Sunday, September 27, 2009

Forgetting Ourselves

We all remember that one time we wanted to fit in to the “cool people” group/club and/or fell into peer pressure when we were younger. However, we’re still doing that to a lesser degree while we’re older, whether we are aware of it or not. We do so when we give into the fashion trends, give into what the companies tells us to wear, eat and do. Sometimes it may go against our values, morals, etc. to eat, drink and wear some of the things we wear. We give into these images of success as defined by companies, but who's to define what success is?

Also, these companies sell us what the standard of beauty is. Why are we letting companies define what beauty is? Beauty isn't a superficial outer beauty. We try so hard to fit into these images companies sell that are so unrealistic that we eventually lose our genuine nature and lose who we are. It's a harsh reality we need to face---not everyone's white, blonde, blue-eyed and has a skeleton for a body...not every guy is a bodybuilder. We place so much emphasis on outer beauty, that we often fail to see that inner beauty is someone's character, values, morals, etc. Look at our own marriage processes---there are girls who're turned down marriage for the sole reason of not being "white enough" or "she's not that skinny" There are guys who're turned down for the sole reason of being "too short" or "too dark", etc. etc. the list goes on and on.... We base beauty off of stupid superficial images sold by companies. Beauty as defined by companies is: white skin complexion, skeleton-esque body(or super jacked for guys), perfect hair, teeth, etc. Unfortunately, not all of us are any of the above---we're human for Godsake and we're different--ALHAMDULLILAH (that's the beauty of Allah's creation).I'm not saying that we at a personal level we can't have our own perception of beauty, that's totally fine, but when we let others define beauty to us that's where the problem lies. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. It's sad due to us buying into the lies of these companies that so many of us have unrealistic perceptions of what we want in a potential spouse and/or are disappointed by them.
I wonder if instead of white colonists and white slave traders if an African nation or any other nation/ethnicity had become the dominant superpower---our perception of beauty would have certainly been different today.

Now we come to the part of the Quran where it says:

And be not like those who forgot Allah (i.e. became disobedient to Allah) and He caused them to forget their ownselves. Those are the Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). (Surah 59:19)

From this we realize that we do forget Allah, we forget ourselves. How many of us have done this by buying into stuff that's in contradiction to Islam, Quran and Sunnah? So we may be thinking, “Psssssh, not me, I’m so much older, I’m not stupid and young….I don’t’ give into peer pressure.” I’m sorry…. but we do unfortunately. Let’s look at social situations we often find ourselves in. For example, when we’re amongst some friends who gossip, backbite, etc. we fall into the same trap without knowing it or being aware of it. When a friend says a inappropriate joke do we find ourselves laughing or finding it acceptable or do we say “No, I don’t think that’s appropriate.” Seriously, some brothers got to grow up---their humor is middle-school-esque humor that isn’t funny anymore, we’re in college, we’re older and hopefully more mature than middle school humor. Some sisters too…..

How many times do we let things slide and just let it be when it really shouldn’t be condoned or acceptable? I speak to myself first, because I’m responsible for this just as anyone is. The Prophet SAW never used to use bad language or say dirty/inappropriate jokes and neither should we. I could go on about the evils, trouble and sins of the tongue, but that’s not the point of this reminder. What I’m trying to focus on is the fact that when we forget Allah, we forget ourselves. Again as mentioned earlier, it says in the Quran:

And be not like those who forgot Allah (i.e. became disobedient to Allah) and He caused them to forget their ownselves. Those are the Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). (Surah 59:19)

And as we give into peer pressure and those around us we forget not only Allah, His commands and the Prophet SAW’s commands. We become so consumed by what others want us to be and try so hard to please people that we forget Allah and ultimately become something we’re not. We change our names, dress differently; bend our morals, ethics and values to please our friends, families, colleagues. We even dumb down our Islamic identity to fit in and climb up the corporate ladder and/or achieve our career goals. Are we so concerned about fitting in and not feeling like an outcast that we'll temporarily put aside our beliefs, morals and values to fit in? Is it really THAT important to please others? That is what it means when we "forget ourselves"---when you change yourself for others so much that you eventually forget who you were in the first place.

Look at some people when their non-Muslim friends ask them “Aren’t you Muslim aren’t you meant to not drink? Aren't you not met to do.....” It sort of hits you then when we realize just how far we’ve forgotten our identity and ourselves. And the most dangerous losses of identity can happen with the people closest to us, who we trust and are our friends and family. In a hadith the Prophet SAW said:

"A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look at whom you befriend."
(Abu Dawud)

The translation is deceiving, but “deen” is often translated into faith, yet it means “way of life” in this context. So if we find ourselves hanging out with friends who cuss or say inappropriate jokes it’s a real test of our character and imaan to make that decision to join in and laugh along or put your foot down and remind them of Allah and make sure that it’s not acceptable for that language to be used in front of you. To illustrate the point further, the Prophet SAW said:

"The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith's bellows. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith's bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him."(Bukhari and Muslim)

So, if you hang out with the wrong people you’ll be affected directly or indirectly by them and/or if you hang out with good people, they’ll help you become a better person, a better Muslim, and a better believer indirectly or directly. How many times have we been in a group of friends and we’ve wanted to pray, but that certain group of friends was doing something else or really didn’t place emphasis on prayer at all? We’ve all done it to a certain degree. We’ve put aside our morals, beliefs, practices to please others and let the group have fun rather than bother them. “Oh man what will they think of me reminding them to pray, they’ll think I’m no fun and super religious” or “Oh I don’t want to bother them, we’re having fun/watching the game/eating/chilling, etc.” But on the other hand if you hang out with friends who emphasize prayer, good behavior, good language, etc. they will eventually help you boost your imaan and help you become a better Muslim and believer.

Also, unfortunately when we hang around a certain group of people we’re associated with them and sometimes it becomes an issue of guilt-by-association with some people. And as was said before your family and friends may make you forget yourself and Allah. In the Quran it says:

"And (remember) the Day when the wrong-doer will bite his hands and say: Woe to me! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Woe to me! If only I had not taken so- and-so as a friend! He has led me astray from this Reminder (the Qur'an) after it had come to me. And Satan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need." [25:27-29]

We should be careful of the company we keep as they may bring our imaan down or may bring ourselves down to their spiritual level and ultimately lead us down the wrong road. So if we keep the company of those who remind us of Allah rather than those who make us forget Allah, we won’t forget ourselves inshallah.

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