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How to Respond When Someone Insults Your Convictions/Dealing With Toxic Relations

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    How to Respond When Someone Insults Your Convictions/Dealing With Toxic Relations

    It can be hard to know what to do when someone makes a thoughtless remark that is insulting to your convictions, values or beliefs. It's even harder when that person wasn't thoughtless at all, but made a pointed effort to be insulting.

    Do you hate them for their words and actions? You haven’t spoken to them for a while? You’re not the only one; the Muslim Ummah today is diseased with this to the extent that almost every Muslim knows another Muslim who he hates. The Ummah is like a building with the Muslims as it’s bricks, brotherhood is the cement. Without forgiveness you cannot have brotherhood.

    OK then, he wronged you. He deceived you. He backbited you. He lied to you. But even in these extreme situations the Qur’an and the Hadith teach us that we have to forgive others (especially those who hurt us the most) if we wish to earn the forgiveness of Allah on the day of judgement. We have all committed many sins, made many mistakes and no doubt we have wronged others, we have deceived others, we have backbited others and no doubt we have lied to others.

    So what makes us focus onto brothers’ and sisters’ errors while we remain unconscious of our own. Not to forgive is like to live in arrogance, and ignorance of our own shortcomings.

    Forgiveness is linked with piety and God-consciousness, is there anybody who is not without sin? Is there anybody who can be arrogant enough to say that he does not need to forgive? Do we not know that Allah forgives those who forgive others? Therefore, we should realise the difficulties of others and forgive them. Allah says in the Qur’an:

    Quote from: Surah ali Imran; 3:133-134
    “Be quick in the forgiveness from your Lord, and pardon (all) men – for Allah loves those who do good.”

    And we know that Allah Himself is Ar-Rahmaan (the Most Compassionate) and Ar-Raheem (the Most Merciful) and that His Mercy is infinite, and that no matter the sin (except shirk) Allah is always willing to answer the person’s call for forgiveness. In fact Allah loves the tears that falls from the eye of one who sincerely seeks the forgiveness of his Lord.

    But, what if family relationships cause us severe mental, emotional, and spiritual harm? Should we continue to suffer? In my humble opinion, Islamic teachings are not meant to cause us suffering. Almost every family relationship will experience broken trust at some point. It is normal for trust levels to rise and fall over the course of a relationship. Some toxic family relationships can be repaired in the long run, but both people must be willing to work at self-growth.

    Consider these two ahadith:

    Quote
    “Verily, this (your) religion is easy, and none shall be severe in religion but it will overcome him: he shall turn it into a stone and make it a tomb.”

    “God did not send me to be harsh, or cause harm, but He sent me to teach and make things easy.”

    If toxic family members are harming your mental, emotional and spiritual health, you need to protect yourself from harm–especially if your relationship with Allah is being affected:
    Our Prophet said,

    Quote
    “A believer is not stung from the same hole twice.”

    A companion said,

    Quote
    “I never heard him (i.e. The Prophet Muhammad) giving people permission to tell a lie in anything except in (three) matters: concerning war, making peace between people, and in the conversation of a man with his wife or the conversation of a woman with her husband, for the benefit and protection of their marriage”

    Knowing how to respond appropriately can make all the difference between managing a potential conflict or fanning the flames.

    • Don't react immediately. Take a moment to gather your thoughts before saying or doing anything, no matter how much the comment may have stung.
    • Speak up for your convictions, but do it in a calm, rational manner. You don't have to lower yourself to the level of the ignorant, but if, for good reason, you don't want to let the comment pass without answering it, even if it wasn't directed at you, then you do want to make sure any response is not seen as a fanatical, knee-jerk reaction. As a matter of fact, it's best not to react, but instead, respond in a reasonable manner.
    • Stop taking things so personally, and you can give the person the benefit of the doubt. If there is any doubt, that is. In other words, if the remark was offhanded, and particularly if it came from someone you hardly know, there's a good chance that person has no idea the remark might offend you. Rather than assuming that the statement was intended to be insulting, give the benefit of the doubt, and allow for some ignorance on the part of the speaker.
    • Ask a question rather than making a statement. try responding with, "What would make you say that?" Find out. Maybe the person has some personal vendetta - some personal reason that made him speak out so strongly. If that's the case, there's very little you can do.
    • Try to be as diplomatic as possible if you feel the need to reveal your position. Rather than being inflammatory and picking a fight, identify yourself with tact and generosity for the other person's point of view - even though that person didn't really accord you the same courtesy.
    • Tell that person you feel insulted. If you still haven't made your point, let the other person know that, while s/he is entitled to his/her opinion, likewise, so are you. Let him/her know that those remarks are hurtful to you, and ask that s/he tone it down, if for no other sake than courtesy to another person, on a humanitarian level.
    • Take the high road. No matter what the response is from that person who's going off on you, you must maintain your cool. In the end, if you are kindly and gentle in your response to that person, s/he is the one who will end up looking bad to the other people present. No matter what kind of person you're dealing with, the only thing you need to worry about is what kind of person you are.
    "While the Apostle of Allah (sal allah hu aley hi wasalam) was sitting with some of his companions, a man reviled Abu Bakr (ra) and insulted him. But Abu Bakr (ra) remained silent. He insulted him twice, but Abu Bakr (ra) controlled himself. He insulted him thrice and Abu Bakr (ra) took revenge on him. Then the Apostle of Allah (sal Allah hu aleyhi wasalam) got up when Abu Bakr took revenge.  Abu Bakr said: Were you angry with me, Apostle of Allah?  RasoolAllah (saw) replied: An angel came down from Heaven and he was rejecting what he had said to you. When you took revenge, a devil came down. I was not going to sit when the devil came down.

    Quote
    “To be forgiving and to control yourself in the face of provocation, to give justice to the person who was unfair and unjust to you, to give to someone even though he did not give to you when you were in need and to keep connection with someone who may not have reciprocated your concern.”

    Similarly the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said that

    Quote
    the best of people are those who are slow to get angry and quick to forgive. On the other hand the worst of people are those, he said who get angry quickly but are slow to forgive.

    The characteristic that makes a person most likely to forgive is the purity of his or her heart. Apologies must be accepted, the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said that:

    Quote
    “Whoever apologises to his brother and that apology is not accepted, then the person who refuses to accept the apology bears the sin of one who takes the property of another unjustly.

    And the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) also said that:

    Quote
    “The doors of the Garden are open on Monday and Thursday. Every Muslim slave who does not associate anything with Allah is forgiven except for the man who has enmity between him and his brother. It is said, ‘Leave those two until they have made a reconciliation. Leave those two until they have made a reconciliation.’”

    If we look at the example and the character of the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) we can see that he was always forgiving and never showed enmity to anyone except those who waged war against him. There was an old lady who used to throw rubbish in his way every day, on one occasion she did not throw rubbish in the street, so he decided to go and see what was the matter. She was ill in bed, to her amazement, the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) came to see her and find out about her.
    She accepted Islam.

    This is the example of the man whom we claim to follow.

    We should similarly be merciful with each other. First of all, we ourselves should not do anything to upset our brothers and sisters (because this is in itself a part of mercy) and then we should forgive those who have upset us or made us angry. We will never be a strong ummah if we are not able to forgive.

    Forgiveness is Powerful Anger appears powerful, but leaves us feeling frustrated and powerless. Forgiveness, which appears weak, leaves us feeling stronger and less vulnerable to others.  Anger hurts not only those it is directly at, but those who wield it as well. By not forgiving the person who wronged us, we continue to inflict on ourselves the pain they created.

    Quote from: surah 42:43
    “But indeed if any shows patience and forgives that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs.”

    Forgiveness is a choice that requires us to take responsibility for our actions and feelings. It requires us to be responsible to and for ourselves, even for our pain and humiliation. It means being responsible for the choices we make, including the choice of anger and the choice of Forgiveness.

    Quote from: Ash-Shuraa, 42:40
    Whoever pardons and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God.

    Having problems with family members, friends, coworkers does not necessarily mean they are toxic. Relationship problems are normal and can often be solved by honest communication and problem-solving. One question to ask yourself is, “Is this relationship harming me more than benefiting me?” If the relationship is more harmful, it may be toxic. Because of their unwillingness to take responsibility, it is difficult to repair relationships with them. Setting boundaries/limits is crucial.

    How to cope is complicated because every situation is unique. Here is a list of ideas. You should use your intuition and reason to choose the best course of action. Not all of these ideas will work for your particular situation.

    • Live for Allah.
      …But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness? (Fussilat, 41:53)
      Place your hopes in Allah, and not in people. Allah is All-Seeing and All-Hearing, and He will reward you for your patience and sincerity.
      The Prophet Muhammad said: “The Muslim who mixes with the people and bears patiently their hurtful words, is better than one who does not mix with people and does not show patience under their abuse.”
      If you focus on Allah and on earning His pleasure, then you will try to be a good Muslim regardless of how other people act.
      Say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds.” (6:162)
      The Prophet said, “Do not be of those who do to others as the others do to them, and say that we will do them a favor if they do us a favor, and if they will be mean and unjust to us then we, too, will be mean and unjust to them. On the contrary, resolve that you will do good if the others do good, and if they do a wrong and act unjustly, even then you will not be unfair to them.”
    • Try to show toxic person kindness and understanding, but also limit your contact with them to protect yourself from their toxic behaviors.
      Many toxic people are going through difficult times. They may be suffering from health and/or emotional problems. You can try to show them understanding to the best of your ability. If they request something from you, you can respect their requests (as long as they are reasonable and permissible in Islam).
    • Take care of yourself and know your limits.
      Our Prophet said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshiping in the mornings, the nights.”
      Remember to not “overburden” yourself. Take care of yourself by making dua to Allah, exercising, and expressing your feelings to a caring person. Many stress experts believe that the stress caused by other people is the most damaging of all stressors.
      Take responsibility for your happiness by finding ways to cope and relax.
      Also, do not take the toxic behavior of people personally. They are the ones with a problem, not you.
    • Find peace in truth and wisdom.
      As quoted above, Allah is truly the Witness of all things. When someone is behaving unjustly to you, find peace in the truth of the situation, knowing that Allah is enough as a Witness.
    • Sometimes it is best to be silent.
      Our Prophet said, “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good, or keep silent.”
      If you are not sure that what you are about to say to a toxic person is “good”, then perhaps it’s best to keep silent. When a person is angry or disrespectful, he/she is not in a state of mind to listen to reason anyway.
      If you are feeling angry, you may say something that you regret.
      Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (Al-’A’raf, 7:199).And obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel for then you will be weak in hearts and your power will depart, and be patient; surely Allah is with the patient. (Al-Anfal, 8:46)
      Our Prophet said, “It is sin enough for you not to cease quarreling.”
    • Listen to your intuition and use your reason.
      Use your intuition and reason to decide how to respond to a toxic person. Many psychologists believe that intuition is simply your past knowledge and experience coming out in a fast message; this definition of intuition can also be called: wisdom. Islam teaches us to use our reason and to gain wisdom from our life experiences.
      It is He Who has created you from dust then from a sperm-drop, then from a leech-like clot; then does he get you out (into the light) as a child: then lets you (grow and) reach your age of full strength; then lets you become old,- though of you there are some who die before;- and lets you reach a Term appointed; in order that ye may learn wisdom. (Ghafir, 40:67)
      For example: Use your intuition to decide when is the best time to talk about an issue with a person.
    • Set and enforce boundaries and keep your distance.
      Every healthy relationship has some boundaries. Boundaries are limits that you set with other people.
      Examples: You can set boundaries about how often you will meet or talk to toxic person. You can tell them what kind of behaviors you will not accept from them. If a person does not respect your boundaries, then you need to have some kind of consequence, such as leaving for some time.
    • Seek support.
      Surround yourself with positive people who care about you and support you. Use your support systems to help solve any problems you are having with toxic person.
    • Sometimes it’s best to speak directly to toxic people.
      Again, use your intuition/experience to decide when it’s best to speak more directly to a toxic person about his/her behaviors. You can respectfully explain to them what they are doing that is disturbing you.
      Examples: You can say, “I feel insulted when you say…” You can also ask them, “That’s interesting…Why would you say that?” You can explain to them that you will not tolerate dishonesty, mani****tion, or rude behavior.
    • Do not feel hatred towards toxic person.
      The Prophet advised a companion, “Son, if you are able, keep your heart from morning till night and from night till morning free from malice towards anyone…O my son! This is one of my laws, and he, who loves my laws verily, loves me.”
      Hating people for being toxic only brings more toxicity into your life.
    • If their toxic behavior becomes physically abusive, it’s a legal matter that must be addressed.
      Physical abuse is never tolerated in Islam. Consider the following hadiths:
      “Those who abuse their slaves cannot enter Paradise.” “An owner slapped his female slave in the face, and the Prophet ordered him to free her as compensation.”
      A’ishah (the Prophet’s wife) said, “The Messenger of Allah never struck a servant of his with his hand, nor did he ever hit a woman.”
      It was asked of the Prophet: What do you say (command) about our wives? He replied: Give them food what you have for yourself, and clothe them by which you clothe yourself, and do not beat them, and do not revile them.

    Showing kindness to people is highly rewarded, but at the same time, we need to take care of ourselves so that we can be kind, healthy people in the long-run. If your mental health is suffering from the effects of toxic people, you should treat yourself with kindness and protect yourself from harm. Also remember that you are not alone and that many people suffer from toxic relationships.

    You will be a happier person if you can avoid toxic people and set boundaries. Setting boundaries is not easy; it means saying “no” and limiting contact. Just because people are related to you (or you work with them) does not give them the right to be hurtful and dishonest. Family members are supposed to love and support one another. May Allah protect us from toxic people and help everyone become better people. Ameen![/list]

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