By Imam Osamah Salihah
Being genuine in our dealings with one another is a cornerstone in our growth as individuals and as a community. Islam has defined this crucial mode of operating and has made it a central focus. A Muslim should not be fake, opportunistic or deceptive. A believing Muslim does not wait for others to fail only to capitalize on their demise. Rather, a Muslim should genuinely want his friends and foes to succeed in positive endeavors. As our dearly beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) was told:
“Perhaps, you would torment yourself with grief that they will not be believers.” (Qur’an 26:3)
“Do not ask for a woman in marriage when your brother has already done so” (recorded by Nasa’i). Many of the teachings of our dearly beloved Prophet Muhammad impart upon us a strong sense of consideration and affection toward others. Islam has prohibited entrepreneurs from stealing business from others after the buyer and seller have begun bargaining. The Prophet Muhammad said, “Do not enter into a transaction when another is bargaining.” (recorded by Muslim)
Being genuine in one’s dealings is an ever-fading quality in society. People no longer trust each other. Many often try to capitalize upon the failures of their adversaries, or even their own friends. If you want to secure your promotion, don’t support your co-workers too much so they don’t get ahead of you. If you want to win the elections, dig up the dirtiest things you can find on your enemies and spend millions of dollars advertising it. Create so much hype around your name, even if that means pouncing on the dignity of others.
It might be a given that it is difficult to find such high quality relationships; to find those who strengthen you when you are weak, support you when you are strong, remember you when you are absent and defend you when you are wronged. But, realizing that such relationships are truly a blessing from The One God, we must be honest with ourselves: How deserving are we to be in such relationships? How genuine are we in our dealings with?
These esteemed relationships are built upon a solid foundation of character. We need to elevate our discourse as individuals and as a community. Lack of character is truly the greatest threat to the stability of civilization in the modern day.
The household unit is imperative to engendering the qualities that make a decent, compassionate and genuine believer. When we deal with those who we do not feel socially compelled to maintain certain etiquettes, the façade is lifted and our behavior is put to the test. Hence, our dearly beloved Prophet Muhammad said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his family, and I am the best of you to my family” (recorded by Ibn Majah).
One of the great luminaries of our past was once walking with his young boy when they came across a barking dog. The young boy snarled: “Be quiet, you dog, the son of a dog!” Realizing the far-reaching effects of character upon interpersonal relationships, the father told his son: “My dear boy, do not use such derogatory terms, for if you do, you will find them on your tongue when you least desire”.
Our reality produces such brutal critics. The normative discourse is so toxic and spiritually suffocating, it is no wonder that we find difficulty concentrating in our prayers and connecting with our Lord.
When one doesn’t like something, the knee jerk reaction is to publicly ridicule it on Facebook with satirical memes. It may be said, “But we’re doing it about bad people who have no honor.” It’s not about their honor, it’s about yours. What level of discourse do you wish to present to society? Here’s the Qur’anic discourse:
“But whoever pardons and makes reconciliation – his reward is from God.” (Qur’an 42: 40) (Qur’an 26:3)
Truly, ignorance is a major crisis; even in the modern days where we have surpassed all former nations in terms of technology and information, but we lack the most basic human qualities of consideration and affection. Do not buy into the toxic rhetoric that sets the tone of most dealings. Live a life of excellence, even if that means being at a worldly ‘disadvantage’. As our dearly beloved Prophet Muhammad said, “Indeed, God has prescribed excellence upon all things” (recorded bu Muslim). Aspire to build relationships that extend beyond the confines of this world and earn you a place in the shade of al-Rahman (The Most Merciful, one of the 99 attributes of God), on the day that there is no shade but His. I ask The One God, to guide us to the greatest virtues.