Issue 80 / March - April 2011
Reproaching Our Fellow-travelers
Question: Different groups or individuals who do good work in their own way are sometimes critical of others for using different methods. What would you say about being critical of others on one hand and feeling satisfied with the correctness of their own method on the other?
One will be held responsible according to his or her intention. However, it is beneficial to know that on the subject of service to the society, we cannot claim that, in the absolute sense, our path is faultless. Moreover, misfortune can come to all, good or bad.
Yes, sometimes the path a believer follows can be flawed, but they may not run into difficulties. Sometimes, although a person walks on a faultless path, they may encounter many difficulties. In fact, many calamities can come to a person who is on a perfectly straight path; this is in order to purify and test them. If one considers that the greatest calamities came to the prophets, then the saints (or religious scholars, according to another report) and then to others according to their spiritual degree, it can be seen that trouble can come to everyone. Consequently, a person‚Äôs being subjected to difficulty does not have a great deal to do with the straightness or crookedness of the path they follow.
By means of such difficulties and calamities God encourages a person who is on a straight path to advance farther on an even better path. He can also admonish a person who has flaws to advance onto a straighter path. In other words, it is difficult to understand God‚Äôs ways. Everyone should accept calamity as a sign according to their level and be prepared for duty. Of course, this idea is very important for everyone from the aspect of self-examination.
In its simplest meaning, examining difficulties and calamities that come to others as being due to their not following one‚Äôs own path is not fair. Such a thought cannot be reconciled with a believer‚Äôs consideration of others. God help us not to say: ‚ÄúHe deserved that!‚ÄĚ as this in no way can be reconciled with being a believer. God forbid ‚Äď He may turn such a calamity onto the person who utters these words.
In fact, even thinking that people who are on a completely flawed path have attracted calamity on their heads for this reason is nothing but an unjust and unjustified assumption.
A person should always be sincerely considerate of other believers. When we examine the matter from this perspective, even if a person should burgle our house, beat us or transgress our rights, then encountering some calamity, one should not say, ‚ÄúOh, they deserved it!‚ÄĚ If we, as victims, are defeated by our feelings at a particular moment and make a temporary lapse, later we should be remorseful and say, ‚ÄúOh my Lord! I am sorry! I seek refuge in You!‚ÄĚ
The attitude of one believer towards another should always be just and this is our responsibility. For ‚Äď God willing ‚Äď one day we will pass over the Sirat (bridge) together, enter Heaven together and come face to face. There it is always possible for what is hidden to surface. The things we thought and designed can fall in front of us, one by one ‚Äď this is possible ‚Äď and we will be greatly shamed. For God says this is ‚ÄúThe day that all things secret will be tested‚ÄĚ (Tariq 86:9). May God, the Coverer of All Shameful Things, cover our faults and the faults of others!
A believer should be very kind and very generous so that the Most Generous God will bestow different blessings upon them. In fact, a good believer should always think and say: ‚ÄúMy God! These people did some bad and base things to me, but I have forgiven them. I was not able to be a fully noble servant to You, oh my Lord, who is Clement and Free of Defects! Please forgive me, too!‚ÄĚ
Indeed, it is necessary to have the means on our journey to God. Thus, a believer should consider this matter he or she happens to be with other fellow travelers doing good work a means for reaching God, seeking refuge in Him with it and seeking relief in His shade.
Yes, just as differences in path and method should not cause believers to turn against one another, this kind of reproach should not be imposed on other believing brothers or sisters.
Furthermore, seeing calamities falling on our brothers or sisters as a result of the path they are taking is no different than criticizing destiny. These kinds of thoughts are contrary to the tenets of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, ‚ÄúDo not say ‚ÄėI wish it had been‚Äô (regretting what happened and condemning his fate) for it is destruction; it opens the door to the Devil‚Äôs work.‚ÄĚ Consequently, getting hung up on thoughts like, ‚ÄúIf they had done this, such and such a calamity would not have occurred to them‚ÄĚ is a sign that we are setting out on the Devil‚Äôs path.
As believers, we should know that we cannot take the past to account. The past can be examined only for learning lessons and illuminating the future. In particular, if we are happy about a calamity that has befallen a believer is absolutely not acceptable, more so especially if this implies a criticism of destiny.