Thou and only Thou Art the Real Authority of the Momentous Day of Judgment. Thou Art the Just, the Judge. - Message of the Quran
The Kingdom on that momentous Day shall be Allah's; He will judge between them; so those who believe and do good will be admitted into the Gardens of bliss. - 22:56
God does not inflict an atom's weight of injustice. On the contrary, He multiplies the reward manifold for the righteous work, and grants from Him a great recompense. - 4:40
Even though the true authority of Judgment belongs to God, we human beings are prone to judging others. We are socially so conditioned to judge others (by appearance mostly) that habitually this becomes our second nature. Also perhaps because of how our physical body is. Take our eyes for example, which are designed to look outward, can see others, but can not see ourselves directly; and how our mind is, always comparing this with that. May be for this reason it is an easier tendency for us to "look at the speck that is in our brother's eye, but not to notice the log that is in our own eye?" as rightly pointed out by a World Teacher about two millennium ago. One of the great spiritual commandment is, "Do not judge so that you shall not be judged."
In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ, may we be advanced towards his perfected saintly station with God, actually had lot more to say about judging others than just one sentence.
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5) (credit)
When people are religious or spiritual, even then the habit of judging others do not go away, but can even intensify if this layer of awareness is not awakened within. When it comes to religious people, in our time, we often may find them even more judgmental than average people. This is a sure sign of being far off from arriving at enlightenment and because the blameworthy trait of pride is not purified from our beings.
In the context of religious differences, question of theology which can be very serious for people who take their religions more seriously than anything else, even for them the Scripture advices to leave the differences to God to judge on the Day of Judgment and to focus on unity and harmony, rather than disunity and differences in this world. For example in a number of occasion while mentioning that people of disunity when they raises question of differences in theological understanding, the Quran again and again advices to not to get entangled in such discussion rather it reminds that "... Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ." (2:113) In another chapter we read, "... then finally to Me, O humanity, all shall return, and I will judge all your differences." (3:55)
"And if there should be a group among you who has believed in that with which I have been sent and a group that has not believed, then be patient until Allah judges between us. And He is the Best of judges." (7:87)
"And We did certainly give the Children of Israel the Scripture and judgement and prophethood, and We provided them with good things and preferred them over the worlds. And We gave them clear signs regarding this affair (of the Advent of the Final Prophet). And they did not differ except after true knowledge had come to them - out of jealous animosity between themselves. Indeed, your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning all their differences." (45:16-17)
These and other verses of the scripture illuminate for us how important it is not to be judgmental of others, even when it comes to matter of religion and spirituality. By extension this applies to other facets of life, but alas how often people fall into the trap of judging others.
Judging others, or to take on the role of judging righteousness of people is dangerous and a mark of religious pride. In the sacred tradition of Islam this is warned against.
A man said: I swear by Allah, Allah will not forgive so-and-so. At this Allah the Almighty said: Who is he who swears by Me that I will not forgive so-and-so? Verily I have forgiven So-and-so and have nullified your own good deeds. - Hadith Qudsi, on the authority of Jundub
A similar Hadith, narrated by Abu Dawud indicates that the person referred to was a man whose previous good deeds were brought to naught after presuming to declare that Allah would not forgive someone's bad deeds.
Judgment removes one from realizing oneness. Once we realize the necessity of not being judgmental and the underlying truth that judging other veils our heart from seeing the goodness of others, and hence goodness in us as well - we strive not to be judgmental. This is an inner struggle which requires vigilance over our heart and mind. And this can pose challenge to our mind since we are fighting a deep rooted habit.
Towards the ability of being non-judgmental of others, it is not enough to simply to tell ourselves 'not to be judgmental.'
Just in nature no place is allowed to be a complete vacuum, similarly our habit of the mind can not be turned off simply by negating something alone, unless something complementary and positive is supplied. This is why it is not enough not to be judgmental but to go further, which is to think of the good of others.
To think good of others is not easy, specially when we find ourselves already in the midst of judging other, or tendency of judgment within us is already in play. It is worth acknowledging the steep path of arriving at non-judgment state of mind. This is a quality of the saints.
For us, the ordinary sinners and mortals to attain that goal is quite a challenge. Our spiritual elders have always advised us to think good of others, to preserve loving-kindness towards others. This is important because we often judge silently and our mind convince us that the world is unaware of this. But as God knows our innermost of thoughts, similarly the environment in which we live-in (including people around) also perceives this on the level of subtle awareness. This is why those who judge others (even silently), others will also judge them. It happens naturally out of the law of reciprocity. This world is a world of mirror. Others will be towards us as we are towards others.
To practice good thoughts, forgiving thoughts when we see something displeasing to us, to think of the good in someone immediately after we notice something not so good is necessary to overcome judgment. Thus rather than trying to stop our judgment and force our mind for it, it is also important to replace judgment with good thoughts / good qualities of the person. Mind is of such nature that if we force something on it, the very act of forcing something will cause it to hold on it even more.
One way to best transform our habit of judgment is to immediately turn the judgment towards ourselves. Psycho-spiritually speaking, generally we notice bad things (or any quality in that matter) in other only because we have traces of that within us (there is exception to this rule as well when compassion is brought into the equation). A person will feel irritated with another person only because it triggers the very same tendency which is simply reflected in the other. One very effective way to transform judgment is this: whenever any such tendency arise within us towards someone else, we turn that judgment towards our very self. This a lovely practice of self vigilance, taking account of the self (mohaseban nafs).
For example, if I come across John and I feel irritated that he speaks too much, in that very moment when my mind whispers within that "this John is such a talker," at the very moment we look towards ourselves and using our higher consciousness that seats above the whispering mind and say to the self "I am also a big talker, I also have this habit time to time and its time to be mindful of it." If some judgment arise on someone else thinking that "he is wrong, this particular act of his is so bad," we must ask forgiveness to God for our own wrong doings, countless mistakes (as well as for him, which is even better). This is why Jesus Christ placed a lot of emphasis in his many discourses to forgive our so called "enemy" (enemy only because the mind consider them to be) because this in the long run also cleans our mind from judgment in the first place.
Even though its an art of taming the mind, re-polishing it and transforming our habit - this requires compassion for the self and must be done with care. Then slowly, God willing, we may change our habit of being judgmental to non-judgmental to others, aware of our own vices and most importantly to purify ourselves of such vices, by God's help.
Judgmental quality when directed towards other is a vice, but when we use this as a tool to create further awareness of our own faults and to put conscious effort to purify ourselves, that becomes a virtue. Every time if judgment comes and every time if we take it as an opportunity to ask forgiveness for ourselves and others, it can become very beneficial. Judgment of other divides and separates us from other, but turning the judgment to look at our own imperfection unites us with the rest in humility and help us progress in spiritual evolution.
"Whoever knows himself well, would keep himself busy reforming himself instead of talking about the faults of others...Whoever knows his Lord, would keep himself busy trying to please Him, instead of trying to please himself." - Ibn Al-Qayyim
|Paintings by Khalil Gibran|
Leo Babauta suggest a simple method in his site, Zen Habits on how to avoid being judgmental. He calls this DUAL method for this involves 4 layer of awareness: Don't passing judgment, Understanding, Accepting, Loving. This is what he suggested:
Here’s the DUAL method:
Don’t pass judgment. If you find yourself being judgmental, stop yourself. This takes a greater awareness than we usually have, so the first step (and an important one) is to observe your thoughts for a few days, trying to notice when you’re being judgmental. This can be a difficult step. Remind yourself to observe.
Once you’re more aware, you can then stop yourself when you feel yourself being judgmental. Then move to the next step.
Understand. Instead of judging someone for what he’s done or how he looks, try instead to understand the person. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to imagine their background. If possible, talk to them. Find out their backstory. Everyone has one. If not, try to imagine the circumstances that might have led to the person acting or looking like they do.
Accept. Once you begin to understand, or at least think you kind of understand, try to accept. Accept that person for who he is, without trying to change him. Accept that he will act the way he does, without wanting him to change. The world is what it is, and as much as you try, you can only change a little bit of it. It will continue to be as it is long after you’re gone. Accept that, because otherwise, you’re in for a world of frustration.
Love. Once you’ve accepted someone for who he is, try to love him. Even if you don’t know him. Even if you’ve hated him in the past. Love him as a brother, or love her as a sister, no matter who they are, old or young, light skinned or dark, male or female, rich or poor.
What good will loving someone do? Your love will likely only be limited. But it could have an affect on two people: yourself, and possibly on the person you’ve found love for. Loving others will serve to make yourself happier. Trust me on this one. And loving others can change the lives of others, if you choose to express that love and take action on it. I can’t guarantee what will happen, but it can be life-changing. - says Zen Habit.
In the site Guru's Feet, the author brings out a very important point about Judgment.
"Not being judgmental does not mean to be opinion-less, spineless, non-skeptical, not being exquisite, being indifferent to whatever. If this was the case then no discussion or analysis of reality would be able.
For example, it is not judgmental to say that "this man who committed a crime did a bad thing", it is an opinion (which can be accepted or not). However, it is judgmental to say that "this man who committed a crime is a bad man.
Judgmental is something else. Judgmental is not stating an opinion or even labeling something as "good" or "bad". It is when based on one quality of someone or something you conclude about his whole nature, about all his other qualities. You judge his wholeness based on one aspect."
Taking this point further, it can offer us even a higher level of awareness towards understanding another important spiritual message of not fragmenting the Ideal of God into many gods. From the perspective that judgement is mostly concluding about the whole nature of another being, strangely enough we human being also project judgment to God and fragment Him or Her. In spiritual evolution, it always encouraged not to limit our understanding of the Infinite Nature of the Divine through limited picture of our mind such as crude forms of idols, icons. Because in doing so we do great injustice to the Truth that Divine is Unlimited. It is like when a person may be a father to his son, a husband to his wife, a teacher in his profession, a friend to his friends, yet we only want to know that person by only one label and then limit him only to that. Even when human beings are of such nature, think how God is. It is also for this same reason, associating any partner to the Divine is a same kind of spiritual blunder. This is injustice to the Truth and judging God's qualities from our limited mind. From spiritual vantage point, for this reason polytheism is shun for this fragments God and veil our heart from realizing the Wholeness of God. A sure sign of spiritual evolution is not to see many, not to see even two, but to see only One.
Do not associate [anything] with God . Indeed, association [with the Divine] is great injustice (to Truth). - Advice of Luqman the sage, as mentioned in the Quran