By Fadwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
(All) faces shall be humbled before (Him) – the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal: hopeless indeed will be the man that carries iniquity (on his back). (But he who works deeds of righteousness, and has faith, will have no fear of harm nor of any curtailment (of what is his due). (Quran 20:111-112)
First, ask yourself:
Are you able to forgive? Can you either move on without the person, or else move on from the hurt feelings and continue to engage?
If you can, then do so. However, as you do, communicate your feelings about being wronged to someone you trust who has shared values. You might feel wronged, but another set of eyes and ears might look at the situation differently, and they might be able to help you see your contributions to the hurt or you might even be the one in the wrong. It’s best that, if you decide to engage, you learn how to communicate your feelings.
But perhaps you are not able to forgive. Are you, then, able to call the person before an independent judge or conflict-resolution mediator?
If you can, do this, and work through the complicated process of seeking your rights or explaining your thoughts and feelings.
Yet perhaps you cannot forgive, and you also cannot call on the person to resolve the wrong they did. What next?
Can you take the matter to court? If you can, then do so. The courts have authority over the person, and in this way you can get your rights or penalize the person. Make sure all communications are recorded, although you should be transparent about it, so that you act with fairness, integrity, and ethics. You don’t want to manufacture evidence to win an argument or bend the situation in your favor.
But perhaps you are not able to forgive, resolve the situation, or settle it in court.
Are you, then, able to wait until the Day of Judgment? We will all face people from whom we cannot get our rights in this world. In this case, we will need to ground ourselves in our faith and wait until the Day of Judgment for rights and justice. Imam Ash Shaarawi said: The matter will be so grave and meticulous that a person who is headed to hell will not go to hell until they get their rights from one who is going to heaven.
Although perhaps you cannot forgive, resolve the situation, settle it in court, or wait until the Day of Judgment.
In this case, seek therapy and work through your feelings. Create healthy boundaries between you and the person who wronged you. If you don’t wish to engage the person, let them know your feelings in writing. Keep repeating the message. Block them on all social medias and avoid them at events. This is called hudna in Arabic—sulha or peacemaking—and it represents a cessation of hostilities.
And what if the individual is a family member?
Then learn how to maintain minimum contact and protect yourself from harm. If anyone tries to meddle in your life, ask them to stop. Meddlers can cause more damage than good. See this person who has wronged you as a lesson of what not to do or be. If they are an abuser, as you think, then they may have saturated the community with false news about you before you could even speak a word. As the saying goes: “He hit me and cried, then raced ahead of me and complained.”
What if someone says you have wronged them?
If someone comes to tell you a story about how you have wronged or hurt them, then ask them to share their story in writing. People who are telling the truth will repeat the same basic story, while those who are caught in a lie will backpedal and change the story once you show evidence to refute parts of it. In this case, the story keeps changing. If you agree with the person’s claims, work through resolving the matter between the two of you. If you were joking, realize that if both parties aren’t laughing, then your joke was probably an insult disguised as a joke. This is verbal abuse. If you disagree with the person’s claims, and their description of events, then ask them to go before an independent mediator. Tell them you would like to resolve the matter according to your values.
What if someone tells you that they have been wronged? Then start with step one above. But don’t interfere without the permission of both parties. Refuse to be a meddler. However, allow the wronged party to express their pain privately. Listen. Make dua (prayer) for them. If their life is in danger, help them contact law enforcement and seek shelter; otherwise, encourage them to seek counseling.
I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.
Finally, when it comes to justice, and when people’s rights are at stake, do not use hints or be so discreet that someone might misinterpret your behavior or not catch the message. We are all different in many ways, and transgress each other’s boundaries both unintentionally and intentionally. Creating healthy boundaries is a process of growth, grace, and engagement or letting go.
This is an excerpt from a forthcoming book, currently titled Love Is Deeper Than Words: Key Lessons from the Prophets.
Fadwa Wazwaz | Fəd-wə Wəz-wəz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. She is an author of God Intervenes Between A Person And Their Heart: Key Lessons From The Prophets.