“Only God can judge me.” I hear this phrase so often when someone wants to justify haram actions. We all have our own personal struggles in this life, and of course no one truly can or should attempt to harshly judge anyone else in their struggle. Passing judgment on someone’s behavior does not coincide with a fellow Muslim sincerely and privately trying to advise you away from what is harmful. This whole attitude of “only God can judge me,” is concerning on multiple levels. Not only does it inevitably dismantle and play down Allah (SWT)’s judgment into something that’s not even a big deal (when it actually really is), but also it continues to justify living out haram actions without trying to stray away from them. Going to clubs? “Only God can judge me.” Committing zina? “Only God can judge me.” Drinking alcohol? “Only God can judge me.” Don’t pray? Don’t fast? “Only God can judge me.” For some people, it’s become an automatic response.
Dealing with these matters does not solely fall on the one who is evidently struggling. We all must be aware of how exactly we are approaching the situation and in what manner. Are you coming with a sincere heart with no bad intentions? Are you trying to look more pious by using the cloak of “advising” someone else? Is the tone of your voice condescending or arrogant? Are you advising them in private space where there is no real judgment? These actions need to be taken into account before you think of trying to help someone out. Even though you are aware of the sins of others, there is a hadith that tells us that we should not expose them, but instead cover their sins.
Whosoever covers (the sins of) a Muslim, Allah covers (his sins) on the Day of Judgment. (Reported by Bukhari)
Although, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t advise them. This can be a touchy topic for some people because they are set in their ways and think that they aren’t in the wrong. They are quick to judge you right back by saying things like “mind your business” and deem your intention to advise them as insincere. But if we hold onto this ideology that “you can’t judge me because you sin as well,” there will be no progression. We are all struggling, but that does not mean that we cannot help each other sincerely along the way.
“And there may spring from you a nation who invite goodness, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency. Such are they who are successful.” [3:104]
This verse from the Quran indicates that to be successful as an ummah you should forbid the haram and advise so we can all strive to do better with the time that we are given here. So why is advising someone to stop doing the haram considered such a negative thing? Maybe there have been too many instances where we have “advised” someone in the wrong way. If you come to someone and try to make them feel like a “bad” person for their actions, that’s not going to make them stop engaging in haram behavior. It might even push them further away from Islam. The goal here is to help guide them back and embrace the deen. We need to make a real effort in trying to understand why we do the things we do and see where that person is coming from. Yes, haram and halal are black and white, but that does not mean you have to make someone else feel bad. You have no idea what a person is going through, and if you choose to call them out in a condescending way, you could make matters even worse. Part of your iman is to enjoin the good thus encouraging people to do good and be good. We should strive to be the best versions of ourselves and genuinely help others to do the same.
Whether we know or not that what we are doing is sinful or haram, if someone comes to you and advises you against it and your initial response is “only God can judge me” and refuse to reflect on your actions what does that say about you? If we think about it on a larger scale and we were to live in society with no rules or laws we would have chaos. People could do whatever they wanted as long as they justified it with “who are you to judge me? only God can judge me.”
This is a very delicate situation to handle because if we continue to openly live a life where our mantra is “only God can judge me,” and using that as an excuse to do whatever we want, then we are inevitably innovating and ignoring the clear messages Allah (SWT) has sent down to us. Seeking true knowledge of His messages is what can ultimately make the biggest difference in the way we live, and also how we deal with the way others choose to live. Reflecting on our actions towards others as well as ourselves can revolutionize the way Islam is practiced within the ummah. We need to end the blame game, connect with Allah (SWT), and own up to our own faults. Practicing patience and kindness with one another, especially during trying times, really can make all the difference. We need to understand how severely just Allah (SWT)’s judgment is and it is not something that should be taken lightly at all. We must reflect and be aware of these facts and how we implement them into our lifestyles.
Only God can judge you. Yes, but remember that God will judge you.