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The Guts to Criticize and Do It Well


Friday, January 18, 2008


In today's khutbah, the speaker talked about proper Islamic dress in daily life but especially for the mosque. It wasn't anything very ground-breaking; he just reminded people that Muslims are supposed to dress respectfully and modestly. However, for some reason I was impressed at even this slight criticism. I guess I've gotten used to people being afraid of possibly offending anyone. I agree that you should avoid offending people if possible but when correcting someone and setting them straight, it's necessary to somehow show them the error of their ways.

I was impressed at how tactfully today's criticism was made. There was no finger pointing. The perpetrators themselves were hardly mentioned; for the most part the whole khutbah was about the reasons behind the dress code. Verses from the Quran and hadith were mentioned and explained. Everything was very tasteful and I don't believe anybody felt singled out or offended.

The point of this post, however, has nothing to do with Islamic dress. My point is that the speaker was not afraid to criticize. In today's world of personal rights and ultra-politeness (although that only seems to apply to not offending people but not to manners or common courtesy) most people are afraid to speak up about something being wrong. This timidity to speak up is what leads to cursing becoming a common part of regular speech, inappropriate dress everywhere, wide acceptance of sex and nudity, and other little problems that sum up to one big problem throughout society.

I know I've read either in the Quran or in hadith, possibly both, how to criticize others. It says to take them aside and tell them their error in private. There's no need to make it into a public embarrassment. If they still don't correct their ways, then do it again. Finally, if they continue to do wrong, then bring it to the attention of others. This shows a great deal of respect, consideration, and maturity, in my opinion and now I see that it's not just taught but also practiced this way.

I know in church we're often told to lead good lives and the goodness of Jesus, the prophets, and the saints are extolled but rarely are we actually criticized on any particular aspect of our lives. I do recall a priest one time at a university church giving a sermon on the evils of drunkenness (a problem on college campuses) and the virtues of moderation in all aspects of life. It was done just as tastefully and tactfully as today's khutbah but I don't recall any other real criticism. My experiences are also limited to only mainstream, moderate churches. I get the feeling that more fundamental, extreme churches might be more willing to criticize vocally based on my experiences debating some fundamentalists. However, in those situations, there is definitely an extreme lack of tact and compassion. As opposed to my "love the sinner, hate the sin" mantra, they seem to adopt a "hate the sinner and the sin" attitude, forgetting that they themselves are also sinners regardless of how hard they might try. I feel like there is always plenty of finger pointing and condemning when God is the only one capable of doing that.

Posted by Searching For Truth at 10:46 PM



Azooz said...

Hi - Been a while, and still can't write much - but that might not be all bad :)

accepting criticism is a thing of wisdom, not only religion - something i try to develop in myself. A Priest or Imam need not hold his words with you but with a crowd around they have to.

The "critical self" is important to develop, when you criticize yourself enough it becomes easier and more natural till you actually like the criticism you hear for what help it gives you over your self.

Why did I do that? why did I say that? then become don't do that and don't say that - till the self becomes much more "tamed" and those major things go, then the smaller things that you would not normally think of show up - this way you become more considerate of yourself and others. This develops into "Anafa" - the sins and mistakes that you once fought to resist become like nothing or even disgusting to you so you no longer are tempted by them.

Self in the Quran It's the word "Nafis" - an often repeated word and very well structured - once you have the basics, you go to the next basic level - there is no advanced level, it's hard to notice in yourself but others tend to appreciate it.

I remember a cruel bully i had at school, now he walks slow not to scare birds and is shy like a small boy - even his kids don't worry about him and never would believe he was violent boy. That's what i call self improvement, and better than me beating him up for the old days - I hope to develop like he did :)

the ultimate goal here is to please God, and if it's clothing that is ok - but even if clothing is to please people, that is considerate to.

The important thing is Taqwa, to Fear God - and to act as if he sees your every act and word, what you see from Priests or Imams should be a guide to Taqwa - they are human to, and sins and sinners - the hate part is to be observed and you seem to have learned how to avoid it already - but can always develop it further.

Today I read a lot about Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. - and also about Pat Robertson - i can also think of dozens of Imams for each, all are human - but I tend to go for those like MLK Jr - the more Taqwa the better.

That's my bit for today, and hope to be less verbose in the future.


January 20, 2008 3:13 PM HYPERLINK ""HYPERLINK ""Searching For Truth said...

Welcome back, my friend. After my long break, I was wondering if I had lost you. I wasn't sure if you were aware that I had come back and started writing again. In any case, it's good to have you back and, as always, thanks for your input.

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