“Sorry” Made Easy

Vol 2- Issue 2 Sorry  made easyA friend arrives late for an appointment. Your teacher criticizes you in public. Your cousin loses the book you lent her. An acquaintance passes a remark that ends up hurting your feelings. Yet, none of them say they are sorry. No doubt, you get upset at the fact that people do not realize their mistakes and apologize for them.

However, in all fairness, are they the only ones to blame or are we partially responsible as well? How often have many of us made it difficult for others to apologize? I mean, finally someone musters up the courage to admit ones mistake and then apologizes only to get bad reactions in return for their noble efforts. I once heard a woman say, “Sometimes, if you say sorry to someone, they think themselves superior and act haughtily.” Imagine it was you apologizing, wouldn’t you like your apology to be accepted and your mistake forgiven, instead of being jeered at?

It is equally important to learn to accept the apology of others as well as forgive graciously and humbly. We can actually cultivate such courteous behavior by recalling the rewards Allah (swt) has promised in the Quran to those who forgive: “Those who spend (in Allah’s (swt) Cause – deeds of charity, alms, etc.) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah (swt) loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (Al-Imran 3:134)

Allah (swt) the Almighty, the Creator of all things, with His infinite Mercy constantly forgives our sins, so why should not to forgive others?

Here are a few things for you to remember the next time someone apologizes to you. Know that it is not the time for digging up and settling old scores. You will only end up making things worse. If you need to clear misconceptions about the issue at hand, do not discuss it in an accusatory manner. Instead, provide constructive advice whenever possible. Indeed, some of us really do not know how to react or what to say, when somebody apologizes to us. Try saying something pleasant like: “Everybody makes mistakes,” or “I know you didn’t really mean it.” A smile at times is enough, or maybe a hug or pat on the arm or shoulder. By the way, a kind gesture goes a long way. And once you accept someone’s apology, let bygones truly be bygones. Neither dwell on it, nor talk about it with others.

We should strive to cultivate this noble trait from a young age. How? By responding to other peoples’ apologies with warmth and encouragement, making them feel comfortable about admitting their faults. If you do so, they will always be ready to admit their mistakes without shying away. And don’t forget to own up and apologize to them for your mistakes, too.

Finally, be sensitive to and recognize nonverbal apologies. Some people, like parents, older siblings, teachers, or elder relatives, find it difficult to make verbal apologies to those they consider their subordinates. Or maybe they just find it hard to do so. They usually prefer to make amends through kind deeds, praise, or nice gestures, such as, giving flowers or gifts. So, please recognize and accept both the conventional and unconventional forms of apologies.

Tongue Terrors!

tongue terrorsI want to share with you a strange story I once heard. Two brothers were at a bus stop, when a young lady approached them. Her arms were laden with groceries. Indicating her apartment behind them, she asked if they could help her. One of the brothers agreed, while the other stayed at the stop. Fifteen minutes later, the brother at the stop began to worry – his sibling had not yet returned. What was taking him so long to drop off some groceries? He ran to the apartment the young lady had pointed out and knocked on the door. A child, with a bone in his hand and fresh blood dripping from his teeth, answered it. Terrified, the young man pushed past him into the apartment. To his horror, he found a group of people feasting on the body of his dead brother!

I was really disgusted when I heard this! Then, after the story, I got a real shock. I was told that I do this all the time! Eat human flesh? Me? No way! I faint at the sight of my own blood.

It was explained that Allah has said: “…And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting)…” (Al-Hujurat 49:12)

So every time I invite my friends over for some ‘juicy gossip’, I am actually inviting them to dig into a ‘juicy human steak’! I remember how I mimicked that teacher with the accent. My classmates thought I was so cool. Some even said: “You’re so smart.” Now, I am not sure if I really was.

Our beloved Prophet (sa) warned us: “A man may be so close to Paradise such that the distance between him and it is one arm’s length and he speaks a word and he becomes distant from it further than Sanaa (referring to a great distance).” (At-Tirmidhi)

Subhan’Allah! One word! The jokes I cracked about my over-weight cousin had several words!

When I fasted in Ramadan, I never tasted a single morsel of food. To me that was an accomplishment. However, I relished those hot angry words I dished out to everyone, who suggested I do something other than sleep the day away. I controlled my hunger but not my tongue, so my fasts became a farce.

The Prophet (sa) said: “When a man gets up in the morning, all the limbs humble themselves before the tongue and say: ‘Fear Allah for our sake, for we are dependent on you; if you are straight we are straight, but if you are crooked we are crooked’” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet (sa) even once took hold of his tongue and said: “Exercise restraint on it…Will anything else besides (irresponsible) talk cause the people to be thrown into the Hell-Fire upon their faces or on their nostrils?” (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn-Majah)

Allah’s Messenger (sa) also said: “Whoever guarantees me (the chastity of) what is between his legs (i.e., his private parts), and what is between his jaws (i.e., his tongue), I guarantee him Paradise.” (At-Tirmidhi)

From now on, I shall no longer give my tongue free reign to babble away, Insha’Allah (and I mean it), till I have something good to say. It is confined to its place, in my mouth, behind my teeth.

Mind your Language

Image mind your languageWords can make or break someone’s day. They could help a friendship grow, or they could end it. Words could bring us the blessings and favours of Allah (swt) or they could result in Allah’s (swt) anger. Words are our worst foes or best friends!

In the Quran, Allah (swt) commands us: “and speak good to people…” (Al-Baqarah 2:83)

Ahadeeth of the Prophet (sa) tell us that our tongue could either take us to heaven or land us in hell.

There are some things to bear in mind when conversing. Let us make a checklist.

  • Do I talk politely?
  • Do I smile as I talk?
  • Do I give attention to the person I am talking to, that is do I have eye contact or do I look away?
  • Do I refrain from abusive language, sarcasm and nasty remarks?
  • Do I avoid lying?
  • Do I realize that lying is one of the foremost signs of a hypocrite?
  • Do I guard secrets of my friends as an Amanah, or does my tongue give them away?
  • Do I yell and shout?
  • Is my voice calm, peaceful and soothing to listen to? Or is it monotonous, high-pitched, shrill and annoying?
  • Do I backbite? Do I realize that backbiting is a grievous sin in Allah’s (swt) eyes?
  • Do I make fun of others with my remarks?
  • Do I give genuine compliments and encouragement to others?
  • Is my accent artificial and an attempt to impress others?
  • Do I brag and boast?
  • Do I sound humble? Or do I sound arrogant?
  • Do I talk to others with empathy, understanding and affection?
  • Do I complain too much?
  • Am I impatient when others talk?
  • Do I cut into other people’s conversation with my words?
  • Do I impose my opinions on others?
  • Do I lie and make up jokes and exaggerate to be popular among my friends?
  • Do I love delving into juicy gossip and talking about scandals which I actually know nothing about?
  • Do I talk about things that are useless and don’t concern me at all?
  • Do I use my words to enjoin good and forbid evil?
  • Above all, do I use my power of speech to do Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah (swt) and recite the Quran?