(20) People are like the minerals of the earth
If we reflect upon our experiences with others, we find that people have different natures like the varying nature of the land.
There are those who are soft, and those who are hard. There are those who are generous, like a fertile land, and those who are miserly, like a barren field that can neither hold water, nor produce fruit. People, therefore, differ immensely.
On reflection, we know that various terrains are traversed in different ways. The manner in which solid ground is walked upon is certainly not the way soft ground is. One would be relaxed walking on the former while apprehensive on the latter. Human beings are of a similar nature.
The Prophet Peace be upon him said, “Allah created Adam from a handful of dust taken from different lands, so the children of Adam have been created according to the composition of the land. Therefore from mankind we have red, white, black and what comes in between these; we have good and evil, easygoing and sorrowful.”
(Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi who said it Hasan Sahih)
Bear this in mind when dealing with others whether they are close, such as fathers, mothers, wives or children, or otherwise, such as neighbours, colleagues or even shopkeepers.
People’s various natures and temperaments have an effect on their decisions. To prove this point, carry out the following experiment: If you ever have a problem with your wife, ask a friend of yours, whom you know to be harsh, for advice. Say to him, “My wife is giving me problems. She does not treat me with respect. What should I do?”
He would probably respond with, “Women can only be controlled by terror, fury and rage! Have a strong personality and show her that you are a man!” If you follow this advice, you may subsequently return home and as a result, break up your family.
Now, try another friend whom you know to be soft and gentle. Tell him what you told your previous friend. You will find that he would probably say something like, “Dear brother, she is the mother of your children. All marriages have problems.
Have patience with her regardless of what happens. She is, after all, your wife and your life partner.”
Note how a person’s nature affects his views and decisions.
For this reason, the Prophet Peace be upon him forbade that a judge should pass a verdict when he is either thirsty, hungry or even feeling the urge to answer the call of nature. This is because these matters may affect a person, and subsequently influence his decisions and judgements.
In a previous era, there lived a mass murderer. Yes, a mass murderer who did not kill one, two, or even ten people. No, he had killed ninety-nine. I have no idea how this man managed to escape revenge; perhaps, he was so ruthless that none would ever dare approach him, or perhaps he kept in hiding. The important fact here though is that he was guilty of ninety-nine mur- ders.
One day, the idea of repentance crossed his mind, so he decided to ask the most knowledgeable scholar in the world.
People pointed him in the direction of a monk in a monastery who would never leave his prayer mat, spending all his time praying to Allah and weeping.
The man visited the monk, stood in front of him and asked, “I have killed ninety-nine souls. Could I still repent?”
How could this monk, who I think if he were to have killed an ant mistakenly would have spent the rest of his life weeping, respond to a person who had murdered ninety-nine people with his bare hands? The monk was furious. It was as if the man standing in front of him was the embodiment of the ninety-nine corpses! He yelled, “There is no repentance for you! There is no repentance for you!”
It should come as no surprise that such a response would be given by a monk who lacked knowledge and made emotional decisions.
When the murderer heard this response he was enraged.
Being the callous person he was, he grabbed a knife and repeatedly stabbed the monk, cutting him into pieces, then stormed out of the monastery.
After some time, he thought about repentance once again.
He enquired about the most knowledgeable person he could ask, and the people referred him to a scholar. When he visited the scholar, he found him to be sedate and god-fearing.
The murderer came forward and asked, “I have killed a hundred people. Could I still repent?”
The scholar instantly replied, “SubhaanAllah! What could prevent you from repenting?”
What a wonderful response! Who could prevent a person from repentance? The Lord is in the heavens and there is no power on earth that can prevent a person from repenting to Him submissively.
This scholar, who had made his statement based on knowledge and upon Allah’s Law as opposed to his whims and emotions, said to the man, “However, you are in an evil land.” Strange!
How did he know that? He gathered this by knowing the magnitude of the man’s crime and the absence of anyone to forbid him.
He realised that murder and oppression had become a norm in that city, so much so that nobody had any concern for the plight of the oppressed.
He said, “You are in an evil land.” Meaning, you must leave here and go to such-and-such a land where there are people worshipping Allah and join them in worshipping Him.
The man set out for that land but died before reaching it. The angels of mercy and those of punishment descended to take his soul. The angels of mercy argued that he had been on his way to repenting and returning to Allah. The angels of wrath argued that he had not done any good in his entire life. Therefore, Allah sent an angel in the form of a man to settle their dispute. He judged that the distance between the two cities be measured, and that the man be judged according to whichever of the two he had been closer to. Allah inspired the city of mercy to be closer and the city of disobedience to be farther. It was thus discovered that he had been closer to the city of virtue. The angels of mercy therefore took the man’s soul.
Unfortunately, many of those who pass verdicts in Islamic matters as well as some who seek them are often carried away by emotion. I recall one of my neighbours who often had arguments with his wife. One day he had a terrible one due to which he divorced her once, and then took her back. After that, he had another one due to which he divorced her again, only to take her back again. Each time I would meet him, I would remind him of the seriousness of divorce as well as of his responsibilities towards his small children. I would often say to him, “You only have one divorce left – the third one. If you were to divorce her again, she would no longer be yours and would not be allowed to marry you again except after having married another man and then being divorced from him, so fear Allah and do not destroy your household.”
One day, he came to me again in a worried state and said, “Dear Shaykh, we had an argument again and I have divorced her for the third time!” Although I was not surprised at this, I was shocked when he continued, “Would you happen to know of a beloved Shaykh who can pass a verdict allowing me to take her back?”
On reflection, I came to realise what we have just mentioned above, that many people’s views – or even legal rulings – vary due to their nature and emotional state. Some people are known to love wealth by nature. One should not be surprised to see them humiliating themselves in front of the wealthy. Such people
would neglect their own children in order to accumulate wealth and would hardly spend on those under their responsibility. This should come as no surprise, bearing in mind their greedy nature, as the fact is that most of the decisions they make and opinions they hold are based on their nature.
If one wishes to deal with a person of this nature or make a request of him, then he should bear in mind, before speaking to him, his love for wealth, and then endeavour to not conflict with his nature in order to attain success with him. An example will illustrate this point: Suppose one bumps into an old university colleague and therefore invites him home for lunch, which he agrees to; one would then need to go shopping in order to purchase the required foods as well as time and effort in order to prepare the lunch. Suppose he then phones up some of his other old friends asking them to come around to meet this colleague...
Amongst these friends may be a miser whose heart is captured by the love of wealth. He may be delighted to hear the voice of the caller, but would say when he hears about the lunch appointment, “Oh! How I wish I could come and meet so-and-so, but I am too busy with other things right now. Please do convey my
greetings to him though. Perhaps, I will see him another time.” It is known by this person’s nature that he did not wish to come, fearing that he too would have to invite this colleague for lunch, which would cost him!
Therefore, one would say to such a person, “Well, he is not in town for long. He will most probably leave straight after the lunch.”
The friend would then say, “Oh, I see! In that case, I will delay what I have to do and come and see him!”
Other people tend to be socially restricted to their families.
A person of this nature would always love to be with his family and could not bear leaving them. One could ask him for anything except for being parted from his children, even for a short while, as that would be too much for him to tolerate.
The amazing person in this regard is he who is able to capture all kinds of hearts. If he travels with a miser, he wins the heart of his companion by being economical. If he sits with the emotional, he too is emotional towards them and so they love him. If he accompanies the light-hearted, he makes jokes and laughs along with them, thereby winning their hearts. He deals with each situation accordingly.
Look at the conduct of the Prophet Peace be upon him as he advanced with his many battalions to conquer Makkah. Before the conquest, Abu Sufyan visited the Prophet Peace be upon him and accepted Islam. When he became a Muslim, al-‘Abbas said to the Prophet Peace be upon him, “O Messenger of Allah, Abu Sufyan is a man who loves pride and honour, so please offer him something.”
The Prophet Peace be upon him said, “Yes, whoever enters the house of Abu Sufyan is safe. Whoever locks himself in his house is safe. Whoever enters the Mosque is safe.”
When Abu Sufyan set off to return to Makkah, the Prophet Peace be upon him looked at him and thought that this is the man who mobilized the Quraysh to fight him at Badr, Uhud and then Khandaq. He was a leader who had spent many years of his life in wars. Since he was a new Muslim, the Prophet Peace be upon him wanted to show him the strength of Islam.
The Prophet Peace be upon him said to al-‘Abbas, “O ‘Abbas!”
“At your service, O Messenger of Allah!” replied al-‘Abbas.
He said, “Delay Abu Sufyan in the narrow pass of the valley so that he can witness the armies of Allah as they pass by him.”
Al-‘Abbas took Abu Sufyan to the narrow pass of the valley just as the armies began to flood into Makkah. The battalions, one by one, began to pass by him. When he saw the first battalion, he asked, ‘Who are they, O ‘Abbas?’
Al-‘Abbas replied, “They are Sulaym.”
Abu Sufyan said, “What do I have to do with Sulaym?”
When the second battalion passed by, he asked, “Who are they, O ‘Abbas?”
Al-‘Abbas replied, “They are Muzaynah.”
Abu Sufyan said, “What do I have to do with Muzaynah?”
Every time a different battalion passed by, Abu Sufyan asked the same question and made the same statement in response to al-‘Abbas’, until there finally came the Messenger of Allah Peace be upon him with his Green Army, surrounded by the Muhajirun and the Ansaar.
Their bodies were covered with shields and nothing of them was to be seen except their eyes.
Abu Sufyan said, “SubhaanAllah! O ‘Abbas, Who are these people?”
Al-‘Abbas said, “This is the Messenger of Allah Peace be upon him amongst the Muhajirun and the Ansar.”
He said, “This is the army of death! By Allah, nobody could ever challenge this army!”
He then said, “By Allah, O Abu al-Fadl, your nephew’s kingdom has expanded!”
Al-‘Abbas said, “O Abu Sufyan, this is prophethood!”
“Prophethood, it certainly is!” replied Abu Sufyan.
When the armies had passed by, al-‘Abbas told him to rush back and warn his people. Abu Sufyan quickly went back to Makkah and began to shout at the top of his voice, “O Quraysh!
Muhammad is approaching with an army you cannot match!
Whoever enters the house of Abu Sufyan shall be safe!”
The people said, “May Allah curse you! What good will your house do us?”
He said, “Whoever shuts himself in his house is safe! Whoever seeks refuge in the Mosque is also safe!” The people dispersed into their houses and some entered the Mosque. How wonderful was the Prophet Peace be upon him to have such a positive effect on Abu Sufyan!
A person’s nature and personality should be understood before he is spoken to, as this would assist a great deal when dealing with him.
At the expedition known as al-Hudaybiyah, the Prophet Peace be upon him left with the Muhajirun and Ansaar as well as other Arabs for ‘Umrah. They numbered a thousand and four-hundred altogether.
They had taken with them animals to slaughter and had made the Ihraam, so it was known that they were heading to visit the House in its honour. The Prophet Peace be upon him took with him seventy camels to slaughter in the Haram. When they approached Makkah, the Quraysh prevented them from going further, so the Prophet Peace be upon him and his Companions camped at a place called al-Hudaybiyah.
The Quraysh then began sending messages to the Prophet Peace be upon him, one after the other, to bargain with him.
They first dispatched to him Mikraz bin Hafs. Mikraz was from Quraysh but was not known for keeping to his agreements.
As a matter of fact, he was an evil and treacherous person. When the Prophet Peace be upon him saw him approaching he said, “He is a treacherous person.” When he came to the Prophet Peace be upon him, the Prophet Peace be upon him spoke to him in the way that he deserved, and further informed him that he had not come to fight; rather, he had only come to perform ‘Umrah. The Prophet Peace be upon him did not sign any agreement with him as he knew he never kept his promises.
Mikraz returned to the Quraysh without any result. They then sent Halis bin ‘Alqama, the chieftain of the Ahabish, who were allies of the Quraysh. They had settled in Makkah in honour of the Haram and in the service of the Ka’bah.
When the Prophet Peace be upon him saw Halis he said, “This man is from a people who think highly of animal sacrifice. Drive the sacrificial animals in full view of him so that he can see them.” When he saw the sacrificial animals and realised that they had been brought all the way to Makkah to be sacrificed at the Ka’bah, he became worried. He didn’t even meet the Prophet Peace be upon him, for how could he have even thought of preventing them when they had so obviously come solely to perform ‘Umrah. He therefore returned immediately to the Quraysh and told them his opinion frankly.
The Quraysh said, “Sit down! You are simply a nomad Arab.
You have no idea regarding plots and conspiracies.”
Al-Halis became angry and said, “O Quraysh! By Allah, this is not what we pledged allegiance to you upon. Are you going to prevent someone who comes to honour the House of Allah?
By the One who has the soul of al-Halis in His Hand, you must allow Muhammad to perform ‘Umrah, or I will leave along with all of my tribe!”
They said, “Refrain! Let us decide for ourselves what we wish!”
They then decided to send an honourable person from Quraysh, so they chose ‘Urwah bin Mas‘ud at-Thaqafi.
He said, “O Quraysh, I have seen the response given to you by some of those you have already sent. You know that you are like the father and I am the son.”
They said, “You are correct. We cannot accuse you of anything.”
‘Urwah was one of the leaders amongst his people who was much honoured and respected. He went to the Prophet Peace be upon him and said, “O Muhammad! You have gathered all these people and returned to your birthplace. The Quraysh have come out and pledged to Allah that you will not enter Makkah by force against their will. By Allah, all these people around you may well desert you!”
Abu Bakr was standing behind the Prophet Peace be upon him. When he heard this, he said, “Go and suck on the clitoris of al-Laat! Would we desert him?”
‘Urwah being a leader of his people was shocked at the response, for he was not used to such language. However, he needed a dose of this medicine to treat the arrogance he carried.
‘Urwah said, “Who is this, O Muhammad?”
He said, “This is Ibn Abi Quhafah.”
‘Urwah said, “By the One who has my soul in His Hand, had it not been for a favour you gave to me and which I never repaid, I would have given you a similar response.”
‘Urwah then began using mild and measured expressions.
As he spoke to the Messenger of Allah Peace be upon him, he would attempt to stroke his beard. While this was happening, al-Mughirah bin Shu’bah at-Thaqafi stood beside the Prophet Peace be upon him with an iron mask covering his face.
As ‘Urwah would bring his hand closer to the Prophet’s beard, al-Mughirah would thrust it away with his sword. ‘Urwah repeated his act and al-Mughirah did the same.
When ‘Urwah reached out for the Prophet’s beard for the third time, al-Mughirah said, “Draw back your hand from the face of Allah’s Messenger before you lose it!” Meaning, before I cut it off.
‘Urwah said, “Woe to you! How crude and coarse you are!
Who is this, O Muhammad?”
The Prophet Peace be upon him smiled and said, “He is your nephew, al-Mughirah bin Shu’bah at-Thaqafi.”
‘Urwah said, “You’d do this, you traitor? It was only yesterday that I washed away your treachery!”
‘Urwah then left the Prophet Peace be upon him and returned to Quraysh and said, “O Quraysh! By Allah, I have met Kisra, Caesar and Negus, but by Allah, I have not seen a king being honoured by his people the way Muhammad is honoured by his Companions.”
Upon hearing this awestruck man, the Quraysh were left awestruck themselves. They then decided to send Suhayl bin ‘Amr instead. Suhayl went to the Prophet Peace be upon him and when the Prophet Peace be upon him saw him he said, “The matter is now easy to resolve.” They then wrote the well-known pledge of al-Hudaybiyah.
This was a demonstration of the Prophet’s recognition of different personalities and the correct approach of dealing with each individual based on his personal merit and individuality.
The variance in people’s personalities is noticeable by analyzing the way they react to the various stories or incidents that are related to them. One can carry out this experiment himself: Try relating a sad story to a group of people and see how differently people react.
I recall delivering a Friday sermon once wherein I mentioned the story of ‘Umar’s assassination. When I came to the part where Abu Lu’lu’ the Magian stabbed ‘Umar, I said in a loud voice, “Suddenly, Abu Lu’lu’ jumped at ‘Umar and stabbed him three times! The first stab hacked his chest. The second went into his stomach. Then, with all his strength, he thrust his sword into ‘Umar below his navel and dragged the knife across his body until his intestines emerged.”
I noticed that the people varied in their reaction to my words: Some closed their eyes as if they were witnessing the murder taking place in front of them.
Others wept.
Others showed no reaction at all, as if they were listening to a bedtime story.
You would witness a similar mixed reaction if you were to relate the story of Hamzah when he was killed in Uhud; how his stomach was cut open, his liver taken out, his ears cut off, and his nose mutilated, Hamzah, being the master of the martyrs and the lion of Allah and His Messenger Peace be upon him.
Another lesson that I have learnt from my life is that one will almost inevitably come across a person who is uncouth and ignorant. Neither can such a person articulate himself appropriately, nor is he courteous to his audience.
I recall such a person sitting in a public gathering where he decided to relate an incident involving a shopkeeper. As he related the story he said, “This shopkeeper was huge, like a donkey!”
He then said, “He looked like Khalid!’ while pointing at the person next to him! I have no idea how he managed to liken poor Khalid to a donkey!
Before ending this chapter, an important question must be answered: Can one change his own personality to suit that of the one he is interacting with?
The answer is: Yes!
‘Umar – may Allah be pleased with him – was known for his strong personality. One day, a man quarrelled with his wife and came to ‘Umar to ask him advice on how to deal with her. When he stood at ‘Umar’s door and was about to knock, he heard ‘Umar’s wife shouting at him while ‘Umar remained silent. He neither shouted back, nor rebuked her!
The man was amazed, and turned back to leave. ‘Umar heard a noise at the door, so he went out and called the man, “What do you need?”
He said, “O Amir al-Mu’minin, I came to you to complain about my wife, but then I heard your wife shouting at you!”
‘Umar said, “She is my wife who sleeps with me, makes me food and washes my clothes. Shall I not be patient with her?”
For some people there is no solution, and with them one must remain patient. A person may complain to me about his father’s anger or his wife’s miserliness, and so on. I would suggest a few solutions only to hear he has tried all of them and has had no success! What then is the solution?
The solution is that one should remain patient with such people and try to ignore their bad traits in light of their virtues.
They should try to accommodate them however much they can, for some problems simply have no solution.
The result...
Knowing the personality of the one you are dealing with helps you earn his love.