Prophet Mohammad had a disciple called Ali. Ali was often criticized by other disciples but Ali patiently bore it. One day the others criticized Ali in the presence of the Master; for a long time Ali was patient and tolerant but finally Ali stood up to defend himself. At once Prophet Mohammad stood up and went away. Ali followed the master and asked him, “Master why did you go away when the others started criticizing me, and why did you not defend me?” The Master said, “When you were silent I saw ten angels standing behind you and protecting you; but when you started defending yourself the angels disappeared and so did I.”
The angels need not be real flesh and blood angels but virtues such as joy, patience, tolerance, forgiveness etc. And when you retaliate you show negative qualities such as revenge, hatred etc. It is not that only those who can defend themselves are strong. These are old virtues. Does the criticism of others give me a license to criticize back, especially if I want to find God? Don’t concern yourself with the flaws of others. Change others by changing yourself and by your example others will want to change…
Give advice only if people ask for your advice. And give that advice out of love for them…Otherwise we have no license to criticize others.
devotee talk note
Monument to Islam in the Court of All Religions, SRF Lake Shrine
All those acts and actions which help your evolution are right and virtuous. And all other acts and actions which cause the downfall of a man or retard his onward progress are to be shunned and avoided. They are immoral and are called sins. In other words, to rise, to advance or to progress is a virtue and to collapse or to retrogade is undesirable and a sin.
The right use of any action is called a virtue and the wrong use of the same action is called a sin. For example, if a man kills another man to usurp his property or to feed fat his ancient grudge, it is a sin, because of his selfish motive. But, when the same man kills, with a machine gun, hundreds of the men of an invading army to defend his country, it is a virtue, because of the unselfish and higher motives…
You will please recollect that once Hazrat Ali came to grips with one of his opponents…Ali made him fall flat on the ground and was about to thrust his dagger into his heart, but he (the opponent) spat on his (Ali’s) face. Hazrat Ali left him untouched and stood aside. The vanquished was very much surprised at it. And, when he inquired of Ali the cause of sparing his life in that way, Ali’s reply was in consonance with the true spirit of the essential teachings of the Islam. Ali said that he was going to kill him (the opponent) with no selfish motive of his own. But when he spat on his face, his (Ali’s) personal grudge was immediately aroused. Had he (Ali) killed him (the opponent) in such an agitated state, he would have committed a sin, according to the tenets of the Islam. On hearing this, the opposition of Ali’s adversary to the Islam was shattered and he readily accepted it as his own religion.
So, you will please see that, if the motive is unselfish, it is its right use. And, if the motive is selfish, it is its wrong use. The more the selfishness, the graver the sin. And, the more the selflessness, the greater the virtue. Therefore, the right or the wrong use of an action depends respectively upon its being unselfish or selfish.
Here, it seems necessary to tell you that, in order to understand anybody’s philosophy, custom, convention etc., in its proper perspective, you will have to view it from his own angle of vision, otherwise, if you look at it through your prejudiced point of view, you will fail to grasp its true spirit.
Swami Rama Tirtha, A Dialogue With Muslims
BACK TO SAINTS OF ALL RELIGIONS