Don’t Be Cynical
  • Tue, 04/05/2016
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Too often, people will not believe in you until after you die. Until then, your name will be suspect.

It is so unfortunate that this is exactly how most of us behave towards each other in politics and in everyday life. Indeed, such doubts might seem like a mercy when we compare them with the accusations that people hurl at each other.

When we critique people’s thinking, most of us have a tendency to think it prudent and wise to assume that they have ulterior motives and are hiding something sinister. The same goes for our attitudes towards organizations. If we disagree with an organization, we tend to assume they have a hidden agenda which will rear its ugly head if we wait long enough.

Governments and individuals have made their rule of thumb to suspect everyone until their trustworthiness can be proven. This is because no matter how true and sound people’s words might be, we can never know what they hide in their hearts. We can never know the hidden meanings their words conceal.

I said to one of these cynical people: “Imagine that an angel from heaven came and bore witness to a person’s integrity, you would still have to consider that the angels do not know the unseen. They also have to make judgements based on what they see. Moreover, the person’s heart may change at any time after the angel departs.”

I then said: “Now imagine that Allah lets you have a glimpse into their heart, and you found it to be noble, pure and sincere. You will still have room for doubt. You will wonder what happened to that heart since you got that glimpse, since everyone’s heart is ‘between the two fingers of the Beneficent, and He turns them as He sees fit’.”

If we embrace this logic, nothing that anyone says will have any value or meaning, since anything can be a lie and anyone can be a deceiver. You see yourself as being the only exception to this rule. You are the only person whose inner self is reflected by your outward persona.

I have read too many cynical articles that analyse events in a wholly unnatural way. Nothing is accepted on face value. Everyone is wolf in sheep’s clothing, waiting for the right time to pounce.

Some people have generous hearts and assume the best about others. This is usually because of their own good hearts. Then there are people who are more cautious and sceptical and need more convincing. This is their right. `Umar once said: “I am not a deceiver nor I will allow someone to deceive me!”

The problem arises when people go overboard and take an unnatural view of life, always trying to read between the lines. If they fail to find any cynical way to interpret things, they cast doubt on people’s motives. Such people are afflicted by their doubts. People who think that it is sensible to doubt everyone else restrict their own lives as a result. They become suspicious of even the closest people to them, and they end up having no friends at all.

Some people become so consumed by doubt and suspicion that it destroys their lives. Allah describes such people: “And those whose hearts are in doubt, they are tossed in their doubts to and fro.” [Sūrah al-Tawbah: 45]

Sometimes a person’s death is the only thing that puts an end to doubts and suspicions. Then, when no scandal surfaces, it becomes clear that they had no hidden agendas or ulterior motives, but then it is too late. This is probably why so many of us are unjust in our assessment of the living while we admire people of the past.

Prophet Muhammad warned us, saying: “Those of you who profess belief with your tongues but belief has not entered your hearts, do not backbite the Muslims, nor search for their faults, for anyone who searches fro their faults will have Allah search for his faults, and when Allah searches for someone’s faults, He disgraces that person in his home.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī and Sunan Abī Dāwūd]

Allah also warns us, saying in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Shun much suspicion; for some suspicion is a sin. And do not, spy on or backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor that. And keep your duty (to Allah). Lo! Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Merciful.” [Sūrah al-Hujurāt: 12]

Suspicions lead to spying and spying in turn leads to slander and scandal.

We should trust the signs we see in people’s faces, the sincerity we hear in their voices, and the long experience we have with them, rather than entertain baseless suspicions.