Why is it that we live to please the world and its people? The same people that judge, criticise and ridicule us? The very same people that are there to celebrate our good times but leave nothing more than a cloud of dust when things get tough?
You see, in recent times I’ve learned more than ever how much our people (and by ‘our people’ I mean Pakistanis) place emphasis on what others will think, and not what is actually right. Maybe I too was one of them, once upon a time. Living for the acceptance and approval of others; scared to put a foot wrong in their eyes, instead of putting my feet where was right. But life has taught me there is nothing to be gained in this constant search of approval from a world of which the majority wants to see you do ‘wrong’ so that they have a new source of gossip and a new thing to bitch about among their like-minded friends. If anything, life has taught me that the only approval I need to seek is that of the source from which we all come and to that which we will return: Allah (swt).
Things happen in life to test you. Yes, it is so cliché, but it is also true. Where you are lacking, Allah (swt) will provide to fill that gap. Where you are weak, He will provide to turn that particular weakness to strength. And when you are misguided, He will do what He will in His own way to bring you on the path back to Him. Trust me, I’ve been there, and every single day I experience more and more of these blessings that he bestows upon us to make us better people.
What we fail to see however, is that every little thing that happens in our lives IS a blessing. New lives come; this is a blessing. Yet older lives leave this world to continue on their journey, and leave us behind feeling pain, hurt and confusion, yet this too is a blessing. Friends betray us and family let us down – yet in all of this, Allah is teaching us and moulding us into the people we are meant to be. Happiness is good for us, yet similarly also is sadness and pain. Anything that brings you remembrance of your Lord can be nothing short of a blessing, so remember every moment that you are blessed.
Whether you do good or bad, the people will talk. It doesn’t matter. As long as you know where you came from, where you are and where you’re heading insha’Allah. How can living for the people be the right way? If you believe this, your pride and ego have consumed you and it’s a difficult journey overcoming this but it is one that is not impossible and has to be made.
Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an,
“Thus does Allah set a seal over the heart of every proud, haughty one.” (Surah Mo-min, Verse 35)
You only truly realise the essence of this phrase when people choose their pride and ego above and beyond their own; whether joined by friendly ties or blood ties. We need to come to realise that others opinions of us really do not matter, especially if we know we are seeking only to do what is right. As Pakistanis, our social respect and standing in the community means a hell of a lot; “what will so-and-so say?”, “what will so-and-so think?” and the like. But as Muslims, and people of God we really need to come to realise that in reality, these people will think and say things regardless of what we do.
Of course, I’m not saying live your life completely not giving a crap, but when it comes to doing what is right then go ahead and do it without regard to the thoughts of the people.
Taking the example of the best of mankind, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw). He came with a message which was completely alien to the people of the time, yet it was the right one. Even through all the abuse, the ridicule, the stones and rubbish that were thrown at him in the street and the curses that people hurled at him, he remained steadfast and continued on. He accepted that these people did not yet fully understand; what he was proposing was against everything they’d ever known. They gave him abuse, yet he sent them du’as. The perfect example of what we should strive to be.
Using our dear Prophets example, and moving on to more recent times, what we need to remember is that not one of us is or ever will be perfect. We all sin; yes, some more severely than others, but who are we to be the judge of that? We’re not God. We need to learn to accept each other’s flaws, each others sins and each other’s lives while of course striving to help each other become better people. We do not have the authority to sit here and say “Your sin is worse than mine” or “You’ll never be forgiven”, no. We are not the judges in life, there is only one Judge and we truly need to remember that. Our beautiful Prophet never judged, he never turned people away those that were in need of his help or advice. He accepted people for how they were, sins and all. He even went to the bedside of a dying woman to pray for her, although she had spent her days throwing rubbish at him in the street! What a remarkable, remarkable human being with pure light and love in his heart. Subhan’Allah.
I for one know that I am not perfect. I for one know that I sin, every single day. But I also know that the only entity I truly ever need to appease is Allah. He is the One from whom I seek approval; He is the One from whom I beg forgiveness and He is the only One who will always, always be there. Not the people, no – only Allah (swt).
So remember, even when the world is against you, even when your friends and family turn their backs on you, even when it feels like your whole world is about to come crashing down around you, you’re never alone: Allah (swt) is always, always with you.
“…Bear with patience whatever befalls you….” (31:17)
“Be not sad, surely Allaah is with us.” (9:40)
“Verily, with hardship there is relief.” (94:6)
Peace, love and blessings always,