Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The moment the phrase at least is uttered, more times than not, they are words of false reassurances and reconfirmations for the speaker.

Consequently, it reveals a weakness in character.


Using at least is to draw a comparison or parallel, to or with something or someone, of “lesser quality”.

Starting an argument with that phrase is a reflection on the comparer. Often, inadvertently, it discloses an undesirable character or characteristic, along with an unreasonable tendency to react impetuously or indignantly because hurt feelings took the place of better judgement.

It is in defence of one’s flaws.

Justifying questionable actions, words or silences, without rational explanations, instead resorting to making comparisons with those lacking, hinders living rightly, and is a diversion from the straight path.

Not minimising emotions, the heart, particularly a wounded or sensitive one, should never rule the mind; one should never act or speak before thinking.

Our emotions are momentary and subjective bodily responses in reaction to a cause be it an action, or lack of, and/or words: anger, defensiveness, guilt, hurt, joy, shame, surprise, etc.


For starters, it reveals an inadequacy and negation.

Measuring oneself with someone committing a wrong is morally worse, setting a low precedence with no room for improvement.

To rationalise a wrongdoing by comparing oneself to the “worst”, as opposed to the better, due to a deficiency in trait or not fulfilling a responsibility or duty, is indicative of superiority. This leads to an insidious deep hole of denial and self-deception, merely to feel better by falsely convincing oneself that no wrong is committed.

If one resorts to this, at least I: pray, cover my hair, donate money, do not sleep around, it means the CHOICE is to look down on someone rather than look up to someone. The latter’s not favourable for some as it may open a Pandora’s Box that might be difficult to close again.

Introspecting and scrutinising our own silences, sayings and doings is tasking.

If we convince ourselves enough, we soon end up believing and becoming our own deception.

It is easier to respect Muslims – or anyone for that matter – who are transparent and honest about their shortcomings or remain silent about them than those who use others to vindicate their own.


Individuals and communities seeking improvements always compare themselves with those they can learn from and of exemplifying character, characteristic or wisdom.

Before we defend the error of our ways with at least, analysing why we do so is the wiser option. If we cannot, then we need to stop and think about it or remain silent if we choose not to change for the positive.

Courageous individuals are willing to gaze into the mirror (figuratively and literally) with a critical eye to face up to personal challenges and blemishes and reflect on their deeds – words, actions or lack of.

They embrace objective self-criticism for clarity, growth and alignment.

There will always be people who are more, and less, fortunate than we are. Thus, we compare ourselves to those who are less fortunate as a reminder, and in gratitude, for the blessings and bounties in our lives.

Better still, we aim to compare ourselves with those of higher qualities and deeds to aspire for self-betterment and push ourselves in that direction.

{وَلَوْ شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةًۭ وَٰحِدَةًۭ وَلَٰكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِى مَآ ءَاتَىٰكُمْ ۖ فَٱسْتَبِقُوا۟ ٱلْخَيْرَٰتِ}

{If Allâh had so willed, He would have made you one nation, but that [He] may test you in what He has given you; so compete in good deeds.}


We seek and attain growth through applicable knowledge and surrounding ourselves with those we can learn from, and of exemplifying character.

We need not look elsewhere for inspiration or comparison for we are fortunate as Muslims to have the best, starting with the epitome of character, our Beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, his companions and wives رضوان الله عليهم, Prophets and Messengers عليهم السلام, and noble Muslims.

Ultimately, the purpose for our creation is one:


If we choose the former, we need to be mindful of the lives we lead, how we lead them and the influence we will have on others. This includes removing the phrase at least – or its equivalent with the same intention (like try) to make excuses and justifications – from our vocabulary to explain away our deficiencies.

Only the dishonest deign to that level.

Genuine character growth is a reflection and representation of our heart: core beliefs, feelings, inner truth and proactive principles, devoid of any dichotomies.

Honing our character define who we are in heart, mind, behaviour, deed and energy.

We want to always aim for perpetual learning and growth, for a resonating character, through better deeds, until we return to ALLÂH ﷻ.

{الَّذِى خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَوٰةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًۭا}

{It is HE Who created life and death to test which of you is BETTER in Deed}


May 2014


  1. Jazâki-Allâhu Khayran for such a much-needed reminder. At first I wasn’t sure which way the article was going until I read the examples and then I could definitely appreciate the issue that you have brought up; very subtle yet very serious at the same time.

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