Dealing with Hypocrites

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

In this world, there are many people who do not speak the truth. Even more alarming, there are people who speak in half-truths, using linguistic details to mislead, while not technically lying. Just as the Disbelievers read the Quran looking for corruption within it, certain people make agreements in bad faith, seeking loopholes. Like the Quranic description of Satan, this person makes a promise, but then when you ask him about it, he claims he never promised that thing! Such people can make us want to beat our heads against the wall.

The Prophet (s) said: “Most of man’s mistakes and sins are committed by his tongue, and the worst sin is to lie!”

How can we navigate ourselves safely in a world where things are often not as they are explained? One thing we must do is give less space in our minds to the hypocrites. “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head,” as the saying goes. It is important to let go of the fantasy that we can control others. All we can do is control how we react to them, and make sure we don’t fall into their trap.

“Because hypocrisy stinks in the nostrils one is likely to rate it as a more powerful agent for destruction than it is.” wrote Rebecca West in 1928.

Promise-breakers generally have a pattern of behavior. At a certain point, nobody believes what they say. The Quran states in Surat al-Nur:

And of mankind, there are some who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day’’ while in fact they do not believe. They try to deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!

There are some people who are outwardly religious, but you still cannot trust them because they have developed an internal dialogue that justifies their transgressions against other people. A terrible example I can give is an outwardly devout Muslim man who married three wives without clearly explaining his marital status to his brides. When I asked him why he did not inform his third wife of his other two wives, his reply was, “She did not ask!”

In light of this admission I feel obliged to advise those seeking to enter into a marriage with anyone to do three things:

1.    Ask questions! Never trust someone blindly or withhold questions in fear of offending.

2.    Talk to people who know this person and ask very specific questions about their past.

3.    Ask for the person’s credit report

In this day and age where we arrange marriages with near strangers from other parts of the world, it important to check out anyone we plan to marry. A credit report will tell you a lot about a person, in particular: does this person honor his or her agreements? If a bank would not loan money to this person, it would be wise for you not to invest too much trust in this person.

On the authority of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, the Prophet (s) said: “There are four traits which, whoever possesses them is a hypocrite and whoever possesses some of them has an element of hypocrisy until he leaves it: the one who when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, when he disputes he transgresses and when he makes an agreement he violates it.”

Nobody is perfect. Some innocent people break promises just because they have personal weaknesses, not because they were intending to deceive. A friend of mine who was going to Germany asked me what I wanted as a gift so I asked her to bring me some marzipan. She faithfully bought the marzipan, but during the journey could not control her sweet tooth and ate it all! I was disappointed of course but I did not hate her for this because she did the honorable thing: She admitted she had made the promise, admitted she broke the promise, and felt genuinely sorry.

There is a huge difference between this and those who purposely trick people, who backbite, cheat, or bluff their way through life, and when you confront them they become hostile to avoid further discussion. One woman found out shortly after marriage that her fiance had lied about his ethnic background, his financial status, and even his source of livelihood! When she asked him why, he said, “If I had told you the truth, you would not have married me.”

A true liar lies in order to seek personal gain. It is not just a reflexive action like that of a teenager whose father asked her, “Have you been smoking?” Real hypocrites actually enjoy torturing truthful people with confusion, considering themselves above others.

Imam Ali stated about the hypocrites: “They are jealous of other people’s prosperity, interested in other people’s misery and are a source of hopelessness and stress.”

I have learned as I have grown older to trust others less and myself more. I have learned that my body never lies. If a certain person causes me to have headaches and stomachaches, or causes my heart rate to increase, that person is probably unhealthy for me as company. I should even refrain from arguing with such a person because they only respond with lies to my attempts to appeal to their higher self.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer. karinfriedemann.blogspot.com

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Sexual Health Education Still Inadequate

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

TMO Editor’s Note:  The following is a very frank account of a woman’s experiences before her conversion to Islam.

By Karin Friedemann

sex_ed1There is a time in every girl’s life that she looks to her mother for guidance. That time may pass, so it’s important to capitalize upon this moment. When I was eleven, I asked my mother if I should save my virginity for marriage. She answered me with the standard answer of modern America, “I don’t care what you do, just don’t get pregnant.” This was very unfortunate because I had been reading religious literature aimed at teens advising them not to have sex. I was willing to consider it. I was eleven, and my mother threw me to the wolves.

By the time I was 15 I got my first STD, chlamydia. When I was 19, I contracted HPV and herpes that took me years to overcome. Although youths in school are warned about deadly diseases like AIDS, nobody actually mentions how many bacteria, yeasts and fungi, or viruses are spread around through sexual intercourse every time. That point needs to be stressed: every time you have sex, you expose yourself to someone else’s bacteria, fungi and viruses, which are always there even if not to the point of causing immediate disease symptoms.

I think the reason I didn’t use condoms as often as I should have was because of my deep down conservative values. Even at 15, I truly wanted a child. I wanted someone to love me and take care of me so that I could have a child. In some countries I could have been married but that was not my fate.

All I can say now in my comfortable middle age is that it doesn’t matter if you are 20 or 40. Even a brief stray into the realm of casual dating could cause you to become infected with a disease. That disease could take you months or years to overcome through lifestyle changes and diet and prayer.

Do not underestimate the value of your chastity. Marriage is a hard road, but there is no comfort and security in casual dating. Marriage might cost you thousands in a divorce, but that is better than ten years of searing pain in your genitals. What people don’t understand is that disease is almost guaranteed when you have sex with a non-chaste person. 35% of Americans have some form of herpes. 80% have been exposed to HPV, which can lead to cancer. Even condoms can cause yeast infections. Vaginal strep infections are as common as step throat, but the bacteria can spread into the uterus and beyond.

So what do we do if we have already messed up and now we are facing the consequences? We invited poisoned people into our lives and we invited these diseases to take root inside our bodies. We have to take responsibility for that, and then we need to ask the Lord for forgiveness so that we can forgive ourselves, because disease flourishes in an environment of unresolved conflict.

We were given these challenges to DARE us to jump-start our lives and immune systems. I think when we become depressed or we hold anger inside we can get sick because people who should have been there for us were not. Even way before we noticed it like when a crisis came up. But nobody stopped us from loving ourselves but our own damaged belief systems especially the outdated belief that we need someone else to take care of us other than Allah.

For a newborn child, being loved is the same as life. If a newborn child were abandoned, he or she would die. It is totally natural for our bodies to associate lack of loving affection with impending death. As adults we have to stop waiting for affection if it is not forthcoming. That state of waiting will kill us. We are not helpless. It is just our baby self that is helpless. Even though we may have been abandoned, we would never abandon our child. And yet, we may still need help to care for our inner child. Imagine if you found a starved, abandoned baby. You would call someone.

As parents, in addition to giving compassionate advice, the best thing we can do to protect our children from viruses, bacteria and fungi however contracted is to make sure our family eats well. It can be hard to convince a teenager to eat anything at all, given society’s emphasis on calorie counting. However, the best we can do is to help our children associate food with good feelings and warm memories of togetherness. Eating disorders resulting in life long nutritional deficits that lower the immune system can be traced back to unhealthy emotions at the family dinner table, or the lack of any family dinner. Ultimately, a person’s ability to fight disease rests on his past history of healthy eating habits and a deep reservoir of love to draw upon in times of need.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

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