Title: Analysing the act of criticism
Location: Muhammadi Trust
Lecturer: Sayed Hossein Al Qazwini
Date: Sunday 8th April 2012
[Shakir 14:24] Have you not considered how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word (being) like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in heaven,
Sigmund Freud argued that human beings are driven by two main motivations
1) Sexual urge
2) Desire to be great
John Dewey the well known Americian philosopher also argued that the greatest human urge is the desire to be important. The desire to be great and important is what drove our ancestors to establish civilisations and survive and pass on life to future generation. This desire drove Charles Dickens to write his novels. This desire also drove Napoleon to want to conquer the entire world. Humans want to wear the latest styles and drive the latest cars.
George Washington would insist that he would be addressed as his majesty of the united states of America and Columbus admiral of the ocean. Catherine the Great would not open letters that were not addressed as her majesty the queen. This desire also drives many people to commit atrocities and crimes and sins. This desire didn’t allow Satin to bow in front of Adam when Allah asked the angels to prostrate he refused why? because he felt that prostrating towards Adam contradicts his sense of impotent. This is the desire that drove some to steal the Calipha to hijack it and kill and murder.
Every human being has sense of important and it is the worse feeling when person feels unimportant by being criticised. When a human being is criticised this means that sense of importance is being threatened, his pride is being threatened. As much as they love recognition they dread criticism and condemnation.
Human beings rarely admit that they are wrong they rarely admit they committed a mistake why? sometimes they don’t realise because they love themselves. When you are in love you are blinded. Some parents don’t know their children are naughty because they love them too much. We don’t condemn and criticise ourself how about if others do, we will not accept this. When we ourselves don’t criticise our own actions and statements.
Allah has created us different he has given us minds as result of this we human beings have various opinions and will no doubt disagree with one another whether on personal level e.g spouse or son or daughter. Or whether on a social level, one school disagrees with another or political party or Marjaeeya. This is normal not everyone is expected to think or act the same. Difference of opinion is very very normal. However what comes as a result of difference of opinion is namely criticism. When you and I disagree on a specific point of issue we end up criticising. Sometimes it becomes harsh criticism. sometimes the statements we say are extremely harsh and hurt other peoples feelings. What is it that criticism achieves? when you disagree you are trying to influence the other person to think like you. Does criticism serve your cause?
Has criticism ever served a cause and get people to follow their opinion? of course not even if your right and the truth is with you, by criticising they will not listen. If a husband disagrees with his wife and doesn’t accept her behaviour and tells her you are the worse wife in history will she listen to him? If employer wants to change behaviours of employee and tells him you are no good will that change his productivity? If a mother is fed up with actions of her young daughter and she yells at her and shouts at her will that change her attitude? No… this approach is wrong.
Sometimes we have the right goal and opinion but there is a problem with the approach that we seek, if we disagree with a certain school of thought and we criticise them publicly and we take their figures which to them are holy and we curse them does that serve our cause? Does it get them to convert? No, criticism never solves the issue. The problem is with approach even if you are right.
Criticism of a persons actions or behaviours or opinions or statements, criticism arouses resentment it arouses hatred it will get that person to justify his actions, when you publicly criticise that person will not think “you know what let me change” rather that person will justify his actions and statements and that person will be on the defensive.
Galileo had the opinion that the earth is not the centre of the universe. The church said the earth was in the centre and the Sun revolves around the earth. Galileo said this is not correct and that the sun is in the middle. He was condemned and then jailed and put under trial and forced to repent and seek forgiveness, of course he was forced to repent otherwise he would be executed and say he would never hold this opinion. One day they went to his prison cell and they saw on the wall. ‘Galileo’s repentance will not stop the earth revolve around the sun’
When you publicly criticise me not only am I not going to change my mind, I am going to hold on strongly to it.
[Shakir 2:256] There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
Tabtaba’ei says this verse can taken as a order it means don’t force religion on anyone, don’t force women to wear hijab etc. it can have another meaning which is like a newsflash what does that mean? it means Allah is trying to tell us something that already exists which means you cannot force anyone into something new. In arabic called ‘khabar’ means its not a order it is news. This person has to accept religion by understanding not by force.
Rasool Allah had a companion a young man who came to medina his uncle had sent him to buy things from medina as he was passing by he came past the mosque of Rasool Allah he listened to the lecture and he liked it the next day he came back and again until he became a muslim. He did not inform his uncle who used to take care of him one day he discovered it and told him you have to leave this faith otherwise I will take all of your money and not allow you to marry my daughter. He replied ‘who cares I don’t want your money or your daughter if it means I have to leave my religion’. His uncle only left him with two pieces of clothing. This man was known as ‘Al-thobayn’ because he only owned to pieces of cloths.
Harsh criticism will never work it will only get that person to fight for his opinion and his position.
Al Hakim Al Nisaburi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakim_al-Nishaburi), he wrote a book called ‘al mustadrak ala al sahihain’ He looked at sunni hadith and saw that any hadith not mentioned in bukhari or muslim however they are sahih according to their criteria. They both had certain criteria’s for hadith to be sahih.
Hakim noted some hadith fitted but they were not mentioned, either because they didn’t see the hadith or they did not fit their interest so he made this book. Most of this book is the attributes of the Ahlulbayt. He was beaten several times , yet did he change his opinion or his mind.
Al Nasa’i’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Nasa’i) , author of ‘sunan al nasa’i’. He went to damascus he goes into masjid people heard about him he was a celebrity so they asked him to give a speech about the the virtues of Muaweeya. He replied ‘well to be honest I only know one virtue when Rasool Allah told him that may his stomach never be full’. They grabbed him and severely beat him and after three days he died as a result.
Thus some people feel that in order to persuade a person or change persons opinion they should use criticism and sometimes even by threats. This does not work my dear brothers and sisters.
If you want a person to hate you and resent you and not listen to you then criticise him even if you are right. The issue is about the approach. Nowadays in the Islamic world more specifically in the Shia world we have various opinions and movements, even here in London Mashallah. They all have various opinions sometimes we don’t disagree but we disagree about the approach.
There is an arabic sayings that states ‘not everything that you know should be stated’ . I can’t come here and state everything some may be appropriate and some not. Thus its the approach that matters sometimes you have good cause but its the approach.
Abraham Lincoln during the famous civil war between the north and the south, (In america the south suppoted slavery and north did not and Abraham was from north) he saw his people critisise the south he said don’t criticise them if we in there position we may do the same as them.
Benjamin Franklin says ‘I will speak ill of no man rather I will speak of any good in any man’
Even God chooses not to judge people until the end of time so who are we to judge others and pass opinions.
Thomas Carlyle ‘a great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men’
Instead of criticism whether on individual level or social level if you have an opinion and want to convince and change another group of thinking there is another approach this is called the approach of encouragement, of appreciation, of motivation .
You see my dear friends there was a well known psychologist , B.F. Skinner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner) who performed an experiment on dogs and came with a result. This is very interesting in that animals learn far more rapidly by being rewarded for good actions than by being punished for bad behaviours. Animals will learn quicker if they are rewarded for good behaviours instead of being punished for bad behaviours. This is also applied to humans we learn better if we are rewarded rather than punished. If we do a good deed and bad deed if we are rewarded for the good that will remain in our memory and the reward will inspire us to do more.
Andrew Carnegie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Carnegie) had company called U.S Steel, he appointed Charles Schwab (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_M._Schwab) to be head of U.S Steel if you read his biography, he was not an engineer and had no experience in field of steel yet was being paid 1 million dollars year, why? He say why in his biography. ‘I am no expert on steel or oil yet I had one quality, one gift. I inspired my employees when I got out of work I would greet my employees with smile if they committed a mistake I would never yell at them or ask them to leave instead I would concentrate on their good qualities instead of looking at bad qualities concentrate on the positives not on the negatives I have the gift of motivation . I make them look forward to coming to work early in the morning’ Not everyone has this positive outlook. usually people more negative than positive.
Steve Jobs also had this quality. he was also not a expert in computer software, he motivated his employees he made them feel good. he gave them self confidence and self esteem and thus this company came to be one of the most important companies and like wise with Steve Jobs, one of the pioneers of the 21st century.
We have the gift to inspire to motivate, all you have to do is appreciate all it takes sometimes is kind words and you will be able to perform miracles . You can condemn a person but what good will it do, it won’t change it won’t serve your cause but use some kind words and look at the effects.
Unfortunately there is a human quality in most people and that quality is when people like something they don’t speak out but when they dislike something they will speak out. This is in human nature. When they see a good employee they do not reward him but, let him mess up once he will get fired.
Many people are like this when they like something they remain quite there is a silent majority . As a public speaker I have experience of this I have noticed this. When people like something they don’t speak out but if you were to say one word all hell breaks loose. This is not right this is not the way to encourage or change a persons opinion or thought. I am speaking in general not anything specific. Some women complain they say I have been cooking all my life but my husband never thanks me but if one day there is too much salt my husband complains. He does not thank me all the time yet complains the one time. This is not good this is not going to inspire or motive her.
A story says of a women who asked her husband to make her a list of 10 things he does not like about her. The next day he gives her paper and she opened it and it was empty. He said I thought about it and I couldn’t thing of anything of course he was cheeky but he had a point. Later on he said my wife was treating me 10 times better, better in that she become a much better wife why? because she saw appreciation. Her husband was appreciating her.
There was study regarding run away wife’s the statistics show most run away wife’s run away because of lack of appreciation. We take pride in what we do so when someone does not appreciate what you do,this hurts.
Last night my dear brothers and sisters I probably gave my most controversial lecture and you witnessed it. I received many calls and many messages and they told me you came off as siding with needs of what men want and how men feel and you neglected women and women feel oppressed by the lecture you gave.
My dear brothers and sisters for past couple of years you have listened to my lectures in London, some of you are not new to my lectures some of you have attended most of my lectures if you have noticed time and time again in various lectures we have spoken on this issue and I have been a defender on the rights of wife’s and women. Any person who has heared me before will not come to this conclusion. This year in Muharam I mentioned a hadtih specifically on the night I talked about the hear after, it is on youtube. I said that RasoollAllah was burying one of his companions, he washed and buried him, himself. After he did so his mother looked at his grave and said congratulations to you, you are in heaven. The Prophet said don’t rush and think he is in paradise, she said why? you washed him and buried him. He said yes however right now the grave crushed him so badly that his ribs met together. She said why. He said he had bad manners and attitudes towards his wife. I mentioned this is muharam and I will mention it in the future also.
If we talk about one thing it does not mean we ignore something else. We promote women’s rights not today or yesterday but from a long time ago. our sisters feel oppressed not because of religion but because society and indeed sometimes it does and I remember two months ago i was in Iraq and a man came to me and said “excuse my language.. my wife… ” I count pay attention to him he was saying ‘my wife’ excuse my language. I was baffled, is this how we think. in some communities yes.
Yesterday I talked about the needs of men and I alluded to the needs of women to some degree and some think it was not enough, my dear brothers and sisters women also have needs more than men. A women needs to be appreciated more than a man because probably she gives and contributes more than a man does. A wife works hard in the efforts she gives, a man spends a lot less time with his children than his wife does, its the wife that is always with his children she goes through the pregnancy and the labour not the man. Women have the need to feel appreciated just like the man if not more they need the sense of loyalty more than man. Unfortunately last night some people felt i came across and supporting some of those who cheat .. this is wrong, I condemn this act. We encourage the men to be patient if their needs not being met, was there anyone more patient than the prophet?.
Women need affection as well, last night we talked about how men are afraid of the sentence of “we need to talk” I was making this idea clear to sisters but I was not encouraging this idea for brothers. Sometimes the man has to sit and listen it won’t kill him. Sometimes a women does not ask for more than that. All she ask is for the man to listen and to give love and affection thus we encourage and support these things. We hope our brothers will take this advice inshallah and take Rasool Allah and Imam Ali as their role models.
Thus my dear brothers and sisters it is the manners of Ahlulbayt to have known to appreciate and inspire not to condemn and criticism
When Imam Ali saw his companions cursing Muawiya and his companions . He said wait this is not our teaching we do not curse. Do not curse or condemn in such a manner instead mention their behaviour and actions and ask Allah to guide them. Fatima did not condemn she came in front of companions and gave one of the most eloquent speeches in history
During the life of Imam Hasan a man comes to him, a man from Shaam frpom bani Umaya and stands and begins to curse him and uses foul language when he finished Imam Hasan tells him perhaps you are a stranger perhaps you need a place to stay in, if you need one we have a house if you need food we have food. I will be happy to host you. you see were the man came from and how imam handled it.
A man came to Imam Baqir said you are a cow Imam ignores him then the man curses the mother of imam Baqir, Imam Baqir tells him if what you say is correct may Allah forgive her if not correct then may Allah forgive you. With such manners people came to them this is why the school of thought spread. We have much to learn from their manners.
This is our final night my dear brothers and sisters. since we are talking about appreciation I would like to thank organises of ya hussein project and alulbayt foundation for being the financial supporters. I would like to thank the orgniasers of this beautiful majlis which reminded us of the spirit of muharam. mashallah a lot of people attended and showed support.
Tonight is our last night. we have been with Fatima for the past couple of nights. Fatima’s tragedy is the mother of all tragedies however one tragedy that was very sorrowful on the heart of Fatima. It effects Fatima herself and that is the tragedy of Aba Abdullah. I would like to take you to Karbala.
The tragedy that broke her heart when Imam Hussain was born Rasool Allah held the young infant and he wept for him and he cried for him. Fatima said my dear father what are the tears for? He replied it is because he will be killed, he will be murdered by the hands of my own nation .Fatima didn’t ask why or by who? She asked will it be at a time when you are alive? The reply was No. When his father is alive? No. Will I be alive? No. Will his brother be alive al-hasan? No. Then my dear father who will cry over him if we are not alive who will sit and cry over my son Hussian. He said Oh Fatima Allah will send a group of people in every generation in every time who will gather and cry for Hussain.
Take your hearts to Karbala, on the day of Ashura after battle Umar bin Sa’ad ordered to behead the army starting with Hussain. Umar bin Sa’ad took the head and he gave it to one of his soldiers and he said take the head to Umayd Allah in Kufa tonight, lets receive the handsome reward. The soldier puts it in a bag and rushes to Kufa, when he arrived to present the head, they told him he is sleeping the soldier replied but this is important I have the head of Hussain son of Ali. He eventually goes back home and told his wife I brought you great gift. I have brought you the head of Hussain son of Ali. She replied men come back form journeys with gold and silver and you bring me the head of grandson of Rasool allah. May Allah never join us together under one roof.
The soldier put the head of Imam Hussain in special place during the night his wife gets up to pray ‘salat al layl’ and all of the sudden she saw light beaming into her house into a specific room and part in her house she went towards that light, not only was there light but also a voice. It was a voice of a women she listened carefully it was a voice of a mother. She heard her saying . Oh my son did they kill you? did they prevent you from drinking water?
This is the last night show your mourning to fatima al zahra. ” where is the one who mourns with his tear”