Pearl of wisdom Imam al-Ghazali
Imam al-Ghazali said that not all the ugliness of others is bad for us, meaning that we can learn from them so that we do not make the same mistakes.
Every human being is not free from mistakes and ugliness. Because humans are the place to be wrong and forget. Only people who are ma’shum are protected from mistakes.
Whether we realize it or not, mistakes are always there in our lives. Therefore, repentance is the only way to atone for this mistake. because we are required to keep trying to be a better human being than the previous day.
From this experience we can also learn not to repeat mistakes again. We should not fall into the same hole of error. As the words of the Prophet narrated by al-Bukhari: “A believer will not fall into the same hole twice”.
But it’s not just our mistakes that we can learn from. But we can also learn from the experiences of other people’s mistakes.
Imam al-Ghazali stated in his book BidayatulHidayah, that there are three kinds of people. First, humans are like food, meaning that they are always needed. Second, humans are like drugs, meaning that they are needed only when they are needed. Third, humans who are like poison, are completely useless.
This third kind of person is sometimes a test for relatives, friends, and the surrounding environment. Because people like this are stiff when they get along with fellow humans. People like this also bring no benefit at all. “So people like this must be avoided,” said Imam al-Ghazali in response to people like this.
Apart from being useless, this kind of person can become a parasite to the environment. His life only harms others. But there is another side that can be learned from. We can learn from the ugliness of others.
If we pay attention to that person, we will get great benefits. “By witnessing the ugliness of his actions and behavior, you can learn a lesson so you can stay away from these actions,” said Imam al-Ghazali.
Imam al-Ghazali said:
فالسعيد من وعظ بغيره، والمؤمن مرآة المؤمن
“A lucky person is one who can take lessons from others. Because a believer is a reflection of another believer.”
At the end of his writings, al-Ghazali quotes the story of the Prophet Isa. It is said that Prophet Isa was once asked by someone.
وقيل لعيسى عليه السلام: من أدبك؟ فقال: ما أدبني أحد، ولكن رأيت جهل الجاهل فاجتنبته
“Who taught you?” Prophet Isa replied, “There is no one who educates me. But I see only the folly of fools. Then I shunned it.”
From this story, Imam al-Ghazali concluded that people who stay away from bad deeds that they don’t like from other people, have completed their education and do not need educators anymore.
As Abu Firas al-Hamdani said in one of his poems:
عَرَفتُ الشَرَّ لا لِلشَر* لَكِن لِتَوَقّيهِ
وَمَن لَم يَعرِفِ الشَرَّ* مِنَ الخَيرِ يَقَع فيه
I know ugliness but not to do it, but I know to stay away from it
A person who cannot distinguish the ugliness from the good, will surely fall into the ugliness.
Therefore, every other person’s ugliness is not always detrimental. But it can also be seen from the positive side. Take the positives and discard the negatives. The Qur’an also tells of the arrogance of Pharaoh, the homosexual behavior of the Prophet Lut, the cheating trade by the Prophet Shuaib, and many more. From these stories, we can take lessons that can be learned from negative stories.
Also, we don’t have to wait for our own mistakes to learn. But by noticing the faults of others, we can also learn.