Discover Yourself: Break the Shackles of Inferiority

fish2Often in shopping malls, restaurants, educational institutions and in family functions, there is this girl who is trying to hide herself from everyone around. With eyes defining both fear and sadness, she wishes to be as beautiful as the girl sitting next to her. She wants to become as fairer, taller and confident as this girl in order to avoid the fear of being compared and the sadness that consequently follows it. But, her wish list goes on as the number of people she comes across in life is countless. These wishes increase each day when she meets someone better than her; her heart aches and she finds herself devastated. This scenario, with a few subjective variations, is something that goes on in many peoples’ lives. Not only girls, but boys too fall prey to inferiority complex. They are letting this plague take over their lives to such an extent that they are willingly stepping into the dungeon of depression. It would be well suited to use the word ‘willingly’ because no child is born with an inferiority complex. It is later in life when he/she learns to make such choices on the basis of various stereotypes the society is following.

Each one of us is blessed abundantly, and for sure none of us is deprived of Allah’s (swt) blessings.

Stereotype is Hype

A stereotype is a widely accepted view that is applied to a particular social category and every individual in it- without deeply knowing what that particular individual is like. Beliefs like all dark complexioned people are aesthetically inferior, men are insensitive, people who wear glasses are nerds, all riches are successful and lead a happy life, no Hijabi manages to get good marriage proposals or Hijab wearing women are oppressed are some examples of stereotypes that our societies follow. In short, these are man-made criterion that the human race has set to judge one another. Anybody who fails to satisfy these criteria is considered as “The Unlikable”.

Ever since most of us are put to watch TV as kids, we start feeding it in our minds that beautiful girls are as fair as snow, have impossibly tiny waists, are up to date with the latest fashion, and that they have sweet melodious voices to mesmerize everyone around. Such personas are often made to appear kind hearted, caring, well mannered, successful, smart and above all they are the protagonists. The antagonists are likewise made to appear the opposite.

In case of programs that young boys are subjected to, all the successful stereotypical characters own noticeable cars and latest gadgets, play video games, are clean shaven, possess a super muscular body, at times are rich too and above all manage to attract the opposite gender. In short, such stereotypes define gender roles and criteria for physical attractiveness in most of the existing societies. Unfortunately, racial and physical attractiveness stereotyping does not end in cartoons, but lingers on in most of the dramas, movies, literature, and art and even in commercial advertisements- ultimately forming the society’s mentality. Such stereotypes do change with the passage of time e.g. the ideal women in the early 1600s were voluptuous as compared to today’s ideals. People that don’t possess the admirable physical traits highlighted by some sources tended to alter and are still altering with what Allah (swt) gifted them. But, the part of the society that cannot afford to have alternatives catering their demands, fall prey to depression when subjected to never ending criticism.

Piety is something that any human being can acquire regardless of any physical, racial, gender or class discrimination.

Block Criticism – It’s not for You

Criticism occurs as most of us are in a habit of associating positive personality traits with people who seem physically attractive to us without even knowing them completely. In one of the psychological studies on physical attractiveness, male and female subjects were presented with photographs of some men and women from a college yearbook and were asked to rate the pictured individuals on a number of traits. The photographs had been previously rated as very attractive, average, or unattractive. Compared to the unattractive individuals, the attractive individuals were rated as being more sensitive, kind, interesting, strong, poised, sociable, outgoing, exciting, and sexually warm and responsive. They were also rated as having higher status and as being more likely to get married, to have a successful marriage, and to be happy. The only exception to this rosy portrait was that the more attractive individuals were rated as being slightly, but not significantly, less likely to be good parents than neutral or unattractive individuals (Dion, Berscheid, and Walster, 1972).

Imagine the frustration when one has a lock, but the key is nowhere to be found. But to end this frustration it is obvious that one will look for ways to find the key- the solution to the problem. This would be the rational perspective as throwing the lock away would add more to the list of incomplete tasks which when piled up becomes a burden for the whole life time. And this exactly would end up in regrets, and only regrets. In the same way, there are solutions adhering to which one can get rid of inferiority complexes, and some of them are as follows:

  1. The Real Criterion for Superiority

Unlike the changing criteria of society, Allah (swt) the Almighty has put before mankind only one criterion of superiority in Islam that is piety. Allah (swt) says in Surat Al-Hujurat,

“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa (i.e. one of the Muttaqun.) Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Piety is something that any human being can acquire regardless of any physical, racial, gender or class discrimination. It liberates an individual to such a level where he embraces Allah’s (swt) will. He learns to bow down only before Allah (swt) the Almighty which saves him from bowing down before other peoples’ will. To be more precise, he discovers his true self that connects him with Allah (swt) Almighty, and discards other selves that he had been keeping to please the people. Such ‘selves’ are like masks that are well suited for different desirability criteria set by different people. But, when there remains no need to please the people, since no human was born to do so, one can get rid of these masks and breathe freely in open air. One may become popular by becoming desirable amongst people, but it is only in the remembrance of Allah (swt) that hearts find rest.

  1. Help Yourself by Helping Others

If you had been subjected to criticism because you couldn’t fit in the society’s criteria of beauty or desirability, and intend to bring a revolution in people’s mentality; bring a revolution from within yourself at first. Try not to do to others what you had to face. Sometimes in an attempt to face the harshness of the society we ourselves become harsh in order to fit in it. Along with that pray for the ones who are or were being harsh to you once. Return them with something good and simply follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa) who never wished bad for the ones who wished bad for him. It is through forgiveness that you would be able to relieve yourself of the pain you had been carrying all along. Let it go and move ahead with firm belief in Allah (swt) the Almighty. Remember what Allah (swt) says in Surat Al-Fussilat,

“The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.” (Fussilat 41:34)

  1. Acknowledge What You Have Been Blessed with

Most of us don’t know how much we’ve been blessed with ever since our birth; probably because we never took out the time to focus on this aspect of our lives. This happens because most of us are busy noticing what we don’t have, and what others have. For sure if we spend our time thanking Allah (swt) for what we have, we wouldn’t get any time whining for what we don’t have as Allah’s (swt) blessings upon us can never be numbered. Allah (swt) says in Surat Al-Ibrahim,

“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, – a disbeliever).” (Ibrahim 14:34)

Each one of us is blessed abundantly, and for sure none of us is deprived of Allah’s (swt) blessings. But, along with that Allah (swt) tests His slaves due to His wisdom that He is aware of, and due to a benefit that He wants His slave to attain. Consider the example of a rich man who has every luxury that any man unlike him would wish for, but despite of the entire treasure, he cannot sleep well at night without taking tranquilizers. On the other hand a farmer with very little income has been blessed with a good night’s sleep. Both have been subjected to certain trials, but they are not deprived of Allah’s (swt) blessings at the same time.

  1. Beauty is Only Skin Deep

Do we appreciate doctors, writers, counselors, social workers, Daees, Ulema etc. due to the good looks that they possess? Or is it due to the work that they do? If we’ll manage finding out the answer to this question, we would certainly be introduced to the real meaning of beauty.

  1. Beauty is Culturally Defined

As mentioned earlier, the criteria for physical beauty is different for different cultures. With so many cultures all around, it is difficult to mould one’s self according to anyone. You might end up pleasing a fraction of people, and displeasing another. That is when Islam stands high by bringing in concepts that can be universally acted upon. This is because Allah (swt) the Almighty is aware of everyone’s needs and that is why He revealed to mankind a system that caters each one of us. So, simply bring back what you had lost earlier.


Concluding by focusing all my words to pinpoint one beautiful fact- I would like to say that if you are beautiful by thought, you’ll certainly meet people who are beautiful by heart. For that you don’t need to alter your physical self, but to change your thought. Such bonds that you’ll make will never end up even if you turn old or do not possess the beauty that you once had. To be precise, focus all your energy on doing something that really matters, because the world is becoming short of beauty that comes from the heart – the everlasting beauty. Remember the following Hadeeth for refreshing your Iman:

Abu Hurairah (ra) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Verily, Allah (swt) does not look for your faces and your wealth; but He looks for your heart and for your deeds.” (Muslim)

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Baqarah 2

pearls6We hope that the first fast of this blessed month of Ramadan has gone smoothly. When you feel the hours are too long think, of the places where people fast for eighteen or even more hours. May Allah (swt) allow us to make the best of this month, ameen. Let’s dive into some more pearls of peace from the Book of peace.

Tests for the best!

Allah (swt) informs us that He is definitely going to test us with different types of tests. He says, “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones etc.)” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Sometimes fear might over take us. Sometimes we might suffer loss in our business. We may not have enough wealth. We may lose our dear ones; our parents, our spouse and our children. Sometimes the production will be less. But who will have peace when being tested? Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-156)

Surrender to the will of Allah (swt)

They are those who are contented with the decree of Allah (swt). They know that ‘we belong to Allah (swt)’ and everything that we have belongs to Allah (swt). When a calamity strikes them, they are quick to say, “Inna lillahi wa-innailahi rajioon” and move on with their life. If we adopt this approach, we will achieve peace. But if, we are someone not prepared to be tested, then what will we do in the hereafter? How will the believers be distinguished from the disbelievers if we are not prepared to be tested?

It is similar to going to school every day, attending classes and taking lectures. But when exams come we walk out of the examination hall saying, “I don’t want to be tested.” That indicates we wasted our time at school.

Quran’s main addressee is human being; therefore it holistically attends to every topic that is related to human life. If we follow the instructions laid out in the Quran, we will acquire the peace that we are searching for.

Thank Allah (swt) and eat from what is lawful

In this Surah, Allah (swt) talks about what we should eat. He says, “O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He Whom you worship.” (Al-Baqarah 2:172) Stay away from unlawful and impure things. Eat Halal (lawful) and Tayyab (pure) and be thankful to Allah (swt). This will be the quality of someone who truly considers Allah (swt) as his Lord, Nourisher, Provider and Sustainer. People are dying out of hunger and drought while our houses are stocked with food and water, Alhamdulillah. May He make us His thankful servants. Ameen. The more we appreciate Allah’s (swt) gifts upon us, the more thankful we would be.

Strict avoidance of the Haram

Right after this verse  He warns us to stay away from the Haram, “He has forbidden you only the Maytatah (dead animals), and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols, etc., on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering).” (Al-Baqarah 2:173)

This is just a small list of items that we are prohibited to eat. Haram affects our entire system, more details in the later section, Insha’Allah.

Fasting brings piety

Allah (swt) then mentions the month of Ramadan in the Quran, “O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun” (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

Ramadan – the month of the divine revelation

This is the only month of the Islamic calendar which is mentioned this way. This is the month in which the Book of guidance was sent down by Allah (swt). Thus during this month we dedicate specific time for Quran. The Quran recitors should try their best to recite the Quran in such a manner that every letter is clear while those who are still learning the Quran should search for places where they can go and learn the Quran.

Go fasting, go healthy!

In the month of Ramadan, we not only fast for the sake of Allah (swt) but also improve our health. Fasting helps us to detoxify our bodies, physically as well as spiritually; according to a finding supported by Science. In the 1960s, the Stanford University campus conducted an interested experiment at a pre-school. The ability of four-year olds to resist temptation was tested. A marshmallow was placed in a room and the children were told that they could have the marshmallow immediately, or if they waited until the tester had run an errand and returned, then they could have two marshmallows. Some children waited for two marshmallows, while others ate one immediately. These same children were followed over 14 years to see how they managed in life.

Those who had resisted temptation at four were now, as adolescents, more socially competent, personally effective, self-assertive, and better able to cope with the frustrations of life. The third or so who grabbed the marshmallow, however, tended to have fewer of these qualities and shared instead a relatively more troubled psychological portrait. Surprisingly, those who had waited patiently at four were far superior as students to those who acted on whim. Moreover, they had dramatically higher scores in their SAT tests. There is perhaps no physiological skill more fundamental than resisting impulse. It is the root of all emotional self-control, since all emotions, by their very nature, lead to one or another impulse to act. (Coleman, Daniel, Emotional Intelligence, London: Bloomsbury, 1996, pp. 81-82.)

People stop eating certain foods to detoxify their bodies and go on a diet. Allah (swt) gives us an entire month to detoxify and get back in shape. But sadly, we treat the month of fasting as a month of feasting. Women are busy in the kitchen the entire day making delicacies for Iftar, leaving no time or energy to stand up in Taraweeh and worship the One Who provided them Rizq. It seems as if this is the only month when we get to eat something.

Yes, Allah (swt) has called cooking an act of worship when done with the intention of feeding one’s family. However, we also need to keep ourselves in check. When we begin wasting our time in decorating food then it is no more an act of worship. Most often, the decoration done so precisely and artistically goes to waste. No one eats the carved salad or the chocolate sauce sprinkled on the platter. We are wasting what we have been given in abundance while there are people dying out of hunger.

Make invocations before Fajr (at Sahoor)

Allah (swt) then mentions how close He is to us, “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad (sa)) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge).” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

When one senses the closeness of Allah (swt), he is at peace. Allah’s (swt) closeness protects one from evil and sins. Allah (swt) continues, “I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.”

Everyone is calling Allah (swt) at the same time for different things, and Allah (swt) is listening to each one us, giving us what we have invoked Him for, at the right time. Never underestimate calling out to Allah (swt). When you get up for Sahoor, remember Allah (swt). Keep your Dua list handy.

The hidden truth about our needs

An overlooked gift of Allah (swt) to us is that He keeps us in need. Had He not kept us yearning, would we have remembered Him? May Allah (swt) fulfill our needs. Ameen.

Bribery – a major sin

Allah (swt) then warns us of bribery, And eat up not one another’s property unjustly (in any illegal way e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving, etc.), nor give bribery to the rulers …” (Al-Baqarah 2:188)

Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajid explains, “Bribery means giving money to someone through whom a person takes something that has no right to, such as bribing a judge to judge in his favour wrongfully, or bribing an official to give him preference over others, or to give him something to which he is not entitled. Bribery is a major sin, because the Prophet (sa) said: ‘May the curse of Allah (swt) be upon the one who pays a bribe and the one who takes it.’ (Ibn Majah) It must be known bribery is only permissible when a person cannot attain his rights in any other way. But in that case it is Haram for the one who takes it but not the one who gives it.”

Dishonest transactions/ dealings

Similarly, if you are selling something, do not deceive someone by misquoting the price or selling them a damaged good. If there is some defect be honest and let them know. Charge an honest profit because if the buyer finds out your products are over-priced, he is not going to return for another purchase and also give negative feedback to others.

Worse, the person can curse you because of your lying. Are you willing to risk your peace and contentment for a little amount of money? Honesty builds trust and strengthens relationships. It will also give you a competitive edge over others.

My Ramadan Inspiration

ramadanWe have been given a concept of living ‘in moderation’ by the west. Little Deen, little Dunya and it is readily accepted by our modern day generation.

We live in a house which we find the best. We need a job that is secure and the best. For our children’s education, there is no compromise; they should be in the best school. And which parents would love their children to score low. Hence, for Dunya we aspire for everything of best quality. Even the tiles of our kitchen and bathroom are chosen with great care and should be the best. Our Deen, our way of life, the aspect which would decide our Akhirah, the foundation stones of Jannah should it be substandard and should we be happy with it. Allah (swt) has said in the Quran that He has made man for worshipping Him. Allah (swt) also has promised that He will guide those striving on His path, whether male or female and reward them with a life of bliss.

In other words, these are the ones who will be contented in Dunya and will not participate in the rat race towards Dunya and money. But they run to Allah (swt); run to revive Deen; run for the wellbeing of others; run to make others happy… Allah (swt) has bestowed us with Ramadan to practice all these deeds and be firm on them.

In Ramadan, we think more about our food than about the Sahabas, who tied stones to their bellies for spreading the Deen. We are worried about our rest more than the world, which is deprived of the pearls of Deen. We are worried more about clothes for the Eid than about our lowly deeds. We cry under our pillows when we are in trials, but forget to weep over our sins, which are the main reason for them.

So let’s begin from today and keep involuntary fasts, include supererogatory Ibadah, immerse in Dhikr because Allah (swt) says, “Fazkurullaha Dhikr an Kaseera”- Do my Dhikr abundantly, repent with remorse not just to wash off your sins; but make a sincere promise to Allah (swt) to lead a life of Taqwa , piety and sincerity. May Allah (swt) guide us all and keep us guided till our last breath. Ameen

The True Essence of a Muslimah

Beautiful-DiamondA daughter once asked her mother, “Mom, I have heard about diamonds and rubies and also gold and silver. Which is the most precious jewel?”

Her mother replied, “Jewels of gold, silver, diamonds and rubies are all only stones, and do not shine, unless they are burnt and polished. For me, you are my precious jewel. In fact, every daughter is a gem, irreplaceable! I would like to decorate you with such jewels and gems, which will bring you honour and respect, and add a glow to your dignity and character.

• Clothe yourself with Taqwa, and adorn yourself with the most precious jewel of piety.
• Take care of your head! It is the closest to Allah (swt) in Sujud, so make your prostrations lengthy.
• Keep your head cool and low (out of humility) when amongst people. Let Allah (swt) raise it high.
• Keep your hands immersed in work and tongue moist in Dhikr. That’s the essence of the women of Jannah.
• Raise your hands, shed tears, and share your thoughts and feelings only in front of Allah (swt).
• Lower your gaze and adorn it with the emeralds of contentment.

If you have gold, it’s not that you will not turn old.
But if you have character, it will build your Akhirah.
If you have lots of brocade and silk in your closet,
But elegance will be disclosed by your deeds’ facet.

If you are not endowed with diamonds or pearls,
Remember, through your speech and smile you glitter.
And scatter the beauty of Islam.
Through reverence in covering your Awrah.
And reveal what is permissible, and be it little, be happy with Halal and pure.
That’s the true essence of a Muslimah.

Her daughter replied: “True! I am blessed to have a mother, who knows my true value and wants the best for me in this life as well as hereafter.”

May Allah (swt) guide my daughter and all the daughters of the Ummah, too. Ameen