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Moving Forward: The End Of Complaining

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"Creativity in Progress"

By RE

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Part I | Part II

Let us make a pledge this day, that we will not complain.

Because if we work intelligently to solve our problems then insha’Allah our Ummah will prevail.

And if we fail to do so, we will only continue to reprimand ourselves into oblivion.

How can we accomplish this?

By never writing, nor speaking, nor calling out to an audience except that we offer them a solution to the issue we bring forth. Doing so will be very difficult; as offering a solution requires knowledge, experience, unique ideas, and is also heavily time-intensive. Yet, this is the only way to overcome our Ummah’s challenges.

How To Prevent Yourself From Complaining

Restraining yourself from releasing frustration and emotion into complaining is an art-form. As I said in my introduction, complaining is very easy, which is why the vast majority of what we hear and read consists of a mere re-informing the ummah of it’s problems and vices. For example, “Until people changes themselves and return to Allah, we will continue to be humiliated”.

Now perhaps that statement offers a motive for change, namely humiliation. What the statement is lacking though is a methodology for people to change themselves, a step-by-step instruction-kit, if you will. For instance, if a da’ee is frustrated at the lack of people praying at the Masjid, the da’ee could take the regular complaining route or he could:

1. Give a positive motive:

Meaning that if you pray regularly, then your reward will be such and such. By contrast, usually we only hear that if we don’t pray, our punishment will be such and such.

2. Remind the audience of your own struggle, if you had one.

For instance, if you had difficulty praying at work and managed to overcome that, then remind the audience that you are human. If you sometimes feel apprehensive from attending taraweeh because you cannot understand the Arabic, share that struggle with your audience and give them hope that they can overcome that as well.

3. Offer a first step that is achievable:

For instance:

a. If you do not pray at all, try making one prayer in the morning before you go to work.
b. If you are combining all of your prayers when you get home, at least try to combine Dhuhr and Asr within their time.
c. If you pray five times a day, come to the Masjid for Isha after work as you will get the reward of half a night of Qiyam.

4. If you rushed your preparation, re-examine your motivation for complaining.

I have noticed personally, that if an article or speech in not carefully thought out, allowed to mature, and re-edited several times then most likely the outcome will be fruitless. A call to action requires deep thought and preparation, like a general preparing for the morning’s battle, always calculating two to three steps ahead.

To conclude, I will not claim self-righteousness in never having fallen into the pit of easy complaining before. What is important is that we continue to catch ourselves and filter out what we can. Remember, the goal of any article or speech is to make a positive contribution to society. It should also offer some semblance of solutions, and something that will benefit the author as a continuous charity on the day of judgment. You may only have one opportunity to get your message across, be sure that what you say has the effect of causing that change, and pray to Allah that he accepts your effort and causes your project to be fruitful.

Next on Part II — The End of Deconstructive Criticism

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. midatlantic

    March 16, 2009 at 7:26 AM

    Jazakillah for the reminder.

    I don’t mean for this to be the first comment but MM should review its policy of carrying articles w/o citing it’s author: without it, the article and the blog loses value.

  2. Amad

    March 16, 2009 at 8:14 AM

    Midatlantic: sorry for the oversight. Rami wrote this piece, and his name ha been added.

    Our usual policy is not to carry articles that are anonymous. But when the material is really, really good, we will make exceptions. That is the exception, rather than the rule. I agree that anonymous authorship can take away some value.

  3. AbuLurker: has a complaint and has said

    March 16, 2009 at 9:09 AM

    “.. if you pray regularly your reward will be . By contract, usually we only here, that if we don’t pray, our punishment will be .”

    I’m sorry but I will complain. About the above article. In particular, the appalling lack of editing and quality control.
    (Cmon guys, previously other commentors have also observed how disgraceful such lack of attention is for a blog that prides itself on its TheGuardian-recognised pre-eminence.. are you not listening?)

    So I shall complain.
    However I shall complain in accordance with the principles appealed for. :)

    Lessee now. *peers over imaginary bifocals*

    1. Give a positive motive: Meaning that if you pray regularly your reward will be . By contract, usually we only here, that if we don’t pray, our punishment will be .

    If you pay the requisite attention to the issue, you will impress with eloquence unobfuscated.
    By contract.. err, contrast, if you don’t, you will undermine the above and with it your own message to a greater or lesser extent.
    (Plus being the subject of mockery cos you sound like a buncha FOB immigrants (btw: not necessarily in itself the reason for the usual scorn) who can’t be bothered with the excellence of communicating well in the local lingo (btw: definitely IS a valid reason IMO, but that’s a rant for another day)).

    2. Remind the audience of your own struggle, if you had one.

    Well, I do struggle with the enormous time taken to make sure I myself implement this to the extent of my ability.. even in this comment for example. Though blog comments are hardly held to high standards of literacy, by any measure.

    3. Offer a first step that is achievable:

    a. If you don’t have it, discuss implementing it: Editorial oversight.
    b. If the above is to burdensome on one or two people then widen it: Peer review prior to publishing.
    c. Or as an author, the first step being uhh.. ask someone to proof-read before you hit the publish button.

    4. If you rushed in your preparation, re-examine for complaining. I

    Well given the 40 odd minutes composing this and re-reading it after a break.. yeah, ticked that box.

    Okay?
    So now this complaint addressed thus, ought to be acted on by you who are calling for this approach.
    No more excuses permitted for piss-poor proof-reading! :)

    Oh, and finally – please don’t bother pedantically criticising any instances of poor grammar, spelling or syntax in this comment.
    Sure it’ll make you feel smug and clever but you’ll miss the whole point and look stupid. >:)

    Wa’l salam :D

    P.S. I so love the irony of the fact that the first 2 comments (assuming this is the 2nd after the moderation queue) are both.. complaints. ;)

    P.P.S. Please read this derision as intended, without evil intent and, in reality, fairly mild scorn, intended as a poke urging you on to excellence.
    For I tell you – I would not really bother wasting time here if I did not feel you can achieve ever-increasing levels of that bi idhnillah. Honestly. Allah grant you all tawfique.

    • Amad

      March 16, 2009 at 10:37 AM

      AbuLurker,
      Here is another useful thought: if you have some time, would you like to participate in the proof-reading process… we are always looking for volunteers. Though I must say that you would be surprised by how good some FOBs can actually write :)

      If you are interested, drop us a line… in fact, if any others with solid English language skills are interested, feel free to do the same.

      w/s

  4. MR

    March 16, 2009 at 9:58 AM

    Complaining about the end of complaining.

    Funny stuff man!

  5. SaqibSaab

    March 16, 2009 at 9:28 AM

    I have noticed personally, that if an article or speech in not carefully thought out, allowed to mature, and re-edited several times then most likely the outcome will be fruitless.

    Very true! At the same time, I feel it takes true intellect and knowledge to respond to something immediately and promptly in a correct manner. Definitely something I wish to improve on. JAK, Rami.

  6. Sister: No non-sense, Please!

    March 16, 2009 at 12:07 PM

    What is important is that we continue to catch ourselves and filter out what we can. Remember, the goal of any article or speech is to make a positive contribution to society. It should also offer some semblance of solutions, and something that will benefit the author as a continuous charity on the day of judgment. You may only have one opportunity to get your message across, be sure that what you say has the effect of causing that change, and pray to Allah that he accepts your effort and causes your project to be fruitful.

    That’s a fruitful message. Jazakallah khair.

    Our usual policy is not to carry articles that are anonymous… I agree that anonymous authorship can take away some value.

    I don’t understand why an article from an anonymous author would have less value. At the end of the day, aren’t we supposed to learn from the message of the article regardless of who it’s coming from?

    Also, from a sawab perspective, the more hidden the good deeds, the greater the sawab attained. Isn’t there a statement of some scholar to that effect? As long as the truth was out there, he didn’t care if he didn’t receive credit for this work.

  7. AI

    March 16, 2009 at 1:39 PM

    Amad wrote: “Though I must say that you would be surprised by how good some FOBs can actually write”

    As a fellow FOB, I would like to point out that, in this sentence, “good” should be replaced with “well”. I can’t cite the proper source for this usage rule, but someone else might be able to.

    Wassalamu alaikum.

    • Amad

      March 16, 2009 at 1:42 PM

      As a fellow FOB, I would like to point out that, in this sentence, “good” should be replaced with “well”.

      Touché

      Yes, “well” works gooder.

      -Embarrassed FOB.

  8. omar

    March 16, 2009 at 2:29 PM

    Sallam,

    Mashallah, great article. This is our biggest problem. Our ummah (though i love them so much) has gone on a ‘nagging rampage’. we need to use that energy to do more useful things. Thank you for this article!

    Omar
    (http:www.rawwealth.com)

  9. Sister: No Non-sense please!

    March 16, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    Amad:I think you missed my question/concern. So here it is again, (actually 2): Why aren’t anonymous posts allowed? Do you have to reveal your real name in order to have something published on this blog?

    • Amad

      March 16, 2009 at 3:27 PM

      Unless the article is very solid, we prefer having author’s name. If someone can’t stand behind what they write, then the non-authors certainly don’t want to be in that position.

      If the article is purely religious, non-controversial, and has value, then there is a better chance of it being published anonymously.

      It is a case by case basis, but our policy is as I stated on preference. It is not a question of sawab/reward. It is simply a matter of credibility. We don’t like receiving information that we are supposed to trust without knowing who it is coming from.

  10. abu Rumay-s.a.

    March 16, 2009 at 4:28 PM

    Rami:
    Masha`Allah, i believe you’ve hit the “sweet spot” on this issue…
    It be interesting while you are drinking your coffe to think about sharing some of the ahadeeth when the narrator would say something like ” I or “he/she” complained t othe Prophet (saws) and how our beloved Messenger (saws) would respond. Maybe it will be incorporated in the second part insha`Allah.

  11. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    March 16, 2009 at 4:50 PM

    bismillah was salamu alaykum. you know, it’s easy to generalize about complaints. :)

    sure, a great many complaints are awful: mean-spirited, self-centered, narrow-focused, just-plain-whining, etc. and if a person complains when sabr (perseverance, patience, steadfastness) would be better — that’s just throwing away an opportunity to excel and please Allah.

    on the other hand, i might ask a client what his complaints are (about other people, his life, etc.) ;) then listen closely to see what the underlying problem is. that’s a natural tactic: how many times have moms or dads asked a crying child, “what’s the matter?” you could tell the kid to suck it up, without finding anything out first, but that would not help anyone.

    so there are invited-complaints, welcome complaints, and, yes, those all-too-grating unwelcome ones.

    know what?

    someone else’s unwelcome complaint is just an ugly black dot. ignore it (or them), find the white dots, and then even the act of persevering through the black dot could be an opportunity for you to earn the reward that only comes with sabr. alhamdolillah.

  12. Sister: No Non-sense please!

    March 16, 2009 at 5:41 PM

    Unless the article is very solid, we prefer having author’s name. If someone can’t stand behind what they write, then the non-authors certainly don’t want to be in that position.

    If the article is purely religious, non-controversial, and has value, then there is a better chance of it being published anonymously.

    It is a case by case basis, but our policy is as I stated on preference. It is not a question of sawab/reward. It is simply a matter of credibility. We don’t like receiving information that we are supposed to trust without knowing who it is coming from.

    Thanks!

    Last question (apologies to Br. Rami for the tangent)…So as long as a user name (which need not be your real name), and a contact email is provided, you are good to go? I mean its not like you are going to know the person unless they are very well known.

  13. amad

    March 16, 2009 at 8:40 PM

    If you would like to submit a post, you have to go through the contact channels, and we can give you more details when the time comes.

    Let’s get back to complaining (about the post) now.

  14. Siraaj

    March 16, 2009 at 8:52 PM

    Awesome discussion about the article. Apparently no one could complain and so they decided to talk about writing articles for MM and fixing grammatical errors. Nice :D

    Siraaj

  15. Sister: No Non-sense please!

    March 16, 2009 at 11:30 PM

    … and we can give you more details when the time comes.

    Content of the post depends on the details. No details no post! : )

    —————————————————————

    on the other hand, i might ask a client what his complaints are (about other people, his life, etc.) then listen closely to see what the underlying problem is. that’s a natural tactic: how many times have moms or dads asked a crying child, “what’s the matter?” you could tell the kid to suck it up, without finding anything out first, but that would not help anyone.

    so there are invited-complaints, welcome complaints, and, yes, those all-too-grating unwelcome ones.

    I thought that was a well-thought out comment.

  16. Sister: No-nonsense, Please!

    March 18, 2009 at 10:07 AM

    Br. Amad, can you edit out the ’embarassed FOB’ quote from my second comment. I don’t like the way it sounds. I had quoted it to get your attention so you could ans my question, but it sounds like I’m calling you an embarassed FOB (which I”m not).

    • Amad

      March 18, 2009 at 10:37 AM

      “Sister” Its okay, no worries.

  17. Siraaj Muhammad

    March 19, 2009 at 1:27 AM

    Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,

    So does anyone think this will actually be implemented?

    Rami

    Would love to answer, but I don’t want to instigate a “The Glass is not Half Empty” post.

    Siraaj

  18. Sister: No non-sense, please!

    March 20, 2009 at 1:28 AM

    Br. Amad, can you stlll remove it, please?

    So does anyone think this will actually be implemented?

    Like someone mentioned before, I think complaining is of different types and certain kinds of complaining is necessary. I think you should more explicitly define what kinds of complaining should be given up.

  19. Kai

    March 26, 2009 at 12:33 AM

    Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahee wa Barakatu

    I think there is Well-Mannered Complaining and Ill-Mannered Complaining.
    Complaining should not lead to disputes or flat noses.

  20. Pingback: Moving Forward: The End of Deconstructive Criticism | MuslimMatters.org

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