The only way to avoid criticism – be nothing

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing” [Aristotle]

The Companions, who had attained an ideal level of righteousness, could comfortably warn one another about any wrong that they had committed without causing any negative reaction at all. For example, during a sermon, Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, reminded people that it was necessary to keep bridal dues (mahr) within affordable limits and told them not to ask for too high amounts. What he suggested was a reasonable solution to prevent possible abuses. Even today, an understanding attitude of this issue will definitely fulfill an important function at solving a social problem. While Umar was drawing attention to this fact, an old woman spoke up and asked the caliph, “O Umar, is there a Qur’anic verse or hadith on this issue that you know and we do not? The Qur’an commands, ‘But if you still decide to dispense with a wife and marry another, and you have given the former (even so much as amounts to) a treasure, do not take back anything thereof’ (an-Nisa 4:20), thus not setting a limit to the amount of bridal dues.” In spite of being the caliph governing a great state that challenged the two superpowers of the time, Umar said aloud to himself, “O Umar, you do not know your religion even as much as an old woman.” [Al-Bayhaqi, As-Sunanu’l-Kubra, 7/233]

This degree of righteousness caused Umar to be referred as “al-waqqaf inda’l haqq” (one who halts when he meets the truth). That is, when he faces a righteous argument, he stops like a car that suddenly comes to a halt while moving downslope. It is necessary to effect this feeling in people. For this reason, we should make a deal with a certain friend and authorize him or her to comfortably criticize any wrong that arises in our personal attitudes and behaviours.

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