Interpersonal Skills: Respond to mistreatment with kindness

Most commonly when you deal with people, they treat you how they want to treat you, and not how you want to be treated. Not everyone you meet with cheerfulness is cheerful to you in return. Some of them may even become angry, think badly of you and ask, “What are you laughing at?”

Not everyone you present a gift returns your favour. You may give gifts to some people only to find them backbiting you in various gatherings, and accusing you of being foolish and wasting money!

Not everyone you are kind to in speech or praise generously or use kind words with responds to you in kind. Allah has divided up manners for people, just as He has divided up their sustenance. The divine way to deal with the people dictates: “The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! He, between whom and you there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.”

Some people have no solution to their problems and nor is there a way to reform them. You can only deal with them in accordance with their own wishes. In that case, you can either have patience with them, or leave them.

It is mentioned that a man once travelled with a businessman. This man would do all the work while travelling, such as serving his companion, offloading the luggage and feeding the camels, until he would become exhausted.

On the way back, the two of them stopped to have their meal. They made their camels kneel and dismounted. The man laid down outstretched on the ground while his businessman companion laid out a sheet, offloaded the luggage, and then turned to him and said, “Why don’t you gather the wood while I cut the meat?”

He replied, “By Allah, I am very tired after riding the camel all this time!”

The businessman then stood and gathered the wood, and said, “Can you make fire?”

He replied, “The smoke stings me if I come near it”, so the man lit the fire himself.

The busineesman then said, “Can you please help me in cutting the meat?”

He replied, “I fear that I may cut my hand”, hence, the man cut the meat himself.

The businessman then said, “Could you put the meat in the pan and cook the meal?”

He replied, “It is very tiring for me to watch the meal before it is properly cooked”. The businessman then began to cook himself.

When he finally finished cooking and felt very tired, he lay down on the ground, and said, “Could you please lay out the dining mat, and pour the meal out onto the plates?”

He replied, “I am feeling really heavy, and I don’t have the energy to do that right now.” The businessman then got up, prepared the meal and laid it out on the mat.

The businessman said, “Would you come over and eat?”

He replied, “By Allah, I feel very embarrassed at constantly making excuses, so I shall relent this time!” He then got up and ate the meal!

You might meet people who are like him. Do not be saddened by this. Rather, be firm like a mountain.

Our model educator, the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), would deal with people rationally and not emotionally. He would bear other people’s mistakes and still be gentle with them.

Just imagine! There he was, sitting in a blessed gathering, surrounded by his companions, and in came a Bedouin asking him for his help with paying off blood-money. This man – or an  acquaintance of his – had killed someone, and so he wanted the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) to help him financially to enable him to pay the blood-money to the victim’s family.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) then gave him something and enquired out of kindness, “Have I been good to you?”

The Bedouin said, “No! You have neither been good nor courteous!”

Upon hearing this, some Muslims became angry and were about to fight him, but the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) signaled to them not to.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) then walked towards his house, called the Bedouin and said, “You came to us, asked for our help, and we helped you. But then you said to us what you said.”

Then the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) gave him more of what he could find in his house and said, “Have I been good to you?”

The Bedouin said, “Yes! May Allah reward you in your family and your kinsfolk.”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) was delighted to know that the Bedouin was pleased, but he was afraid that his Companions might still have hatred towards him, or that one of them may see him in the street and show his resentment towards the Bedouin. Thus, he wanted to remove this feeling from their hearts.

He said to the Bedouin, “You came to us for help and we gave it to you, but then you said what you said. My Companions are resentful towards you for this reason. If you were to go to them now and say to them what you have said to me now, perhaps this feeling would be removed from their hearts.”

When the Bedouin came, the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “This friend of ours came to us for help and we gave it to him, but then he said what he said. We then called him over and gave him more, and now he says that he is pleased.”

He then turned to the Bedouin and said, “Isn’t that so?”

The Bedouin replied, “Yes! May Allah reward you in your family and your kin.”

When the Bedouin decided to leave and go to his family, the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) decided to give his Companions a lesson in how to win people’s hearts.

He said to them, “The example of me with this Bedouin is like that of a man whose camel runs away from him. A group of people then chase after the camel, as it runs away from them being frightened. They only manage to make it flee further. So the camel’s owner finally says, ‘Leave me alone with the camel! I am gentler with it and I know how it thinks!’ The camel’s owner then grabs some fallen dates from the ground and calls it until it finally comes to him. He then ties the saddle around it and mounts. If I were to have obeyed you when he said what he said, he would have entered the fire of Hell.” Meaning, if you were to have made him flee, he might have left the religion and entered the fire of Hell.” (Narrated by al-Bazzar with a disputed chain)

Gentleness only beautifies an action while harshness only serves to tarnish it. “The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! He between whom and you there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.”

It is mentioned that when the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) conquered Makkah, and began to circumambulate the Ka’bah, there came Fadhalah bin ‘Umayr – a person who pretended to be a Muslim – and began to make Tawaaf behind the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) waiting for an opportunity to kill him by surprise. When he came close to the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), he became aware of him. He turned around and said to him, “Are you Fadhalah?”

He replied, “Yes, I am Fadhalah, O Messenger of Allah!”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) asked, “What were you thinking of doing?”

He replied, “Nothing! I was only remembering Allah!”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) then laughed and said, “I seek Allah’s forgiveness.”

Fadhalah later said about this incident: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) then placed his hand over my chest, and my heart came to rest. By Allah, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) did not lift his hand from my chest except that Allah had placed in my heart the strongest love for him.”

Fadhalah headed to his family and passed by a woman he would sit and chat with. When she saw him, she said, “Why don’t you come over for a chat?”

He replied, “No.”

She insisted, “Come over for a chat.”

“No,” Fadhala said, “Allah and Islam forbid you from it.

‘If you were to see Muhammad and his party victorious the day the idols were smashed

‘You would have witnessed Allah’s religion become manifest

As polytheism became engulfed with darkness.’

Thereafter, Fadhalah became one of the righteous Muslims.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) used to capture people’s hearts by forgiving them. He would bear their harms in order to change them and bring them closer to what was good for them.

Abu Talib would frequently protect the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) from the harms of the Quraysh. After Abu Talib passed away, the Quraysh increased its pressure on the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam). He was harmed the way he was never harmed whilst his uncle was alive.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) began to consider another source of refuge, aid and support. He left for Ta’if in order to seek the support and assistance of the tribe of Thaqif. He entered Ta’if and proceeded to meet three men who were the leaders and the noblest men of Thaqif. They were three brothers; ‘Abd Yalayl bin ‘Amr, and his brothers Mas’ud and Habib.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) sat with them and called them to Allah. He asked them to help him in championing the cause of Islam and to stand by him against those who oppose him from his own people. However, their response was disgraceful!

One of them said, “I would tear down the covering of Ka‘bah if Allah has really sent you!”

The other mocked, “Didn’t Allah find anyone else to send?”

The third person thought about what his response should be. He wanted his words to be more malicious than that of his brothers.

He said, “By Allah, I will never respond to you! If you really are the Messenger of Allah as you claim, then you are too dangerous to be responded to! If you are lying upon Allah, then I should never speak to you!”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) then stood up to leave after feeling disappointed by the best people from Thaqif. He also feared that the Quraysh may find out that Thaqif had rejected him, and subsequently begin to harm him more.

Thus he said to them, “Whatever you do, please keep this meeting a secret.”

But they did not. Instead, they incited the slaves and the foolish against him, until they began to follow him to hurl curses and abuse at him.

They gathered along his path in two lines and the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) was walking very quickly in between to save himself. Each time he raised a leg to move forward, they would stone him. All the while he quickened his pace, trying to avoid the stones being flung at him. His noble feet began to bleed profusely. He was a middle aged man, over forty years old. He moved away from them and kept walking until he found a safe place where he could rest under the shade of a date palm tree. At this time, he was overcome with the thought of going back and facing the Quraysh. How could he enter Makkah?

He looked up to the sky and said, “O Allah! I complain to You of my weakness, my scarcity of resources and the humiliation I have been subjected to by the people.

‘O Most Merciful of those who are merciful! O Lord of the weak and my Lord too! To whom have you entrusted me? To a distant person, who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy, to whom you have granted authority over my affair?

‘So long as You are not angry with me, I do not care. Your favour is of a more expansive relief to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set aright, lest Your anger or Your displeasure descends upon me. I desire Your pleasure and satisfaction until You are pleased. There is no power and no might except by You.”

As he sat there in this state, there came a cloud that overshadowed him. He lifted his gaze to the sky to find Jibril therein. Jibril called out to the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), “O Muhammad! Allah has heard what your people have said to you, and how they dealt with you. He has sent to you the Angel of Mountains at your disposal so you may order him with whatever you wish.”

Before the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) could say a word, the Angel of mountains called out to him saying, “May Allah’s peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah! O Muhammad! Allah has heard what the people have said to you. I am the Angel of Mountains. Your Lord has sent me to you, so you may order me with whatever you wish.”

Before the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) could say a word or make a choice, the Angel of Mountains began making suggestions to him, saying, “If you wish, I could crush them between the two mountains.” He was referring to the two mountains on either side of Makkah.

The Angel of Mountains then waited for an order.

“Rather,” said the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), trampling over his own wishes and the desire for revenge, “I will be patient with them, for I hope that Allah will raise from their progeny those who will worship Him alone without associating any partners with Him.”

Be brave…
The relationship between me and my brothers
And my cousins is indeed problematic
If they consume my flesh, I spare theirs
If they destroy my honour, I build theirs
They do not hurry to my aid
But I hurry if they call me to theirs
I do not hold grudges against them
For the leader never bears grudges

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