People’s moods and circumstances fluctuate between sadness and happiness, health and illness, affluence and poverty, and stability and instability. Subsequently, their reactions to the way they are dealt with also change, depending upon their psychological state at the time. A person may appreciate a joke when feeling stable and relaxed, but not when upset. It would thus be very inappropriate to make a joke when visiting someone who is bereaved. The same joke would be acceptable, if related whilst out on a picnic. Hence, one must take into consideration people’s psychological states, emotions and personalities when speaking to or dealing with them.

Suppose two friends pass their secondary school examinations. One of them passes with flying colours, while the other one fails in some subjects and, therefore, does not achieve the grades required for admission in university. Would it be appropriate for the one, who has qualified, to visit his friend and discuss the university that has accepted him and the various opportunities that have opened up? No doubt, we would all say no. What then should he do? He should mention general matters that might lighten his worry. He could complain about the large number of applicants to universities and how many people are not selected, in order to make his friend feel better. Thereafter, his friend would probably not mind sitting with him and remaining his companion.

The same can be said about two young men – one has a generous father who is always showering him with wealth, while the other has a miserly one who hardly meets his needs. It would not be appropriate for the son of the generous father to speak about his generosity and how he loves to spend on him, as this would distress his friend and cause him to remember what he has to undergo due to his father. Subsequently, he would not like to be in his company, as he would feel that he is insensitive.

For this reason, the Prophet (sa) emphasized that people’s psychological conditions and sensitivities should be considered. He said: “Do not stare at a leper.” (Ibn Majah) A leper is not attractive to look at and, hence, it is inappropriate for people to stare at him, because this would remind him of his affliction and hurt him further.

When the Muslim army entered Makkah, Sad ibn Ubadah (rtam) was carrying the banner of one of the battalions. He waved it and said: “Today is the day of slaughter! Today your inviolabilities will be attacked.”

A woman came and complained to the Prophet (sa), requesting him to intervene in order to avoid bloodshed. The Prophet (sa) did not want to anger Sad (rtam) by taking the banner away from him (carrying the banner was considered to be very noble). At the same time, he did not want to disappoint the woman. Thus, he ordered Sad (rtam) to hand over the banner to his son, Qays ibn Sad (rtam). The woman was satisfied that the banner had been taken away from Sad (rtam), while the latter was still the leader of the battalion with his son carrying the banner.

How wonderful it is to kill two birds with one stone. Try not to lose anyone. Try to win everyone over successfully, even if there is a conflict of interest between them.

Adapted (with permission) from “Enjoy Your Life” published by “Darussalam”. Compiled for “Hiba” by Bisma Ishtiaq.