I have a story for you.
Here are a few things you need to know to appreciate the story: The incident happened when I was in boarding school, all of the students in that school were Muslims, we were a small community so everybody kind of knew everybody, and the male dorm is right across from the female dorm, divided by a dining hall in between.
Also, you need to know what kind of person I was back then. Okay, this is awkward.
I was the kind of person who was very straightforward with the ladies…and I don’t mean that in any romantic way at all. I would be very straightforward whenever I saw my Muslim lady friends dressed up in a way that a Muslim woman shouldn’t.
Whenever I saw something wrong, I would be straight up honest with them right there and then. I had very bad timing, and bad self-control, and apparently my method was bad too. Point is, it was bad.
Yes, you can say that I was very brave – very stupidly brave. I was so brave that I was even straightforward with my teachers.
So you can tell that I was very popular with the ladies. #sarcasm
I know what you’re thinking, and I agree. I would slap myself in the face too.
One night, I was walking towards the male dorm. Within my field of view, I saw one of my lady friends coming out from the female dorm. She spotted me, and she immediately ran the opposite direction. She ran away as soon as she saw me.
Okay, maybe I exaggerated. Just a little bit. The point is, she ran away from me as soon as she saw me. At the time, I couldn’t process why. I thought it was because of her. No, it wasn’t.
I was reminded of this one verse in the Quran where God said that if you were harsh with people, they will run away from you (Surah Ali Imran: 159). In my case, the people literally run away.
After that I realized that it was me; I was the problem. I was being self-righteous, I thought to myself that I had to save everybody, and I was harsh with them – I was. Having sincere intention is not enough without having a proper methodology.
It wasn’t that they rejected the message. They rejected me. There is a difference between rejecting the message and rejecting the messenger (Note: Not referring to Prophet Muhammad). A lot of people want the message, but they don’t want the people who are delivering that message to them because often times these messengers do a bad job at it.
How you present the message is just as important as the message itself.
Imagine if you have a sweet fruit and you want to give someone a taste of the fruit. Instead of cutting a small piece and hand the piece to him nicely, you decided to shove the whole fruit up his mouth and down his esophagus. It’s still the same sweet fruit, but do you think it’ll taste the same?
I am not proud to tell you about this particular detail from my past, but I feel like there’s benefit in telling you this because I don’t want my mistake to become somebody else’s mistake or if you are currently doing the same mistake, then please…stop.
It’s good to have zeal in our faith and it’s good to have that burning desire to share the message with the people. But we need wisdom to guide that zeal and that burning desire so that we are able to find beautiful, loving, and compassionate ways to get into people’s hearts and not resort to annoying ways to get into people’s faces.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t be firm in our approach. Yes, we can. But there is a difference between being firm and being a jerk.
If you choose to be religious, then that is a sound choice. I applaud you for that. Being religious is good for your overall health. It’s doctor-recommended.
Yes, be a religious person – just don’t be a religious jerk.