Religious Elitism

Watching the monotonous swipes between differing religious groups and sects constantly being exchanged on Tumblr is the most tedious and uninspiringly brain numbing exercise ever. Maintaining an arrogance about your belief system invariably undermines your spirituality, regardless of religious persuasion. It’s a constant tit-for-tat let-me-see-you-better-that contest seldom with good intention, but most often with intent to protect turf and nothing else. 

When we engage in harsh tones and condescending remarks, I’m reminded of this hadith narrated by A’isha (RA) recorded in Sahih Muslim:

“Gentleness does not enter anything except that it beautifies it and harshness does not enter anything except that it disfigures it.”

And if for some reason you’re inclined to deny the words of A’isha (RA), then here’s supporting sentiments from Rasulullah (SAW) as well:

“Whoever is deprived of gentleness is deprived of good.”

Recorded in Sahih Muslim on the authority of Jarir bin ‘Abdullah (RA)

Yet another hadith that I am reminded of on this matter is:

“Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.” 

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 38

And finally, if you honestly and sincerely find reason to doubt the authenticity or contextual relevance of the above ahadith, then here’s some words directly from Allah that further substantiates how we should approach matters of deen:

So by mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. 

Surah Al-Imraan (3:159) – Sahih International

It’s unfortunate that most are inclined to justify their harsh and abrasive tones under the pretense of hating for the sake of Allah, but choose to conveniently dismiss the above advice, and so much more in the Qur’an and hadith, that advises us to engage sincerely, in a measured tone, speaking gently, and inviting towards good. The amount of in-fighting over matters that do not take one outside the fold of Islam is disappointing. I can think of no other reason but the fact that those that engage with such unrestrained harshness about trivial matters do so driven by their egos rather than any desire to uphold what is right and forbid what is wrong.

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