Posted by: Dawud Israel | July 24, 2007

Negativity and the Muslim mindset

A funny thing I’ve noticed in Muslim societies is the over-bearing negativity and pessimism. Two scenarios stick out in mind that lead me to conclude that this is an issue that MUST be dealt with.

Example1: During an Islamic seminar a fire alarm was sounded and the speaker assumed it was a prank pulled by someone who thought his talk to be boring–but told the audience we are to leave the building by law.

Example 2: The Muslims in the audience slowly begin to leave, gathering there belongings and stopping for a glass of water before they leave–as if they have this luxury.

Example 3: The alarm system people tell everybody to standby and wait for instructions as the fire is being investigated. Now, personally–I won’t standby but get out of the building, because simply put, better safe than sorry!

Example 4: A soccer event for Muslims was happening and a shooter was reported to be in the vicinity of the event. The organizers called the event off. But the Muslims persists at the event–knowing the fact that it may not be safe.

Example#5: How many times have you attended an Islamic lecture only to realize the speaker is nothing more than a cynic and is simply complaining about society today? This pushes cynicism and negativity to become synonymous with Muslims.

If Muslims are not going to believe in these warnings–what hope is there for them?

Now that leads me to a further point. If you see how Muslim and Arab lobbies operate in North America, it is in a negative manner as well: against pro-Israel legislation rather than for pro-Arab legislation, opposition to the war with Iraq; opposition to resolutions that condemned terrorism inflicted on Israel, that supported President Bush’s letter supporting Israel, that called for a halt to Saudi support for terrorism and Syrian accountability, and that supported Israel’s construction of a security fence; opposition to a letter calling for the Palestinians to meet certain obligations; and a resolution expressing sympathy for an American woman who was accidentally killed protesting Israeli house demolitions

Furthermore, if you see what activism that is going on by Muslim leaders, it is ‘con-active’ rather than ‘pro-active’. Talking about the injustices and wallowing in suffering rather than proposing solutions and actively enforcing them. You see this as well with Muslims in general talking about negative experiences that stick out more than others.

There is a a hadith attributed to Jesus son of Maryam (alayhi salam) that goes like this:
Jesus and his disciples passed by a dead dog’s body. The disciples said, “How foul is his stench!” Jesus said, “How white are his teeth!”

Lesson: We have an eye for the ‘ugly’ and forget the good. We tend to think that when we have seen something ‘ugly’ about people, that we have seen their ‘true nature’ and this is who they really are and that the ‘ugly’ is somehow more real than the good. Also when we speak and say something hurtful, we naturally remember that this person said this hurtful thing about me and forget any good they may have done. In other words, the heart remembers the hurt. How often do we punish people with our words, rather than reward?


There is a great deal of psychology at play here. There is a study in which unknowing participants were told to write an exam in a room. Smoke was created in a neighboring room to make them realize a fire was happening next door. So as the smoke began to fill the room, none of subjects were willing to escape. They merely ignored the fact a fire was spreading and continued writing there exams and none of them was willing to simply get up and open the door to check or flee.

Muslims need to be rebellious and think on their own, in relation to certain issues. They shouldn’t fall in line with what everybody else is thinking but should think for themselves. One thing that Islam pushes Muslims to do is to be independent minded and not worry what others think–only what Allah thinks. Whenever people DO fall in line with whatever everybody else is thinking certain things happen…namely massacres are created and the evidence for this is huge.

Muslims must focus on the positive side of a situation. The halaal–not the haraam; how to solve rather than how to delay; what the long-term goal is and not what the short-term goal is. An example that puts this into perspective is when children make prank phone calls. Rather than saying this is wrong and can never done, but rather to allow those prank phone calls at Fajr time to wake up unknowing Muslims for the early dawn prayers.

Be leaders not followers. If you think you are less–than naturally you will follow what others say and think of them as being better than you. But if you have some guts and say the right thing, when the right thing needs to be said–you are now a leader. This is what Muslims need–LEADERS!

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdik ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk. Ameen.


  1. […] sisters and adults) are in the form of gheebah, or back-biting. Not only that, but it affects the negative thinking that we have and the inferiority complex most Muslims harbor. Another issue, is that complaining, […]

  2. […] sisters and adults) are in the form of gheebah, or back-biting. Not only that, but it affects the negative thinking that we have […]

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