Say, “Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector.” And upon Allah let the believers rely. (Quran 9:51)
To be human is to be criticized and critiqued. This unfortunate reality is true for people from all walks of life and with various backgrounds. However, it is even more of a reality for new Muslims who are thrust into the spotlight for merely declaring their faith and choosing Islam as their religion.
Worst of all, criticism for new Muslims is usually two-fold. Not only do new Muslims have to endure criticism from non-Muslim friends and family members, but they often have to endure it from their own brethren in faith who often point out their flaws and shortcomings.
No matter from which direction the critiques and criticisms are coming from, you can take them in stride and use them as a way to strengthen your Eman, or faith, instead of allowing them to diminish it.
Consider the Source
It’s never easy to be on the receiving end of criticism, especially if you don’t feel it is warranted. For this reason, it is very easy for a new Muslim to become frustrated, discouraged or even hopeless in extreme cases.
Taking a step back to reflect and contemplate will give you the time necessary to consider the source. Ask yourself, “Who is the person criticizing me?” and “What might their intentions be?”
If the person criticizing you is a non-Muslim, perhaps their criticism is due to prejudice or because they want to pull you away from Islam. If that is the case, then take the criticism lightly; use it as a tool to correct the person giving it with proper Islamic knowledge.
And if the person criticizing you is a Muslim, ask yourself those very same questions, “Who is the person criticizing me?” and “What might their intentions be?”
Perhaps the criticism is beneficial and is meant to help you improve your Deen, or way of life. In this case, you want to receive the criticism with an open heart and be thankful that someone cared enough to guide you to the Straight Path.
In some cases, a fellow Muslim might criticize you intentionally to sow discord or harm. Here you can refer back to the Quran and Sunnah when it comes to matters of faith or even speak with your local Imam to help put the matter into perspective.
Reflect on the Past
If there was ever a human being who received more than their share of critiques and criticisms, from family and foes alike, it was our noble Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
From the moment he declared that he was the Final Messenger sent by Allah, he came under scrutiny and was made to endure unbelievable hardship and unbearable treatment that anyone other than our Messenger (peace be upon him) would have never been able to bear.
Whenever he spoke, he was declared a “madman” by the Pagan Arabs, just walking back and forth from his home he was accosted by a garbage thrower and when he traveled to cities like Taif he was beaten until his sandals were filled with blood. Yet through it all, he never became angry or sought revenge. Instead, he turned to Allah in prayer and supplication.
In comparison to what our Messenger (peace be upon him) went through, anyone can manage critiques and criticisms by first putting your faith in Allah and turning to Him for guidance. Second, fortify your heart by reading authentic biographies of the Prophet Muhammad’s life to witness for yourself his grace under fire.
Always Try Your BEST!
There is no such thing as a perfect Muslim. And anyone portraying themselves as such, or marginalizing others because they’re just learning about their new faith, is missing out on what the beauty of Islam is all about. As Allah says in the Noble Quran:
…This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Quran 5:3)
Islam is a religion for all of mankind and everyone is welcome. While the religion of Islam is perfect, human beings are not irrespective of faith. For this reason, you must always try your best and be consistent in worship and good deeds even if you start out small. Remember, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
Take up good deeds only as much as you are able; for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few. (Sunan Ibn Majah 4240)
Critiques and Criticisms will come and they will go. It is what is left behind that really matters- your faith. You’re the only one who can safeguard it and hold onto the rope of Allah by surviving whatever comes your way.