May 31, 2017

I come from a fairly religious Sunni household where religion was always given top priority. Even as a child, the bedtime stories my mother told me almost always centred around the prophets and sahabas. Growing up in Kuwait, we would go for Umra and Hajj every chance we got, which was quite often I am happy to say. So imagine my family’s surprise when two years after moving to Pakistan I announced that I wanted to marry someone from the Shia sect. Statements like “You don’t know what you’re talking about, they are not like us” and “Shia’s are not even Muslims” were thrown around.

A couple of years later, they finally consented and I got married. Yes, my husband’s family is extremely different from my own, complete opposites even, and it would have been impossible for me to adjust had it not been for my husband’s unconditional support and understanding. He understands that a good marriage requires being part of a team. It’s about give and take. From serving your wife breakfast in bed, changing dirty baby diapers or even waking up in the middle of the night to put the crying little one back to bed…You need to be your partner’s better half and support them whenever they need it. Our marriage works because both of us consciously make the effort to make it work. If at any point, either one of us stops trying then like many other marriages, it will all fall apart.

Over the past seven plus years I’ve been married I have come across different types of people. People who have congratulated me for ‘making it work’ and also people who, on the birth of my child called her illegitimate. The reasoning is that  since I am Sunni and my husband is Shia our nikkah is not ‘valid’. Yes, really!

I am Sunni and my partner is Shia and the amount of intolerance we face regarding our relationship is staggering! Not from strangers, (you don’t really care when it comes from strangers) but from people you know and love. It feels like a hot knife going through your heart. So how do you deal with judgemental people? You literally turn the other cheek just like Prophet Muhammad did.

And if anyone reading this is one of those people who, instead of focusing on their own life and flaws, wastes time on judging others…Don’t! Just don’t. You don’t know how your words and actions are affecting someone; you don’t know whose spirit you are crushing. That is not the Islamic way so just don’t it.

So your brother is seeing a nice Christian lady? Mind your own business.

Your nephew wants to marry a divorcee? It’s not your affair.

Your neighbor’s daughter ran away from home with her driver? It doesn’t concern you.

If it’s not your own life then you do not have the authority to comment or speculate on it. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and mind your own business.

Over time, I have programmed myself not to care about what others think and I feel more comfortable and at ease with myself.

We, as a people and as Muslims seem to have forgotten what the Prophet Muhammad spent his life trying to teach us. Islam is about peace, tolerance and acceptance. There is absolutely zero room for hate or judgment. If Prophet Muhammad forgave and prayed for the forgiveness of open disbelievers who hated him and threw stones at him, then who are we to divide his Ummah into different sects? Who are we to judge anyone just because they sin differently than us? Are we really such perfect Muslims or flawless human beings that we forget our own sins and point fingers at others? Are our lives really so perfect and do we really have nothing better to do then sit around gossiping and judging those around us? What gives us that right? Is that what Prophet Muhammad would do? No, he would be tolerant and the last thing he would do is judge. And that is the Sunnat.

It’s high time things changed. For my part, I vow to teach my children to be more tolerant and less judgmental towards others. I vow to teach them not to point out the flaws in others but to look inside and fix the flaws within and  strive to be better human beings.

We constantly look at the deteriorating situation in our society and think “Why doesn’t someone do something about this?” Why can’t that “someone” be us? Why can’t we do something to bring about even the smallest change? If my story will change even one person’s mentality then I shall consider it a success. So next time, before you speak or act on something, take a second to think… Is this what the prophet would do?