I always had some trouble explaining other people’s weaknesses in practicing Islam to my children. Not to say that our practice is exceptional or something, but when the girls noticed lackings around them, they would unfailingly and earnestly question. It’s hard to keep a balance in these situations. Obviously, you can’t say that they’re bad people, but surely you can’t either approve of what wrong behaviour / appearance you’re seeing. We tried using the term ‘Weak Muslim’ but that didn’t sit well either – who are we to judge who is weak and who is strong? Moreover if you label someone weak, you’re unconsciously labeling yourself ‘strong’ and that brings in the element of Kibr (pride) in the heart – a deadly disease. A grain of Kibr may stop you from earning Jannah!
So the best thing is to say that the behaviour in question is wrong and that we make dua for the person’s guidance.
The analogy of the exam question paper and our lives struck me recently and it helped me in explaining such situations to my children.
When we see a lacking on the part of a fellow Muslim, a relative or a friend, we may think that they’re presently doing poor in that particular aspect of life. Their score on that question may be low, but we don’t know what is their score on the other questions of their exam paper. And we certainly don’t know what is their overall score in the eyes of the Examiner. We should not rank them on the output of a particular question, and who are we to rank in the first place? We should not compare our score with them, especially on selected questions. There may be several questions where our score is lower than them! And when it comes to the Grand Total, nobody can judge if even we will pass or not, so how can we say anything about them!
The Grand Total of the other person may very well turn out to be higher than us, despite their low performance on a particular question of life. Their set of questions are different from ours. It’s a customized exam for everyone. And they may have performed very high on questions that we don’t know of!
Oh Allah, please give me at least 33/100 out of Your sheer Mercy and save me from the blazing fire.