Let Your Past Make You Better – Not Bitter

Posted on November 24, 2014 · Posted in Blog, General, Personal

When we love one another like Allah loves us, despite hardships we encounter, we can find a way to release the bitterness and attain “betterness”.

I was online one night scrolling through Facebook, and had found a revert sister that shared her feelings about how she felt hurt and frustrated, and had made a vow to never go back to the masjid again.

She didn’t go into details on her wall post, but I felt concerned and offered to lend an ear.

She had told me her story (permission was given to me to share anonymously) which had led her to this feeling of bitterness towards people she encountered at the masjid.

She said:  “I swear I will never EVER go back to a masjid ever again in my life after repeated experiences I’ve endured with person after person in my community!”

When I asked her why, she went on to explain that “I became Muslim about a year ago, and my first experience at the masjid was very disappointing. I didn’t know anyone, so I didn’t know where to go, or what to do, or say.

I was terrified and speechless. I didn’t know what he was upset about, so I just ran out, and went back home. I cried for about an hour, and was scared to ever go back.I didn’t know I had to take my shoes off at the door, and I had walked (unknowingly) into the men’s prayer area, and a brother came up to me with an angry face and yelled at me saying: “What is wrong with you? Don’t you have any respect or modesty?”

I told a Muslim friend online what happened, and they were guessing that the man was upset by me going to the men’s prayer area, and also because I was wearing my shoes. I assume this may have been the issue after learning masjid etiquette.

Anyway, I felt shy about what happened, but I finally got the courage to go back a few months later. I had gone for the Jumuah prayer, and this time I went to the women’s area, and remembered to take my shoes off before entering.

I was feeling good, and excited to attend my first Jumuah prayer. I had high hopes and intentions to meet and connect with several Muslim sisters because I still didn’t know any Muslims in real life other than just online. Everything was fine, and after the prayer, I tried to mingle with the sisters.

I approached two sisters who were smiling and laughing about something, so I gave them salams, and they just stared at me with a look of disgust as if I was an alien, completely ignored me, and turned and walked away. I was hurt once again.

I was thinking to myself (yeah, someone wants to know me!)

I didn’t return to the masjid again until today. I told myself that the masjid didn’t belong to anyone, and that I had just as much right to be there as everyone else. Holding my chin up, I went for the maghrib prayer, and was just going to do my prayer, ignore the people, and do my own thing, then leave. All was well until I was putting my shoes back on to leave, and a sister came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder.

I was thinking to myself (yeah, someone wants to know me!). I gave her my salams, which she didn’t return, and then that feeling of excitement quickly disappeared. The sister told me: “Why are you here?” And before I could even say anything she continued and said: “We don’t want ‘your kind’ here!”

I looked at her with shock and told her “Well, from the likes of ‘you people’ I won’t be returning, so don’t worry!” then I left. I cried in my car not understanding what is wrong with these people. I made a promise to myself that I would never go back.

She then asked me: “Why are Muslims so rude? Do they not teach manners as part of Islam?”

I reassured her that not all Muslims are like this and told her that this had no part in Islam, and that these people are just ignorant, racist, and that they do not represent Muslims as a whole.

After spending over an hour trying to bring her spirits back up, she said that she would try to let go of all this bitterness she acquired, and would try again one day, but wasn’t sure when that would be. I asked her if there was another masjid in her area, and if so, to try it, and hopefully the people there would be more welcoming.

I was really surprised that the very next day, she messaged me and told me that she found another masjid in her area, and went there, and it was a completely different experience for her. Her confidence had been restored. She thanked me for talking with her, and encouraging her not to hold this bitterness inside, and to not give up. She said the bitterness would be with her for a while, but since she found hope, she was sure that over time she would be able to overcome it, and move on.

When we hold onto negativity, we are only harming ourselves, and poisoning our soul.

We just have to face the reality that there will be rude, ugly people everywhere we go, but we have to learn how to deal with it, and to move past anything negative that we encounter and not let it hold us back. If we hold onto bitterness, it only destroys us, and doesn’t even faze those we resent. Once we realize this, we can learn to let go of bitterness to become better. We have the power to make that choice.

Bitterness is caused by hurt and anger, and the solution to bitterness, is forgiveness, love, and the ability to forget. You might say: “I can forgive, but I can’t forget”… But this is something you have made a conscious decision to make. You can forget if you really want to move on and become better. You may ask, “But how can I forget such things?” It isn’t something easy to do, but it can be done! There is hope out there.

When we hold on to negativity, we are only harming ourselves, and poisoning our soul.  Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It just isn’t a healthy or even logical approach to deal with hurt and anger.

Turning to Allah with du’a’ (supplicational prayers), which is the weapon of the believer, will always bring you a sense of love, comfort, and hope, so hold tight to that rope to Allah!  When you have a negative feeling about someone, immediately replace it with a pleasant thought, and make a duaa for them.

Forgive them on the spot for what they are doing or saying to you, and try not to hold resentment towards them. Don’t allow yourself to steam and brood over what happened, otherwise you are allowing Satan (shaitan) to take control over your happiness.

Always remember to say: “I seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the outcast”

If you allow bitterness to control your life, you will find yourself a hermit that never leaves the house, having no friends, and living in cold dark emptiness will destroy your hope in humanity, and eventually causing you to doubt Allah’s love for you.

Always remember to say: “I seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the outcast”, and ask Allah to surround you with loving and supportive people that will help draw you closer to Him.

Down Under

Jamieson, a revert brother from Australia, told me how he overcame the bitterness he held against another Muslim brother, whom we will call Ahmed, with whom he went to university and also worked with.

He was in a situation where he needed a ride to university because his car had broken down.  Ahmed offered him a ride for a few days, and then Ahmed told him on the 4th. day that he isn’t a bank, and that Jamieson needed to reimburse him for the gas used. Jamieson had already offered to assist, but Ahmed told him that it wasn’t needed, and not to worry about it, so this had left Jamieson confused, but he told him that he would give it to him the next day at work, because he didn’t have cash on him at the moment.

The next day, he gave Ahmed enough to fill his tank, but Ahmed told him that he also wanted money for his time! They ended up in an argument, and didn’t speak to each other for weeks.

He didn’t like the situation that had unfolded the way it did, and wanted to mend their friendship. He made a sincere effort to talk to Ahmed about why things happened the way they did and told him that he didn’t like the bitterness that was being held between them both towards one another.

Holding onto bitterness brews anger and frustration.

He called Ahmed and told him that he wanted to fix things between them, and asked if there was something that was causing Ahmed’s feeling that Jamieson had somehow used him in anyway, and that he appreciated Ahmed offering his help, and told him that he apologized if there was something that made him feel that way about him.

During their discussion, he discovered that Ahmed had cancelled a job he was doing to make money to pay for his tuition, to help Jamieson, and had withheld that information from Jamieson, so he had taken his frustration out on Jamieson.

Jamieson apologized because he wasn’t aware of what Ahmed was doing to help him, and promised to help him find another job to reach his goals, which he did. This softened the hearts between both of them, and their friendship was restored.

Jamieson’s story is a great example of how bitterness can be destructive, and sometimes not even warranted, but if we take the effort to calmly and sincerely talk to those that hurt us, we can develop long lasting friendships with those whom we once held bitterness towards.

Holding onto bitterness brews anger and frustration. We hold on to it, blame society for everything that causes the bitterness to grow and grow, and continue to talk about it and never work to resolve it.

When we love one another like Allah loves us, despite hardships we encounter, we can find a way to release the bitterness and attain “betterness”.

Cleanse yourself of bitterness and hurt, and gain the love of others and Allah, because bitterness imprisons your soul, but love can release it!

Forgive and forget for your own sake! -onislam.net

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