By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
“Once a target realises this, they can take comfort from the fact that every time they are blamed, criticised or subjected to another specious allegation by the bully, the bully is implicitly admitting or revealing something about themselves.”
For a few years, a woman contacted me regarding a story about her in the shadows that was widely circulating.
Bits by bits the story unfolded itself to her, not through honest and open discussion, but slander, projection, bullying, emotional blackmail, gas-lighting, mental abuse, harassment, and stalking.
The story began with another woman who wanted to bring her down and humble her. This woman saw herself as a matriarch and took it upon herself to act as Judge, Jury, and Executioner of the town. She demanded respect from everyone and wanted all women to acknowledge her sense of greatness in their eyes.
This woman created a team of people and designated each a role. One played the spokesperson, other the spies, some the hyenas who publicly attacked the woman targeted if she responds back. Others played an assigned role when it was needed.
At first, the targeted woman was defensive and confused and reached out to understand their perspective, then this backfired. I shared with her an article “It’s opposite day: When psychopaths project,” by Linda Hartoonian Almas and “How bullying works: projection and scapegoating,” by Kitty S Jones. I explained to her these individuals are skilled at projection and probably have learned this skill by practicing it on others.
Find out the advice they give others, and share it with them to help them see themselves. With people skilled in projection, just turn the mirror around.
Jones explains: “A target’s awareness of projection can help them translate whatever they are being accused of into an awareness of the bully’s own misdemeanours.”
She found an article written by one of the women and what she discovered was disturbing at best…
They did not believe their own advice at all.
What’s wrong with what they did?
The scheming games were abusive, harmful, toxic, and destructive. Instead of showing *any* acknowledgment of the target’s pain and suffering, and then working from there, the scheming crew *completely* ignored her thoughts & feelings. The target was filing police reports given the harassment and not sure if they were real or imaginary as when she reached out to verify, they denied and feigned innocence.
Next, they boasted “stop pretending.” She was clueless as what to stop pretending, and all attempts for verification were rejected.
However, they continued with the harassment. When she opened up about how she was feeling, their response was, “We don’t buy it!” There was no real compassion or empathy. Empathy is to recognize what someone is feeling *from their perspective*–not your own. And compassion is non-judgmental understanding of those feelings—even if you don’t particularly like them. Acknowledgment, empathy, and compassion are necessary ingredients of any successful relationship. On the contrary, emotional bullying is to dictate to someone what is or is not acceptable for them to feel and think. Perhaps the fact that they had absolutely *no* idea that she felt her life was in danger and was trying to figure out who was behind the games, that she was struggling with family and health problems is indicative of this lack of ability to see things, not only from their own perspective—but from her perspective, as well.
“But it didn’t work!” And that enraged them!
Umm, how do we know? She started to monitor them and take notes and give each person a piece of false information to see if it travels to the suspected crew or not. And it did, and yes, they feigned innocence when caught. After numerous attempts of trying to frame her and falsely accuse her, they could not build a case against her. Hence, they set the hyenas or attack dogs to bully her into submission. They hid behind half-truths and tried to build facts on the ground or manufacture evidence by sending people to make all sorts of false claims.
Where is her perspective?
Seriously? Human psychology is just a little more complicated than that. Notice that the entire story in the shadows is written from *their* perspective. Where is *her* perspective? The only thing we know about her feelings are the very feelings they write off by saying they don’t “buy it.” Had their hearts and minds allowed her perspective to emerge, then they could say they really know how she feels. However, they were no different than those who yell “Free speech” when people attack Muslims, and “Hate speech” when Muslims respond.
But to say that what they did was ‘successful’ just because they kept trying effortfully to frame her to prove their story is correct is simplistic at best. The CIA tried to frame Muslims and other social justice activists. Framing is a reflection of the darkness of the soul of the perpetrator, not the target. And if they have substantial evidence – why not bring it to the table and allow the target to see it?
They didn’t ‘buy it.’ Or what if she just agreed to the false accusations because they were acceptable to them and they didn’t want to look like fools after all the scheming behind the scenes. They used a technique of manipulation where after creating the problem, they come offering her help.
Desire for power
Brad Thor explained this tool in the following: “Hegelian dialectic—a psychological tool used to manipulate the masses. In this case, you create a problem, wait for the reaction, and then offer the solution. What people historically fail to realize, though, is that those offering the solution are the same people who caused the problem in the first place. They also fail to realize that no matter what the solution is, it always ends up providing its creators with more power.”
This is a technique used by many charlatans with people they want to control, and it’s an unhappy day when we applaud its use on community members!
We also need to discontinue measuring the success of any relationship by merely the fact that the person stuck around to volunteer and joined community events and dinners. There is something more profound about successful relationships than just ‘sticking around.’ That is not the measure of success. So many people automatically applauded them for their actions just because they weren’t the ones who left. But they refused to imagine the situation from her lens (a perspective we know nothing of first hand).
Remember, the one who wants to leave isn’t always the villain, and the one who stays isn’t necessarily the martyr. Relationships are a bit more complicated than that.
They accused her of wanting to be famous for leaving and hurled tons of toxic false accusations and kept harassing her over and over again with emails and calls after her repeated requests to stop the harassment. They used fake profiles, emails, and twitter handles.
As much as they tried, they failed to get their desired outcome. She said to them very bluntly – “if I were meant to be controlled, I would have come with a remote.”
What would have been a better way?
She repeatedly invited them to a discussion to share their facts, feelings, and perspectives before an agreed upon independent conflict resolution mediator. They refused. The reality is they had no facts or evidence to speak of. No emails, texts, phone calls, pictures, nothing to support their false claims.
First, they should have told themselves they don’t know. Instead, this matriarch claimed knowledge of the unknown and played the role of God.
Second, they should have acknowledged and respected how she felt, instead of denying or ignoring her feelings and reality. After acknowledging her feelings, they should have proceeded from there. Perhaps a more healthy response than framing, scheming, denying, discounting, twisting and distorting, belittling, and attacking her expressed thoughts would have been to suggest group therapy or reflect on what things they could change within themselves to fix the conflict. Instead, they ultimately denied that there was any *real* problem with their behavior (after all she just had an adult temper tantrum, and they just needed to ‘duck’). Then they put 100% of the blame on her. They diagnosed the problem as being 100% outside themselves and then proceeded to harass her and fix her, so she thinks and feels like them. That is everything you should *not* do in a relationship or on the path of self-development.
There was absolutely no introspection or reflection on *anything* that perhaps they could change in themselves to improve the relationship (starting probably from learning to acknowledge and respect her feelings, beyond their own—even when they don’t particularly *like* her). Instead, they framed the entire situation as her being emotional and they are grateful, humble and modest. They convinced themselves that they had a one-way ticket to heaven.
They did many Oscar-winning performances to promote themselves as grateful and humble to the community like receiving a gig, or tons of rewards and applause after they got into a public fight.
They were so elated with the applause and gigs; they would yell “God is Great!” celebrating loudly that they won and God was on their side. It was all a game. That is all it was, a game. Yet, they didn’t know how to genuinely win by honoring their soul. They could not face a court of law or take an oath asking God to judge between, because deep down within they did not believe their own conjured up story. They knew they were lying, but they didn’t want anyone else to know. They prefer to engage in the shadows, because they want to win by honoring their ego over their soul, and fear to lose before a court of law, mediator, or being exposed to others.
I think it speaks about the mercy and compassion they claim to have in their hearts when their actions are not only tolerated but applauded. That is not humility, but arrogance.
Denial of their abuse
Even if the target was displacing some inner unhappiness on them, to believe that there was absolutely nothing they were doing to contribute to the problem or that there was absolutely nothing they could do to change the difficulty and tension is self-righteousness at best. To think that they are ever just passive bystanders of their problems or that the issues in the dispute are 100% her fault is self-centered and just plain wrong. Of course there was some part they played, and of course, there was something they could have changed in themselves to resolve the dispute. No one is perfect, and we all have things in ourselves that we could improve to strengthen our relationships. But chalking up the entire problem to just her being depressed and inner dissatisfaction, while completely exonerating their role, is putting the blame entirely on her and implying that they have nothing to improve or change.
But there is a third kind of relationship. The third kind of relationship is not perfect, not even close. But a decision has been made, and people have decided to love each other for the sake of God, and that love means allowing the person to stay or leave, as they are not your possession, but God’s. It is not a relationship of possession, control, and manipulation, but of invitation, healing, growth, and transformation. Hence, such a person lives their faith by healing and promoting self-healing. On that journey to healing, one gets closer to God and is used by God to heal others, including charlatans who are blind that their target was used by God to purify them from the diseases of their perverse souls.
Cease and desist letters were sent to many individuals to abide by a no-contact policy including via third parties. This has been violated repeatedly on a weekly basis for years. As of today, going forward I will make a note of any further violations.
- 8/10/2019 – Received a phone call for Eid prayers from the Islamic Center of Minnesota. Contacted the center and asked to be removed from all their databases and send them a letter requesting it in writing. The individuals of this center have received many communications not to contact me.
Medicine…Drip by drip
- Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots.
- Avid listeners to lies and rumors. You are what you consume. “For such – it is not Allah’s will to purify their hearts. For them there is disgrace in this world, and in the Hereafter a heavy punishment.” (41)
- Among the most dangerous of people are those who masquerade their unhealthy obsession with another as “guide, correct, or remind them.”
- No, you’re not guiding, correcting, or reminding someone if you act like God.
- Heartaches & pain are real. Don’t take them lightly. They say a man keeps wagging his tongue at a woman for one or more of the four reasons: his mother is unchaste and this is his way of confronting her, he sexually desires her and this is his way of fighting himself, he is overpowered by his wife and he does this to salvage his male ego, he committed grave sins and is ashamed to confront himself.
- Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, said one can poke the eye of one eavesdropping on them. If you used those near and dear to eavesdrop on me and heard dirt/smut on you, understand justice was served. There is more dirt/smut waiting for you, if your lower self is habituated to sin.
- Identify the source of those critical words and give them back to their rightful owner. When someone gives you back your projections and/or accusations/bullets, they are not unveiling you. They are simply saying, excuse me, these belong to you. There are no skeletons in my closet. If there is, provide your evidence if you are truthful. Not one shred of evidence presented. Just mind games and the machinations of Satan, a psychopath.
- Bringing down others or attacking others using shade and/or negging comments reflects the state of one’s heart. God is Just, and if someone intentionally seeks to unveil another, God will unveil them. You don’t need to play God and shoot bullets. Do you question His Justice and insist on being Judge, Jury, and Executioner without right?
- Why obsess with skeletons in one’s closet? A person of faith attributes their good actions to God, and even if there aren’t any skeletons in the closet to unveil, they worry about God removing His Grace and Mercy. Without His Mercy and Grace, even with super clean closets, we are lost. Satan is such an example. God did not falsely accuse Satan or unveil him, after he intentionally caused Adam to slip, rather He removed His Grace and Mercy, and Satan became accursed.
- “were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, not one of you would ever have been pure: but Allah doth purify whom He pleases: and Allah is One Who hears and knows (all things).” (21)
- Are you so full of hatred, envy, jealousy, and spitefulness that you will keep trying to frame someone or manufacture sins and misdemeanors they did not commit, paving a sure road to hell for yourself? If you believe the Day of Judgement is REAL, then why can’t you be patient? You speak LOUDLY, it is REAL. Your actions say, you doubt the day of judgement. Your machinations say, you have no faith, like Satan.
- If God did not unveil them, it is because they have no skeletons in their closet and/or planned to unveil others, and you’re playing God by shooting bullets at them from every direction, is God unveiling you as a criminal to yourself and your bamboozled followers. “If you dig a pit for others to fall into, you will fall into it yourself.” -Rumi
- أكرم نفسك عن كل دنيء
“Make distance between you and every dirtiness(people).”
- Sometimes your stupidity will hold you as you mock others in the crowd, and it will incite you into feelings of joy and happiness, and your cocktail of joy, stupidity, and delusion will be mislead you into thinking you are a conservative Muslim who is visibly observant and committed to your faith.
- Everyone acts according to their nature. Don’t be ashamed, wallow in despair, or feel like a failure if you cannot tune me out or starve your ego. It is the nature of dogs to keep barking.
- If you act like a confused puppy who doesn’t know where your boundaries begin or end, after being issued a polite request to leave me alone, your friends and everyone on earth will be asked to give you a helping hand. “Allah loveth not that evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice hath been done; for Allah is He who heareth and knoweth all things.” (148)
- It is the nature of criminals to cry crocodile tears after a crime. “Then they came to their father in the early part of the night, weeping.” (16)
- Don’t hate yourself for not being perfect – Just Be Yourself. A sign that you hate yourself is you are focused on a target. What/who is your central focus?
- There can be no gratitude without focusing on the source of the one you are grateful to. Praise of God follows a grateful heart. Machinations against a target, you want to project your sins and flaws upon, follows an ungrateful heart.
- Happiness or sadness is irrelevant to your state of gratitude. Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, is the most grateful human being to God, and he had moments of sadness and happiness. He was always focused on God.
- Focus on God, not a target to deflect attention from listening to your soul. It has a message for you. Just listen.
- “Then remember Me; I will remember you…” (Qur’an 2:152)
- Your happiness or mockery when you harm people is evidence that you are an abuser and clothing your abuse with words of God. It is not a sign of gratitude.
- The Creator can speak for Himself who anyone is in His eyes. I am not sure of my state, but I do not look kindly on those who claim to have a one way ticket to heaven. Oppression and not expectation is what makes a person bad in our eyes.
- Two people can both hold a high station in God’s Eyes, yet God decreed they not be together. The marriage of Zaid and Zayna is an example.
- When someone communicated to you to stop your oppression, and you keep doing it and laughing, on and on and on – it does not matter to them how often you pray or how much adab you have, you are an oppressor in their eyes.
- What is oppression? It is transgression of one’s boundaries into another without right including mentally, emotionally, socially, or spiritually. Justice is pushing back people who are oppressors within their boundaries. Do not be impressed with your adab when you are oppressing someone. Stop your oppression.
- If you are looking for every way in the book to shove your advice, help, or love into someone who does not welcome or appreciate it, that is oppression.
- ربما أراد الأحمق نفعك فضرك
“The stupid might want to help you, but they just ended up hurting you.”
- Editing someone’s life experiences with sins they did not commit much less ever cross their mind or heart is also oppression.
- Projecting thoughts and feelings onto others that are not theirs, is a form of oppression.
- Giving people snake oil treatments for ailments or diseases that they do not have is a form of oppression.
- Meddling and interfering in people’s lives without right is a form of oppression. “He who inserts himself between the onion and its skin, will only gain its smell.”
“يا داخل بين البصلة وقشرتها ما بينوبك غير ريحتها”
- Engaging in a sin, refusing to repent, then throwing the sin onto an innocent party is a form of oppression.
- Accusing someone of racism because they reject you as a spouse is oppression. No one should be emotionally blackmailed into marrying you. Why wouldn’t you want to marry someone who would love to be with you?
- Rewriting someone’s life with all sorts of nonsense and ailments, including being suicidal because they reject you as a spouse, is a form of oppression. Maybe, they are very healthy and content. Do not ask for a happy dance and song to prove it.
- Twisting and distorting a person’s writings over and over again, and making them about you or some phantom rumor is a form of oppression.
- Spying, countering, lies, stalking, machinations, scapegoating, communicating with vagueness, harassing emails and phone calls, and conjecture – making it difficult for a person to know how to best respond to you is a form of oppression.
- They say truth hurts, but lies kill, torture, and destroy families, countries, and society. Lies are the bedrock of war and genocide. Hence, the Prophet, upon him peace and blessings, said, the liar has no faith.
- Love who you want, hate who you want, do not oppress anyone. –Sharaawy
- “O my servants! I have forbidden injustice to Myself and have forbidden that for you as well, then do not commit injustice to each other”. (Muslim)
- Stop chasing people. The people that belong in your life will come and stay.
- No, it’s NOT guide, correct, or remind when you create phantom rumors to justify your irrational obsession with a target and your desire for power.
- No, it’s NOT guide, correct, or remind when you stalk the person’s every move and interactions with others.
- No, it’s NOT guide, correct, or remind when your insecurities are the only thing that’s thriving in your relationships.
- Sometimes hidden feelings are feelings of repulsion, not love. Don’t force them out of someone, then accuse them of being cruel and vulgar. They tried really hard to hide their feelings, but you insisted and demanded: you want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So they complied.
- People who love others sincerely, love them for who THEY ARE, not try to force them to into a version of themselves.
- People who love others sincerely, want THEIR happiness, not just to use them to fulfill a mob membership.
- People who love others sincerely, understand healthy boundaries and that the only “true love” is reciprocated and never forced.
- Never fall for the one who uses every trick in the book to pass off their unhealthy preoccupation with you as “love” or “giving sincere advice.”
- Choose people who give you sincere advice wisely. Some like Satan, have knowledge of God, but have diseased hearts, and profess to be your sincere advisers. Machinations occupy their minds and hearts out of envy and hatred. Ask God to protect you from them.
- Humility is everything. When you choose to act like Satan, you must accept the consequences of your actions. People are not hiding from you, they are obeying God, who said stay away from Satans and their progeny.
- Don’t hold space for people who requested you leave them alone. Your space is not needed, wanted, or desired. You must convince yourself, actions have consequences, and accept the consequences of your machinations.
- Nobody likes arrogance. Taqwa or God consciousness is when you reprimand your ego or others BEFORE, an evil act to fear God, the Lord of the Worlds. Arrogance is when you proclaim fear of God AFTER you committed the evil act. God says: (Their allies deceived them), like the Evil One, when he says to man, “Deny Allah”: but when (man) denies Allah, (the Evil One) says, “I am free of thee: I do fear Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!”
- My advice to married sisters/brothers is this: enjoy your spouse. Stop lusting after their friends or someone you are not married to. No one betrayed you. You were false to yourself. Allah will never guide the snare of the false ones. Don’t run to happy land; sit with yourself and repent.
- After you commit evil, do not deceive yourself or others with empty proclamations of fear of God! Rather, repentance and repairing the harm is due.
- No matter how many famous imams you know, there is *NO* success for the one whose actions are akin to Satan. Just as the company of Angels did not benefit Satan, famous imams will not benefit you. May God guide us all and protect us from arrogance, heedlessness, delusion, stupidity, and folly.
- Many people in your life claim to tell you what you need to hear, rather than what you want to hear, no matter the consequences. Beware of such people. These are the wrongdoers who refuse any and all advice from those who know them well or those they’ve harmed.
- When the consequences of their mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse hit them, they refuse to accept the consequences as they claimed “no matter the consequences.” Instead, they keep running after you from all directions, demanding you accept them as people who are telling you the truth for your own good.
- Imam Ibn Hazm has noted, those who cross the line when offering advice and help become a “seeker of submission and possession,” are wrongdoers and not advisers.
- أرى كل إنسان يرى عيب غيره ويعمى عن العيب الذي هو فيه
“Everyone is critical of the flaws of others, but blind to their own.”
- اجتنب مصاحبة الكذاب فإن اضطررت إليه فلا تُصَدِّقْهُ
“Avoid the company of liars, but if you can’t, don’t believe them.”
- حبل الكذب قصير
“The rope of lies is short.”
- “Why turn they not to Allah, and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (74)
- No matter how many sins you committed, or how distant you are from God, still turn to Allah & ask for forgiveness. Allah does not love sin, but He loves those who repent and He loves to forgive. Satan refused to repent after he did an evil act. Adam, upon him peace, repented.
- “Yet they play about in doubt.” (9)
Or play the devil: “But then I sigh and, with a piece of scripture,Tell them that God bids us do good for evil;And thus I clothe my naked villainyAnd seem a saint when most I play the devil.” –Shakespeare, Richard III
- The Prophet, upon him peace and blessings, said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”
- Pay attention to the red flags and if anything makes you feel uneasy, trapped, or threatened, get out!
Get to know thyself
It is easy to write a book to purify the heart from such diseases or poison, however, reclaiming one’s heart is another matter.
It is self-healing, transformative, and revolutionary, in the purest sense of the word.
As Susanna Barlow says in Understanding the Healer Archetype: “Promoting yourself as someone who can heal others rather than promoting self-healing is a common theme among Shadow Healers. To avoid the pitfall of the charlatan, the Healer needs only look to their own heart and bring the truth back to the situation. In the words of Paracelsus ‘The practice of healing lies in the heart. If your heart is false, the physician within you will be false.’”
The poison leaves drip by drip. There is a wisdom in that. Dripping water softens stone, whereas the force of a waterfall has no impact. Welcome, to the man and woman in the mirror. Get to know thyself, so you can finally, find God.
Until we start seeing God as Lord of the Worlds, the All-Knowing and
All-Seeing—rather than a jackpot or a role to play to control others—we will never succeed at building a society of relationships founded on faith, healing, and transformation.
Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US. She is a public speaker and writer and lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
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By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
Indeed, those who are in denial about their own specific imperfections are often obsessed with the imperfections of others.
People often say: “Nobody’s perfect.” Many motivational speakers and life coaches are fond of the phrase. Even Adam, the first among us, wasn’t perfect. It’s undeniably true, and obsessing over perfection can be a harmful practice. But what sorts of things can we hide behind the phrase “nobody’s perfect?”
Imagine a child who is raised in a family where, every time he does something wrong, his parents make excuses: “He didn’t mean it,” “he’s a good boy,” “everyone makes mistakes.” Instead of the child facing the consequences of his actions, accepting responsibility, and repairing the harm, he avoids them because “he’s only human.”
This can result in a case like Brock Turner’s, where, even when he has been convicted of rape, his parents make excuses and help him evade responsibility. Here, the mantra that “I’m not perfect” becomes a way of refusing to deal with one’s crimes.
Indeed, those who are in denial about their own specific imperfections are often obsessed with the imperfections of others.
By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
In the ladder of prejudice, we know things begin with talk that objectifies and dehumanizes the other.
During the Presidential election, there has been a lot of talk about the tape in which US presidential candidate Donald Trump discussed grabbing women and violating their bodies. The views I share here, about sexual violence and harassment, are strictly mine. They are not a scholarly
or legal analysis in the light of Islam, but instead my personal reflections about what a story of Prophet Joseph, peace upon him, can tell us about life today.
The public dialogue about sexual violence against women seems to hit flash points of rage. We go for a while, quietly simmering, largely ignoring the topic. Then something happens, and we dump all the anger and angst out of our systems. While this may be cathartic, it’s not necessarily helpful. Instead, things stay much as they were until another flashpoint.
What these flashpoints lack is the nurturing or transformation that can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves or others. Each time, there’s a fire, an exchange of insults, and a declared winner. Then we await the next crisis without fundamentally changing.