Question: Does one have to protect their honor and reputation? Or should one be careless of others’ opinions and just care what Allah thinks of them?
Thank you for your important question. The maqasid (purposes) of the Shari’a are the preservation of reputation, property, religion, and life. Some scholars have mentioned more.
One’s honor as a Muslim should be preserved and is worth protecting in society. Many things come to depend on one’s reputation, such as others’ willingness to deal with one in financial transactions, considering one or their progeny for marriage, and whether to take one as an upright witness in court, just to name a few.
Living in a society where one is deemed devoid of character or is assumed to be involved in wrongdoing and sin is going to affect one’s psyche and relationships with Muslims in a very unhealthy and harmful way. Each and every Muslim member of society must be respected, honored, treated like a brother and it must be loved for him what one loves for oneself.
Putting the Creation Before the Creator
Having said the above, one must heed the Prophetic advice, “There is no obedience to any created being if it involves disobedience to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
One should never consider omitting an obligatory act or perform a prohibited act for a person, for this is disobedience to Allah. In addition, one should not perform a disliked act or omit a sunnah act for a person unless a bigger sunnah is obtained by omitting it or a bigger dislike is avoided by performing it. Allah comes first when it comes to these categories of actions. As for merely permissible actions, one can choose to omit or perform according to one’s relationships with people while ultimately aiming to please Allah.
Outlook On Religious People
Generally, religious people are often looked down upon in the East and the West. Those who criticize, judge, and patronize religious people should be wholly ignored, and one should not care what they think. We should understand and expect this because the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, told us, “Indeed Islam began as something strange, and it will return to being strange as it began. So ‘Tuba‘ (blessedness) is for the strangers.“ [Tirmidhi]
I encourage you to follow this Prophetic advice, “The whole of the Muslim is sacred to his fellow Muslim, his blood, his wealth, and his honor.” [Ibn Majah] So honor and respect others, and leave your reputation up to Allah, Most High. May Allah give you the best in this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.