Islam

4 Ways to Maintain Distance From Difficult People as a Muslim

Difficult people tend to exhibit negative behavior that can make other people uncomfortable and even harmful. Facing these type of people on a daily basis can be quite a challenge. However, if a Muslim maintains good akhlaq (character and manner) despite facing difficult situations because of Allah S.W.T., they will be loved.

Respond to evil with with the best action

“The strong man is not the one who is good at wrestling, but the strong man is the one who controls himself in a fit of rage.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

The best way to respond to evil that is inflicted on you is not to do the same thing as what is shown. When evil is shown right in front of the eyes, there are three ways to do this. Prophet Muhammad said about it in the hadith found in Muslim:

“Whoever of you sees wrong being committed, let him change it with his hand (i.e., by force). If he is unable to do that, then with his tongue, and if he is unable to do that, then with his heart.”

What is meant by that is, to change using hand is by taking appropriate action. If it cannot be done due to the probability that it may turn worse or that it is unable to, it is advised to use the tongue. This can be done with advice, counseling, or using words to approach this issue. The last action will be to change the heart. When seeing the disliked behavior, one should be feeling disapprove and not liking the wrongdoing. It is the weakest action compared to the other two.

Refrain from anger and speak gently

Difficult people exhibit behaviors that can accidentally or intentionally provoke anger. There are people who avoid taking responsibility to do the job, making rude remarks, and those who find faults in everything that you do. It can be very frustrating to deal with it and may cause anger. In Islam, while anger is a natural emotion, it should be controlled. The Prophet Muhammad himself does not respond to evil with evil. Instead, Muslims should practice patience (Sabr) and forgiveness when facing these situations.

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a) said:
“One who retrains his anger (towards someone), God will cover his secrets.”
[Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar vol. 73, p. 264, hadith #11]

To address it, find out what causes it. Sometimes it can trigger due to a past trauma or the inability to control others. Difficult people could also be the ones without the intention to do harm to you. People who lack social skills may do so unintentionally, and while it is not harmful, it can hurt their feelings and cause anger. Rather than lashing out, ask yourself why you are feeling that emotion.

One of the best ways is to approach it with the right mindset, where you could change the way you see others. For example, knowing that people who criticize others are often those who are always facing criticism will help you calm the anger. This is where empathy is being used, rather than judging the person itself. Also, always remind yourself that anger can diminish your energy, and it is not worth spending it on them.

Interact only when it is about work, never personal

Things can get very messy if you involve someone difficult or toxic to handle in your personal life. You may not know what they are capable of. For example, if someone is manipulative, they could even try to make your life miserable and quit the job. It could begin with a simple yet intentional approach with the question, “Why are you taking a leave?” “What are you doing this weekend?” Staying professional is the way to thrive in an environment where the focus should be on work, not otherwise.

Here are some of the ways to maintain it:

  • Give general and brief answers, but be polite
  • Change into work topic
  • Set boundaries
  • Stay looking busy

By keeping aspects of your private life private at work, you can avoid unnecessary drama and maintain focus on your professional responsibilities.

Pray for their own good

It is best to pray for their best, instead of gossiping or backbiting about the person. In Islam, these behaviors are not only considered bad manners but also regarded as major sins. Everyone has their own faults, and it is not really in our place to judge them, but Allah S.W.T.

Conclusions

Muslims should maintain an exemplary akhlaq. Responding to negativity with grace, controlling anger, maintaining professional boundaries, and praying for the well-being of others are all integral parts of this ethical framework. Muslims can balance their faith and foster a harmonious environment with these actions, where personal integrity and respect prevail over discord. Through patience, empathy, and adherence to Islamic teachings, one can navigate challenging relationships with wisdom and compassion, striving always to embody the highest ideals of conduct prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

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