A man, his wife, and their donkey were traveling through town on their way to the market. The man and his wife were both walking beside the donkey when someone shouted, “Look at these two fools! They have a donkey but they are not riding it. What’s the point of the donkey!?” Upon hearing this the man helped his wife on to the donkey and they carried on their journey. A while down the path they heard another person say, “Look at this man! Talk about whipped. His wife rides on the donkey like the Queen of Sheba while her tired, old husband has to walk alongside.” The wife didn’t like that so she told her husband to ride on the donkey whilst she walks for a bit. Then they passed by a lady and she said, “Look at this lazy man making his wife walk whilst he rides on the donkey. How lazy!” By now the husband and wife were a bit confused on what to do so they chatted for a while and decided that they should both ride the donkey together. So they carried on their way confident that nobody would have any further objections, but then they passed a group of people and they started muttering amongst themselves, “Look how they abuse that poor old donkey! How do they expect the donkey to carry them both!”
Moral of the Story: You can never please the people. No matter what you do someone will find fault with it. So what should we do? Instead of trying to please the people, instead change your focus to pleasing Allah, because Allah, the Most High, said:
“The enjoyment of (worldly) desires—women, children, treasures of gold and silver, fine horses, cattle, and fertile land—has been made appealing to people. These are the pleasures of this worldly life, but with Allah is the finest destination. Say (O Prophet), ‘Shall I inform you of what is better than all of this? Those mindful of their Lord will have Gardens under which rivers flow, to stay there forever, and pure spouses, and the pleasure of Allah.’ And Allah is All-Seeing of (His) slaves.” (Aali Imran:14-15)
And He, the Almighty said:
“As for those who believe and perform good deeds, then the Most Merciful will bestow upon them love.” (Maryam:96)
And this hadith of the Prophet ﷺ explains how that love will be bestowed upon them, he ﷺ said:
“If Allah, the Most High, loves (His) slave, He calls out to Jibril, ‘Indeed, Allah, the Most High, loves so and so, so love him.’ So Jibril will love him and he will call out to the people of the Heavens, ‘Indeed, Allah loves so and so, so love him’ So the people of the Heavens will love him, the Allah will place the acceptance (of his love) on the Earth.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The way to achieve Allah’s love and pleasure is through obedience and acts of worship, Allah, said:
“Indeed, those who believe and do good—they are the best of (all) beings. Their reward with their Lord will be Gardens of Eternity, under which rivers flow, to stay there for ever and ever. Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. This is (only) for those in awe of their Lord.” (Al-Bayinah:8)
And the Prophet ﷺ said:
“Allah, the Most High, says, ‘My slave will continue to perform voluntary acts of worship until I love him, and if I love him then I will be his hearing that he hears with, his sight that he sees with, his hand with which he reaches out, and his legs with which he walks.’” (Al-Bukhari)
And sometimes pleasing Allah means that you will have to upset some of the people of the Dunya, even if those people are your closest relatives and friends. Allah said in the Quran:
“You will never find a people who truly believe in Allah and the Last Day who are loyal to those who oppose Allah and His Messenger even if they were their parents, children, siblings, or extended family. For those believers, Allah has instilled faith in their hearts and strengthened them with a spirit from Him. He will admit them into Gardens under which rivers flow, to stay there forever. Allah is pleased with them and they with Him. They are the party of Allah. Indeed, Allah’s party is bound to succeed.” (Al-Mujadilah:22)
So do not despair at the critics criticising or the haters hating. These people cannot be pleased; they have a disease in their hearts that makes it impossible for them to be happy at the sight of someone working hard to succeed. Ubadah bin Samit reported that the Prophet ﷺ took an oath from a number of the Sahabah that they would stand for the truth where ever they are without fearing the blame of the blamers (Al-Bukhari).
The Muslim man knows his religion and practices what he knows with confidence. He is a man of principles and he unapologetically stands by those principles even when it is not the status quo or the popular opinion. The Prophet ﷺ said:
“The religion started off as strange and will return to being strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers.” (Muslim)
The popular opinion isn’t always the right one, but those who have the courage to stand by what is true and what is just will be loved and remembered for it in the long run, even if they are attacked and misunderstood at the time of their stand. Those who cowwer, apologise and seek to appease the critics will be dismissed and forgotten.
The Prophet and his followers were attacked and slandered for their beliefs only for his attackers and slanderers to then accept his teachings and embrace Islam within less than a decade.
Imam Ahmad was imprisoned and tortured because he refused to say that the Quran was created. Today he is remembered better than the rulers who imprisoned him, more than a thousand years after his death and his madhhab is followed by millions of Muslims worldwide.
Martin Luther King was attacked and criticized for standing up against the oppression of blacks in America only for him to become one of the most revered figures of American history.
Nelson Mandela was labeled a terrorist and was imprisoned only for him to go on to become the president of South Africa after his release.
Muhammad Ali was convicted, stripped of his boxing titles, and banned from boxing for 4 years because of his opposition to the Vietnam war and the white establishment only for him to become one of the most beloved and respected athletes of all time.
Stay true to your beliefs, don’t sacrifice your principles for the sake of acceptance, and don’t fear the blame of the blamers.