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How to Deal With Bitter Criticism

By being unconcerned over trifles, a person displays a virtue that will surely bring happiness to him or her. Those who have lofty aims are concerned with the hereafter. A pious predecessor advised one of his brothers, saying, “Be concerned only with the following affairs: the day when you will meet Allah and stand before Him and the hereafter.”

Almighty Allah says:

{On that Day [of Judgment], you shall be exposed to view — no secret of yours shall remain hidden.}  (Al-Haqqah 69:18)

On the Day of Judgment, all worldly worries and concerns will be incomparable to those of that day. What are our main concerns in this worldly life? They are social status, prestige, fame, income, wealth, mansions, and children. They all become nothing when one stands before Almighty Allah on the Day of Judgment. Bearing this in mind will make you indifferent to how people should treat you.

Those who are ignorant have uttered curses at Almighty Allah, the Creator of all that exists. So, what treatment can you, as a human being, expect from people? You will always have to face criticism, which, in its onslaught, is like an interminable war that shows no sign of an end. As long as you shine, give, produce, and have a positive effect upon others, disapproval and condemnation will be your lot in this worldly life. This is made clear in the following verse:

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{Or do they envy the people for what Allah has given them of His grace?}  (An-Nisaa’ 4:54)

Unless you manage to escape from people by finding a tunnel under the ground or a ladder leading up to the sky, people will not desist from censuring you and exposing even a minor fault in your character. As long as you are from the denizens of earth, expect to be hurt, insulted, and criticized.

Here is something that you should contemplate: A person who is sitting on the ground does not fall, and people do not kick a dead dog.

Therefore, people’s anger toward you can be attributed to you surpassing them in righteousness, knowledge, manners, or wealth. In their eyes, you are a transgressor whose wrongs cannot be atoned for, unless you abandon your talents and strip yourself of all praiseworthy qualities, so that you become stupid, worthless, and to them, innocuous. This result is exactly what they want for you.

So, remain firm and patient when facing their insults and criticism. If you are wounded by their words and influenced by their attitude, you will have helped them realize their very hopes. Instead, forgive and show them the most beautiful of manners; turn away from them, and let not their schemes distress you. Their disapproval of you only increases your worth and merit. Certainly, you will not be able to silence them, but you are able to bury their criticisms by turning away from them and dismissing what they have to say. Almighty Allah says:

{Say, “Perish in your rage; surely Allah is Aware of what is hidden in the breasts.”}  (Aal `Imran 3:119)

In fact, you will add to their rage by increasing your merits and developing your talents. However, if you desire to be accepted by all and loved by all, then you desire the unattainable.

This article has been taken with modifications from the author’s book Do Not Be Sad.