The Habits of Unhappy People
Blaming and Complaining
Some people can never be happy. They complain that they work too hard, and then complain that they are bored at home during the weekends. Summer is too hot, and winter is too cold. The food is too salty, the water is too sweet. I even saw someone in a restaurant complaining that her seafood dish tasted too much of seafood!
Usually complaining is followed by blaming.
An overweight colleague, after eating an entire packet of sweets in one sitting, came to me and blamed the manufacturer of the sweets for the attractive packaging (instead of her own lack of self discipline). A person I came across kept making excuses for being intrusive and bossy, blaming it on an accident of birth (i.e. being the eldest sibling in the family) instead of changing her own personal characteristics.
This is when things are going well. Now imagine how the complaints will be magnified during times of genuine crisis!
Complainers are tiresome and exhausting to be with. Not only are they deprived of happiness, but they also act as an emotional vacuum cleaner that sucks positivity from other people.
Blaming and complaining is not a disease in itself, but is a symptom of a greater spiritual affliction. It is actually the fruition of the diseases we discussed earlier: arrogance, ignorance, envy and discontentment. Added to these elements is the lack of gratitude, and this propels us to start looking around, comparing what we have and what we do not have, and what we get and what others get. Eventually, blaming and complaining generate the mother of all ills, which is kufr and shirk.
This is why, you find such people eaten up alive by misery, constantly unhappy, and without the ability to be happy. Even if Allah were to give them everything they yearned, they will never be contented. They will still look around, finding fault with what they have and feeling angry and cheated all the time about what they don't have. You see it amongst the rich, the high ranking, the beautiful and the intellectual – most of them are discontented!
The Creator is the One who creates, chooses, gives and takes, elevates and disgraces. If we truly believe that the Almighty is just, and that His justice comes with wisdom, mercy, kindness and compassion, how can we be in such a state of blaming and complaining?
Blaming and complaining has many causes. Its roots can be traced to lack of contentment, gratitude, belief and even to an association with Allah. Why do we make this conclusion? Because nothing can happen without the knowledge, will and wisdom of Allah, and therefore complaining about one's circumstances can be seen as a complaint against Allah.
From outward appearances, blaming and complaining can appear to be an insignificant action or reaction, but internally (and we mean this 100%), as against Allah, one can be in a state of kufr, disbelief, association with Allah, lack of gratitude, contentment and thanks, and all of the above.
When you meet one who constantly blames and complains, you have met them all. They are similar in behaviour. Observe the features of someone who complains constantly – eyes filled with envy and dissatisfaction, the downturned mouth and the perpetual misery on their faces. These expressions are universal to all complainers. The skin colour, nationality and even faith might be different, but the root of the disease is the same: the lack of gratitude or contentment with what Allah has given.
Once the complaining starts, the blame game follows. People who complain do not take responsibility for their circumstances. Everyone else is to blame, instead of themselves. Marriage conflicts are a prime example – both sides are discontented about the marriage, and both blame and complain about the other, without realizing that they themselves are also to blame.
Blaming and complaining take form internally and externally. Internally, when one looks and compares deep inside. These internal dissatisfactions are then vocalized in different ways:
Why didn't Allah give me this?
Why can't I get that?
Why did Allah give him and not to me?
None of the Prophets or Messengers ever blamed anyone. When a calamity or disappointment befell them, they reacted with patience, and instead of complaining to the community, they cried out to Allah.
We find Yaqub AS saying, “My course is beautiful patience (sabrun jamil)” (Yusuf 12:83), but his love and longing for his lost son Yusuf made him say, “How great is my grief for Yusuf” (Yusuf 12:83). "Beautiful patience" here refers to patience with no complaint to other people. Yaqub AS also said, “I only complain of my distraction and anguish to Allah” (Yusuf 12:86).
When Rasulullah SAW was pelted with stones after attempting to spread Islam to Taif, Allah also enjoined sabrun jamil on the Prophet SAW and he obeyed, but he would pray, “O Allah, I complain to You of my weakness and helplessness” instead of blaming and cursing the people of Taif.
Hence, any time, or in any moment in my life, we should be in a state of thanks. If we blame, we blame ourselves, and if we complain, we complain about ourselves. One beautiful saying goes: Complaining to people is a disgrace. Complaining to Allah is an elevation.
So what can we do when things don’t work out our way? Further, Surah Al-Furqan, verse 20 states:
And We have made some of you [people] as trial for others - will you have patience? And ever is your Lord, Seeing.
Surah Al Anam, verse 165, states:
And it is He who has made you successors upon the earth and has raised some of you above others in degrees [of rank] that He may try you through what He has given you. Indeed, your Lord is swift in penalty; but indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful.
Surah Al Baqarah verse 156-157 state: "Who, when disaster strikes them, say, "Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided."
The bottom line is, our whole life, rich and poor, just and unjust, healthy and ill, beautiful and ugly, intelligent or not, is a trial from Allah to us. If we understand the purpose of creation, we will respect the wisdom of Allah. He has unfathomable wisdom and we should believe without a doubt that everything has its own wisdom and purpose. Even during the most ugly and horrible incidents, we should be contented, give thanks to Allah and be busy with what He wants from us.
A Muslim always looks at events with the eyes of contentment and gratitude to the Creator, Allah SWT, regarding what is happening. If we could master this psychology, this eradicates the need to blame and complain about anything. Otherwise, the status of blaming and complaining can lead us out of Islam, out of the mercy of Allah SWT, and cause calamity. Complaining can also invoke the anger of Allah, and in the end it will not change any condition except to make it worse.
All this makes sense if you understand what qadr (predestination) means. Today, because our faith is minute, blaming and complaining increases on an individual, family, work, society and nation level. This is the opposite of the quality of the mu'min.
Our advice to you is to embark on a journey of iman and understand what qadr and rizq are about. Once we understand and we submit to the will of the Creator, our attitudes and vision will be different, and once react with patience instead of blame, our lives will be much happier.
May Allah give us guidance, light and wisdom to see and behave according to what Allah expected from us, and please Him.