Love Thyself

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Is there any outward evidence that indicates a person loves himself? I suppose the immediate response would be the appearance of confidence and perhaps even a cocky attitude. But is that really loving oneself or is it just a personality type? 

Confidence is sometimes considered the opposite of shyness. I am certain, nonetheless, that they are not in opposition to each other but rather they are truly complementary.

Confidence, as I see it, is not to express one's perceived superiority over others but it is the ability to carry oneself at one's own standard despite others. 

Shyness, I imagine, is the comfort level that one experiences when sharing aspects of himself with various people. Hence, a person may be shy with one person but not another. It is a trait that, I think, is sometimes confused with humility.

Personality traits, however, are not in today's pot of stew. The topic is self-love and what it means. I've mentally tossed this idea around for a while as it was my friend's first piece of advice - love yourself. My first introspective query was and is whether I do or do not love myself and how I would know.

I am assured that this advice is legit within an Islamic framework, but how can we say "I love myself" without being arrogant? 

The quest to love oneself is far beyond the superficial or the obvious. I don't believe it is as simple as saying, "Well people applaud x-y-z qualities in me, so surely these are aspects I should love." People only see a tainted glimmer of partial aspects of us, and those who are honest with themselves are hard pressed to accept such lovable opinions as wholly true. Regardless if they are true or not, laudable traits need not personal recognition in order for one to love himself. 

I am beginning to understand that to love oneself is to love the quality of life that exists in us. It is to love the potential for excellence that Allah has given us all and to believe that it is a potential worth striving for. 

By not loving ourselves, we may be inclined to give up on grand opportunities that are in front of us because we don't believe ourselves worthy of them or we don't feel ourselves capable. But life isn't about us, now is it? It's about Allah and nothing else. 

Perhaps loving the potential to be better is also a tool with which we can fight the lower self (nafs) as it actively calls us to indulge our vile and lowly inclinations. Perhaps it is an untapped force that can actually drive our aspirations to improved states. 

Love thyself for the sake of your Lord, He who created you in all forms and in the best of forms for an elevated purpose. Love thyself and perhaps your purpose can, in the least, be pursued if not realized.

Allah knows best.
الله أعلم

Happiness

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

A few years ago, my dearest friend gave me three pieces of life advice. I have thought about her words and continue to return to them because I haven't implemented any of them due to the lack of truly understanding the first, the lack of insights for the second, and a host of reasons regarding the third.

The third, a deep can of worms, is what I'm considering opening up now. This attempt may be the sheer result of inhaling Vicks' fumes, and I'm already running out of steam.


***

She advised me to get married. While many kind people make du'as for me for this, her words have stuck with me because of our relationship and because she posed it as advice and not as a personal hope.

Marriage is a topic that has come up frequently, for obvious reasons, since my mid-20s. I'm grateful that my parents have a fair approach towards it. Some incline themselves to analyze me, as did one sister recently, after which she finished with: "Is that not so?" A laysa kathalik? I said,  "Nope it isn't" Kalla. I suppose she, like others, consider me either in denial or a lost case. I don't mind either way, even if that is truly the case.

I have had significant reasons and opportunities to reflect on my life in recent months, and the topic of marriage is not one that I misunderstand in myself but rather that I frame it in a way that I can handle and that takes my psychological and emotional peculiarities into account. At least as I see it.

As a baseline, some years ago I decided that I should at least consider any suggestions made, though I do wish that people's suggestions were more than "he's looking to get married." There are a lot of good people out there, but good for one is not necessarily good for another. My sister once advised me that if I have to try to convince myself that I'm inclined, then I'm not. It's only for me to wonder why I'm not and to disregard why he may not be inclined.

I suppose familial expectations dictate what some must look for i.e. ethnicity, education, social connections, etc., but my family's only requirements are that he is good i.e. morally upright and a practicing Muslim, that they are at ease about it, and that I'm happy. Is that a tall order? Seemingly no, but perhaps the most difficult is what I'm happy about. Which leads to people's other criticism about me, and that is that I'm "too picky."

I am particular, but I don't expect more than what I can offer in a marriage and there isn't much that I can offer. I do, however, reserve the right to be as "picky" as I wish before marriage as it is not an option after marriage.

Nonetheless, while people blanket their misunderstandings as picky, I do give it my best and follow some of the advice that was recently offered by Al Habib Hussein As-Saqqaf on making decisions. He said that one must reflect and not rush into things or he will have regrets. Reflection, he said, has three elements:

1) Consulting with three upright, righteous people who have your affairs at heart (استشارة)
2) Making istikhara between you and Allah (استخارة)
3) Engaging in a lot of zhikr (ذكر)

In the same lesson, he gave advice about marriage and said that many forget to look for intelligence. He said, "For a happy home, look at the intelligence of the woman of the household because it affects the atmosphere of the home. When the groom comes to her and she says 'let me think about it' then she is the one because she is a thinker." Similarly, he said to choose friends who take the time to think before they offer advice.

Some things are probably lost in translation there, but the overall message is clear. Likewise, I think the intelligence of a man is vital. But intelligence comes in various forms and I think it's probably most suitable that spouses can at least appreciate the varieties in each other so much so that they can truly say that they respect each other.

Habib Hussein also mentioned, "Allah will guide you accordingly. But when you've done the necessary steps and reach a decision that is clear and then you hesitate, then there is a problem. Have tawakkul 'ala Allah."

This advice is golden and absolutely precious. One need not regret when approaching decisions in this way, and I am grateful that in my heart of hearts I have no regrets. I've done what I can do with regards to possibly getting married, despite that it may seem pathetic and meager to others and that it is riddled with things that people don't or can't understand about me.

Marriage, as I've often written, is a form of rizq and while we are charged with making an effort to seek it, ultimately it is not in our hands. Thus, our efforts must not be considered the reason why we are or are not married. Like everything else under the sun and beyond the sun, we depend on Allah alone to guide us to that which is best for us and our iman and we know that His plan is the best even if we don't understand it.

Praise be to Allah in every and with every situation!

!الحمد لله على كل حال

.اللهم اجعلنا من عبادك الصالحين و ارزقنا ازواجا صالحين، آمين


Mine To Dream

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I once dreamed a dream that was not mine to dream. 'Twas a beautiful scene from which my mind would glean. How spectacular it was to dream a beautiful dream, a dream that was not mine to dream.

But who can deny me the will to dream? To learn and discern things glorious and serene. To hope and pray for more than a shadowy scene, to embrace the glow that moonlight would glean. How liberating it was to dream a purposeful dream, a dream that was not mine to dream.

Times passes by, and I still savour the dream. A thought, an idea, a direction, an unforgettable scene. Fortitude and fear together answering what life may glean. How undeniable it was to dream a promising dream, a dream that was not mine to dream.

I can no longer dream a wonderful dream. Lost is all ability to dream a new dream, Such is the tragedy of a phenomenal dream. A dream that was mine forever to dream.



Optimal Illusions

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Teach your kids. That's all there is to it. Schools are a brilliant idea on paper, but in terms of early-years education, teach your children at home if you can. Why? Because they need it. Schools are 90% control and 10% education, and while I definitely agree that there are ample opportunities to learn in early-years classrooms, I am not convinced that, in general, it is optimal learning.

None. In answer to your first question, I don't have any children, but I've had the opportunity to observe them and wonder about what works for them and what doesn't. And then, and then, and then (that's the dramatic influence of being around children), the green light goes off and I realize it doesn't need to be thought out. It's already there. Open the books of ahadith and it is there.

Women. Men. What. Is. The. Point. Of. Your. Lives? Really. Work. And Work. And Work. Annoying. It's an annoying way to live and to see people live when they have other options such as to choose to be a bit more simple or to not try to "secure" their futures so they can actually honour, respect, cherish, and live their present existence. It is lost time with your children and family that you'll never get back. It is lost opportunities to educate them on what it means to be a person, not an excellent school-attendee, but a decent person.

Is decent not a fabulous thing?

The best thing you can teach your child is how to think. To think intelligently, critically, and deeply rather than to replicate the masses. "If they but think..."

All these fragmented sentences are getting me nowhere. I feel a deep sadness and rage for the utmost confusion that we harvest in times that we boast as being advanced. Get over the illusion and get to the heart of the matter. Families need to be re-built and they need work. Marriages need to last. People need to find themselves and find a place where they can live with sincerity and not judgments, with tranquility and not demands.

I suppose I should be living alone on some island. Some things are possible but not always optimal.

اللهم اهدنا آمين
"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]

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Inspiration

"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]