Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tit-for tat, there should be nothing of that…

Lately I’ve been hearing people talk a lot about getting revenge and fighting negativity with negativity. “How can I just leave people to treat me badly? I have to be to them as they are to me.” This is the sentiment that people keep echoing. I agree that no one should be disrespected, I also agree that people should be able to stand up to those who are mistreating them, but I don’t really agree with fighting negativity with negativity.

It just doesn’t help to be mean and horrible to those people who are mean and horrible to you. It contributes to an endless cycle of negativity and with the ‘tit-for-tat’ attitude people have, that cycle will never end.

We may think that we are standing up for ourselves and achieving justice by reacting to negativity with more negativity but honestly I see it as a futile effort. What does one achieve from screaming back at someone who is screaming at you?  What do you achieve by abusing and disrespecting someone who has done that to you?  Instead of helping the situation you are making it worse, because you are condoning and contributing to negativity, thereby giving it justification.

“But it doesn’t help to be nice”, people will say to me. “If someone is horrible to me, I need to be the same to them,” and I ask them if this helps anyone, to which they calmly reply, ‘yes, it helps me to feel better’. But, even they have to admit that the feeling they speak about is short lived, and while they may have gotten their revenge, the major problems continue to persist and it just keeps escalating.

Now, please understand I am not saying that you should be a ‘doormat’ that simply just accepts whatever people do to you. This is obviously not healthy either. But the only way to fight negativity is with positivity, and if you think I’m talking nonsense or this doesn’t help, you need to look into the life of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The story that stands out for me and all other Muslims is when the Prophet (pbuh) went to a city near Makkah called Ta’if to preach about Islam. The people were horrible to him to an extent that me and you can never imagine. They got the children to pelt our beloved Prophet (pbuh) with stones, and they mocked and insulted him as they drove him out of the city. His feet were bleeding the way they pelted him, and what did he do. He made sure that his blood did not touch the floor because he knew that if the blood of a Prophet touches the ground then Allah Almighty will destroy the people who caused it. He (pbuh) was asked by the angel Jibreel (peace be upon him), that Allah has sent me and if you say so Allah will crush the people between these two mountains, and the Prophet (pbuh) refused to let that happen. He said that maybe it will be that people of their progeny will accept Islam, and you know what, that’s exactly what happened. SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah), can we even imagine that sort of mercy.

There are many other stories in the life of the Prophet (pbuh), stories which illustrate so well that he fought negativity with positivity and people changed and they ended up loving him and embracing Islam, because he was not concerned with revenge, and he understood that negativity upon negativity can never bring about positivity.

So where does this “tit-for-tat” attitude come from? What makes us think that we need to get even or die trying? Why do we believe that we should give people what they give us?  I like to argue that it’s all our ego, and if this is true then we really need to be working on ourselves first before we can even consider bringing about any positive change.

There are many ways to deal with negative people, but revenge is not one of them. After all, these very people who are negative are only human beings, with their own needs and insecurities and maybe they don’t understand how to be nice or good because no one has ever being nice or good to them.

So let us try to always be positive people, people who emulate our beloved Prophet (pbuh) in all ways, people who can’t imagine treating someone else negatively because we ourselves do not like to be treated that way. May Allah Almighty guide us all and help us to be positive role-models. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An analogy we can’t miss

I recently received a new mobile phone. It’s a smart phone, and looks very nice, shiny and delicate. The screen looks amazing. One of the first things I did shortly after I got the phone was to go out and buy a cover for it. I didn’t want the phone to get damaged. Unlike my previous phone, this one just seemed like it needed to be protected.

So when I got the cover for it, that’s when it hit me. This analogy I’ll tell you about in a short while. The shops we went to had many covers, for Samsung’s and I-phones, and all the latest phones and it seemed to me that the new “in-thing” was to get a cover for your phone. And that’s when I realized something important.

See these new phones are delicate, beautiful and somewhat fragile. If one scratch gets on it the whole screen may easily damage. The shiny screen needs to be protected. The sleek body of the phone needs to be held within a cover so that no harm comes to it. And because it is so beautiful and we care so much about it, what do we do, we want to protect it! So how do we do that, we cover it with a protective pouch or cover so that it can maintain its beauty…Starting to understand the analogy now?

So that’s how it is with women. We are beautiful, shiny, sleek, and delicate (not to compare women to a phone but you get the point right?) And Allah loves us, way more than we love our latest version mobile phones. Obviously just like we don’t want any harm to come to our phones, not even a scratch, this is what Allah wants for us. The soft padding of the cover is meant to protect the phone, just as our hijab and modest dress is meant to protect us. And what’s more, when our phones are in its cover we also protect it from all those who want to see it but shouldn’t. Like the robbers or thieves, or even those people who may long to have the same phone as we do. So similarly, when we are in covers, we are not seen by those who are not meant to see us. We take our phones out and show it to those who we trust, just like Allah exposes us to those who have been entrusted to care for us.

And what about men, you may ask? It’s okay, you can go ahead and ask this, many people ask that all the time.

Men can perhaps be likened to the older phones, you know, the ones that were not so smart. The screens didn’t shine so brightly and the phone wasn’t so sleek and shiny, so we didn’t care that much and getting a cover would just be bothersome. And even if those phones got scratches and even if we dropped it many times (as most of us probably have), it still worked fine, and the scars and bruises were hardly noticeable. You all know what I’m talking about right, and I don’t mean any bias against men at all when I say this, it’s just that they are rougher and tougher (physically) and I know that a lot of them these days try to make themselves look beautiful, but women are still way more beautiful (MashaAllah) so you can never compare a man to a woman, just like you’ll never compare a Smart phone to an older one.

So there’s the analogy that I got today, and I naturally had to share it with others, and the next time you carefully slip your new I-phone (or Samsung or whatever you have) in its protective pouch, maybe you’ll think of me and remember my words, and who knows, maybe you’ll be kind enough to make a little prayer for me too! 

A sister has brought it to my attention that it comes across as if what I'm saying in this post is that protection is the only reason for covering. Please be aware that hijab is a multi-dimensional concept and goes far beyond just covering for protection. There are many reasons for hijab and definitely when Muslim women don the hijab, it is out of obedience to Allah Almighty and not because they do it because they see themselves as a "smart phone"in need of protection. I apologize if this is misleading in any way. May Allah forgive me for my shortcomings!

Image 1 from here
Image 2 from here
Image 3 from here

Sunday, April 6, 2014

On mixed feelings and choices

Life is about mixed feelings. Nothing is ever really clear cut. There’s always happiness that comes with some sadness, or the other way around. Most people are never completely satisfied. Every choice seems to come with a sacrifice, while at the same time it may come with benefits. It’s possible that you love something yet hate some parts of that thing at the same time. It’s possible to be relieved to no longer have a certain responsibility, yet you may miss it (or some part of it) at the same time. Human beings are complex creatures. Perhaps this is why Allah Almighty says in the Glorious Quraan something to the effect that the children of Adam (pbuh) are always troublesome. We are never completely satisfied with anything!

And while we may think that clear-cut and easy situations would be better, we still can’t help asking ourselves whether a one-dimensional life would really be fulfilling. I can guarantee you that someone who had constant happiness would eventually get so tired of it that they’d be longing for some sadness or some trouble, just so that their routine could be broken. A lot of us search for the perfect life, but the sort of perfection we yearn and strive for is elusive. This is why we see people in a constant state of depression and unhappiness, because they are searching and yearning for something that doesn’t exist, and all the while they are ignoring what does exist.

Some of us may have bigger difficulties than others. Some of us may be living the type of life we always wished we would never live. Some of us are sitting and asking ourselves, “why did this have to happen to me?” Some may be wondering when things will change… How many of us realize that with every situation, through all the mixed feelings, the key is the choices we are going to make. The choices we inevitably make is going to be the determining factor for us, in this world and the hereafter.

So instead of focusing on the sadness, what if we choose to focus on the happiness? And in every situation, what if we choose to search for the lessons? What if we choose to take the messages that Allah Almighty is giving us? What if we choose to understand that our lives are individually tailored by Allah for each of us? A special exam has been set for each one of us. We are given tips throughout the way, and Allah (most Glorious) is so generous that He saves us 
from doing the wrong thing many times, and He directs us and guides us back to the right. All we have to do is to focus, then we’ll see that Allah is doing things for our own good, and we’ll understand that the hardest lessons are the ones that are the most worth learning.

The way I like to see life is that everything that happens to us, whether long-term or short-term is an experience. It’s something else to add to our “Life CV (or resume)”. One day we’ll understand why we’ve had all these experiences, one day these experiences will come in handy. Each experience benefits us and gives us more worth, and better skills.

Mixed feelings, well that’s what makes life interesting, and as for choices, this is something we all have, in every situation. Maybe it’s time we focus on the choices we keep making instead of focusing on the negative in our lives. We may just finding that it’s not our lives that are negative, but it’s our choices that are causing all the negativity.

For now, I am making a conscious choice to embrace whatever comes my way, whatever is still to come I pray to Allah to give me the ability to deal with it positively. I am making the choice to smile at the fact that I am able to experience mixed feelings, because this means that I have been granted the gift of experience and the even bigger gift to learn valuable lessons from this experience. But I cannot forget the greatest gift of all, and that is the fact that Allah Almighty wants me to be a person who can understand and comprehend reality,  (not the fake illusion which is sold to us as reality) and Allah wants me to just be true to myself!

What about you? What choices are you going to be making right now? And how do you deal with having mixed feelings?  Share your thoughts, we all have so much to learn from each other! 

Image 1 from here 

Image 2 from here