As kids, my sister and I loved people-watching. We would go for a programme, sit behind and watch. As we assessed, we attached labels. The sayings go, ‘Dress as you want to be addressed’ and ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression,’ but are they 100% true?

Many of us witness this when we go into boutiques or schools or even government parastatals. The front-desk officer critically appraises us as we step through the doors, trying to gauge the size of our wallets and how they should address us. We have also learnt to dress flamboyantly, wield expensive phones and bags and talk loud to obtain the desired respect from such superficial people.
People are often multi-layered and we should not allow narrow views shaped by judging from afar dictate how we treat people. These inaccurate distorted views are often shaped from stereotypy or from gossips and rumours surrounding an individual. As Muslims, we should not join the bandwagon of insulting people or giving them names without verifying the information we hear. I have been guilty of it, and am sure you have too. We should be mindful as we judge others because as a Nigerian adage goes, ‘While we stare at the back of someone’s head, it’s another who stares at ours.’

Besides, have you considered that that ‘show-off’ Muslimah without hijab you keep ragging on could have just concluded online purchases of hijabs? That ‘flirtatious’ guy on campus could be weeping every night in tahajjud (voluntary night prayers) at his sins; the ‘hunk’ you were crushing on in class could be ill-mannered; the ‘stammerer’ in your class may have memorised more of the Quran than you; your ‘unserious’ friend may spend every weekend volunteering at an orphanage; and the guy in your final year class who puts on airs may be depressed and lonely.

Looks can be deceiving and the truth is we will never know until we reach beneath the surface to see what lies underneath.

We should show mercy as we judge others. Let us give people the benefit of doubt and allow them right the wrong impression we have of them.

And may Allah be merciful to us in return.