In a previous article I warned against a common form of religiosity that is eating at Muslims from inside. It is an unhealthy facade and it draws its power from its deceptive nature. This form of religiosity is extremely dangerous and destructive. It kills the heart, destroys the sense of brotherhood among Muslims, tarnishes the image of Islam and Muslims, and most importantly messes up Aqeedah by giving inappropriate notions about Allah.
A brother came to my office the other day. He said he had a question. His story was shocking to say the least. His father had died two weeks earlier. The shock was he didn’t pray Janazah on his father’s funeral. When his father was alive, they had heated discussions and his father made negative comments about his son’s beard. The son concluded that his father was not Muslim because he made fun of his beard and he thought, or wanted to see it this way, that his father made mockery on Islam. I asked him what stopped him from praying on his father. He said: I was afraid Allah would punish me if I prayed Janazah on my father because he is a non-Muslim!!!
Here you go! There are many individuals who suffer from the same disease but maybe to lesser or greater degrees. This is a clear example of shame-induced or guilt-based religiosity.
The big question is wether you are guilty of this without knowing. It is extremely difficult to see our own faults let alone admit to them. This is why I am writing this piece to help you have a reality check. This article is built on the previous one and you can still read it as a stand-alone article but it is much better to read the previous one first. Here it is.
Now here are 5 signs that are characteristic of this toxic and fake form of religiosity:
One: You are judgmental of others and their level of religious practice.
You are often in the business of classifying people and categorizing them in religious levels. You appoint yourself as a judge who has the right and the tools to put people in their correct religious classification.
Instead of dealing with people from a pure heart and giving people the benefit of the doubt, you are critical and judgmental. You have a small set of parameters that make up your diagnosis toolkit. People are sick and you are the doctor. You are Allah’s gift to the plagued world. You are obsessed with these few parameters to the negligence of the rest of islamic instructions and guidance.
On the other hand, there is a handful of role models that you hold in high esteem to a level that practically deems them infallible. You obviously refuse the idea of infallibility in theory though. We almost worship those personalities and can only see the world through what they say. If someone doesn’t follow them, you deem them to be deviant and sinful. You obviously don’t verbalize this but the way you treat them and deal with them clearly suggest that.
You most likely studied little but you are sure of what you know to a point where you dismiss what others have spent years learning, studying, and researching.
You are always on the right. Others must be wrong. And when someone disagrees with you on one of your role models or one of your parameters, you observe none of their right as a human being. For you they are filth who have no rights. Thus you see no problem with contempt, ridicule, hostility, backbiting, and any for of violation towards them.
You quickly dismiss the intentions of those who differ with you and claim they have evil intentions. This intention interpretation business is big among those acting religiously on shame.
If you possess these traits, you need to take that seriously before you destroy your heart thinking you are the hero of Islam.
Two: You are a puritan
You are too careful of observe external minute details while violating principles such as justice, respect, kindness and others. You make a big deal of how a hand or finger should be moved while indulging in arrogance and speaking in the Deen of Allah without proper knowledge.
You insist on people following your choice of religious issues worthy of priority and intention. Those who seem to embrace another priority order are seen as violators of the limits of Allah (while in a actuality it is your choice of priority).
You expect others to comply to things in the matter of seconds, which literally took you years to act on in the first place. This gives you power over them, and [whisper: you enjoy that you dirty wicked boy 😉 ]
It also makes you a subtle feeling that you are better than them. You think you are more righteous than them. You feel chosen! This explains the widespread attitude of one group bashing other groups. It also shows why some groups think they are the only ones on the true religion of Islam while others are mere innovators and ignorant. They hod themselves in a superior position compared to all others. This sense of superiority is used by Shaytan to get such people to demean, defame and violate others in all shapes and forms without the slightest sense of guilt. In fact, all extremists are just examples of this sad phenomenon.
Three: You are a perfectionist
Things externally have to be to the letter. Heart? is a mess, butno problem. Because shame is fear of the judgment of others being internalized, only visible things matter. Things that humans are unable to detect, like matters of the heart, are not even on the list of those whose religiosity is built on shame. It is all about image for them. Image is reality. They don’t even know what matters of the heart mean. They are too busy fighting with the shame that has hijacked their whole life and thus they through their anger, frustration and pain on others.
Often there are those who tell me about their suffering. I could feel the pain, despair, anger and resentment in every word they speak. They are often emotional and on the verge of eruption. But after they complain about all what had happened to them, they close their statements with something like: “But I am content and happy with what Allah decreed. I have no issues!” I obviously have not comment here.
Four: You are Paranoid that Allah will punish you at the slightest mistake
They guy who didn’t pray Janazah on his father’s funeral was plagued with this disease. He said: “I was afraid Allah would punish me if I prayed on my father as I thought he was out of the fold of Islam.”
Usually such people are so adamant to avoid making mistakes with small things, like the length of their garment but have no issues disrespecting their parents because they disagree with them on some matter. They have no issue backbiting and slandering someone because he or she hold a different point of view with regards to an issue the scholars have differed about.
And if you make a small mistake about the issues they deem central, they will go after you and slice you for conspiring against Islam and against the Ummah.
Five: You are overly insecure and feel you need to protect yourself from others.
When your religiosity is based on shame you have this acute sense of threat. You feel you are sitting ducks. Everyone is out there to get you and turn you into a sinner or innovator. Thus all become your enemies, including your parents, family members, friends and everyone. You live the conspiracy theory effect all the time. I met parents who think their 2 year old kid is pushing them away from Allah and seems to be controlled by Shaytaan.
You become suspicious, defensive, and aggressive. You limit your interactions to a small group of individuals whom you trust blindly and turn others into enemies. You see yourself and your group as the only ones on guidance and everyone else upon misguidance and sin. You are pure, others are evil. You dismiss all the good traits of others due to a mistake they made. You treat people based on doubt until they go a long way to prove they agree with you on everything.
Each one of these signs is a reflag that you should take seriously. I am aware that some will be asking so what is the solution? The solution is to resolve emotional issues and traumas in our personal life. Shame is a social emotional problem that needs some work to be able to resolve it. How can this be done? It requires the person to make a sincere intention and take full responsibility of their personal growth. There is no pill out there or a smoothie that will solve this problem. You won’t find a book or a course that will completely help you solve emotional problems. It requires a sincere intention to invest in this journey of personal growth to be able to reach a point of maturity and have a balanced approach to Islam. We don’t want people highjack Islam for their emotional problems. This is the point behind this article.
Thus the solution is to embark on a personal growth journey that will extend for a life time. Slowly insights and solutions will start presenting themselves. Share this to raise awareness about this issue.