Bettering ourselves in the spiritual, social, and self-care spheres
VERSES TO REFRESH OUR SOULS
إِنَّ اللهَ يَرْزُقُ مَنْ يَّشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
Allah provides to whom He wills without reckoning.
(Surah Aal Imraan, aayah 37)
This was Maryam AS du'aa who received fruit from Jannah. Allah can give us even that which is seemingly impossible if we have faith in Him.
A PIECE OF ME
With every conversation and every relationship we have, we give a part of us to someone and take a part of them.
The deen has been described as An Naseehah, sincerity; to Allah, His book, His Rasool SAW, the leaders, and every fellow believer. Therefore, we should give sincerity to every person we speak to.
The company we keep is very important because it overtly or covertly becomes who we are. The English saying reads, "birds of a feather flock together." In Islam, we know that we will be raised with those whom we love. We are advised to gain insight into a person's character by looking at the company he keeps. He who keeps the company of a blacksmith will be affected by the soot involved in his job and he who befriends a perfume seller will be affected by the fragrances he works with. We should not only appraise others like this, but ask ourselves, am I dusting soot or spraying perfume onto the ones around me? Did I leave this person with something good, or with a piece of gossip and ill influence?
People are infectious, their diseases spread to us if our immunity is low. Their social maladies do too if our guard is low. It is up to us to learn something good from everyone we know and turn our conversations into a means of thawaab.
The most beautiful friendship or relationship we can have is one that results in our betterment in the aakhirah. A quick introspection of how well our relationship is going with the next person is to ask ourselves:
Have I reminded or been reminded by the next person, directly or by way of example, to be better in the court of Allah the last time we met? Do I like who I am when I am around this person?
Do I feel rejuvenated or drained after speaking to this person?
Does my mind expand or stagnate within conversations with this person?
Do we impart good to each other or focus on material inconsequential aspects?
Muhammad SAW mentioned in a hadeeth that even a mustard seed of pride would preclude one from going straight into Jannah. Such is the gravity of this sin.
We often don't understand what pride includes and what pride excludes.
The Sahaba RA expertly asked questions which would later bring about clarity for us as an Ummah. They asked Rasoolullah SAW if being well-dressed constituted pride. Rasoolullah SAW said that Allah is beautiful and loves beauty, so this is not what is meant by pride, but rather, it is looking contemptuously down at people and rejecting or denying the truth that constitutes pride.
As mentioned by Ml Ragie in his series of talks on narcissism, Shaytaan was the first narcissist who displayed some of the key features of narcissism such as jealousy, self-obsession, argumentativeness, the need for loyal henchmen, the inability to see someone else succeed, and Shaytaan's sin of pride is what lead to his downfall, his pride lead to him feeling like none could be parallel or superior, it lead to him developing false arguments regarding the superiority of fire over earth (he believed his own lies to soothe his ego).
Pride as we often envision it is a person who is showing off their riches and achievements; someone who boasts constantly and praises themselves. However, it is important to check ourselves for signs of pride that may be subtle.
Not being able to see another person's view, or at least trying to, stems from pride. Being unable to compromise stems from pride, because it would mean we deem our point of view unconditionally superior. Double standards stem from pride because we think a standard applies to us that doesn't apply to the next person. Racism stems from pride associated with ethnicity. Xenophobia stems from pride associated with nationality. "Who does she think she is to tell me …?" stems from pride regarding who we think can correct us, if anyone. "For them, it's nice," shows pride in that we think some better standard is specially made for us. Thinking certain tasks or duties are beneath our level is pride. Umar RA, whilst being the Khaleef of the Islamic World, thought he may be developing an inkling of pride, hence he went to clean the dirtiest area of the Masjid in order to immediately extinguish the potential beginnings of pride. Who then are we to find certain things beneath us? Allah akbar.
Pride under the false guise of self-care should also be given cognizance. Self love should not be misconstrued and turned into self adoration that culminates in narcissistic pride.
It is definitely important to protect our mental space from people who hurt us, bring us down, influence us negatively, etc. However, this should not be extended to overzealous cancel culture becoming our mantra, because it may result in the idea that it's acceptable to completely exclude anyone who doesn't agree 100% with us without proper engagement, a lack of consideration to the humanity and inborn flaws of others, an expectation of constant perfection, a constant focus on error-finding alone, a low threshold for the toxic label, and resultant excommunication of people, which will only result in isolation; after realizing that if all imperfections are cancelled, there is nobody left, because every person is bound to have some imperfections.
Everyone is bound to be wrong at some stage. It is how people respond to disagreement or correction, and the willingness to see another point of view, that allows us to see if they're truly toxic or not.
As with everything in life, there is a balance to strike. There is definitely the need to protect oneself emotionally; and also the need for humility, tolerance, generosity of character and integrity. There are many rights we deserve to enjoy but also responsibilities that cannot be ignored. In a world where the focus is on what isn't being done for us, rather than what we should be doing for others, nobody gets anywhere. Let us humble ourselves and shed light on our potential shortcomings and not only those of others.