Tag Archives: confident

Courage to be different

Peace!

We are different, that is a fact of life. You and I, are different. The way we look, the way we were brought up, our experiences, our likes and dislikes, our beliefs and opinions are different.

Yes, there may be quite a lot of similarities between you and me, we may have been friends for the past 15 years, you might have grown up in the same city as me, our parents may have similar backgrounds and may indeed be friends, we may have gone to the same Qur’an school when we were kids, and I may have moved to the same country as you did, you may even be interested in a lot of the same things that I am too or you may be my blood sibling and still we are different. You aren’t me and I’m not you and that is perfect, we may learn a lot from each other. God created us, you and I, to be different.

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another…” [Qur’an 48:13]

Still, as a child you don’t really set out to think about what makes you different from everyone else, you just want to have fun like all the other kids do too. I grew up as a black Muslim in Germany, a minority in a minority.

My whole class knew that I was a Muslim, I didn’t hide it and my being black was not something I could really hide. They knew when I was fasting and what Ramadan was, I showed them how we pray during a visit to the mosque, I chose to play a Nasheed (Religious Song) when we gave a small presentation on our favourite music and gave a presentation about a river that was the namesake of the country my mother was born in and my father had roots in. My mother would make sure to tell my best friends mother not to feed me any meat when I stayed over at their little farm during the summer and we’d play Zelda, Mario Party or tag the whole day.

I have been quite privileged in the way that I have been brought up, that my parents are both academics/professionals and knowledgeable in the religion, for me to grow to be comfortable in my being different and still I sometimes hesitate. Hesitate, to speak out and take a stand, to break the silence. In such a moment of hesitation and inaction, I might as well have been dead.

 “Sometimes I feel like my city is a graveyard.“  
[Suli Breaks]

In his video The Graveyard, Suli Breaks expresses how we might as well be the walking dead, as we sacrifice our happiness for our salaries. The imagery of a city as a Graveyard is powerful, signifying the death of society, stagnation and truly painful silence permeating through each crook and cranny of the ruins of our city.

While the rows of gravestones tell the stories of those that have passed, their voices have died. Their words however still reach us, because they refused to be silenced. Still, we too often choose to ignore them, when empathy is lost, xenophobia rises, injustice and aggression is left unopposed, problems swept under the rug and conversations stifled. Resulting in exclusion and segregation or expression.

Expression in a hostile environment however requires a lot of courage. Courage to break the silence, to express yourself and stand up for yourself, your rights, your thoughts, your aspirations, your dreams and those of others around you. By being different and confident with yourself, the image that you project of yourself will invigorate the dead around you and inspire them to help break down the wall of silence.

Being humble, ascetic and conscious doesn’t mean staying silent at all times. It means choosing the right time to be silent and when to speak up and so while the Prophet (saw.) said:

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak good things or keep silent.” [Muslim: Sahih]

The hadith often becoming our go-to narration to tell someone to shut up. Keeping silent, here is predicated on not actually having anything good to say, that is to engage in speech which we would regret later. When acts of injustice are however carried out, that is when our silence makes us complicit as Dr. Martin Luther King said:

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” [Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story]

We need to speak up. The Qur’an also says:

“Allah does not like the public mention of evil except by one who has been wronged. And ever is Allah Hearing and Knowing.” [Quran 4:148]

In our journey to emulate the noble characteristics that Allah (swt.) describes Himself with, we also have to listen and yes we have to be silent at times to get to know and fully understand the situation of those who are oppressed to be able to express it.

Will we face opposition? Yes, absolutely we will, but we will face hate whether we speak out about our grievances or not, whether we integrate or assimilate or not. Experiences of racism, xenophobia and of injustice of whatever kind whether from our teachers and classmates,  or even parents can shatter self-confidence and scratch at our self-esteem, our sense of self-worth and our self body-image.

That is why it is so important that one, we have the courage to be different and proud of it and second, to know that we are not the only ones alive in this graveyard that there are others that are different too, who are not just stuck in the work/eat/sleep cycle and are trying to break down that wall with you. While our expression alone may at times cause us to be isolated within the status quo, it needs the courage of the one, to shatter the silence of the many.

 

#bemore

Those who oppose you

Imam Ibnul Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (rahimahullah) said:

[Such a person] does not become disheartened by those who differ from and oppose him, as they are lesser in importance and significance, even if they might be greater in number, as some of the Salaf said: “Traverse the paths of the truth, and do not be discouraged by the small number of people who do the same.” Every time you feel disheartened by your being alone on this path, then look to those who came before you and strive to catch up with them, and turn away from everyone else, as they will not benefit you in the least with Allah. If you happen to see them somewhere along the path that you are upon, then do not turn to look at them, for if you do so, they will distract you and simply delay your progress.

[‘Madarij as-Salikin’; 1/21]

Be more Confident

Salam Alaykum,

This month of May, of exams and other torture methods, the theme of this blog will be to Be more Confident. This series is quite important to myself, I suffer of a lack of confidence sometimes, of anxieties etc. and during this month I’ll try to find out and learn about what Islam tells us and what the scholars say about Confidence, about Self-Esteem and Anxiety.

I feel this is not just a topic that is of importance to the usual audience, teenagers and young adults such as myself, but also to adults. Those adults that have a problem with asking for time off for Jumuah or the Mo’s at work not wanting to stand out as Muslims or the ones obsessed with their looks, for example. All of this due to their lack of confidence, or due to their fears of being laid off etc. Over the next few posts I will be writing about the issue of lack of confidence and self-esteem, inshaAllah. Today I’m going to, as usual try to set the scene, with some definitions on the topic.

Confidence, as merriam-webster tells us is a feeling or belief that one can do something well or succeed at something. It comes from the middle French confidence from Latin confidentias derived from confido, of which confidere is a verb form. Con- means together and fido means trust. Fido comes from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰeydʰ- meaning (to command, to persuade, to trust). Fides, the Noun also means faith and belief, reliance, confidence and trust. In Arabic, the word that can be used to denote confidence is Thiqah الثقة, self-confidence is thiqah bin Nafs الثقة بالنفس. Another word that will be discussed in more detail in this series is tawakkul تَوَكُل in Allah, having trust, reliance and being confident in Allah swt.

While discussing this it needs to be said, that we’re not talking here about being arrogant, that being confident and having self-confidence is not in conflict with also being humble.

The servants of the Lord of Mercy are those who walk humbly on the earth, and who, when aggressive people address them, reply with words of peace.

[Qur’an 25:63]

I might be inferring things into this verse but it struck me how much this also is about being confident. Yes we are told to walk on this earth humbly, meaning without “swag”, without signs of pride, which is based on some form of seeking attention. People who are confident about themselves don’t need that. They don’t take their sense of self-worth from other people. This is also according to Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan a weakness, but it is towards Allah only not towards other people. The Prophet saw. warned about a time when the Ummah will be plagued by this weakness.

When there is a chance of confrontation, we reply with confidence and with words of peace. The word Jahil is used in this (aggressive people), literally meaning someone who isn’t using their mind. Who is emotional, not thinking about what they’re saying. In these situations the best way is to act non-confrontational, whether it is actually saying Salam or words of Salam. This takes self-confidence and consideration to do correctly, to know what to say in these situations because Jahil must not only be extremely negative but as said can be referred to someone who is emotional, depressed etc.

I’ll have to cut this short here, for today. I hope you’ll find this as beneficial as I do thinking and reflecting on this topic. I apologize if this isn’t as coherent or structured I’ve got exams in a few days.

Wa Salam,

Abdur-Rahman