The other day, two residents of the local area around Darul Uloom London decided to come over and file a complaint. Being a Muslim school, regular complaints about pretty much anything and everything are expected and no longer surprise us. (An occasion comes to mind where one of our neighbours actually complained about the strong “curry smell” coming from the school).
What was different about this complaint however was that the people actually took out the time to come over to the school and speak directly to us. Seldom do we ever get visits from neighbours, let alone those that come to provide some ‘constructive criticism’. Despite whatever their intentions may have been, the did show a certain degree of hostility when speaking to one of our management staff and came across as quite unfriendly. Of course, one can’t indiscriminately place the blame on them, since we have no idea of what kind of exposure to Islam they have received in the past, whether it be through social media, newspapers, personal experiences etc.
However, what struck me was not the conduct of the two gentlemen at all, but rather how the brother who received them responded to their hostility. The first thing he did was sit them down and ask them what they had to say. They made it clear that they had a complaint about the excessive amount of noise coming from the school during the afternoon, which was wholly due to the fact that the football tournament was going on that week and two things that really don’t get along together are ‘quiet’ and ‘football’.
After that, the brother immediately thanked them. “I thank you guys for taking the time to come over to the school and speak to us personally” even if it was for a complaint. The two guests were taken aback. Did he just thank us? He then said “I appreciate the fact that you guys understand that the students are young and are having fun and thus will make noise. But I guess you guys think they’re making too much noise.” he said with a laugh. After a bit of a discussion about the issue at hand, he told them that he appreciates their efforts so much and it would hurt him to see them come over all the way and see them leave empty handed. “You guys happened to come over on meat biryani day (Thursday lunch) and I’d love for you guys to have some. If you’re too busy to eat with us now, just give me two minutes and I’ll pack you some inshaAllah”.
At the end of their visit, they ended up exchanging numbers with the school and even offered to come over some time in the future to give talks concerning the school’s relationship with the council, dealing with the neighbours etc. – not to mention the food and wide smiles they had on their faces when leaving.
After having a little chat with the brother over lunch, he explained that as Muslims, it’s very important for us to be channellers of positivity. Just like how a bouncy ball bounces back just as hard as it’s thrown (physics majors may testify against this), if we learn to channel the negative shots we get from people back in a positive direction, it not only calms us down but also encourages them to look at the situation in an entirely new perspective which, more often than not, will only benefit us.
Sometimes Da’wah efforts are too preoccupied with intellectual arguments and speeches that we sometimes forget that the main medium through which the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) spread Islam was through his beautiful character.
May Allah give us the ability to take lessons from all the small happenings around us.