"Aghhh... sorry, sorry! I wore the wrong pair - yours, hehehe," we laughed over the mistake.
"And I thought that my shoes have shrunk!"
Identical pair of shoes, but due to our way of walking and handling, it's easy to know which belong to whom. Hers were polished, mine were dusty with chalk. Hers were tight, mine looser due to wear and tear. And we were glad to put on our own pairs of shoes for they fit us well.
A wise man once said,"Never judge a person until you have walked a mile in his shoes."
A Malay proverb says,"Berat mata memandang, berat lagi bahu memikul" [no matter how we sympathise seeing a person's plight, his actual burden is far worse].
We are humans, and one of our human traits is that we tend to feel we know all when we have undergone an experience ourselves. Take for example, a wedding ['tis the wedding season after all].
Ever heard such comments?
"Eleh, so much fuss for a daughter's wedding. I married five daughters and I didn't face any problem!"
"One surgery and she expects special treatment. I had three daughters through caeserean surgery and I was fine."
"Don't worry la! I had so many examinations during my varsity days, and see.. I managed to get my degree. And you're smarter than I am, shouldn't be a problem."
"That's nonsense! I did everything well the last time I held the post; why can't he do it now? What do they teach in universities nowadays?"
Ahhh, the pointing finger. Just because I've done this and that myself and have survived, so-and-so shouldn't face any problem. Shouldn't be any fuss, shouldn't be any complaint, shouldn't be any problem at all. After all, a lot of people have undergone the same process, right? Therefore so-and-so should have known better, shouldn't forget things, shouldn't be this careless. After all, I've done the same thing before; I've undergone similar experiences before, but I did better than so-and-so.
Hmmm, but perhaps you have forgotten something? Your experience is not 100% the same as what so-and-so is undergoing now. Perhaps you were younger and stronger than so-and-so, therefore didn't face a higher risk during surgery. Perhaps your child didn't have colic but hers does. Perhaps your 5 children's weddings were held 10 years ago, when things were simpler and people's expectations of the invitation cards, hantaran, wedding reception etc were not that high as today's. Perhaps you only managed one portfolio during your time but the newcomer is managing four portfolios.
Whatever it is, do recall the time when you were experiencing something for the first time. Weren't you worried? Weren't you scared? Didn't you spend sleepless nights trying to prepare for that first important event ? Weren't you too busy to rest when your first child became sick? Weren't you worried about not surviving the surgery? Didn't you hope to see your loved ones by your side when you were wheeled out of the operation theatre? You didn't? Gosh, you must have been blessed with an iron heart!
One's words is a reflection of one's heart, and the worse we think of a person the darker our heart will be. Always guard our heart and don't let it be tainted with ill feelings and bad thoughts of a person. Remember that we are all different and the burden Allah gives to each of us is different. Be glad that we have survived many trials and tribulations throughout our short lives on earth. Instead of finding faults and commenting about another's shortcomings through our tainted glasses, wouldn't it be better for us to offer sincere help to those in need? Or to pray for them so that their burden will be lessened? Or to guard our lips before we talk to the person concerned, and find out the real story? Seek first to understand, then be understood.
It's so easy to pass judgement based on one event, one mistake or even one hearsay. Let's not make it a habit. Backbiting will only cause animosity.
Reflect on Surah at-Tawbah verse 71:
"And the believers, men and women, are protectors one of another; they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil, and they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity and they obey Allah and His messenger.On them will Allah pour His Mercy; for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.'