Yesterday I got badly yelled at by one of my senior colleagues for a mistake. It was a bad day at work.
“You should know that you are new at industry. You should only observe and see. Do not be over confident. Always ask……bla.. bla.. bla..”
His harsh tone was piercing me. His each word was like a poisonous stab.
I felt belittled. I felt insulted. I felt miserable. I was very hurt inside.
Normally a person reprimands someone who is lower in hierarchy. Therefore the person being reprimanded often cannot say anything in reply.
Today when I was being reprimanded harshly, I did not have much to say either. I indeed made a mistake, and I am still new in my job. Nevertheless, when I had opened my mouth to say something in my defense, I flustered my words at the face of such furious yelling.
For every action there is a reaction. My mouth may have failed to produce a composed response, but my heart yielded a measured reaction.
First reaction: Did I make a mistake? I am not arrogant to deny my mistakes, be it big or small. I made a mistake, took sincere note of it, and will strive to make sure I do not repeat the same mistake in future.
Second Reaction: Did I lose respect for the guy who was harsh towards me? To be honest, I did. May be because of professional needs I will again talk with him. May be I will even smile at him. However, shall I be able to completely forgive him and respect him from my heart? I do not know the future, but most probably, the answer will be NO. I cannot help it.
If we commit thousand sins and ask forgiveness from Allah thousand times, Allah forgives us thousand times. He can forgive us completely. His attribute of Al-Gafoor, which means All-Forgiving, is perfect and absolute. Thus, His forgiveness is also perfect. He not only completely erases our sins and bad deeds; if we turn to Him sincerely, He even transforms our bad deeds into good deeds.
However, being human beings, we are imperfect. If you humiliate me and make me feel terrible, and even if you do so for my own good, I may forgive you later, but in the remotest corner of my mind, I will always remember how you had made me feel one day. In other words, our forgiveness is imperfect.
There is a quote of Maya Angelou that says, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This is true.
The incident happened in the morning and for the rest of the day I could not recover from my hurt feelings. I could not concentrate in my work later. I could not even maintain the focus in my salah.
Words can be mightier than whip indeed.
However, because of the infinite mercy of Allah, nothing in this world is absolutely bad or absolutely good. Everything is relative. Although yesterday’s incident hit me very hard, it reminded me an incident that took place during the life of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), which helped me appreciate one of the Prophetic (ﷺ) wisdoms like I had never done before.
It is the incident of a Bedouin who suddenly entered the Prophet’s (ﷺ) mosque and started urinating. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) shouted at him to stop him, but the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prevented them, and allowed the Bedouin man to finish his job. Once the man relieved himself completely, the Prophet (ﷺ) said to the man, “In these mosques it is not right to do anything like urinating or defecating; they are only for remembering Allah, praying and reading Quran, or words to that effect.”
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then commanded one of his companions to pour a bucket of water over the urine to clean the place.
The Bedouin was humbled by how the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) corrected him and taught him the etiquettes of mosque. The more he remembered how the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) dealt with him, the more his heart had been filled with awe and reverence for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).
Being the Messenger of Allah, the Prophet (ﷺ) knew the psychology of human more than anyone else. He (ﷺ) knew that if he is harsh in his process of correcting someone, it can produce two negative consequences.
1. Harshness may cause the person being corrected to question the sincerity of the person who is correcting, and thus the former may reject correction.
2. Even if harsh reprimand rectifies a person, it is very likely that the person will lose respect for the person who corrected him, and may never be able to overcome a bitter feeling towards his rude teacher.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) beautifully summarized the process of correcting people when he said, “Deen (Religion) is naseeha (sincere advice).”
It is not that I did not hear this beautiful hadeeth before. I did. At that time, my appreciation of this hadeeth was indifferent. But yesterday when I was at the receiving of a harsh treatment, this hadeeth of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) descended upon me like a heavenly comfort. I appreciated it and understood its meaning like never before.
Indeed religion is sincere advice. Angry words followed by statement “I care about you” are not sincere advice. Sincerity has to come from heart, and action followed should reflect it. How I compose my advice, how I present it, how I control my body language-everything reflects my sincerity.
Allah said in the Quran:
Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is free of need and Forbearing. [The Noble Quran, 2:263]
O Allah! I seek refuge in you from hard-heartedness, and I ask you to fill my heart with compassion.
O Allah! Many times while dealing with my brothers and sisters in Islam, both in real life and in virtual internet world, I have failed to be compassionate towards them. I have used harsh words and bitter sarcasm. O Allah! Forgive me, and help me to mend my ways and make me compassionate in my dealing with fellow slaves of You.
O Allah! Help me control my tongue, and give me the tawfeeq to not speak out unless I am fully assured about my sincerity.