There is No Place for Self-Righteousness in Islam

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If you still haven’t received the memo, I’m here to offer you a kind reminder – Nobody is perfect.


It is perfectly normal for us to make mistakes from time to time.

The prevalence of error in our lives represents our ‘humanness’ if you will.

Our proclivity for committing mistakes would ensure the learning a growing process which separates us from machines.

But not really, though.

Just yesterday, I sent a text message to a male friend of mine, inviting him over to my place for Fifa 14 on my PS4, and no thanks to autocorrect, my sexuality was summoned into question.

Not cool, autocorrect.

Not cool at all.


So why do some people judge others by their own moral standards?

Who made them judge of what’s right and what’s wrong?

Why make someone feel guilty when it is easier to point them toward the right path without sounding overtly self-righteous?


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?” (Qur’an 57:16)
I should have gone for Friday prayers last week.

I really should have.

It was around 11 a.m. when I decided to visit the library at Chinatown Point.

I had just received an e-mail notification a day ago from the inventory management, informing me that their only copy of Hubert Selby Jr’s Last Exit to Brooklyn had been promptly returned by its previous borrower.

My copy of the book had somehow managed to grow a pair of legs and run away from my book shelf.

Or more plausibly, one of my friends came over and loaned it without my consent, which happens quite regularly.

These ‘I don’t like you anymore, I’m running away from home’ books never fail to reappear on my book shelf after a couple of months, like some kind of prodigal son.

But my copy of Last Exit to Brooklyn hasn’t made its expected return for almost half a year and I am itching to read it again.


It was a slow Friday in the office and there was nothing else on the agenda for the rest of the day so I drafted a succinct text message to tell my boss I’d only return to the office at about 2 p.m.

I pressed send and switched off my phone, didn’t want any distraction while I spend some quality time with one of my favorite books.


If you still haven’t received the memo, I’m here to offer you a kind reminder – Times flies when you’re having a good time.

It was 2 p.m. when I was almost certain it was still only 11.30 a.m.

I tugged the book under my left arm and rushed back to the office.


My colleague whose name derives from an Arabic word that means Heaven gave me this dirty look and it made me feel like I was unclothed and vulnerable; every last inch of me being reduced to an insignificant pile of rubble.

‘What’s wrong? What did I do now?’ I asked him, anxious.

‘You didn’t attend Friday prayers just now. I tried calling but could not reach you. Where were you? Why didn’t you go?’

He was frowning so menacingly that I was legitimately worried that the muscle responsible for it might cause his facial skin to implode inward.

‘Oh. I completely forgot,’ I held a hand to my mouth, lamenting over my absent-mindedness.

‘That’s convenient. Did you forget to eat breakfast this morning? Did you forget to watch Game of Thrones this week? Guess not,’ he hissed.

‘I will most certainly attend next week’s Friday prayers,’ I said, almost apologetically.

Like, it was as though he was entitled to an apology or something.


And then I snapped out of it and told him to go easy, that it was an honest mistake, that the guilt trip was unnecessary.

I reminded him that it is permissible to miss Friday prayers but not for more than two consecutive weeks or else we’d fall under the category of Kaffir.

‘It’s still a huge sin to miss a prayer. And you haven’t got a good reason for missing it just now.’

I bit my tongue and walked away, trying to maintain the peace between us.


The Qur’an states that every believer should invest some time in self-reflection, ask themselves whether they have been humble while remembering God?

Or have they been predominantly proud and self-righteous when it comes to their religious practice?

If their hearts are not in the right place, they ought to ask themselves this simple question – what is the difference between true righteousness and self-righteousness?


Causing a fellow Muslim feel small and inferior is not the way of Islam.



Ab Syahid
A young Singaporean whose life revolves around writing, live music, ice-cream, Arsenal Football Club, and sometimes, drifting in and out of existential crisis. He is currently working on a book of short stories titled, ‘Singaporeans Cried When They Found Out Their Hearts Were Made In China.’













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