A Letter to Intolerance

Dear Intolerance

I do not expect anyone to understand me. But it would be nice if we could all accept that we are built differently. That we don’t think alike, at least not all the time.

If you think about it, this is to be expected. After all, we come from different families with different backgrounds. We were raised by different people, we grew up in different environments, with different experiences. All these factors do play a part in shaping (to a certain extent) our perspectives and how we deal with our lives.

So it would be pointless for me to expect you to see things from my point of view since you have never been in my shoes, just like I have never been in yours. It took a while for me to see that having (unreasonable) expectations will only lead me to disappointments, but I finally see it, Alhamdulillah. Now I no longer expect others to ‘understand’ me and to act ‘accordingly’.

I also realise that it’s often counterproductive to try and change others to be more like us or to make them agree with our views or actions, so instead I now focus on just changing myself. I try to accept people the way they are, because I know it’s not up to me to change them. That ‘job’ belongs to Allah alone. In reality, our words and actions are about the only things we have control over in this life. Hopefully we will be able to influence others to be better by sincerely praying to Allah for guidance, and with good behaviour and kind words of encouragement. Because let’s face it, that’s the most we can do.

Dear Intolerance

You may have noticed that at times I have the tendency to become withdrawn when I’m around you. Please don’t take this the wrong way. It’s not that I hate you, but when you persistently and aggressively try to impose your values on me even after I have repeatedly and clearly expressed my lack of interest in following them , I honestly don’t know what else to do other than to ‘step back’. Not to sever ties, but rather to avoid getting into arguments. To calm myself down. To stop myself from saying or doing things I will regret later on.

You may look at this as me running away from my problems, but the way I see it, I am merely preventing myself from engaging in useless spats that I know will go nowhere. I am a mere human being, with weaknesses and limits. Just like everyone else, I will reach my limit when I am being constantly pushed, which is why I choose to walk away. If I stay and lose my patience, what good will this do? Fighting fire with fire seldom works, and in the rare instances that it does, relationships get affected. So the question that I always ask myself when faced with situations like this is: In the grand scheme of things, are these issues such a huge deal that I would readily sacrifice my relationships with others for them? If the answer is no, I will refuse to fight! Day in and day out, we’re constantly fighting battles of our own. Be it at work or at home, they are not something we can completely avoid. But we can choose to ignore those that are not important. As difficult as it may be to our pride, there are times when it is much
wiser to just… let go. Our lives will be more peaceful and less tiring this way instead of choosing to fight all the time, particularly over petty matters.

Dear Intolerance

Life is short and it is fragile. It can be taken away from us in a second, without any warning. Hence it would be a waste of our precious time to be focusing only on the negative. We may not see eye to eye on certain issues, but that’s okay. I say, let us agree to disagree. Even when it comes to some critical issues, there are peaceful ways to resolve our differences without resorting to insults, name-calling or worse, physical violence. History has shown time and time again that no good has ever been truly gained by hate, yet many of us seem to forget this.

We are all unique and special in our own ways. Each of us has a gift that is uniquely ours, that we can contribute to the world. It is something that no one else can do or replicate and that is the way the Almighty intends us to be, or else he would have made us all alike. Allah tells us:

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [Quran: Chapter 49: Verse 13]

Imagine a world where everyone and everything is the same. What is there left to explore and learn about it if this were to happen?

Diversity broadens our perspectives, which is why I believe it should be celebrated, not suppressed. You might not agree with me on this, but that’s alright. After all, there is always room for different points of view. Regardless of where you stand, my only hope is that you will not allow our differences to divide us and not let hatred guide your actions. For in the end, this will benefit no one.

Yours Sincerely

Love & Acceptance

Written by Juliana Zulhijah

Juliana Zulhijah

When not chasing her kids around, Juliana enjoys reading good books, baking and writing during her free time. She is based in Malaysia and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law from the International Islamic University of Malaysia.