A heart that has not truly grasped the golden rule—loving for others, what you would love for yourself—will ultimately break it. Too often the reason why it is difficult to be involved in the community is that too many of us lack this rule in our heart. This is especially the case when feelings get heated between members of the same community–or even religious organizations–over the correct way to resolve an issue. Yet, many times the issue is not the worst part of it.
During discussions passions may become inflamed, hurtful words said and slander and backbiting becomes a norm. This often leaves greater harm in the community then the initial problem that prompted it. The Prophet ﷺwas keenly aware of the effect of words. Very comprehensively he ﷺ said of their effect: “A man utters a word pleasing to God without considering it of any significance, yet for it God exalts his rank; and another one speaks a word displeasing to God without considering it of any significance, yet for it he will sink into the Hellfire.”
May Allah forgive and protect us…
Furthermore, due to our own ideals and goals community leaders, activists, and volunteers may become dismissive of the benefit another member of the community brings–simply because they do not share the same focus. This is like dismissing the moon for not shining like the sun, yet each was created with a distinct purpose. It is a great blessing that we find in our community those who argue for more youth programs and services, another for fairer treatment of women, another for better religious education and another for interfaith work; all of this is needed!
Yet, while each leader walks the community towards a perceived destination, they stumble over the concerns of others. And, not sharing the same focus, some (if not many) dismiss the efforts of the other.
If we are truly trying to bring some good to the community, we need to recognize and accept that the work that others are doing, and the concerns that others are bringing forward are all needed and come from a genuine concern for the good of the community. Leaders must understand the concerns of the people, even if the concern is not their primary focus. Though, I would argue that many times they are all interrelated.
Let us then speak well of the other and help them in their work, for ultimately we are all looking forward to living in a better community. Let us not speak ill or ridicule the efforts of the other; for they may be providing a much needed service to the community we would not be able to provide on our own.
“Believers, no one group of men should jeer at another, who may after all be better than them; no one group of women should jeer at another, who may after all be better than them; do not speak ill of one another; do not use offensive nicknames for one another. How bad it is to be called a mischief-maker after accepting faith! Those who do not repent of this behaviour are evildoers” (Q. al-Hujurat, 49:10-11).
May God help us to bring good to others, but also protect us from preventing others from bringing good as well…