Are we Accountable for Personality Differences?
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr Khalid Zaheer

I like being on my own and not a big fan of human interaction. I heard Hamzah Yusaf say in one of his tapes that consider it a sign of danger when a Muslim only says salam to only people he knows. I often miss people who could have made a big difference in my mind due to my indifferent nature. I also don’t really bring out the meaning of the Muslim ummah in any sense. What I’m worried about is that is this type of attitude a sin or just a personality trait?


My understanding is that we are all being tested as individuals within the constraints of our personality traits, our potential, our circumstances, and our environment. There are some people who are born extroverts, and there are others who are introverts by their natural inclination. It is neither possible to change the nature of individuals nor is it the purpose of the Almighty’s message that our personalities be artificially changed. We are expected to operate within the boundaries of our personalities. The diversity in human nature is a beauty, and it would be a disaster if it is attempted to be bulldozed by a system for its own narrow purposes. We can only come up with the best of our potential if we are given to perform in accordance with what we are.

It is therefore a mistaken view that Islam wants to achieve the undesirable and impossible task of forcing all humans to become identical. Whenever any such effort would be undertaken it would lead to disaster. Unfortunately, such disasters have taken place in the name of Muslim unity and uniformity of identity. Abu Bakr (rta) and ‘Umar (rta) had different personalities before they formally accepted Islam, and they remained different in many ways even afterwards. Both excelled in their own respective ways, by operating within the limits of Islam.

Your attitude, to me, is therefore not condemnable. You, apparently, do not like to mix up too much with people. If that tendency is your nature and not the result of arrogance, then there is nothing wrong with it. Saying salam to everyone, to me, means that when you enter a place where there are many people, one should say salam to everyone and not to a particular individual. Saying salam to everyone you confront in the streets would make life extremely difficult. The Hadith that the worthy speaker quoted has to do with etiquette the Prophet (sws) taught to Muslims while living in society with others. Indeed such manners should be displayed by all good Muslims.

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