Are you a hater? Have you ever left any hurtful or hateful comments under a public figures account through your own personal or burner account on social media? Have you ever stared someone deep in the eye and told them you hated them? Have you ever cursed or insulted that family member you loathe so much because they always frustrate your life? Or are you the type to harbour deep seethed feelings of hatred towards someone without them knowing (that even the mere mention of their name in a conversation causes the hairs on your skin to curl up in disgust)? Does the thought of someone cause a bitter feeling to stir deep inside you that you can almost taste the bile rise up your throat? If you’ve answered yes to any of these then you are in the right place.
To start off with, I’d like to put a big disclaimer out there that I am not a psychologist or an emotional expert. However, as an individual that is genuinely fascinated and often studies about human emotions and how they influence us to act, I’d like to share some insights on the things I’ve learnt in the past to help you better navigate and understand some strong human emotions that we can all relate to. As you can tell from the title of today’s post, I’d like to discuss the feeling of hatred; its signs, symptoms and the cure to this disease of the heart.
For as long as I can remember people have always trusted me with their problems and whenever I listen to them share the things that trouble them, I always first like to tap into their emotions that are triggered because therein lies the first step to providing a sustainable solution to their problems. Hatred is one of the emotions that frequently pops up in the open hearted-conversations I have with people: hatred of themselves because of something they’ve done in the past and can’t get over, hatred towards someone that betrayed them, hatred towards someone that harmed them (either physically, verbally or emotionally), and hatred towards someone that has hurt the people they love and not necessarily themselves.
What exactly is hatred? The dictionary defines hatred as ‘an extreme strong feeling of dislike for someone or something‘. Does that sound familiar to you?
In its extreme form, hatred is a dangerous, ugly and consuming emotion that I have witnessed play out multiple times before my eyes and have seen destroy the lives of many. What I find especially scary about hatred is its fragility. Most of us have heard the popular saying ‘there’s a thin line between love and hatred‘. How do you go from loving someone with your whole heart to hating their guts? How do lovers become enemies overnight? Friends become foes? How can someone feel and direct raw hate towards an entire group of people simply because of their race, gender, ethnicity, religion or political ideology? The truth is sometimes all it takes is a few words uttered insensitivity or in the fit of an anger, or in more serious cases, a grave action perpetuated against you or someone you love dearly. More often than not, hatred is the manifestation of having several small unchecked and un-channeled thoughts and emotions suppressed and stored within us until it morphs into this ugly and bitter feeling.
I think it’s important to point out that hatred itself, is not inherently negative. What do I mean by this before you think I’m going completely bonkers? There are certain circumstances that would warrant the feelings of hatred. For example it’s commendable to ‘hate’ things like injustice, corruption, evil, murder, rape or any other thing that Allah has determined to be despicable. The Prophet (ﷺ) never disliked things because of their essence but because of what they manifested. Hatred is a legitimate emotion and it’s okay to feel it but only up to a certain point. The point where hatred becomes unhealthy and toxic is when you feel the need to harm someone either physically with your hands or verbally with your tongue or when you start to think ill of others.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of hatred?
People who hate themselves are overly critical of themselves, have low self-esteem, they tend to overeat and contribute to their feeling of unattractiveness, self harm, engage in risky behaviours, self-sabotage their relationships and cut off those who love them.
People who hate or have a strong dislike for others tend to wish bad upon others such as: failure (in their career, relationship or business), unhappiness, sickness, they believe the people they hate to be inferior to them, and in most cases they feel indifferent to the person’s pain and suffering or they rejoice and feel happy when some form of calamity befalls them. This is very wrong and not the character and behaviour of a true Muslim.
It is reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) once said to his Companions:
“Do you want to see a man of Paradise?” A man then passed by and the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “That man is one of the people of Paradise”. So a Companion of the Prophet decided to learn what it was about that man, that earned him such a commendation from the Messenger of Allah. He spent time with this man and observed him closely. The Companion noticed that he did not perform the Night Prayer (Tahajuud) or anything extraordinary. He appeared to be an average man of Madinah. The Companion finally told the man what the Prophet (ﷺ) said about him and asked if he did anything special. And the man replied, “The only thing I can think of other than what everybody else does, is that I make sure that I never sleep with any rancor/hatred in my heart towards another.”Musnad Ahmad
When it comes to emotions things are always easier said than done, and I like to be very realistic. I’d like to share a short story time of the first time I felt and experienced the feeling of hatred towards another individual and how it affected me. Would you believe the individual I first felt hatred towards was actually someone I considered a close friend? For the purpose of this story time, let’s call this friend of mine ‘Jasmine’.
As a young girl, I’ve always been fond of hanging out with people that were several years older than me. I recall when I was still in primary school, I would always hang out with my seniors and not my mates. Why? To be honest, I simply could not relate with my age mates. I was never interested in the kind of conversations they engaged in at the time. I’ve always had a very curious mind and just loved learning new things, so whenever I overheard my seniors discussing things I had no knowledge about, it sparked my interest greatly and I would always want to learn more. Somehow, I managed to befriend them and found myself in their circle. Now that you have a little bit of a background, we can get into the story.
When I was living in Ireland, I befriended a girl called ‘Jasmine’ and she was about 4-5 years older than me. At the time, I was 9 years old and she was 13 or 14 years old. We both lived in a small town consisting a very small black community and we attended the same school. Whenever it was break time, I would always hang out with her and some older lads. We had a few things in common: we both enjoyed playing tag rugby and rounders, we shared the same interest in music and we bonded over the fact that we were the only two Nigerian girls and shared similar experiences with racism from the teachers and some girls from the school.
Jasmine was a different type of person that I would normally befriend; she was an extremely social/extroverted person and super adventurous. For example, there used to be this group of wild gypsies that would often terrorise our neighbourhood with their rabid dogs but Jasmine would come up with this crazy plans to infiltrate their own territory to scare off their younger ones. As a matter of fact, Jasmine was the one that introduced me to social media (bebo was the popular social media at the time), she helped me set up my account, she also helped me to create my first yahoo email (I think it was firstname.lastname@example.org or something ridiculous like that). She introduced me to high end fashion; she was a proper tomboy and got me hooked on Nikes and Lacoste trainers and playboy tracksuits.
I’ve always known more about Catholics (because I went to a catholic school) but she made me learn a few things about christianity and what sets the two religions apart because I always confused them both and couldn’t tell the difference at the time; I knew both catholics and christians went to church and read the same bible. She’s also the first person that made me became aware of boys in a non-platonic way. She was a teenager and obviously was plagued with the teenage hormones and would never stop talking about boys whenever she had the chance. For a girl of my age to be hanging out with a girl of her age, an adult could say she was bad influence for me. I do not doubt that now because she and her friends did often try to peer-pressure me into getting a boyfriend because it was a ‘cool thing’ for a girl to have one. To be fair, even girls my age at the time would often talk about boys and the ones they kissed behind the school bushes.
Anyway I digress, let’s get back to the story. On one particular day, Jasmine started to sing praises about a new boy she met called ‘Hamza’ for the sake of this story. Hamza was Nigerian, Yoruba, Muslim and was about her age. I can’t recall the details of how they met but she showed me his profile on bebo and I was able to quickly identify him as one of the boys I knew from assalatu (a sort of prayer gathering for adults that has a section for kids to also pray or learn arabic). I never really knew Hamza or his friends; I just knew him to be one of the older loud guys I saw in assalatu. Jasmine fell hard for Hamza. Unfortunately, and unknown to me, Hamza had a secret thing for me. On valentines day, he bought me a box of chocolate and flowers and to rub salt to wound, he gave the gifts to Jasmine to give to me because we were close and he didn’t have the courage to do so himself.
As a 9 year old I was still too young to understand or feel the kind of romantic feelings Jasmine felt, but I was certainly aware that such a thing existed and that its possible to feel that way, but I just couldn’t relate because I was yet to experience the feeling of liking or having a crush on a boy. That valentines day, before I learnt about the gifts that Hamza got me, I noticed a big shift in Jasmine’s mood and her behaviour towards me. For example, whenever I spoke to her she would ignore me or give me the silent treatment but the day after that, Jasmine stopped being my friend completely and made the rest of my middle school experience hell. She befriended the other girls that would often emotionally and verbally bully me and would constantly insult and make jest of me and my outfits and my hair whenever I passed by them. I was deeply hurt by her actions but I didn’t understand the depth of her pain, as I was wallowing in mine and was trying to understand what I did to deserve all that. I barely ever spoke a word to Hamza and I certainly didn’t like him. At the time, all I wanted was for our friendship to be fixed because I had no other female close friend in school to hang out with. The Irish girls in my year were nice and were never mean to me but like I mentioned, I just never clicked with my mates plus they never included me in their activities and the times I made an effort to be closer to them, I never felt more out of place or like an outsider. You know when you feel like you belong or are wanted somewhere. I’ve never been the type to force things like friendships so instead, I hung out with the boys in my year that I felt more comfortable with and we would all just bond over our love for sports and on the days I didn’t feel like hanging out with them, I would go and read in the library or go help out the teachers in taking care of the younger kids playing in the playground.
We are now getting to the juicy part of the story. Some weeks passed after the events that took place on valentines day (and for the record I didn’t accept the gifts Hamza got me, I wasn’t that ignorant or naive to not understand that it would be wrong of me to do so). On one particular day after I got back from school and descended from the school bus, I spotted my mum from the queue of other parents waiting to receive their children and noticed she was looking extremely angry. She could barely look me in the eye, which was weird. She had one of her close friends standing by her side but even her friend couldn’t look me in the eye. They both did not greet me warmly like they would normally do so I knew instantly that something was wrong; we all recognise the smell of trouble. The short walk back home felt like the longest walk I’ve ever taken in my life. I kept searching my mind, did I forget to do something she told me to do? Did I forget to lay my bed? What did those boys (my brothers) say I did this time? I could tell she was barely managing to contain her anger, as we walked back to our home. Immediately we entered our home, she started to shout and scream at me. As you can imagine, your girl was confused as hell. She went on about how she couldn’t believe I was her daughter…that how could I do such a thing? I was still lost, the next thing I know my mum went into the kitchen and brought out this big round amala stick and started to whip my ass. I cried out in pain. African parents…you’ve got to trust them to resort to their violent disciplinary methods. Interestingly enough, before that incident my mum had never laid her hands on me. Whenever we her kids misbehaved, she would always give us punishments: pick pin, wall sit, raise your hands etc but never physical beating. However, on that wretched day she went full force with the beating and showed me that despite her fairness and liberalness, she was still the average Nigerian mother. I was starting to see stars with her beating, so her friend had to intervene.
Long story short, Jasmine had lied and told her mum that I was not a virgin and that I was sleeping around with every guy in school and that people shouldn’t be deceived by my innocence. After I heard the reason I was being beaten, I was still very lost and confused and didn’t understand the gravity of the statement. I didn’t know what virginity meant; I remember struggling to pronounce the word when I was recounting the event to my sister. I had no clue what sex was at the time; the worst and greatest sin I knew about was for a girl to kiss a boy or to say the ‘f’ word. All I could respond to my mum was that I didn’t do what I was being accused of. My mum doesn’t go out or have many friends so for her to have heard such a thing, I knew my gist had travelled around the small black community. For a 9 year old to have lost her virginity, that’s a heavy thing for anyone especially African parents to accept. My mum eventually believed my innocence after I swore on the Quran that I didn’t do what I was accused of. Till today, I still wonder why I ever thought of swearing on the Quran as something that could potentially exonerate me. It must have been an inspiration from God because it’s not something I’ve ever witnessed being done before; I rememberer saying wallahi (swearing on God’s name) multiple times but it was not enough for her to believe me.
To say I was pained and devastated will be an understatement. I lost my mum’s trust for the very first time and my reputation was spoilt. All I could tie the pain and anguish to was Jasmine. I cried my eyeballs out that night and I just truly hated Jasmine for what she did to me. When I eventually spoke to my sister about it she just told me “Good for you. Shebi I warned you to stay away from that girl. See your life.” I can laugh now about the whole experience but it wasn’t even close to funny then. To be fair my sister did warn me about keeping her company but as kids we just don’t do well listening. Jasmine was truly the only female friend I had in school and she made my experience in the racist school less gloomy. But boy oh boy after the tears and beating cleared from my eyes, I felt a type of animosity I never felt towards anybody that day for the first time.
I cut Jasmine out of my life completely and stopped trying to mend what was broken in our relationship. I never even bothered to confront her to ask why she made up those lies about me because I truly couldn’t stand the sight of her (I just felt anger when I saw her) and I felt like the most stupid girl on the planet. Truth is my own conscience had warned me about keeping her company but I was just being too stubborn to do the right thing and kept ignoring the red flags. I remember sitting alone one night and was relieving the whole experience and I just felt so pained and started to cry again. I felt betrayed by someone I called a friend and she couldn’t care less about how her lie could affect my life and relationships. I remember speaking out loud and telling God ‘I leave her and the whole matter in your hands to deal with’. I tried to put the matter behind me but for a few years to come, I still carried that grudge against her because I wasn’t the type to forgive easily. I didn’t forgive her for the taunting and bullying she and the other girls made me go through in school and I certainly didn’t forgive her for the lie she made against me.
You want to hear the sad part of the story? About 8 years went by and I’m back living in Nigeria and I was browsing through my instagram feed when I randomly got a friend request from Jasmine. My heart skipped a beat. Once again the events that happened in the past flashed briefly through my eyes and I was wondering what she wanted from me. I clicked on her account and viewed her page since it was public and I discovered that she became a teen mom. When I saw the picture of her child the final grudges I held against her instantly dissipated and I forgave her. I felt sad for her and even more disappointed in myself for not being more merciful in letting go of the past. I had held on to the grudge for too long…and if you look at it very well, we were both young and she was just behaving like the typical scorned teenager. She was hurt and just needed to take out the anger and pain on someone; and that someone was me. All I could think about when I saw the picture of her and her daughter was to wonder how she dealt with it. Being a teen mum couldn’t have been easy. What sacrifices did she have to make? How did she pluck up the courage to tell her mum, how did her mum stomach the news that her innocent teenage daughter was pregnant? It must have been tough.
That experience thought me two major things: I should not try to get ahead of myself and should remain in my lane and make more effort to befriend people my age and to also take with a pinch of salt what people say about others. Till this date I always make sure to give people the benefit of the doubt, if at all I stumble upon any negative information about them and it makes me very very VERY uncomfortable hearing or discussing negative things I hear about others. I try my best to excuse myself from such conversations or to change the topic. When I cannot politely excuse myself, I use my phone as a distraction or just nod and pretend I’m listening but inside I’m making istighfar and saying astagfurllah like a hundred times and asking God to please forgive all of us (the person gossiping and the people using their ears to listen to the gossip and those contributing to the gossip). Guys unless you hear the facts from the horses mouth itself, don’t blindly believe the rumours you hear about someone except you are a witness to the rumour being carried around. I’ve personally experienced the wrong side of this and I hate for others to got through it as well.
I shared this personal story of mine as an example of an act that could be perpatred against someone that could cause feelings of hatred to brew inside of them. I started to experience emotions of hatred for the first time but I was lucky enough that I didn’t act upon the feeling to want to avenge or slander Jasmine back, but I also fell short in my actions because I failed to address the situation and did not have a big enough heart to forgive and let go of the incident, which caused the anger and bitterness to reside and linger on for much longer than it should have. What happened between me and Jasmine is small compared to a situation where an individual murders or rapes or assaults another. In such situations, how can you keep in check your feelings of hatred in order to not break the law or do something you will regret in the future?
There is another common type of hatred that exists in our generation or should I say the era of social media. A lot of celebrities, public figures and influencers are victims of cyberbullying and hate crimes and they receive constant hate messages, threats and trolling from the fans of their rivals or people who simply envy them. It’s important to remember that as human beings no one is perfect and we will make mistakes from time to time. It breaks my heart when people constantly pick on or send hate comments and curses upon sisters who took off their hijab or don’t wear their hijab properly. It’s completely vile to pick on the flaws or the shortcomings of others, just for the sake of your own amusement or self-gratification. Would you feel good if people scrutinised, publicised and picked on your own mistakes and spared you little grace. These days, no matter what good a public figure does, their haters will always find a fault in it or compare their life and success with someone they feel is doing better. Where is our humanity? A couple of months ago I posted a picture on my personal Instagram page and captioned it ‘I love you.’ In a world where people hate others for no reason, it must be possible to love for no reason as well. I choose to love instead of hate, for the sake of Allah.
The Cure of Hatred
Now that we understand what hatred is and how harmful it can be, the question remains what can be done to cure it/rid yourself of this feeling even if you feel you are justified to feel hatred towards the individual? The answer is quite simple. What is the opposite of hatred? The answer is love.
The things you do to show love to the people you love, you must tap into that love and extend it to the person you hate…it’s very difficult to do but its the only way to have a change of heart. For example, instead of spending time hating on the person and wishing bad upon them, pray for their success instead. When the person you hate talks trash about you, choose to speak nothing but kindness and goodness about them, and if you’re unable to find any kind words about them, remain silent.
Continue to make specific duas for the person you feel hatred towards: ask God to forgive them, to bless the person with good things in this life and the next. You tell me is it possible to hate someone you wish goodness upon? It’s impossible. Of course at the beginning, the prayers won’t feel sincere but as you gradually continue to make those prayers, it eventually becomes sincere and your heart will surely soften and mend and will be more receiving of them.
When it comes to self-hatred and loving yourself, you just have to speak kindly towards yourself. Give credit to yourself for even the simplest things you’ve achieved…if you are not the best cook but know how to make a sandwich, tell yourself you know how to make a damn good sandwich. Tell yourself you have a beautiful voice. Tell yourself you have an infectious smile. Remind yourself of how very considerate you are of other peoples feelings. Remind yourself of your selflessness and how whenever you cook for the family, you always serve everyone the best parts of the meal and you give them the bigger piece of the chicken. Tell yourself you are smart, bold, capable and original. For the mistakes you made in the past, you simply have to come to terms with them. You must learn to extend mercy towards yourself. Learn from the mistakes of the past and try your best to never repeat them and forgive yourself because you can’t change the past and you deserve a second chance.
Below are a few other tips you can practice daily to help you overcome feelings of hatred:
- Live with integrity. Resist the urge to want to play fire with fire or to pay back others for the things they’ve done to you. If your partner or spouse cheated on you, cheating on them back won’t change anything except that you are both now cheaters. If you choose to repay others with the things they’ve done to you, you are not any different from them.
- Stop comparing. Comparing yourself to others doesn’t just make you feel bad about yourself, it causes resentment. You begin to develop negative emotions and thoughts towards others and the little things they do start to irritate you. The moment you find yourself comparing yourself with others stop and refocus and celebrate the person and how far you’ve also come. You are both awesome and there’s more than enough room in the world for both of you to shine.
- Practice compassion often. Practice showing compassion to everyone you come across (including the people that society shows the least respect to such as: the janitor, security guard, waiter, the driver, the delivery guy, maid e.t.c). A compassionate heart has no room to breed contentment for another. A compassionate person has the ability to overlook peoples shortcomings and will always find reasons to show love and be kind to someone.
- Laugh out loud. Sometimes the best thing to do is to laugh out loud when you or someone else screws up. Laugh it out, make jokes about it and move on.
- Talk things out. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation to clear the air. Talk to the person, and if the issue is about you, you can speak to a therapist or someone you trust.
This rounds up the first episode of the purification of the heart series. I hope you guys enjoyed the read and learnt a thing or two from it. If you have any emotion or other spiritual disease of the heart you would like me to discuss, kindly leave a comment down below and I’ll make sure to attend to all your suggestions In Sha Allah.