Interpersonal Skills: Do not be Dictatorial!

Compare between three fathers. Each one of them sees his son sitting in front of the television screen during the days of his examination.

The first one says to his son, “Muhammad! Revise your lessons!”

The second says, “Majid! If you do not revise, by Allah, I will hit you and I will not give you any pocket money!”

The third says, “Salih! Would you please revise your lessons? It would be better than watching television, don’t you think?”

Which of the three would be considered best manners? Undoubtedly, the third, since he presented his order to him as if it were only a suggestion.

Similarly, it should be the case when dealing with your wife. “Sarah, can you please make a cup of tea?” “Hind, I would like to have an early lunch today, if possible.”

Likewise, when a person errs, try to rectify it by ways in which he would think that rectification was his own initiative. For example, your son is often not present for prayers in the mosque. You can say to him, for instance, “Sa’d, don’t you wish to enter paradise? Surely you do! In that case, you should guard your prayers.”

Once upon a time, in a Bedouin tent in the desert, a woman was groaning while giving birth. Her husband was next to her, waiting for her to deliver. The labour became severe for the woman, and she finally gave birth, but to a black child! The man looked at himself and his wife to find both of them fair-skinned. He became surprised as to how his son could be black. The devil whispered into his heart saying, “Perhaps, this baby is someone else’s. Perhaps a black man fornicated with her, and thus she became pregnant! Perhaps…”

The man became confused and went to Madinah and approached the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) whilst he was sitting with his Companions.

He said, “O Messenger of Allah! My wife gave birth to a black child! We have never had any black person in our family!”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) looked at him. Although, he was well able to lecture him about having good thoughts about others, and that he should not have accused his wife, he decided to try a different method with him to solve his problem. He decided to make the man solve his own problem. He decided to give him examples with which he could easily discover the answer to his problem. But what kind of example should he have given him? The example of trees? Or bees? Or the Persians and the Romans?

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) looked at him and noticed that he was a Bedouin who looked very confused due to all the thoughts that were coming to his mind about his wife.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “Do you have any camels?”

“Yes”, said the man.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “What is their colour?”

He said, “Red.”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “Is there any black amongst them?”

“No”, he replied.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “Is there any grey amongst them?”

“Yes”, the man replied.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “From where did that come?”

Meaning; so long as they are all red, male and female, and not a single one of them is of any different colour, how did a red camel give birth to a grey camel, which happens to be different to that of the mother and the father?

The man thought for a while and said, “Perhaps it is due to heredity”. Meaning; it is possible that one of its ancestors was grey. Hence, the grey colour remained in the lineage, and was inherited by this baby camel.

Then the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “Perhaps, your son has also inherited this colour because of heredity.” (Muslim and Ibn Majah)

The man heard the response, thought for a while and discovered that he came to a conclusion himself. He felt satisfied and certain of the response, and went back to his wife.

On another occasion, the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) sat with his Companions and began to inform them about various good actions. Amongst the things he mentioned was that he said, “In the intimacy of one of you is charity”; meaning for one of you to have intercourse with his wife is an action that carries a reward from Allah.

Upon hearing this, the Companions became surprised and said, “O Messenger of Allah, one of us comes to his wife to fulfil his desire, and for that he would be rewarded?”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) then responded in a way which made them feel that they were the ones who came up with the answer, and hence, there was no need for a discussion for them to be convinced further. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “Don’t you see that if he were to do it in a forbidden way, he would be sinful?”

They said, “Yes.”

“So therefore, if he were to do it in a permissible way, he would be rewarded”, said the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam).

In fact, even during a discussion with others, he would lead them on to the answer by beginning with matters that they both agreed upon.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) once left for Makkah along with a thousand and four hundred of his Companions, but the Quraysh blocked his way. This led to the famous al-Hudaybiyyah incident, where after a long session of discussion between the Prophet and the Quraysh, they agreed upon a peace accord.

Suhayl bin ‘Amr was the one who represented Quraysh whilst writing the conditions of the pledge. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) agreed with Suhayl on several conditions, and from amongst these were:

The Muslims should return to Madinah without having performed ‘Umrah
The Muslims in Madinah were not to accept anyone who wished to accept Islam from the people of Makkah and decided to migrate in Madinah.
Whoever left Islam and decided to go to the pagans in Makkah would be accepted
There were many other conditions that were apparently a sign of Muslim defeat and humiliation.

In reality, though, the Quraysh were afraid of such a large number of Muslims, and realized that if they wished, they could have easily conquered Makkah. For this reason, the Quraysh were forced to be diplomatic. They could not dream that they would ever manage to get away with a quarter of those conditions. Most of the Companions were uneasy with these conditions. But how could they ever protest? The one who writing the contract and agreeing with its conditions was he who did not speak from his desires.

‘Umar was desperate. He was looking right and left, wishing if only he could do something. ‘Umar quickly approached Abu Bakr to discuss this with him. Due to his wisdom, he did not begin by protesting. Rather, he began with things they both agreed on. Thus, he began to ask Abu Bakr questions, the answers to which were none other than, “Indeed! Yes! Correct!”

He said, “O Abu Bakr, isn’t he the Messenger of Allah?”

“Indeed, he is!” said Abu Bakr.

He said, “Are we not Muslims?”

“Indeed, we are!” replied Abu Bakr.

He said, “Are they not pagans?”

“Sure they are!” replied Abu Bakr.

‘Umar said, “Are we not upon the truth?”

“Indeed, we are!” replied Abu Bakr.

‘Umar said, “Are they not upon falsehood?”

“Surely, they are!” replied Abu Bakr.

‘Umar said, “Why should we then surrender in a matter related to our religion?”

Abu Bakr then said, “O ‘Umar, is he not the Messenger of Allah?”

“Sure he is”, said ‘Umar.

Abu Bakr said, “Then obey him! For I bear witness that He is the Messenger of Allah.”

‘Umar then said, “And I also bear witness that he is the Messenger of Allah”, and went away. He tried to restrain himself but couldn’t, so he approached the Messenger of Allah – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.

He said, “O Messenger of Allah, are you not the Messenger of Allah?”

“I am, indeed!” said the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam).

He said, “Are we not Muslims?”

“Of course, we are”, said the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam).

He said, “Are they not pagans?”

“Yes, they are”, replied the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam).

He said, “Then why are we compromising in a matter related to religion?”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) then said, “I am a slave of Allah and His Messenger. I would not disobey His order. He would never mislead me.”

‘Umar remained silent. The treaty was signed, and the Muslims returned to Madinah. Days went by and the Quraysh broke the treaty. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) then conquered Makkah and purified the Sacred House of the idols. Then, ‘Umar realised that he was incorrect to oppose the Prophet’s decision. Thus, he used to say, “I never ceased to fast, give charity, pray and free slaves, due to what I did that day, fearing the consequences of the words I spoke that day, until I began to regain some hope.”

How excellent was ‘Umar! How excellent was the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) before him!

How can we benefit from this skill?

If your son does not memorise the Quran, and you would like him to do so eagerly, then begin with things that you both agree on.

You can say to him, “Don’t you wish that Allah should love you? Don’t you wish to raise your rank in Paradise?”

No doubt he would reply, “Indeed!”

Then, you can present your advice to him as a suggestion, saying, “In that case, if you were to attend Quran memorisation circles…”

Likewise, if you were to notice a woman who does not wear a Hijaab, speak to her about things you both agree on. You should say, “I know you are a Muslim woman, and therefore, always eager to do good.” She would say, “Correct, al-hamdulillah.”

You would further say, “You are a chaste woman who loves Allah.”

She would say, “Yes, al-hamdulillah.”

Then, you can present your advice in the form of a suggestion, saying, “Perhaps, you should pay more attention to the Hijaab aspect of Islam, and show more enthusiasm to cover.”

This is how we can achieve what we want from the people, without them even realizing.

A twinkle…
You can always eat honey without demolishing the beehive.

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