Life is a series of different kinds of experiences, both good and bad. When we have a good experience, that suits us perfectly well, but what to do when we have some bad experiences? The Quran gives us a very simple answer: Avoid any unpleasantness by remaining noncommittal. This principle is set forth in the chapter ‘Al-Muzzammil — the Wrapped One’ — of the Quran. When the Prophet of Islam started his mission in Makkah in 610 AD, the situation was highly unfavorable, often he faced unwanted situations, and at that juncture, this verse was revealed in the Quran: Bear patiently with what they say, and ignore them politely. (73:10) In such a predicament, patience is not a passive attitude; it demonstrates great wisdom. When you keep your patience, you are saving your time and energy. Being patient in a difficult situation means that if you sense that the other party is not in a responsive mood, you should adopt the principle of avoidance, give him an evasive reply and then proceed with your own affairs. It is only if you see that the other party is listening to you in earnest that you should present your point of view to them. This principle is very important in social life.
Society is a combination of different kinds of people and the way we live our lives in society is very often determined not by our own choices but by the will of others. If you try to convince all the members of society of your wish to prevail, you will seldom succeed, so practice the art of doing what is possible and leaving what is impossible. This is a sign of maturity. The mature person remains even-tempered in situations that are impossible for him to change. It is possible to bring about a change in the situation, then try for a change, but when change is not possible, simply adopt the formula of adjustment. You should live by your own principles and let other people live by their own principles. This is maturity, this is an adjustment, this is the positive way of life. This formula is important not only in society but also in your family. In the domestic sphere, there are always occasions when you feel that you cannot convince other family members of the rectitude of your views. That is when you should follow this formula: for you, your way of thinking, and for me, mine. Studies show that difference is a part of life, everyone has a different mindset, everyone sees things from a different angle, and everyone has different tastes.
It is almost impossible to bring about uniformity among people. Trying to establish uniformity is like trying to make the impossible possible. In such a situation, adopting the above Quranic formula, ‘Live and let live’, which is based on a practical principle, is the only common-sense solution. It means simply that you should live by your own principles and let other people live by their own principles. This is maturity, this is an adjustment, this is the positive way of life. ‘Ignore them politely’ means deal with them in a positive manner. If the questions put to you are of a contentious nature, respond to them in an indirect way or simply change the subject. To change the subject is also a polite way of answering. This kind of answer shows maturity and a disciplined mind. Moreover, it is a sign of a strong personality.