Saturday, 13 August 2011

High self-esteem comes with great responsibility to a Muslim

Inner voice

A Mo-min is more steadfast than a mountain because something can be taken out of a mountain but nothing can be confiscated from a Mo-min.

Not respecting oneself, is the same as committing suicide at a slow rate.
Self-respect can be an extension of your ego or a priceless virtue.
Remember, self-respect comes from an inner belief and not an egoistic feeling of superiority.
Self-respect is a fundamental for a great life. If we lack self-respect we will be insecure and strive to be someone we are not. To develop self-respect means to cultivate the self confidence to deal with whatever life throws at us.
One self-help site suggests that “you treat your self-respect like a pet. It is very easy to care for. Be sure to give it daily attention and it will grow big and strong.” Now, one might ask, “What’s wrong with respecting me? If I can’t express honor and admiration for myself, how can I show proper respect for other individuals?”

Clearly, from a religious perspective, self-esteem is invaluable.

But how do we distinguish between self-worth and arrogance (self-esteem, arrogance and pride).
Self-esteem is a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself, or simply self respect. 
Having a high self-esteem comes with great responsibility as a Muslim trying to live up to Islamic morals and attain high Islamic characteristics and behaviors.

Self-esteem is misunderstood as how one feels about him/herself based on their personal achievements, their beauty, their social status and the like, rather than basing it on how their thoughts and actions towards themselves and others are associated to making them feel good about themselves.

 It is narrated that Abu Dharr Radiyallaahu anhu once asked the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu-alaihi-wasallam whether it was arrogant for him to want nice things for himself, such as a well-constructed handle for his cane or a beautiful lace for his sandal.
The Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu-alaihi-wasallam replied that this was not arrogance, but, rather, arrogance is when we consider our honor to be worthier than other people’s honor, or our blood to be worthier than other people’s blood.
He also cautioned that anyone with even a speck of arrogance in their heart would not enter Paradise without repenting first.
But despite these dire warnings, people often assume they are more entitled to the blessings of May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) – whether due to culture, nationality, language, wealth, social class, ancestry, profession, or educational level. Not only is such a way of thinking a grave sin, but it is also a false basis for self-worth.
Those who value themselves primarily on the basis of external factors – such as wealth – lack true self-worth since true self-worth must come from within.

There is a difference between high self-esteem, arrogance and pride.

Arrogance is a negative trait in which one thinks highly of oneself, compares oneself with others and believes he is better than others.  Arrogance is a false sense of self-worth.  It is when you think you are better than others based on what societies standards, – ‘I am wealthy so I am better than you’ or smarter, taller, prettier, etc.  There is a discrepancy between who they are and who they perceive themselves to be.  A truly grounded or healthy person has no need to be arrogant.

Pride can be both negative and positive; negative pride is the same as arrogance. Positive pride, on the other hand implies a sense of responsibility toward everything that you aim at doing that you try your best in whatever you does.  Taking pride in something is about trying to excel in what you do, to improve yourself, to make whatever you do better, to do your best; and to feel good when you have achieved that goal; in this sense it is similar to the concept of ihsan in Islamic terms.

Self-esteem can be negative (low/unhealthy) or positive (high/healthy); at the positive end of the spectrum it is a sense of feeling at peace with yourself when you have done the right thing in the best possible manner; when you have lived up to your expectations and according to your high values.  There is no discrepancy between who you are and who you believe to be.

However, at the negative/low end of the spectrum it manifests itself in two ways… either as a sense of worthlessness or the flip side of it, as arrogance.

High self-esteem is can be characterized by you being: tolerant, patient, respectful, responsible, honest, seeking to improve whatever you do (ihsan), self-motivated, willing to take risks, loving and lovable, kind, generous, helpful to others, and takes responsibility and control of their lives.

Low self-esteem can be characterized by behaviors that exhibit insecurity, victim mentality, weakness, lack of confidence and self-absorption; since worth is believed to be An external quality that comes to one if one possesses something, e.g. wealth, education, etc.  Low self-esteem is due to a discrepancy between the guiding self-ideal (How I would like to be) and the perceived self (how I am).  And it is to cover up the discrepancy that one acts arrogantly.

Losing worldly things can be particularly challenging for a person with low self-worth since it forces us to face our selves.

While some people are comfortable with their selves, others do whatever they can to avoid them – turning to television, music, intoxicants, or other distractions.

The self can be a source of pain, especially if someone suffers from self-hatred or is experiencing loss or grief.

Nevertheless, sometimes – for instance, during an illness – we are left with nothing but our selves and May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD).

If that does not happen to us in this world, it will definitely happen to us in the grave.

If we have a difficult relationship with our selves, those moments can be tortuous.

But if we have a peaceful relationship with our selves, these too can be times of calm; one is reminded of the stories of prophets,

Such as Prophet Ayyub (A.S), who lost everything but continued to praise and thank May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD).

In fact, sometimes being forced to abandon distractions can be a blessing in disguise since we are then forced to improve our relationship with our most constant companion, the self.

Of course, most of us pray we do not go through such times of trial.

How else can we work on improving low self-worth without going through calamity?

It is often helpful to pay attention to our “inner voice”.

Everyone has an inner voice (which, in the Islamic tradition, is referred to as the nafs al-lawwaama or critical self).

Frequently, our inner voice gives us good advice.

 “Get up or you’ll be late! Do your house/garden/ homework! Do your Salat!”

 This advice is helpful because it is based on reality.

 If we don’t get up on time, we will be late.

However, sometimes this voice gets confused and, instead, mimics negative – and, most importantly, untrue – messages we may have heard sometime in our lives.

 Instead of telling us useful things, it tells us how worthless or shameful we are. If we fail an exam, it might say:,

“Of course you failed; you’re too stupid to do anything” (a negative message)

Instead of “Next time you need to study harder and go to a tutor” (a positive message and don't forget to ask May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD).

Ibn Mas’ud Radiyallaahu anhu relates that the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu-alaihi-wasallam said,

“If anyone is in need and asks people to meet it, he will not be permanently relieved of his trouble.

But if he asks May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) for help, he will soon be relieved or he will meet his death if the appointed time is at hand or

May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) will give him prosperity some time later.”).

Islam has blessed man with human dignity and self-respect by telling him to ask for anything he needs only from Allah the Exalted.

The hadith under study also encourages man to present all his needs and troubles to May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) alone, for only He is the Reliever of those
Who are in trouble and Provider of all their needs?

The supplication of Prophet Moses A.S. as recorded in the Holy Qur'an (28:24): “O my Lord! Truly am I in (desperate) need of any good that Thou dost send me.” –
-Continues to be a true guide for the believers till the Last Day. The Qur'an also mentions that May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) did give him good support.

One who looks to others for relief, in fact, loses his dignity and self-respect, and as such can get but only some temporary relief.

He will continue to beg all his life from the people who are not so large-hearted as to meet his needs or so generous as to relieve him from the indignity of begging.

So his self-respect will certainly get injured. And when he has no self-respect, why should May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) save him from indignity. But if he turns to May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) at the time of need, he will soon be relieved.

The Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu-alaihi-wasallam) said,

“I swear about three things, no wealth is reduced on account of charity, that if anyone is wronged and he bears it patiently then May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) will add to his self-respect and thirdly that if one becomes used to begging, May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) opens the door of poverty on him.”

 Despite what the voice may say, no one is intrinsically stupid or ugly or unlovable.

Hence, a malfunctioning inner voice needs to be reprogrammed to provide positive and useful messages.

One useful tool for this in the ethical toolbox is muhasabah, or daily self-reflection.

In addition to reflecting on our deeds, we can also reflect on our inner voice – was it giving us positive advice? Or was it dragging us down?

If so, how can we guide it to saying more useful things the next day? Bit by bit, the voice can be retrained.

Positively contribute to your community. This involves helping others whenever and wherever possible and also positively contributing by being kind, compassionate and

-Generous – to you as well. Be selfless and expect nothing in return. Help an elderly person with their grocery bags; hold the door open for a stranger, volunteer for non-

-profit organizations, recognize opportunities to assist and offer your services. Proactively focusing on your own personal self growth is also a positive contribution to

-Society – personal development leads to greater self awareness which ultimately helps you connect and help with other people and when we focus on helping other -people, our personal problems melt away in comparison to the collective needs of our world and it feels good to know we are making a positive difference.

The reality is that loving your neighbor as you begins with you. You must love and value yourself if you are to love others.

You have to respect yourself and acknowledge your own self-worth. You must take care of yourself so that you can love and help your neighbor.

Suppose that you are the only adult caring for a group of young children. You raise all your food and only have a small amount. At mealtime, in an effort to take good care

-of the children, you give them most of the food and you eat very little. Over time you become weaker and weaker, but you keep feeding the children the same amount.

Eventually when you are too weak to work, who will feed the children? No one! Now all will perish because you neglected yourself. What should you do? You should eat –

-The same as or perhaps more than the children to keep your strength up and ensure that you can continue to care for them. Don’t neglect others by neglecting yourself.

Love yourself and then you can love your neighbor. Don’t lose your self-worth. Each day make sure that you take care of yourself so that you will be able to take care of your neighbor.
Does this make you selfish? No. It makes you responsible. 

Islam imposes strict discipline of good behavior and conduct on its followers.

The maintenance of one's dignity and self respect is an important quality in a man.

It is required on every turn and aspect of life; without it a feeling of inferiority exists, no one pays attention to what such a man says nor do they respect a man who does

Not know to respect him. Islam expects a man to present the highest example of good morality and manners. As long as Muslims maintained firm faith and discipline,

They did not lose their sense of self respect.

Self respect is different from vanity. It is the name given to the quality through which a man learns to respect himself so that he does not stoop to anything low. When a

Self respecting man comes across evil, he passes by untouched. The evil ones do not have enough courage to even touch him.

Dignified and good behavior is the essence of one's morality, faith and self respect.

Beggary is strongly condemned in Islam as this is a negation of self respect.

Even asking for help in the daily matters is not allowed, until necessary.

The sense of self-worth which emerges from faith transcends individual value since, rather than coming from the human, it comes from the Divine.

By focusing inward, each and every human being can connect with the inner source of peace, happiness, comfort, care, hope, and light that characterizes our link with Allah.

Despite whatever physical or emotional pain we may be feeling, this “eye of the storm” reminds us that we matter to May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD).

Even if no one else seems to care about us, He does, and experiencing His love towards us teaches us to value ourselves. Ultimately, faith and dignity are strongly linked – for instance, it is narrated that the believer would suffer everything except indignity – and so true faith can bring the deepest sense of self-worth.

Anyone can work on their inner voice – regardless of their level of faith. However, faith adds an entirely new dimension to our sense of self-worth.

Simply existing should be enough for us to acknowledge our inherent worth.
Despite modern advances in technology, we still cannot control life and death, as any childless couple who wants children knows.

We exist because Allah willed for us to exist, and we have a purpose in life because He does not create aimlessly. As his representative (Khalifa) on earth who has accepted His trust (Amana), we hold an esteemed position.

In fact, self-worth is generally linked to control over one’s desires; as is narrated from Imam Ali Radiyallaahu anhu: “When someone maintains his own respect in his own view, his desires appear light to him

The basic elements of good behavior are included in Islamic teachings: Behave with modesty, politeness, courtesy; don't insult others, don't back-bite, don't hurl abuses, don't be arrogant or proud, don't cheat etc.

Good behavior is highly recommended in the Islam religion Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu-alaihi-wasallam: ''Good behavior is a virtue.''

When asked for which qualities will more people be placed in heaven, he answered: ''Fear of God and good behavior’’?

Good behavior is referred to as Akhlaq-e-Hamida in Islam.

- It is narrated from Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu-alaihi-wasallam: One who has three characters has attained all the qualities of Faith: when he is happy, his happiness does not attract him toward untruth; in time of anger, his anger does not drive him out of the truth; and when he gets power, he does not exceed his limits.

One tip to boost self esteem: look down. Society wants you to crave more, to look at people who have more of the dunya than you and to chase their life. Instead, we should look at those who have less of the dunya, those who don't have the blessings and abilities that we have. Be grateful for what Allah has given you and use it in His way.

May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) has created much in our world that we have to be thankful for and much that soothes our senses, whether it is the beauty of the open sky, the vast the ocean, the light of the harvest moon, the small hands and feet of a newborn baby or the reflection of love or friendship in the eyes of another human being.
All this and more are not created by us but by May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) and they are evidence that He is there and is Magnificent.
The beauty that May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) created is humbling and empowering for us at the same time. It is empowering because it is a reminder to us of his Greatness, as he is our Protector and humbling because it also reminds us of our duty that we must do our best as caliphs on earth to protect his Creation and respect and to help one another

May the spirit of Ramadan
Illuminate the world and show us the way to peace and harmony.

May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) make our efforts sincere and keep us all on the straight path...........

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   And earn Sawab-e-Jariya...May Allah Subhanahu WA Ta’aala (GOD) make it a source of Sawab-e-Jariya for u and me .Ameen
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Allah hu akbar!!! this was Awesome very helpful