Thursday, August 23, 2012

Light in a jar

As Muslims, we believe that during the holy month of Ramadhan, God locks away the devil in hell. Therefore, it becomes the only month of the year when we are to be introduced to a person's true character, because whatever he or she does in that one month, it is not by any means under the influence of evil spirit.

Ultimately however, we are not supposed to judge the actions of others'. Yet, years back, I used to ponder over this seemingly simple statement of one shall not judge. In the opinion of my younger self, if a person is better than his neighbor spiritually and morally, why couldn’t he exert a holier-than-thou attitude? How does he become the bad person for thinking the obvious?

But then maturity caught up. Now, I understand that if one is truly as good as one thinks, one should not judge another by the sparse fa├žade he or she puts up. After all, what is a mere second in the life of a human being? To be truly good, we need to understand that God created all of us equally, with some being better at something and not at nothing. To be truly good, we need to leave the act of judging to God because only He sees and hears everything at all times; we don’t.

To put matters in perspective, I find it funny when fellow Muslims feel superior by performing the five daily prayers. In fact, even if one stays up all night praying and crying to God, it does not make much difference if one has no respect for the law, no sympathy toward other beings, no love for the environment, lacks patience, and is wasteful. Being a good person is a work-in-progress and it involves a holistic approach. Not even a person at his or her deathbed can say they have come full-circle.

One of the better radio shows I heard in the past months since being back is about our attitude toward those we deem of a ‘lower’ rank. The easiest manner to catch a glimpse of a person’s real personality is to observe him or her at an eatery. Most of us, especially Malaysians, think of waiters (in fact any other blue-collar and pink-collar workers) as our slaves. We demand service harshly, thinking that we are better by our position around the table. To differentiate the better person from the good, all we have to do is to wait until the end of our meal; a good person would pay and leave, but a better person would stack their plates aside to make it easier for the waitress to clean up. In other words, a better Muslim—or just a better person—would not feel above another that he refuses to do menial work. This is proof of a person who truly refrains from judging.

Now Ramadhan has passed and the devil is let loose again. Both figuratively and literally. Now that we are no longer fasting, nothing is holding us back from those acts we tried so hard to avoid in the last month. My only tiny little suggestion is that if we cannot confidently say we are free from faults, stop judging those who do not wear headscarves, do not pray, do drugs, or commit any other sins we deem incomprehensible for Muslims to do; after all, the same people might be in your circle of family too.

Even if your relationship with God is good, how certain are you that you can say the same about your relationship with others?


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