Repel with Better

And [the servants of the Most Merciful are] those who bear not false witness and, when they pass by idle talk, pass by with dignity […]

Quran 25:72

When we see wrongdoing, it’s tempting to expand on the act itself. You can also walk upon it’s solution, and that’s one way to remove the evil from a situation. This doesn’t mean ignore it, it means to bring forward something better, giving that evil the chance to change.

You give your opinion on something, and someone calls you out for ignorance, insulting you in the process. Now, if you knew that you had all the evidence needed to prove your innocence over what was said, you could debunk the claim that was made. If the intent was malicious, this isn’t an effective option. Malicious intent is often aggressive and so wishes to keep you on the defence. Without guidance, there’s only so long you can hold yourself before you break. If you debunk one matter, they’ll find a way to twist it or pick out another. You might feel forced to go on the offensive in order to put out the fire once and for all and fight back. This is fair, and I can see how in some cases this might even be the only option that remains, but remember that you can lose yourself in it if you aren’t careful. If you seek a return, remember that anything past equal force puts you in the wrong, placing you at fault. Know what counts as equal, and then no more—an aspect of retaliation that many of us neglect to account for, and so then proceed to grossly overstep. When wronged, it seems as though most of us don’t want an eye for an eye, we want the pain to be quelled equal to the anger we hold. How do you go about measuring emotion, and knowing when enough is enough? In doing so, you’ve dropped yourself to their level or worse, whilst giving that evil an opportunity to justify itself further.

If you can forgive and remain focused on the good, what can happen instead is that you give the malicious intent a way out that can result in a win for both of you. When insulted and criticised for ignorance, responding by saying something like, “So you disagree with what I’ve said. I’d like to be able to resolve this with you here and now, so let’s discuss it, but I don’t want to continue if it involves insults—they don’t add anything to it”.

Whatever you said at the beginning, it seems to have provoked them for one reason or another. That’s all you know for certain, so there’s the option to give them the chance to calm down by asking them to express their disagreement properly. You focused on bringing out the good. If they continue to insult you, then you’ve set a fair, clear rule to which they’ve blatantly disrespected, and so you should be able to see that whatever their intentions, the actions they’ve taken in realising it wasn’t appropriate. By extension, it’s now more than fair to tell them that you won’t engage in this conversation any further because they couldn’t respect your wishes. Boundaries: end of. In Sheep’s Clothing is great at explaining to you the different means to which you can respond to malicious personalities, specifically the manipulative types. Much of what I’ve said was also drawn from this book.

You can respond to evil acts by acknowledging it, but by knowing how to encourage the good, you can give it a way out and turn into something better. Assume good and act upon it. If their intentions are malicious, they will deny the excuses you make for them until they may as well have had a warning sign above their heads. On the other hand, especially if it turns out they weren’t malicious, you can gain a friend.

And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel by that which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.

Quran 41:34

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