogging, ‘Umar RA who was angered by Nuayman’s RA behaviour quipped, “La ‘nat Allah alayhi – may God’s curse be on him”. The Prophet Muhammad (S), upon hearing this, was quick to intervene, “No, no, don’t do (such a thing). Indeed he loves God and His Apostle. The major sin (as this) does not put one outside the community and the mercy of God is close to the believers.” Watch the full story on Nuayman here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TCCzKs3-bo
The reason I shared his story is because it should be a reminder that even the sahabis did sin and mistakes too yet that didn’t make them to be regarded any less than the believers they were. The difference with us is how much they really regretted their acts and most importantly, how the prophet treated the believers who sinned; without despising them or shunning them off.
Once a young man came to the Prophet ﷺ requesting from the Prophet to grant this man permission to have sex outside of marriage. The people were shocked and were trying to silence his question. The Prophet ﷺ asked him a series of questions. “Would you like it for your mom?” He ﷺ continued to ask if this man would like it for his daughter, sister or other female relatives. The man continually responded in the negative, intellectually convinced by the logical argument of the Prophet ﷺ. Finally, the Prophet placed his blessed hand on the man and prayed to God, “Dear God! May you forgive his sins, purify his heart and make him chaste.” And it is narrated that this man never got involved in what he was requesting after this experience with the Prophet.
Ibn Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A man kissed a woman. So he came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and informed him about it. Then Allah revealed this Ayah: “And perform the Salat, between the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night. Verily, the good deeds efface the evil deeds (i.e., minor sins).” (11:114) The man asked the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) whether this applies to him only. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “It applies to all of my Ummah.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Now imagine if these situations happened today and the people involved were maybe known to be pious or God-fearing; how would we react then?! How would we respond to them? Wouldn’t we be the first ones to label them as hypocrites and a disgrace to the Muslim community? Wouldn’t it be a big scandal that we’d talk about for days on?! The prophet p.b.u.h corrected them and prayed for them instead. We should also keep in mind that we’d never know how much a person regrets their actions, feels extremely guilty and cries for repentance every night. Be merciful upon others just like you’d want others to be with you if you were in the same position. Never say ‘I’d never do that or say that’ because honestly, life is the scariest thing to be too sure about. Tables turn every.single.day.
This of course isn’t a justification for anyone’s wrongdoings. Nor should it be an excuse and an easy gateway for people to sin secretly in the hope that Allah (S.W) will cover our tracks. Also, this differs according to the sin/mistake in hand. Cases like rape, sodomy, molestation, harassment, murder or any other grave sin may need a call for justice upon the doer so as to protect others from him/her or to remove them from a certain position.
Allah (S.W) surely knows what is in our hearts and what we struggle with to change and our intentions behind all our actions. Don’t expose your sins but also try with all your being to keep away from them.
Ibn al-Qayyim Rahimahu Llah said : ‘Know that if people are impressed with you, they are impressed with the beauty of Allah’s covering of your sins.’
Thank Allah (S.W) when He protects the world from seeing the darkness within you. Thank Allah when He guides you. Thank Allah when He grants you a chance to sincerely repent.
May Allah (S.W) protect us from the whispering of shaitan and from our own nafs and guide us together with all our loved ones. Ameen.
P.S Leave the skeletons where they belong; in the wardrobe (not literally, but you get me right? )