Giving Feedback Graciously

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” (Norman Peale)

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Of course, there is a difference from giving someone criticisms just for the sake of feeling superior, and a difference when you give constructive criticisms in a good manner. There is a fine line between giving advice because you’re arrogant, or because you have genuinely good intentions and want the best for the person.

There was a true story I once heard from a halaqa gathering. Two little boys noticed an older man in the washroom performing his wudu (ablution) wrong. Rather than storming to him and making him feel like an idiot, they approached him and said, “Excuse me, we would like to confirm our way of doing wudu is correct. Can you please watch us?”

Just by watching them both, the old man knew immediately he was doing it wrong. He learned from them without having to be humiliated in the progress.

That is gracious and beautiful advice. It doesn’t always have to be that secretive– but the manner in which one gives feedback makes a huge difference.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

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“Love without criticism brings stagnation, and criticism without love brings destruction.” (John W. Gardner)

May God make all of us positive influences on people’s lives, a reason that they become better & stronger individuals, and not a reason their hearts harden or their behavior becomes bitter. Our goal in giving them feedback should not be for the purpose of making ourselves feel good.

“Our job is to help as many people to free themselves– even from us.” (Imam Afroz Ali)

I’m not sure why I’m writing this blog post– it’s not like I’m a role model in feedback giving– but it was just something on my mind. I am so blessed to know and be working with so many people in university that are so humble and always looking to improve themselves. God’s blessings on their sincere efforts are evident for anyone to see.

Wish you all a blissful day 🙂

–A.S.

Garden of Thoughts

You know how you occasionally stumble upon a quote/saying that is incredibly cheesy but yet… you still go “Aww! How sweet!”?

Well, here’s one of them. It’s cheesy but beautiful in a poetic kinda way…~

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.”

–Alfred Lord Tennyson

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P.S.: (I know you got a goofy smile on your face.) 😛

–A.S.

“A Smile Costs Nothing But Gives Much

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It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give.  

It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.  

None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it.  

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Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.”  


–Author Unknown

FOOD (Literally) For Thought

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It’s a wonderful sunny day, the air smells great, the grass is deliciously green, the birds are chirping, the wind is soothing– Can you imagine this?

Do you tire of this?

These things are especially appreciated here because in Canada we are faced with so much rain and cold, that when refreshing summer days (that actually look like summer) occur, we actually take notice.

It’s a blessing, a gift, a mere sprinkle of His Mercy on us. We notice.

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But the question isn’t to only notice what’s rare or uncommon. What about the blessings we get on a daily basis multiple times a day? It’s fascinating to note that even a grateful person won’t notice how ingrateful they’ve been until they realize something else that is worth noticing. Like myself here.

Here I am eating a normal plate of food, very simply made–

A plate of rice, with vegetables heated up from a bag bought from a grocery store already containing corn, carrots and green peas. It’s not very difficult to make; make some rice and heat up some vegetables; mix them together; add some olive oil for extra flavour.

I often say “bismilleh” (in the name of God) before I eat. I thank Him for giving me food to eat. But I never deeply wondered about how the food came to me from Him.

Looking at my plate, it struck me: how long did it take for hard-working farmers to grow my rice? How long did it take for the bag of vegetables to be prepared? I thought of the corn that was planted, cooked, removed from the cob… I thought of the peas that grew from nothing but a seed… I thought of all the carrots and wondered who took the time to patiently cut them up into such neat tiny squares… how many olives were squeezed to allow this plate of healthy food to taste so delicious…

All praise is due to God; but as our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ told us: “He who does not thank people does not thank Allah.”

And it made me think that we don’t usually thank those who brought the food together for us. It’s easy to buy a bag of frozen vegetables at your local grocery store but who thanks those that put the frozen vegetables together? We may not be able to personally thank them but why not do that via a prayer? So many people need pure souls to pray for them, often times especially those working in the fields under difficult conditions. (Yes, I know your soul and mine isn’t the purest but we’re trying, we’re trying… inshallah with sincere intentions.)

Let’s make duaa for all those who make our life comfortable possible. They don’t have to be Muslim to be eligible to receive such prayers like “May God make their lives easy”, “May God reward them” or “May God bring light in their lives”.

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Next time you have a plate of food, or a sandwich in hand– stop and think about it.

Let’s turn food for eating into something more profound– food for thought.

May Allah bless whoever is reading this and bring sakeena (serene tranquility) in your hearts.

Peace,

–A.S.