You know how the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and yet we always do. I mean, when you have limited time available to you in the library, and you’re browsing the New Books shelf while in a steaming hurry, would you really bother to open up a book with a dull University Library type of cover….when its sitting right beside a book with a glossy jacket, description in the inside front cover and author bio on the back? Well, maybe you would pick the dull one, and hope for the best just based on the title and take the time to skim thru the inside. Myself, I am picking up the glossy-jacket one first…
Well, that’s a perfectly harmless approach, really, when it come to books and lipstick. But when it comes to people, things work out a little differently. The dude with the really hot looks sometimes turns out to have the same depth as a sheet of paper. And the girl all covered up in the hijab and jilbab and what-not might not be so modest, after all. (Not that I can say I really know people in either category.) Which raises the stakes quite a bit as to how much attention we should pay attention to the cover…and how vital it is to look beneath the hood of a potential lemon.
In reading that awesome book “The Prophet’s Method of Correcting People” which I mentioned in the previous post, there is the following passage, which highlights the importance and benefit of not pre-judging:
Some misconceptions may be based on how one judges people and regards them. The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi wa sallam was very keen to correct this and put people straight in this regard. In Saheeh Bukhari, there is a report from Sahl ibn Sa’d al Sa’idi who said,
A man passed by the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi wa sallam who asked a man sitting by him, “What do you think of this man?” He said, “He is one of the noblest of the people. By Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, if he proposes marriage he deserves to be accepted and if he intercedes he deserves to have his intercession accepted.” The Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi wa sallam said nothing. Then another man passed by and the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi wa sallam asked the man with him, “What do you think of him?” The man said, “O Messenger of Allah, he is one of the poor Muslims. If he proposes marriage he does not deserve to be accepted; if he intercedes, he does not deserve to have his intercession accepted. and if he speaks he does not deserve to be heard.” The Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi wa sallam said, “This man is better than the earth full of men like the other man.” (Al-Fath, 6447)
Well, that does rather make me take pause for a moment. I reflect back on my life, and there have been times I have judged people literally without knowing them (i.e., they are my nationality, ergo they will suck)…and they have turned out to be the friends of a lifetime, the kind of people who give me faith in my fellow Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It sometimes hurts to give people the benefit of the doubt, but you never know what results from reserving judgment to look at the person beneath the shell.
And I write this more for myself than for anyone of you.