My Enemies, I Thank You
Fostering enmity is the meanest of all human activities. Unfortunately, creating enmity between people requires nothing more than a good helping of stupidity served up with poor judgment and a disregard for people’s feelings. With these ingredients, you can soon find yourself surrounded by a host of people wrangling, cursing, and hating each other.
Experience has taught me the wisdom of exercising patience with those who argue with me, to show them courtesy and apply the remedy prescribed in the Qur’an: to respond with what is better. “Repel (evil) with what is best. Then the person between whom and you there had been enmity will become as if he were a dear friend.” [Sūrah Fussilat: 34]
I have also learned from experience not to begrudge those who have resolved themselves to hate me. Such people are a part of life. In Allah’s wisdom, they are the price one has to pay for success and for engaging in any productive activity in this world.
But I say: My enemies, I thank you.
It is you who have taught me how to listen to criticism – even hurtful criticism – without becoming embarrassed. You have taught me how to go forward without hesitation, even after hearing the most degrading of insults and discouragements.
This is an extremely important lesson in life that cannot be learned from a book. It can only be learned through the experiences Allah causes us to endure. At first, it stings bitterly, but a person must learn to deal with it.
My enemies, I thank you.
You have made me more self-reliant. You have taught me not to be taken in by flattery. You have put both praise and censure into perspective and given me a balanced view. Because of you, I do not fall victim to the excessive praise of flatterers, or become vain due to the over-eagerness of those who see in me more than my true merit and cannot see my faults. Such people are your opposite, since you only see my faults and regard even my good qualities as bad.