Common Word, Common Lord

Common Word, Common Lord


The Quran’s Warning Against Self-Righteousness

In the Name of God: the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved Lord

I was in college, and my friend and I were sitting in the prayer room at Marquette University talking when a sister came into the room to offer her prayers. Once she was done, my friend had made a suggestion to her that she should wear the hijab (she took it off as soon as she was done with the prayer).

Angrily speaking to him – but loud enough so that she could hear - I said that she knows she has to, and that it was bad that she didn’t. The sister, for her part, didn’t say anything and left the room after saying “Khuda Hafiz,” or “May God protect you.” After she left, my friend rebuked me for being so harsh, and I told him that I didn’t care. In my mind, I was being “harsh for God.”

There are few things for which I have more remorse and regret than how I acted that day, and I pray to the Lord that He forgives my stupidity.

How could it be that I neglected to follow the Qur’an warning against the very way I had acted that day? The Qur’an says:

Is it not time that the hearts of all who have attained to faith should feel humble at the remembrance of God and of the truth that has been bestowed [on them] from on high?…” (57:16)

What was wrong with me that I treated a sister in faith with such poor regard? Who was I to judge her choice about the hijab? What in God’s most Holy Name was I thinking?

I wasn’t thinking…in fact, I was being stupid. Even though I had read that verse of the Qur’an so many times, I had no idea what it meant, and I completely neglected its wisdom.

The truth is, with increasing faith, we should be even more humble and compassionate, not less. The Qur’an asks each believer to reflect over himself and herself; to check the condition of their heart and faith. Are they more humble with the remembrance of God? Or are they smug, arrogant, and self-righteous? If we are the latter, then we must check the condition of our faith, for true righteousness has no room for self-righteousness.

If there is any person on earth that should have been self-righteous, it was the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He saw the Archangel Gabriel in his true form; he received direct revelation from God in an instant; he even ascended to Heaven and talked to the Lord directly!

Yet, the Prophet was never – ever – arrogant or self-righteous. He never made his companions and comtemporaries feel inferior, even though – in all reality – they were inferior to him in faith.

If the Prophet was never arrogant or self-righteous, then who the hell are we to be so? Who the hell was I to be so rough and harsh with that sister so many years ago?

It is akin to having a patient come to me with lung disease – from years of smoking – and I look down on her with disdain and disgust. If I, or any other doctor, ever did that, we would not be doctors for very long. On the contrary, I must have compassion and caring for anyone who comes into my office (or now, ICU) seeking medical care. They have put their trust in me to help them feel better, and – by the grace of God – I must do my best to treat them properly and show them compassion and empathy.

The exact same goes for all who come into the houses of God seeking spiritual solace.

They may not be Angels; they may have done many things wrong in their lives. But, they must never be met with arrogance or self-righteousness. They must be greeted with love, mercy, and brotherhood/sisterhood. The House of God is one of peace and love, and there is no place there for smugness and arrogance. Would that the many “believers” who fill its walls take heed of the Quran’s warning.

I so wish that I could meet that sister once again and apologize to her. If that sister happens to be reading this: please, sister, accept my sincerest apology for the way I acted. May the Lord bless you with all that is good in this life and the next, Amen.

And Lord, please, protect this soul from ever becoming arrogant and self-righteous again. Please increase me in humility and compassion. And, most important of all: accept me into Your fold and shower me with Your grace, Your blessing, and Your mercy. For, without those things; without You, O Lord,  I am truly nothing.

Like us on Facebook.

Follow us on Twitter.



  • Pingback: What a stray cat taught me about God | the sound heart

  • Hesham A. Hassaballa

    Salam brother. Thank you for your kind words. I only used the example of mosques as just that: an example. I believe self-righteousness is wrong anywhere and everywhere.

    Hope this helps, and I’m sorry about the confusion.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Khalil

    Salaam, Brother Hesham,
    I read with interest your “article”. It is both humble and educational. Thank you. However, I felt a bit confused about self-righteous in general. By the time I finished reading, I was left with the impression that self-righteous is forbidden mainly wherever muslims are gathered for prayers or in religious settings. Does this mean, it is NOT a sin if it were applied anywhere else?
    Thank you for clarifying this for me.

Previous Posts

Noor Inayat Khan: A Muslim Heroine For Everyone
In the Name of God: the Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Beloved Lord In today's day and age, there seems to be little patience for context and nuance. Much of the information obtained about truly complex issues is reduced to sound-bytes, headlines, and video clips. This is especially true w

posted 3:14:49pm Sep. 07, 2014 | read full post »

Indonesia: One Of The Many Places You Can Find True Islam (RNS)
In the Name of God: the Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Beloved Lord While the barbarians of ISIS - and Islamophobes - like to claim that they are the only true Muslims on the earth, reality says something much different. My good friend and Editor-in-Chief of the Religion News Service, Kevi

posted 4:47:59pm Sep. 04, 2014 | read full post »

Nothing "Islamic" About ISIS, Part Two: What the "Jizya" Really Means
In the Name of God: The Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Beloved Lord Last time, we began the conversation about how ISIS and its actions are hardly "Islamic." Now, we will delve, a little, into the issue of this "tax" that the barbarians of ISIS demanded be paid by Iraqi Christians, called

posted 11:00:06pm Aug. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Think Muslims Haven't Condemned ISIS? Think Again
In the Name of God: the Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Lord A very common, oft-repeated mantra among pundits and "experts" is that Muslims haven't roundly condemned the extremism committed in Islam's name. So many times, we hear people saying, "Where are the Muslim voices in condemnation?"

posted 1:33:45pm Aug. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Nothing "Islamic" About ISIS: How Those Barbarians Defame Islam
In the Name of God: The Infinitely Compassionate and Merciful Lord That I condemn ISIS with every cell of my body goes without saying. Their barbarism knows no bounds, and I pray that the Lord brings to an end their reign of terror and inhumanity. The murder of American photojournalist James Fole

posted 3:20:55pm Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.