Don’t belittle another person’s efforts
Life has taught me to put into practice something that has never failed me: to moderately express my approval of others. This policy always has a positive effect on all sorts of people. Gentle words work wonders on the hearts of people; our religion teaches us to be generous and kind in dealings:
And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you… (Qur’an 3: 159)
The author of the book How to Win Friends states that an important factor in attracting people to you is to praise and compliment them inordinately. I do not agree: moderation and justice are called for:
Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things. (Qur’an 65: 3)
Therefore one should neither flatter others artificially nor be dry and distant with them.
Sure, we could take the path of looking down upon people with supercilious airs; but as a result, it is we who will lose our friends – and not they who will lose us. If you are not friendly, people will soon find someone else to make acquaintance with.
And be kind and humble to the believers who follow you. (Qur’an 26: 215)
Earning the respect of others also contributes to bringing you happiness. Muslims are Allah’s witnesses on earth and they pray for each other’s forgiveness.
…and speak good to people… (Qur’an 2: 83)
In life, I have been especially impressed by those who are charismatic in their dealings ________ those who seem to attract others magnetically by their good character. They always wear a smile for others, they have honest tongues, and their hearts are free from jealousy and rancor.
With the permission of Allah, it is within the reach of every one of us to achieve acceptance among the people of the earth. This acceptance is not bought with treasures or wealth, but it is earned through sincerity towards Allah, truthfulness, the love of Allah and His Messenger (bpuh), a love for spreading well to others, and a lowly opinion of one’s own self.
To achieve these and other good qualities, we must make an honest effort, because they require an upward climb. Evil characteristics are easily achieved for whoever wants them, for they demand only a downward descent. An Arab poet said:
“The evil character soon ceases to feel his wickedness; a bodily injury causes no pain for the dead.”
The person who is self-absorbed is likely to feel inferior and melancholic on the inside. And there are some people who think more highly of themselves than they should. A few examples of such people come to mind, people who made some efforts to contribute to society, later feeling that their work deserved a lifetime’s achievement award.
One student I knew wrote a few small booklets that were targeted at young Muslims. I wanted to encourage him, so I complimented him on his efforts. Then, he began to talk endlessly about the booklets, about how widely they were distributed, and about how much acclaim they had received. I was amazed at this person’s vision of himself, but I also learned from him how people hate to be overlooked or put down.
On another occasion, I heard a taped lecture of a student. I invited him to my home, intending to encourage him to continue his efforts in seeking knowledge of Islam. When I mentioned the tape, he found his opportunity. He began by invoking Allah to benefit the entire Muslim nation through his lecture. He then continued to expound on how he had researched the topic. Before calling him, I had never expected him to be so self-centered. My conversation with him also made me realize that it is in human nature to give more worth to one’s own self than it deserves. Therefore be wary of putting somebody down:
Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let [some] women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former…. (Qur’an 49: 11)
People will love you if you applaud their efforts and give them attention:
And turn not away those who invoke their Lord, morning and afternoon… (Qur’an 6: 52)
And keep yourself [O’ Muhammad] patiently with those who call on their Lord [i.e. your companions who remember their Lord with glorification, praising in prayers, etc., and other righteous deeds, etc.] morning and afternoon… (Qur’an 18: 28)
[The Prophet] frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man [i.e. ‘Abdullah ibn Umm-Maktoom, who came to the Prophet while he was preaching to one or some of the Quraysh chiefs]. But what could tell you that per chance he might become pure [from sins]? (Qur’an 80: 1-3)
During my high school years, I not only studied poetry, but I also composed it. On one occasion, the students of another school visited us. At the welcome party, I was asked to recite some of my poetry, not because of any skill that I could lay claim to, but because I was the only one in our school who had an inclination to verse.
I read some of my poetry aloud and the Literature teacher praised both my style and use of words, and I actually believed him. I thought that I had written something of genius and only when I was older and had returned to those lines did I realize how sophomoric my work really was.
The only thing we gain by putting others down is an extra enemy. Therefore be just in recognizing the efforts of others, and compliment them for their virtues.