بسم الله و الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله
“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it” – Chinese Proverb
I often ask myself: what is it that Allah (SWT) is trying to teach me?
Lately, I’ve been asking myself this a lot, primarily because I began to realize a quality in others that I a) strive to never have in myself and b) absolutely cannot stand.
This is a quality that, for me, symbolizes a shaytanic and unproductive mindset that pulls people down instead of encouraging them. Indeed, it’s no surprise that I despise this characteristic so much considering that I have been on a journey of seeking to better myself and community for quite some time. You see, these people throw a wedge into your journey; they set up blockades, preventing you from moving forward.
Who are these people? The negative ones. The ones who are quick to judge and criticize those who are actually doing things with their lives!
SubhanAllah, you never hear from these people if you choose to live a straightforward life without much contribution to your community or the lives of other people. Yet the moment that you try to make a difference, you find these people coming out of the woodwork with their unsolicited negative advice and opinions!
You want to work on X project? Don’t bother, because they tried and were met with backlash. You want to make X change in your community? Beware, because the community is pretty doomed and you have a huge fight ahead of you. You want to work with X organization? Don’t you dare because they did and ended up clashing with them, so such a fate is only inevitable for you too – uff!
Instead of encouraging you and providing constructive criticism from a place of sincerity, they will fill your mind with doubts and an impending sense of doom and failure.
I genuinely wonder about these people; certainly, they are insecure. For a secure person with a strong sense of purpose and direction in their lives would only encourage the betterment of their community and world at large, instead of feeding off of the fears and insecurities of others. It may be that such people have serious issues; maybe jealousy, resentment, disappointment in their own shortcomings – whatever it is, seeing you succeed or at least make an effort causes them to shoot up their defences while practically lecturing you on the many ways in which you aren’t going to succeed. The scary part is that such discouragement is often masked as sincere advice and/or concern for you.
As someone who’s involved in a ton of personal and communal projects, Alhamdullilah, I’ve come across many of these types of people. Some of whom I even used to call friends. And the sad part? When it comes to the Muslim community, many of these people would be considered practicing. Yet what is brotherly/sisterly about tearing another person down? Whether it be their efforts or ideas? Just because you’ve had issues in the past, doesn’t give you the right to project your insecurities onto another – especially if they have strengths in the areas where you were weak. Indeed, our Prophet (SAW) told us:
“None of you will believe until you love for your brother (or sister) what you love for yourself.” (Bukhari)
I’ve noticed that these type of people tend to tear the work of others down and are ruthless towards anyone. I’ve witnessed not only youth be torn down, but even respected elders who, despite their shortcomings, still deserve respect for the work they’ve put in. Once, I had an individual (who I trusted) ask for my forgiveness and admit to me that they and another person were involved in backbiting a project (which Alhamdulillah, Allah (SWT) has granted much success to) that I was involved in. Although I commend the individual for having the courage to ask for forgiveness directly and that I have forgiven them, I actually wasn’t surprised when they admitted it? Why? Because such was the nature of this person! And so when I learned that I had been on the receiving end of their criticizing tongue after witnessing them do it to so many others, it confirmed for me that this was something I could just not tolerate. Not for myself and especially not for others.
Currently, I’ve found no other solution in terms of dealing with such individuals other than avoiding them. I refuse to give them a platform for projecting their insecurities onto me. I know my mission, and only my Lord knows what’s in my heart. Let it be known: their words are falling on deaf ears, and are only a detriment to their own spirits. For I truly believe that an individual who is sincere about the facilitation of peace, healing and growth within a person or a community will support any person, group or organization that seeks to reach such a point. Any form of unjustified critique that leaves their mouths is a testament to their lack of self-awareness and says more about the state of their hearts than the hearts of people who are striving to make positive change.
May Allah (SWT) purify our intentions and protect us from those who divert us from our journeys of seeking to better through their careless critiques and unending negativity and skepticism. May Allah (SWT) protect us from such people, and prevent us from becoming the same way! Ameen!
Tell me, have you had experiences with these type of people? What was your experience like and how have you dealt with them?
And Allah (SWT) knows best,