The Humble "I"

Knowing, Doing, Becoming

Keep Strife out of Your Life

Shakespeare tells us in Othello: ”Tis the soldiers’ life. To have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.’ In other words, it is part of the job description of men at war that they will often be woken from whatever pleasant sleep they could be having by the unexpected call to arms; or a surprise enemy attack; or by some other reason that pits them against some imminent danger. A soldier’s life is a life lived on the edge; ever ready to engage struggle and strife. (In Othello’s case, he and his wife, Desdemona are woken on their wedding night by the drunken brawling and clamour of some of Othello’s soldiers.)

When we talk about strife in war, we are talking about violent conflicts and discords. Though when we speak of strife in terms of our daily life, we tend to mean things like arguing, bickering, heated disagreements and undercurrents of anger or discontent. We can experience strife with family, friends, work colleagues, or just the day-to-day tasks of life.

To keep quarrels, conflicts and friction out of our lives, we must be ready and willing to avoid conversations which will lead to such dissension. In conversations that are getting hot, we need to learn to back off or just drop it because, what is being debated is, often, something trivial or not worth arguing about. It may even be something we do not have sufficient knowledge about to be discussing anyway. This last situation is so often the case when it comes to religious discussions. The Qur’an strictures: Do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. [17:36]

But here’s the rub. The ego’s desire to be right frequently leads us into strife. We could keep conflict at bay simply by entertaining the possibility that we could be wrong. But pride, conceit or just being pigheaded will not allow us to do so. The Prophet, peace be upon him, warned: ‘Three things destroy: greed that is obeyed, desire that is followed and a person enamoured with his own opinion.’ [Al-Bazzar, Musnad, no.80]

All kinds of problems come about by trying to insist that we are right. And what good does it usually do in the end? It satisfies the self. It assuages the ego. But it also stains the soul and hardens the heart.

Strife blocks God’s blessings, incites enmity and opens the door to all types of ills. At a more communal level, strife weakens us – as per the saying: ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ The Qur’an states: Dispute not with one another lest you falter and your strength departs. [8:46]

Truth be told, being right is often overrated. Next time your discussion with someone begins to get too hot under the collar and an argument begins to erupt, ask yourself if what you are discussing is worth breaking the peace for and sliding into strife. Rein in the ego and let peace reign; you’ll feel much better for it. One hadith presents us with a further motive for backing off from arguments: ‘I am a guarantor for a house on the outskirts of Paradise for whoever leaves of arguing even though he is in the right.’ [Abu Dawud, Sunan, no.4800].

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16 thoughts on “Keep Strife out of Your Life

  1. Aisha Barkatulla on said:

    Jazakumullahu khayran
    Such a poignant reminder.

    Like

  2. Barakallahu fikum Sr Aishah. May Allah shelter us from life’s strifes.

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  3. May Allah bless your knowledge Ustadh, this is exactly what I discovered in your classes and by Allah it does make an amazing difference to realize how much a student thought he/she knew, only to realize that they are not even at the level of being a “student of knowledge” …
    So much to learn ustadh yet the more time one spends in learning, the more we discover that we haven’t learned anything..and yes the EGO is always something that comes in the way… 😦

    In a mother’s simple day-to-day life with her children; Life’s strife is witnessed often… Sometimes you see these types of contentions between siblings and sometimes even between the parent and the child…It is truly a struggle, because even though as a parent I might think I AM right and have that right… Leaving these quarrels as the Hadith of our beloved Prophet (pbuh), will be rewarded in the akhirah, I need to often remind myself and aspire that by doing so, we are to bear beautiful spiritual fruits bi’thnnillah….
    Not an expert in parenting but a simple person who tries to implement simple things taught by great people. Again jazzaka Allahu khairan for the Wonderful Reminders…

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    • Believe you me, Umm Shaymah, it happens to most of us – illa man rahima rabbuk. Without us as students coming under the instructions of a reliable guide, we would either drown in knowledge, or drown in the arrogance of claiming we have a solid share of it!

      As the learned tell us, perhaps it’s a good sign that the more we learn, the more we realise our own ignorance.

      Allah knows best, but I always felt Allah had blessed you by putting your heart in the right place. The class remembers the tears … as does the teacher.

      May Allah bless you, Abu Shaymah and your family in your journey and endeavours.

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  4. Alhamdulillah may Allah help us in controlling the three vices highlighted by shiek. Ameeen.

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  5. Lubna Ul-Hasan on said:

    Maashallah! such sound and sturdy advice. The ego can be a truly distructive entity if we allow it to rule us in the ongoing saga of “being right”. I’m sure we’ve all fallen prey to its lures when some discussion or debate comes up and we’re so sure we know that the point we’re trying to make is the right one and the other person is wrong. Lord! how we fight to get ourselves heard and make that other person agree with us.

    As you so rightly said, if only we were to entertain the possibility that we might be wrong or the other person may also have a point, then conflict and bad feelings could so easily be avoided. Inshallah may Allah teach us to keep our mouths shut and our minds and hearts open at the right times:-)

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  6. I totally agree with you Lubna. There are so many times I have noticed that we do get into arguments, just for the sake of it. After passing thru a long life, I see myself shut up, even though I may be totally confident of being right. The only time I enjoy arguments, is when it’s healthy enough that both sides are open minded and are sincerely looking out for a RIGHT answer.

    For sure it doesn’t take much to be divided. Just about 15 yrs down the line, I didn’t know that we had so many sects. It’s so difficult to find a person calling himself/herself just a ‘Muslim’.

    The Qur’an states: Dispute not with one another lest you falter and your strength departs. [8:46]. What Br.Surkheel brought up in this article, must be constantly sent in different ways, just so it registers in our minds….”Do Not Dispute over Silly Issues As We Are Failing To Look At The Bigger Picture”….SubhanAllah.

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    • lubsy1 on said:

      Jazak Allah Khair Shabs, you make a very valid statement also. Yes a healthy argument/debate where both sides are open to each others opinions whilst retaining composure can be informative and rewarding – alas these are very few and far between to be found these days. I like your interpretation “DNDOSIAWAFTLATBP” 🙂

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  7. Never do I argue with a man with a desire to hear him say what is wrong, or to expose him and win victory over him. When ever i face an opponent in debate I silently pray :

    O Lord, help me so that truth may flow from his heart and on his tounge, and so that is truth is on my side, he may follow me; and if truth be on his side i may follow him.

    -Imam Ash-Shafi (Rahimullah)

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  8. Muhammed Ilyas Mirza on said:

    Jazak Allha Khair for a valuable reminder

    Like

  9. Abdur-rahman on said:

    I love this blog Alhamdulillah

    Like

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