يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِنْ قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَنْ يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِنْهُمْ
O you who believe! Let not some people among you laugh at others, perhaps they may be better than them.
Sura al-Hujurat, verse 11
Human beings tend to judge others. They deride differences and are quick to look down on those who may be different from themselves. It is as though they think they are so right, and so special, that anyone who is not like them has something wrong with them. We may not admit this, even to ourselves, but if we find ourselves judging others and mocking them, openly or covertly, that is probably the root behind our attitude.
To respect differences is to respect the God who made us all so unique. Each one of us is special in the way we think, talk, act, behave . . . Diversity adds to the richness of the world. The world would be most boring if we all were exactly the same, or even if we were very similar. Life is exciting and challenging because we are all so different.
Islam teaches us not to condemn others. Leave the judging to God. Worry about, and judge, only yourself. According to Hadith, fortunate is that person who is so busy with his own faults, that he has no time to think about the faults of others. Even if you see something we don’t like in someone, you may be guilty of the same thing, but are less likely to see it in yourself. Also, there may be a lot of good in the other person which you are not aware of. The fourth Imam (a) taught us to see every person we meet as better than ourselves. If they are younger, they have less sins. If they are older, they have more good deeds. If they are the same age, there is much we don’t know about them while we are painfully aware of our own sins and shortcomings.
Recite this verse when you interact with others in different spheres of life. Whether at home where even family members can be very different from each other, or in friends’ circles, mosques and communities, and in the outside society, remind yourself constantly of the principle outlined in this verse. People may be much better than you, so don’t judge or mock. It is a humbling realization, one that will keep you safe from vanity and egoism, the strongest traps of Shaytan.