Pride vs. Self-Esteem

>> Thursday, June 28, 2012

Assalamu'alaikum, sis how can i build my self-esteem? There is something related with my childhood and my parents. They are not so happy couple. Alhamdulillah everything is okay now. I was so shy and introverted person. I've started practice Islam alhamdulillah. Sometimes, though i can not make difference in self-esteem and pride. Please help me in this. -sometimes hopeless sis

Asalamu aliakaum, Sometimes Hopeless Sister,

Sis, you've brought up some great questions. What is the difference between pride and self-esteem? How does one increase one's self-esteem? 

So, let's start. Let's open our Qurans. Ready? 

"I am better than him. You created me from fire
  but You created him from clay."(Surah Sad: 76)

Who said that? 

Yup, you are right. That was Shaytaan who said that.

And that, my friend, is the clearest example of negative pride. Pride, as we can see then, is to imagine that you are better than others. It's when you look at others and think, "Cough. You pathetic loser. You are so beneath me. You can only dream of being someone as great and worthy as wonderful ME". While that sounds funny, the truth is pride is basically an inherent belief  that you are above others and that others are less than you. This was the mistake that Shaytaan made in that verse. He looked at himself and couldn't fathom why Allah would command him to bow down to Adam. 

The Quran also shows us another example of negative pride in the form of "Qarun" in the Quran. Just who was Qarun?

Indeed, Qarun was from the people of Moses, but he tyrannized them. And We gave him of treasures whose keys would burden a band of strong men; thereupon his people said to him, "Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant. (76) But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters." (77He said, "I was only given it because of knowledge I have." Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him of generations those who were greater than him in power and greater in accumulation [of wealth]? .....{78} Al Qassas

You see how Qarun attributed the blessings he had been given to himself? How he felt that he was the one who earned them and brought them for himself? How vain he was?

On the other hand, the Quran shows us a clear example of healthy self esteem.

And the king said, "Bring him to me; I will appoint him exclusively for myself." And when he spoke to him, he said, "Indeed, you are today established [in position] and trusted." (54) [Yusuf] said, "Appoint me over the storehouses of the land. Indeed, I will be a knowing guardian." (55) [Surat Yusuf]

Yusuf goes on later to say: My Lord, You have given me [something] of sovereignty and taught me of the interpretation of dreams. Creator of the heavens and earth, You are my protector in this world and in the Hereafter. Cause me to die a Muslim and join me with the righteous." (101)

As we can see from these two verses, Yusuf alyhee wa salam asked the King to give him the position basically of Treasury of State. Although that's a high position, Yusuf didn't ask for it because he wanted to show off. He asked for the position because he knew he had been blessed by Allah with certain capabilities and he wanted to use those abilities as best as he could. "He wanted to dispense the harvest in the wisest, best and most beneficial way []". The second verse clearly displays that Yusuf recognized that what he had came from Allah and that it was Allah who had blessed him with certain talents. That's where he was very different from Qarun.

Look also how he asks Allah to let him join with the righteous. A person with good self esteem doesn't feel good about himself by putting others down. Yusuf alyhee as salam didn't look at others and think that he was better than them. He didn't say, "I'm the prophet. You people are beneath me." He asked to be of the good people. A person with good self-esteem knows that he is a special person, yet he/she is still humble. 

Okay, so where are we going with this?

Healthy self esteem is when you realize that you were created by Allah perfectly and that He fashioned you. You realize that you are someone valuable and worthy, just like all of your fellow human beings. You don't put yourself down and you don't put others down, either.

 Good self esteem is when you can recognize the gifts and opportunities Allah gave you and be grateful for them and ask Allah to keep blessing you.

Pride, on the other hand, is when you look down on others and think that you are the best. It's when you're praying and thinking 'You losers, you. I'm the best. Look at how amazing I pray. I am so going to jannah. Wish there were more people like me."  

So how can we nurture good self esteem? 

Hun, every one of us has some it the way you sing (nasheeds :P), how quick you are with numbers, how well you put colors together, how well you are at cooking/poetry/ painting....even your beautiful smile :) Every one of us has something special about us. 

In an earlier post, we gave some of the following ideas:

*  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. 

* Don't listen to rude and insulting words. 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!

* 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? 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.

Here are some other interesting ideas and tips:

Sisters, share your tips, too :)


Safety, First?

>> Thursday, June 7, 2012

I have something that is REALLY bothering me and this something is REALLY serious.
Hijab. I am in love with hijab. I adore hijab. I think hijab is beautiful. I firmly believe that my Lord has commanded me to wear hijab.
I WANT hijab.
But here's the problem...I've been quiet about this for the most part on the web, but I don't wear hijab yet. And it kills me. Every. Single. Time. I. Leave. The. House. I know what I am doing is  terribly wrong (please throw in a dua for me). Let me explain...
I live in a tiny tiny town with my Mom and Dad. Muslims are slim to nill. There were a couple, but my parents had some rough experiences with the Muslim community in the past and so we kind of broke away from it. I'm pretty sure I am the only Muslim female student on my campus...I know there's brothers, but I don't know them personally.
My parents are very Allah-conscious and have always raised me to be the same. They encourage me to pray, fast, and be a good Muslim and the three of us are trying the best we can despite the difficulties of our situation (and Allah knows best). But there is one thing I cannot seem to make them budge on and that is hijab. They are not against it by any means and in fact, my Mom wants to start wearing it herself as well. But because of our situation, they are extremely worried about our safety and they will not allow me to wear hijab yet. InshaAllah we are planning on migrating to my Mom's country (Malaysia) once I finish my undergrad studies, but that is another 3 or more years and a long time to go without wearing hijab.
I know that hijab is obligatory upon us and I don't feel comfortable that my mom and I are not observing it. I am afraid of the sins we are accumulating every time we leave our house. My parents have good intentions and they want to protect me, but I know that Allah would protect us if we wore the hijab. I have tried so many times to explain to them its importance and they understand it and believe in it. But they just keep saying that we can't do it right now and I don't know how to change their minds.
 I thought about going behind my parent's back and wearing it, but what if they found out? Do they have the power to stop me from wearing it? It is wrong to obey them in this? Should I just wear it? Can they stop me? I don't know what to do anymore dearest auntie. I am single and after Allah my parents are all I have in this place as my family lives so far away. I do not want to disobey them and I know they are just trying to keep me safe with all of the Muslim backlash and with me being a young woman, but it is almost unbearable to live with the knowledge that I am disobeying my Creator. It's a mess, but Alhamdullilah, I look at our brothers and sisters who are suffering and indeed it could always be worse.
But I really need your help. I don't know how to change my parent's minds as they seem to be firm upon their decision. They know that hijab is mandatory and I have read to them from igotitcovered, etc., but nothing changes. I have faith that Allah will help us and I thank Him for guiding me to Dear Little Auntie. It feels so good to just let all of this out.
Any advice you may have will be much appreciated. May Allah grant you the best of this world and the Jannatul Firdous in the next and may He bless you, guide you, forgive you, and be with you always.

wa'alykum as salam wa rahmatullah wa barkatoo,

awww, sister, your email really touched me. I see a daughter torn between wanting to obey her parents and wanting to fulfill her Lord's commands.I see a Muslim girl, although alone in her university, fully aware that she is not alone and that Allah is with her. 

So..what to do?

First of all, from an Islamic point of view, it is entirely okay to wear the hijab behind your parent's back. 
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no obedience if it involves disobedience towards Allaah; obedience is only in that which is right and proper.” Narrated by (al-Bukhaari (7257) and Muslim (1840).  

Let's take an analogy. Imagine your parents were against praying salah.or against reading Quran. Would you obey them? You would probably try and find ways to pray/ read behind their back (just like a convert does).

Does that mean that I am advising you to do it behind their back? Well, I still think you could try talking to them about it again.
This time, don't try to convince them that the hijab is mandatory. They already believe that and they firmly believe that you will eventually do it. What you need to talk to them about is their primary concern: your safety. That should be your focal point.

1. Ask them for a trial period: ask them to try wearing it for one day or two days. Tell them that if you feel that your safety was jeopardized, you won't bring up the matter again...but if nothing happens, could you at least be given the chance to experience wearing it?

2. Tell them the different safety measures that you will be taking: 
a) Agree that you will not go out alone while wearing the scarf
b) Remind them that you will always have your cell phone with you (ready to call if anyone tries to do something
c) Buy things like pepper spray and promise to carry them with you (and other safety products:
d) Ask about taking a self defense course
e) Talk to the security department in your university before wearing the hijab and ask for their protection

3. Research what the violence is like in your city. Have there ever been any recorded crimes against hijab? What actions were taken? If there weren't any problems, why live in fear? 

4. Show them success stories of hijab :) Recently, a young Muslim girl, a graduate of CU Boulder, was photographed with Barack Obama. She was an outspoken member in her university and was known for her commitment to excellence. She was also just chosen to represent the United States of America in a UN meeting this August. All this,while wearing hijab.  

5. Go out and do it. After wearing it for 2 or 3 weeks or even a month, talk to them about your experience with it.

Finally, although I know that you are planning to emigrate to a Muslim country, I thought these verses were a powerful reminder:  

Indeed, those whom the angels take [in death] while wronging themselves - [the angels] will say, "In what [condition] were you?" They will say, "We were oppressed in the land." The angels will say, "Was not the earth of Allah spacious [enough] for you to emigrate therein?" For those, their refuge is Hell - and evil it is as a destination. (97)Except for the oppressed among men, women and children who cannot devise a plan nor are they directed to a way - (98) For those it is expected that Allah will pardon them, and Allah is ever Pardoning and Forgiving. (99) [Surat al Nisa]

When a person is truly oppressed, then they can claim oppression as their excuse not to do what Allah has commanded.
But that is why it is important that you exhaust every method possible before thinking that you can't do it/ you're stuck in a non-Muslim land/etc.

Well, sister, I pray that things are easier for you. May Allah soften your parents' hearts and let the hijab be easy for you.

P.S. Don't forget to start your days with adkhar, too :)
P.S.S. Please note that although I mentioned that young woman who was photographed with Obama, I do not approve of shaking the hands of men.



How can i make Jannah seem more real and attainable to me?- This is my main question since i can only imagine Jannah but i cant make myself focus on it and i dont know why!I cant seem to figure out a way to make Jannah a real goal for myself since it seems so AMAZING but nearly impossible,..I dont know how to make myself see it as real ...I know this is a silly question but I need help with my imaan.

Dear Sis,

That’s not a silly question at all. The truth is that most of us suffer from the very same problem; as much as we claim we believe in jannah, the Hereafter seems very distant.
In fact, as you said, all too often, it seems almost like an impossible dream…beautiful, amazing..but not exactly real.

So, then, how can we turn it into something concrete in our minds?

One idea is to go scuba diving.

Lol. Seriously, though, one thing that has always stumped me is the fact that so many wonders lie under the sea. Caves, coral, diverse creatures, colors of every kind…. These things are so close to us, yet at the same time…it’s a whole other world out there.

Reflecting on the fact (that such an incredible world already exists right underneath us/ next to us), should help us realize that jannah is also very much real. [We simply don’t see it, right now :D}

Really, think about it.

And think about all the other amazing natural scenes around us? Just look at the pictures! Subhan Allah, there are so many stunning places-waterfalls, islands, forests, mountains, etc that are absolutely breathtaking.  Try going out and watching the sunrise or sunset at a beach…

When we reflect on these scenes, we realize that if such beauty could exist here on earth, who’s to say that there isn’t something more beautiful out there? If all this can exist in a place where we sin and go against Allah’s commands, what about a place where there are no sins? 

SubhanAllah, every year, by way of the seasons, Allah shows us His ability to take away life and bring it back something even more beautiful. Think about how the trees look in winter and how they blossom in spring. In the very same way, we are going to leave this earth...and blossom in paradise, inshaAllah.

On the other hand, sometimes, it’s not a matter of not believing it exists, but of overwhelming ourselves with thoughts like “How could I deserve that?”

To make it a real goal, we have to first, stop visualizing it as a place for “perfect people”. It is a “perfect place”, created by the Most Perfect (Allah) for His slaves of this dunya who turn to Him, despite their imperfections. Allah says:

And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous (133) ……………… And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins - and who can forgive sins except Allah? - and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know. (135) Those - their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers. (136) [Surat Al Imran]

Notice how Allah says that these servants sometimes do wrong themselves, but that they do not persist in their wrong doing and turn back to Allah.

It’s not a matter than of being perfect, but of constantly doing tawbah and returning back to Allah.

In fact, in order for us to think of the possibility of even entering jannah, we have to put our faith, hope and trust in Allah’s Mercy. We should of course do actions to help us gain His Mercy, but we should never make the mistake of thinking that we could “earn” paradise by our deeds alone.

Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 471:Narrated 'Aisha:Allah's Apostle said, "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah's is the most regular and constant even though it were little."
Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 470:Narrated Abu Huraira:Allah's Apostle said, "The deeds of anyone of you will not save you." They said, "Even you (will not be saved by your deeds), O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "No, even I (will not be saved) unless and until Allah bestows His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise)."

You see? You don't need to overwhelm yourself. Instead,  like any goal we make, we need to break it down into small, identifiable tasks that we can do. We need to open the Quran and make a checklist of the actions that will bring us closer to this goal:

Certainly will the believers have succeeded: (1) They who are during their prayer humbly submissive (2)And they who turn away from ill speech (3) And they who are observant of zakah (4) And they who guard their private parts (5) Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed - (6) But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors - (7) And they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive (8) And they who carefully maintain their prayers - (9) Those are the inheritors (10) Who will inherit al-Firdaus. They will abide therein eternally. (Surat Al Mu’minoon)
Why not make a chart with these things listed? Put the chart up in your room and check each day what you’ve done to bring you closer.

And keep reading more of the Quran and seeing what other things that you should do. Make these actions goals that you want to accomplish. Measure your progress towards these goals and give yourself some rewards (or punishments :P) to help you more.

Try reading our articles on Consistency and Imaan, too.

And finally, before I press publish, I just want to say one last thing: imagine that your friend told you about an amazing place which had incredible things..and that all you had to do to get there was X and Y and Z, for example. Wouldn’t you believe her when she told you that the place existed? And wouldn’t you try to do those very things to get that “ticket”? It’s the same thing here.  

 May Allah make us like the Companion who threw the dates on the ground and said ‘Bekhin, bekhin” because he felt he could smell the jannah. 

With love,


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