Salaam, peace and Shalom virtual BFFs. The sun is shining through the slanted blinds of my window, and I am sipping from my ever-so-perfect cup of coffee. Ah. Bliss. Life does feel infallibly warm and fuzzy at the moment. Until my gaze lands on an item in my room with the words ‘Madrid’ stamped across it. At this point I realise that it’s much sunnier in Madrid, people are in all likelihood much happier there, and that my life is a vicious cycle of distress and sorrow which will end in deep-rooted disappointment, and inevitable death. Screw Madrid. With all their sun, tasty fish and beaches. Eurgh. Hate sand. So… grainy.
Happy thoughts aside (o’ how I rain cheer and joy upon my readers eh), one thing I perpetually come across, probably even engage in, and am fascinated by, is the act of transposing judgments and assumption on those around us. It’s an act openly defiled by most of us, mainly on the premise of individual shortcomings nullifying the right one has to focus on those of others, and also because judging or ‘pointing fingers’ rarely leads to a positive outcome. Important to note, this post will not address the act of assuming upon and judging the behaviour of others from a simplistic ‘right and wrong’ perspective, which we often recognise at any rate, but rather from a deeper view that questions the basis through which we rationalise such behaviour, and some unspoken, but relevant actualities.
Interestingly, we judge others very openly in social media, the work place, within the family, and anywhere else, for that matter. Even more surprisingly, those who claim to detest or avoid any involvement, often remain unaware of its permeation into their actions, speech or intentions. It’s a slender line to tread on. We often need to judge or pass assumptions in order to understand one another. At the same time, err on the wrong side of caution, and we’re guilty of transposing the weaknesses of personal faculty onto others.
But then again, do we not have a right to judge and assume on the structure and nature of our surroundings, especially if our external environment, people or otherwise, can morph our being? There are visibly, and cognitively, few permanent elements in the constitution of our lives. Therefore in having to deal with a continuous plethora of change and dynamism, in people or our general surroundings, would it be foolish to suggest that some element of internal judgement or assumptions are key in successfully mediating external challenges? The answer might rest on our perception of the world, our life, and the kind of conduct that befits the places we occupy.
In contrast, the Qur’an simplistically, and even forcefully, emphasizes the individuality and uniqueness of man. I am sure other holy scripture rehearse in similar vein, although don’t feel compelled to rely on my assumption alone. With this reality in mind, one which sanctifies the individuality of man, with almost cerebral glorification, it becomes increasingly difficult to moralise an attitude which vilifies an individual through the transposition of judgements and assumptions, especially if we rarely possess scant exposure to said individual’s intentions or sincerity.
Intentions or sincerity. These two phenomena add a very distinct dimension to the discussion. Can we ever, with certainty, claim to know the intentions and sincerity of another individual? Extremely difficult; intention and sincerity are higher-consciousness thoughts. Very difficult to pinpoint, define, and rationally or evidentially prove. What we can define, or judge upon, are the results of intentions. Actions and outcomes. Personality traits. Characteristics. Habits. Things as such. What’s even more fascinating, is that habitual traits and characteristics, are often defined by choice. The motley of choices our life bestows often predicates the manner, and type of personality we embody. And this is where the discussion about passing judgement becomes very interesting. If humans are invariably defined by choice, which we can meekly gather from the previous few paragraphs, then at what point, if ever, does ‘judging’ become justified?
Think about the following. We all make mistakes, and often fail in the choices fate provides. I doubt the existence of many readers who claim to never have made mistakes, or acted upon wrong choices. In this sense, what makes you different than a murderer, or a political tyrant living on the other side of the planet? Can you, based upon having a completely different structure of choices and tests, sincerely claim the moral high-ground? Their choices revolve around taking the lives of others, or exercising political corruption; where they often fail in exertion. Our choices revolve around hurting the feeling of others, bringing good to our family, being honest, straying from haram; do we claim to have never failed in any of these tests? Profound, if you comprehend what is being implied. It seems, the only variant between us and those we dehumanise due to brutality and immorality, is the environment in which they exercise incorrect choices, that’s all. We are all susceptible to failure at life, some failures simply seem to be less socially and morally acceptable than others. Can we sincerely take credit for not having murdered someone yet, or regard ‘lack of political corruption’ as a reflection of meritorious character? Of course not, it would be absurd. Facts and research would suggest we all have suppressed urges, which remain repressed not due to piety, willpower or a sense of humanity, rather because of the social and psychological barriers which our environment has cocooned us with.
To elucidate this point; I have personally read about a study which might be of interest. The related research involved studying the most common characteristics of top business-executives and corporate leaders. These equated to traits such as confidence, intelligence, being highly manipulative and outspoken, amongst others. The most striking results related to the correlation of these traits with those of convicted criminals. The study found vast amounts of behavioural similarities between successful business-execs and convicted killers. It seems, as the previous suggestion goes, that one set of qualities in a given environment lead to very different results if applied elsewhere. In a rather revealing sense, the study carried out by Fritzon and Board, simply described the executives as “successful psychopaths”.
This brings us neatly to the answer of the initial conundrum in regards to passing judgement. If through humble realisation we recognise that it’s only fate, and the constitution of the life we are born into, which has cocooned us from committing some of the most horrific transgressions known to man; two subsequent lessons can be learnt. Firstly, it is not through your nobility or sense of soul that you possess a greater taste for morality than others. This credit rests solely with your Creator, who blessed you with birth in an environment where the road to his pleasure remains significantly less crooked. Secondly, if we lack the right to pass (excessive) judgement on even the most repulsive of people, where does this reality equilibrate with the notion of passing similar judgments in respect to those we simple dislike, disagree or live distinctly different to? Fact is, it doesn’t equilibrate. The right is simply lacking, and non-existent. Views that have to be passed with great caution in cases of extremity are simply nullified in cases of mild moderation. Let’s keep them to ourselves, in a dark corner of our mind, similarly sectioned to those desires which we consciously rebuke and consistently oppose.
If we lack the right to excessively judge the worst of us, then, if anything, we should crusade against the right to judge those adhering to different social, political or religious manifestations than our own.
To end this post, I’ll leave you with the following;
He, whose own being lacks goodness, feeds the hunger of his deprived soul with the faults of others.
Thanks for reading, fully aware that this was a long post. Although it required an analysis from a deeper perspective, in order to fully question our disposition. These are simply lessons I am being taught, which I am passing onto you. With the Grace and Will of God, may we all benefit.
Salaam, peace, and have a great week.