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Catch Muslims Doing Something Right


Criticism is a useful thing if it is constructive, sincere and to the point. Wisely administered criticism helps people improve their ideas, thoughts and performance. It is best when it is rare and gentle. But excessive criticism is deadly. It kills spirit, enthusiasm and drive to perform. It also destroys self esteem and self confidence.

Islam has given us very challenging ideals to excel in everything we do. This is to keep us comparing ourselves to those ideals of excellence and constantly working on improving ourselves where improvement is needed. Unfortunately, most of us do not look at ourselves. We, however, keep judging others to the strict ideals of perfection. The result is that we criticize everything we see being done. Those of us who dare to do something in the community are judged so negatively and criticized so incessantly that they end up suffering from burn out due to stress and frustrations. Although some criticism is valid, it adds to the heap of invalid criticism.

No human action is either perfect or an absolute failure. The strong and weak points can be identified in every constructive work. The voluntary work, thus, can be viewed two ways. We can criticize the imperfections apparent in the action. Or, we can appreciate the hard work and time spent on the project as well as the achievement of the action however little it might be. Psychologists tell us that appreciation helps build the community, while criticism destroys it.

Even if a project is a failure, a wise person will still appreciate the sacrifices made by the volunteer. After all he/she could have used all that time and energy to do his/her personal or family things. Besides, every failure is a learning experience for the volunteer and the community alike. That is why modern businesses regard the failures of the employees as the investment in learning. One of the most famous management guru of this decade, Tom Peters, maintains that freedom to experiment and celebrating the failure is the key to organizational adaptability, growth and success.

Tom Peters also tell us that whatever is praised, gets repeated. So next time you see something good happening, praise the action as you see it happen. Most likely it will be repeated. Reinforce with appreciation whatever you think is worth being repeated.

Ken Blanchard, another famous author on management, takes it a step further. He says that the problem with most managers is that they spend most of their time catching people doing something wrong. He is, however, convinced that the best way to help people reach their full potential is to catch them doing something right.

The wisdom that really matters to Muslims is the wisdom of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala, the Glorified and the Exalted and the wisdom of His Messenger Sall-Allaahu 'Alayhi Wa Sallam. Allaah tells us that He is appreciative of any attempt towards good work.

Allaah’s Messenger Sall-Allaahu 'Alayhi Wa Sallam, the best of the psychologists and the managers, was very good in catching his companions doing the right things. He noticed them and showed his appreciation immediately. Examples abound, but to make the point I will mention two. Remember when that poor man brought a handful of dates as a donation? The hypocrites jeered at him, but the Prophet gave the prominence to his charity and joyous appreciation to his dedication. Also, when a person said some extra praising words for Allaah when getting up from the bowing position (Rukoo'), how the Prophet mentioned the angels' eagerness to receive those words.

Let us follow the wisdom of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala and His Messenger Sall-Allaahu 'Alayhi Wa Sallam!

Let us start catching the Muslims doing something right. Let us keep our eyes and hearts open to catch them all!

What to do when you catch a Muslim doing something good. ( The pronouns 'he' or 'him' apply to both sexes.)
  • Approach him promptly.
  • Tell him specifically what he did right.
  • Tell him what you liked about it and how you think it will benefit the Muslim community.
  • Smile, shake hands and pray for Allaah's reward and blessings for him.

What is in it for You?
  • Reward from Allaah for the good words and encouragement.
  • Good feeling for your positive contribution.
  • Participation in helping the community reach its full potential.

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