>> Friday, May 13, 2011
Sisters, I need help. I'm 17 years old. I am constantly being called fat, ugly and stupid. I have no one to talk to. I feel so depressed, like I've lost the will to live. I'm sorry for taking up your time, but I don't know who else to tell. I can't afford a therapist and i just have no one to talk to.
I was so disheartened to see your letter and to read about what you’re going through! I know you’re not alone, though. Unfortunately, too many sisters have to go through the same thing. There are a lot of people out there (read- usually family members) who think that they are 'encouraging' you to be 'better' by 'insulting you'. They think that will help you ‘become the person they want you to be’. Sometimes, they are geuninely concerned about you but have a lousy way to show it. More often than not, these people haven’t been taught any other way/ didn’t read about how to be an effective parents/ etc. and have their own scars/issues …and unfortunately, they take it out on you.
You end up feeling like you’re not worthy, like a lesser human being.
And let me tell you right now, that’s NOT TRUE.
To each and every one of you sisters who has gone through this, I want to say that I am so proud of you. You are my sister in Islam and I love you. And even if this sounds corny, I’m going to say it anyway (because I bet you haven’t heard it enough): You are one in a million. No, wait, I take that back. You are one in more than 6 billion! You are special and beautiful.
Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala created YOU. You are beautiful- Allah shaped you.
He Who created you, formed you, proportioned you, and assembled you in whatever way He willed (Surat al-Infitar, 6-8)
It’s really important that you believe that.
The truth is having a positive self image and feeling confident makes you naturally beautiful and charismatic. When you think of yourself well, and you carry yourself with pride, your beauty will shine. The opposite is also true- the more that you put yourself down, that you listen to people who discourage you, the more that you begin to look that part. Unfortunately, the more that you look the part, the more that people stop seeing the real you and only see that side of you.
Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become" - Maxwell Maltz
What can help you make you feel good about yourself?
Think about how important you are in the sight of Allah. The Lord of the Universe- the Supreme Being- Allah, cares even if you feel the prick of a needle.
Remember, this: your blood is more sacred to Him than the Kaaba.
The prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam said "The blood of a Muslim is worth more than the Ka'aba and all its surroundings."
Secondly, remember the story of the companion Ibn Masoud.
Ibn Masoud was not distinguished because of his social status for he was a poor shepherd with no wealth, or because of his physical strength, for he was thin and frail. Yet he was dear and beloved by the Prophet, peace be upon him, who appreciated his sincere devotion and his eagerness for the knowledge of Islam. He once climbed a tree to get a twig for the Prophet, peace be upon him, to use as a miswak. When the Prophet's companions saw his thin legs, they laughed..
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "You laugh at ibn Masoud's legs! They are in the sight of Allah heavier in the Scale than the mountain of Uhud!" taken from here
What about the story of Julaybeeb? He was another companion of the Prophet. His name actually meant ‘small and incomplete’. Well, Julaybeeb’s lineage wasn’t known. He was poor and he was thought of as being unattractive. Nobody wanted to marry him. One day the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam had a man go to a family with the intention of asking their daughter to marry Julaybeeb. This was the mother’s reaction:
“To Julaybib! No, never to Julaybib! No, by the living Allah we shall not marry (her) to him.” she protested.
And yet, the young woman (whom the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam) wanted to marry Julaybeeb accepted the proposal. You know what?
Julaybeeb ended up being a martyr in Islam and the Prophet had this to say of him: “…This (man) is of me and I am of him.
You see? Originally people had mistakenly thought of Julaybeeb as being ‘unworthy’. They had no idea what his worth was in the sight of Allah. They had no idea that they were looking at someone Allah was proud of- a martyr!
One last hadith:
A man passed by the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam one day. He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam asked his companions, “What do you think of this man?’ They replied,‘He deserves to be married to whomsoever he proposes, to have his intercession accepted when he intercedes and to be listened to when he speaks.’ The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam remained silent. Then a poor Muslim man passed by and the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam asked the companions, “What do you think of this man?” They replied, ‘He deserves not to be married when he proposes, nor to have his intercession accepted when he intercedes nor to be listened to when he speaks.’ The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam then said, “This one is as much as the fill of the Earth better than the other” (Bukhaari).
In this hadith, people judged others and essentially belittled them. But look at what the Prophet (sallah Allah alayhee wa salaam) revealed- that these people were much more important, more honorable, more loved to Allah than others had realized.
You see what I’m saying? (Baba Ali style!)
The truth is Allah does not look at our bodies. He does not look at our last names. And He doesn’t care about how much money we have or what grade we are in/ if we're in the Advanced Math Class. Allah looks at our hearts.
Abu Huraira (Radi Allah Anhu) reported Allah's Messenger (sal-allahu-alleihi-wasallam) as saying: "Verily Allah does not look to your faces and yourwealth but He looks to your heart and to your deeds”.
Never forget that. Never forget that you are more than just a number, whether that number is how much you weight, what size you wear, your GPA, your credit in the bank, how many friends you have, etc as Hala Banani from Muslim Matters stated: A person’s self-worth is not based on some number – it’s not how much is in the bank account, IQ, size, GPA or salary. "
It’s also very important that you realize that you are not your history/ your mistakes/ your sins. Those were things that you did-but they are not you. We’re humans and we all make mistakes.
So then what are you?
You are a beautiful soul.
And that’s why I want you to write a list of things that you like about yourself. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s important that you recognize your good values, whether it’s how patient you are or how you help your little brother with his homework. You should be able to think up of at least 10 things that you like about yourself. Whenever you’re feeling a little down, just take out your list and remind yourself of how special you are. You can even talk to yourself in the mirror. Look at that reflection and tell her "You are beautiful. You're going places. You were made to go to jannah!"
If five people call you ugly, then you tell yourself five times that you are beautiful. Don't let others tell you what to think about yourself!
What else can help you improve your self image?
Part of feeling good about yourself comes from accomplishing things. Now, don’t get me wrong- these don’t have to be big things, even getting small things done can make you feel a lot better. So the next step is to try to write a few goals.
Remember, we can all work on some things. What is it about you that you wish you could improve? Maybe you get angry really quickly? Or you say what’s on your mind without thinking? Or maybe you’ve stopped taking care of yourself?
You know yourself best. Write down a few goals on a sheet of paper. I recommend writing it as if you’ve already accomplished it. For example,“I now clean my room without being told”. If you read your goals each day, you should feel motivated to really work on it.
Try to make one goal something about helping out your community….whether it’s helping to babysit a neighbor’s kids or planting a tree. When you see how valuable you are to your community, that should help your confidence grow.
At the same time, I think you need to talk to your family about how you feel. Your family might not realize how hurt you are. If you feel a little shy confronting your parents, why don’t you talk to an older sibling or to a close aunt/ uncle and ask them to let your parents know. You could always write a letter, too. Tell them that you’re open to positive criticism but that you feel like you’re being constantly put down. Ask them to help you improve by supporting you and recognizing what you do well.
To be honest, you still might not see a change in their attitude. If you don’t, always remember that the best person in the entire universe heard hurtful comments and unfair accusations by his own family. As Nouman Khan said, “Who could possibly have any reason to hate the Prophet (sallah Allah alayhee wa salaam)?” And yet, people called him possessed by devils or a person who practiced sorcery.
So anytime you hear a comment (and there isn’t any truth in it), then think of it as an opportunity to gain extra good deeds and to erase some sins. We can always do with more chances to increase our good credit, after all.
And! Remember, you always have someone to talk to. Allah subhanoo Wa' tala.
If My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me. Surat al-Baqara, 186)I leave you with this,
Their Lord gives them the good news of His mercy and good pleasure, and of Gardens in which they will enjoy everlasting delight, remaining in them timelessly, forever and ever. Truly, there is an immense reward with Allah. (Surat at-Tawba, 21-22)
I love you.