Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Allah does not look at your appearances or your financial status, but He looks at your hearts and your actions.” (Al-Bukhari)
In any community, there must be a means to measure and evaluate each other. The lack of evaluation and feedback on how we are doing and where we stand creates an environment of carelessness and a lack of accountability. The question is: on what basis should we evaluate one another and ourselves?
We can evaluate each other by measuring how much money we make, what car we drive, the size of our house, our savings and assets, and so on. Another measure could be our physical appearance and ethnic characteristics: our height, weight, age, origin, language, skin color or culture. But we have little control, if any, over the color of our skin, our birthplace and even our wealth. It is not fair or wise to evaluate people based on characteristics they have no choice or power over.
We do have control over the decisions we make, however. Choice and decisions are a much better standard by which evaluate progress and achievement in life. We control what we believe in, what we accept and what we reject. We select a purpose for our life and a code of ethics to follow.
Our actions are the result of decisions we make. We decide what to do with our time, where to spend our wealth, whether to study or not, and whether to work hard or not. We decide if we want to be honest and truthful, or not.
When we see someone in need, we decide whether to help or not. When we enter a business dealing, we decide whether to cheat or remain honest. When we are in school, we decide to spend effort to learn or to waste our talent. When we are provoked, we decide whether to respond in anger or restrain our temper. All our actions are results of our decisions.
As such, we ought to refrain from judging people, individually or collectively, on the basis of their circumstances, appearance or class. Rather, we need to hold the judgment until we educate ourselves about them, their values, their beliefs and the actions they take. We also should not feel privileged due to our own favorable circumstances, but realize that our true measure is the decisions we make and the actions we perform.
In front of Allah, it is what lies in our hearts and the actions that result from our decisions that differentiate between us.