By Dr. Muhammad Abd Al-Rahman Al-Arifi – Prominent figure in the field of Dawah and author of more than twenty published works
The diversity in people’s personalities becomes noticeable when one analyzes the way they react to the various stories or incidents that are related to them. You can carry out this experiment yourself: Try relating a sad story to a group of people and see how differently they react.
I recall delivering a Friday sermon, wherein I mentioned the story of Umar’s (rta) assassination. When I came to the part where Abu Lulu, the Magian, stabbed Umar (rta), I said in a loud voice: “Suddenly, Abu Lulu jumped at Umar (rta) 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 (rta) below his navel and dragged the knife across his body until his intestines emerged.”
I noticed that people’s reaction to my words varied: Some individuals closed their eyes, as if they were witnessing the murder taking place in front of them. Others wept. Yet others showed no reaction at all.
Another lesson that I have learnt from my life is that you will almost inevitably come across another person, who is uncouth and ignorant. Such a person can neither articulate himself appropriately, nor is he courteous to his audience.
I recall one such person sitting in a public gathering. 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 saying this, he pointed at the person next to him. I have no idea how he managed to liken poor Khalid to a donkey!
Can one change his own personality to suit the personality of the one with whom he is interacting? The answer is: Yes.
Umar (rta) was known for his strong personality. One day, a man quarrelled with his wife and came to Umar (rta) to ask for advice. When he stood at Umar’s (rta) door and was about to knock, he heard Umar’s (rta) wife shouting at him, while he remained silent. He neither shouted back, nor rebuked her!
The man was amazed, and turned to leave. Umar (rta) heard a noise at the door. He went out and called the man: “What do you need?”
He said: “O Ameer Al-Mumineen, I came to you to complain about my wife, but then I heard your wife shouting at you!”
Umar (rta) said, “She is my wife who sleeps with me, makes food for me, and washes my clothes. Shall I not be patient with her?”
One must be patient with others and try to ignore their bad traits in light of their virtues. The amazing person in this regard is he who is able to win all kinds of hearts by knowing the personality of the one with whom he is dealing. If he travels with a miser, he wins his heart by being economical. If he sits with the emotional, he too becomes emotional and his companions love him. If he accompanies the light-hearted, he jokes and laughs along with them. He deals with each situation accordingly and thus, earns people’s love.
Adapted (with permission) from Enjoy Your Life published by Darussalam. Compiled for Hiba by Bisma Ishtiaq.