How do I react to difficult people at work place who might be aggressive and quarrelsome. People who might not have any interest of others good but selfish entirely in their being. Who back bite and do negative branding against you. Mean in spirit and arrogant. How do you safeguard your own interests and dignity while being within the boundaries of Islam. I do not want to stoop at their level. I do not want to become what I hate in them . But I do not want to be passive as such that people will take advantage of me. What do the Rasulallah’s (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) teaching say to us. In Quran and tasawwuf what resources can help me be of strong character and face these challenges in life?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
It is commendable of you to seek the proper, Islamic way of dealing with the situation you are facing. You are right not to stoop to their level by backbiting and being aggressive towards your colleagues. A conscientious Muslim should always be aware that he has to take the high moral ground and respond in a way that will please Allah.
There are a number of things that you can do to face these challenges at work:
1.)First, evaluate all of your actions and dealings with your colleagues and co-workers with an open mind. Is there anything that you are doing or saying that is causing them to react the way they are? Sometimes its difficult to see it, but we ourselves can be the problem. A Muslim always looks towards his own faults and tries to rectify them. Observe your tone and demeanor with your colleagues and see if there are any shortcomings you can address and fix.
2.)The second thing that you can do is to make dua. Everyone and everything is under the control of Allah. He is the One that can make the world incline towards you or away from you. Whenever you leave your home to go to work or elsewhere recite the following dua [i], which was a constant practice of Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam):
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَضِلَّ أَوْ أُضَلَّ، أَوْ أَزِلَّ أَوْ أُزَلَّ،أَوْ أَظْلِمَ أَوْ أُظْلَمَ أَوْ أَجْهَلَ أَوْ يُجْهَلَ عَلَيَّ
O Allah, I seek refuge with You from misguiding others or being misguided, or slipping or making others slip, or wronging others or being wronged, or being ignorant or being made ignorant.
3.)From time to time, bring some gifts to give to those that you feel are backbiting or talking negatively about you. The giving of gifts increases mutual love and decreases enmity. In addition to gifts, ask them about their children and family and how they are doing. Express genuine happiness about any achievements their children have made and congratulate them on that. While you might feel it difficult to initiate these actions towards those who have wronged you, you will be acting on the advice of the Quran:
وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ.
وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ
The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it (the above quality) except those who are patient, and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of the happiness in the Hereafter i.e. Paradise and in this world of a high moral character).
Surah Fussilat, 34-35
4.)Finally, if you feel that the matter is out of hand and your gift-giving, being polite and other overtures are not working consider speaking directly but kindly with your co-workers to find out why they feel aggression towards you. Often, smaller misunderstandings are magnified and become a source of enmity and hatred. Tell them that you wish them well and want to be friends with them. Insha-Allah, if you continue to wish them well and be kind to them, their enmity will dissipate.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Checked and approved,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.