Invitation Publishing recently published a new book titled ‘Am I judgmental if I say you’re judgmental? Everyone’s problem that nobody knows about’. Its author is brother Rohail Aslam. It’s a topic that uncovers a human habit that ruins our relationships. Its seriousness can be measured by the fact that judgmentalism has severely damaged humanity, it’s the reason for racism, slavery, apartheid, the Holocaust, extremism and sexism. Here I review this important topic. If we can shun this habit then we can be winners and successful here and in the hereafter.
The Majestic Quran says: “Wretched is the faultfinder and the blamer, gathers wealth and counts it over and over, believing that his wealth will give him a life forever. No, indeed he will be thrown into Hutama, what do you know about Hutama? Allah’s fire blazing, that rises-up over their hearts closing on them from all sides, flames stretching out in columns” (Surat Al-Humazah).
To be judgmental is to blame, belittle and find faults in others. The judgmental person is inclined to point out faults and imperfections, keen to reveal others faults and shortcomings. To be overly critical means to be always finding faults and criticising others. It’s simply to be over critical and passing unfair judgement.
Judgmentalism is to have a bad opinion of someone because you think you are better than them. It’s putting the other down, telling them they are stupid, incompetent and useless. The consequences of being judgmental on our relationships and behaviour is devastating especially for the other, it leads to unhappiness and a miserable dysfunctional environment. The victim feels belittled, humiliated despised and badly treated, the culprit feels exonerated, with high blood pressure and stress hormones swirling around in his or her veins. To control yourself during these moments of high emotions is indeed difficult, since all you want to do is to vent your anger.
The most common reason for being judgmental is that we are egotistical and can’t control ourselves from expressing our superiority, to show ‘I am the only one who is in the right.’ It’s a sign of arrogance, wish to prove the other wrong! Since we’re lazy, it’s the easier route of blurting out the response, rather than giving a considerate, thoughtful and empathic response. It saves time and energy, we don’t think but the consequences of our bad behaviour is dreadful.
Examples of being judgmental
Here is a scenario of a spat between mother and son. The son angrily blurts out something unkind. The mother knows he’s been rude and she thinks he must acknowledge his mistake and face sanctions for the bad behaviour. But if she expresses these feelings, it will escalate the confrontation further. So, the mother wants to teach her son how to change his behaviour in the future, so she wants to make him acknowledge his mistake. She says “I can see you are feeling angry, otherwise you would never speak like that to me. I want to help you solve your problem, so when you’re feeling calmer let’s sit and talk.” Here the mother judges her son’s behaviour and responds to deescalate the confrontation to get the desired response from him. But this requires controlling anger, reflecting and thinking before responding to bad behaviour.
The opposite of judgmentalism is to be humble and to care. So, how do we overcome judgmentalism? Simply, be humble and caring but this requires learning to communicate effectively with others. The author Rohail uses Dr Gottman’s research to teach how to communicate effectively. He has summarised it in the 5 steps of ‘Emotion Coaching’. This teaches how to speak with your child (and indeed each other) and connect with them. The 5 steps are:
- To become aware of the other persons’ emotions, notice the other person needs support.
- To see their state as an opportunity for connecting and teaching them. To ask them what is bothering them and offering to listen. When they start to share their experience with you, you help them to put words to how they might have felt.
- To help them find words to label their feelings, how to identify their own feelings.
- To listen empathetically, to show them that you know how they are feeling and that you accept them.
- To ask questions and to acknowledge their part in the situation and coming up with ideas of how to solve the problem without spelling out the solution to them.
I started with surat al-Humazah that condemns people who have a negative attitude towards others, who are judgmental. They believe that they are better than others and their wealth would give them immortality, health, longevity, happiness and freedom from difficulties. This self-delusion of the judgmental one will lead them to Hutama, Hell, the vault of fire. That will be an agonising realisation of a wasted life. I am grateful to Rohail Aslam for writing this book and drawing our attention to a serious disease that can destroy us. We pray for Rohail and his family and may Allah give him the ability to spread this message far and wide. I encourage you to read this book to learn how to avoid being judgmental. Click HERE to order your copy.