Sep 17, 2012

Things to remember when someone insults you

By Yasmin Ahmed


Insult –
1. To treat or speak to insolently or with contemptuous rudeness; affront.
2. To affect as an affront; offend or demean.[i]

When we are insulted or when we feel insulted there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration.

(When researching for information on this article I had never been insulted as much as in this short time, it is true when you mentally actively seek something you find it and for this reason I am including some of my personal experiences.)

The Insulter/Inflictor
Firstly you need to think about the person who is insulting. Is the person who is insulting somebody who is educated or not? When you take this into account you might react differently to the situation. For example, a few weeks ago whilst shopping a person mumbled the words ‘Paki!’ as I walked past (the word ‘Paki’ is used as an insult towards Asian people, it is a shortened form of the word Pakistani). I turned to look and saw a young man dragging one foot, his hands bent and his head at a slant. In this incident there was nothing I could do but smile and feel sorry.

Is the person insulting somebody you value or not?

You have to think about the person inflicting the insult, if they are somebody you do not value then you have to think what is their motive behind the insult? Are you in anyway better than them? Do you have something they might be jealous of?

Not so long ago in a restaurant, I was ordering some food and behind me two ladies were seated at a table when one lady started to mimic me. The man behind the counter asked me a question, I replied and she continued to mimic, the man stopped and stared at the ladies. Obviously the woman’s intention was to look clever and show me up, when in fact she ended up doing otherwise and looking immature.

If the person inflicting the insult is somebody you value then you have to think, are they actually insulting you or giving you feedback. To distinguish between this you might want to think about in what context is the feedback being given?

Once when giving feedback to a mentor, I totally flipped and fired back saying ‘If you can’t do your job, what are you doing here?’ He did not register that this was an observation and as his manager it was my role to give him positive feedback and to review his shortcomings and help in improving them. Another time a once close friend would take great pleasure in telling me what other people had to say about me to the likes of ‘she called you a nosy b****!’ she always focussed on the negative and laughed in my face.

So you can clearly see the difference between the two people, one was angry as he had only filtered the negative and the other was giving me useless information but also enjoying my put down, which a true friend would never do.

The Insulters life
When somebody insults you, you have to think how are they feeling? Is everything going well in their life? Are they going through a bad patch and trying to tell you something?

One night a colleague came rushing to my classroom after all the children were sent home. She was both shocked and mortified and related the incident that had occurred earlier that day. She had been teaching her 4-5 year olds, when a young girl started stroking my colleague’s legs, when she suddenly piped up ‘Have you booked for a waxing session?’, she was shocked as the youngster had never spoken before and mortified at what the young lass had to say. The youngster’s mother was a beautician!

Feedback – is a gift you take it and you hold it. If you agree you internalise it, if you disagree you dispose of it!

Our life
When we feel we are insulted we need to self reflect, especially before we start firing off all canons. Think about how am I feeling? Did I get out of the wrong side of the bed this morning? Has something happened that has put me in a foul mood and I seem to be registering all negativity. In this type of situation you might end up regretting saying or doing things later on, instead it might be better to take a step back and let the situation diffuse and perhaps ponder over it when you feel better.

Abu Dharr radiAllahu anhu said: The Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said to us ‘If one of you gets angry when he is standing, let him sit down; if his anger disappears, all well and good, otherwise let him lie down’ Bukhari 8. 135

Do we deserve to be insulted?
When we are insulted, we need to think do we deserve to be insulted? Have we done something that has resulted in our being insulted? Sometimes we deserve to be insulted, we are all not perfect and do sometimes overstep the mark. For instance we might have said something in anger to our mother, brother, sister, friend, teacher etc. which results in our father saying something insulting back to us. In which case it is better to accept the insult quietly and go lick your wounds elsewhere.

Insults are a part of life
We have all been insulted and will continue to be insulted as it is a part of life. We cannot please everyone and we cannot make everyone our friends. Once we understand this we can disregard insults that have been aimed towards us. Remember

“Know that what has passed you by was not going to befall you, and that what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship.”(Tirmidhi-Saheeh)

Insults take many forms, and we all have the ability to do it. If an insult is delivered to hurt you, you can bet shaytaan is behind it.

When we are insulted for doing absolutely nothing wrong, it is then up to us how we deal with the situation. You can either retaliate, which might be exactly what the other person wants you to do, or you could stay quiet as silence is more powerful. You could fester in it and give the other person your power or you could brush it aside and continue on with your life.

The example of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam

When all else fails think about how the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was insulted.

People physically assaulted him. People threw stones at him. People threw dirty intestines on him whilst he was praying. People threw their dirty garbage on him. People abused him. People killed his loved ones. People tried to give him poison in his food. They laughed at him, Mocked him. They made fun of Him. He lost His two teeth in the Battle of Uhud.[ii]

Question yourself have we had any of these things happen to us? Think about how the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam felt when these things happened? What had he sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam done to deserve this? Finally how did our Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam respond?

When we are insulted the best example to follow is the example of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam , as he sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was insulted for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Yet, he sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was insulted in the worst possible manner and still forgave his inflictors.

We are all being tested
At a recent charity event a lady next to me asked her son to come and stand between us, and then said to him in a loud voice ‘some people are so introvert they only smile at people they know and ignore everybody else. Asians are like that!’ I thought for a bit and said nothing. I felt sorry for the ten year old and thought she could have taught her son something more useful than making comments like that. I thought if I was in her place what would I have said and I thought not everybody does smile and can smile especially when things are happening in their lives that are hurting them, and instead we should try and smile and make others smile even if they do not feel like it.

Although it might be easier said than done, when we are insulted try and make an excuse for your brother/sister as to why they are behaving the way they are. We are living this life and we are all being tested, some more than others. When I am down and upset I look at a family friend whose husband and son committed suicide over twenty years ago, and then recently her other son was beaten to death for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mother had just come minutes earlier from abroad and met her son just as he was popping out to the local shop, never to return home ever again. She never blames anybody.

Other people’s lives and incidents are lessons for us to be grateful, and remember the saying

Sticks and stones may break my bones, But names will never hurt me!


I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


I love this MashaAllah__Very funny, yet very powerful message :D

Salaam I just read this can't believe I wrote it :) By the way my Mentor flipped when I gave him feedback not me :(

good one, mashaAllah

Salams - I find that I often get insulted but not directly. usually it is people insulting me to my mum - which I find hurtful as I don't like my mum to feel sad due to anything I did. How do I deal with these things? It's difficult.

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