Psychopaths In Jannah? Or, Guilt & The Power of Intention

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Guilt is a gift from Allah, warning you that what you are doing is violating your soul” -states a popular Nouman Ali Khan quote.
NAK also said, “Regret is a form of punishment itself,” which fits in nicely (and certainly applies greatly to me. Regret sucks).

Then there’s a quote that often floats around sites like Instagram:  “The guilt you feel after committing a sin is also a mercy from Allah. Some hearts have been hardened so much that sins mean nothing to them.”

Basically, natural amounts of guilt after you did something wrong is a good thing.
It means you’re a normal human. A human who feels regret.

A human who wants to be good. 

However, typically after the “I feel bad” part, no one stops and looks at the actual reasons WHY someone may feel bad. WHY exactly they are guilty.

Does merely feeling guilty mean your heart is in the right place?

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The reward of deeds depend upon intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he intended” (Bukhari) is a commonly known ahadith that is very important Islamically. It defines the ultimate justice system– where if the good you do in this life doesn’t come back to you in the dunya, you don’t need to worry, because it certainly will in the akhira, and same for bad deeds. “And whoever does a speck of good [in life], will see it [on the Day of Judgement]. And whoever does a speck of evil, will see it.” [Qur’an 100:7-8]

While this may be similar to, someone intended to do a good deed but for whatever reason was unable to follow through and will still “get credit” for it, this quote is also often referenced to encourage Muslims to be very critical of themselves and their own intentions. Are you leading that event because you want to share knowledge, or because you want the praise? Are you helping someone because you want them to thank you, or because you genuinely wanted to help them? 

Intentions are important, and while merely having good intentions doesn’t necessarily mean everything you DO will be good, this philosophy encourages people to practice self-awareness; look critically at themselves and determine their real intentions.

Which brings us back to guilt.

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Say you hurt your friend’s feelings.

Most people would feel guilty after they hurt their friend’s feelings.

But for what reason are you feeling guilty?

The purest reason would be “I feel guilty because now my friend is hurt, and my friend does not deserve to feel hurt” but this is not the only option.

In Gone with the Wind (which I still haven’t finished watching….aehhhh) There’s a quote: “You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail” 

This sums up quiteeeee a few people. Other options for reasons why someone may experience a type of guilt is:

-They feel guilty because they don’t want the person to view them as a bad person
-They feel guilty because they don’t want their actions to hurt their reputation
-They feel guilty not because of how they affected the person, but because what they did makes them feel like a bad person 
-They feel guilty because they dislike that they got caught
-They feel guilty because they don’t feel guilty for what they did (which makes them feel like a bad person)
-They feel guilty because they think what they did makes them a bad Muslim/not good enough in whatever role they are in

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Everything but the “purest” reason for guilt is technically selfish to varying extents.
Typically after any guilt, though, one will wish to apologize and repent. They miiiiight also feel so guilty that they instead run from addressing something, which certainly isn’t good, but that isn’t the point of this blog post.

The point is to observe in this case, if your intentions behind feeling guilty change anything. Feeling guilt at all means that you, on some level, want to be a good person, but what if you don’t feel guilty for the act itself, at all?

Let’s pause for a second and think about psychopaths/sociopaths (technically the same thing, although from a criminology perspective one is ‘organized’ and one is ‘disorganized’). Those who do not feel empathy or guilt. I read a book once about a sociopath who was a Mormon, and she was religious despite the fact that she never felt guilty for anything that she did; never felt empathy with those who she hurt in life or who were hurt by others.

If a psychopath, who really cannot have “good intentions” because they can’t experience empathy and are thus inherently selfish, be good people? Are there psychopaths in Jannah? I had a conversation about this with some friends a while back, and we came to the conclusion that yes, of course there can be. A psychopath is born that way (unlike those with anti-social personality disorder- who are often misidentified as psychopaths- and narcissistic personality disorder- which can lessen empathy but not entirely erase it- which are both acquired in life) so “playing nice” is the best they can do. A psychopath can still be a “good Muslim” even if they don’t feel things genuinely as they go through life; they don’t need to become a serial killer. They don’t fit the textbook definition of a “good person” on a core level, but they aren’t doing anything bad, either, if they are living the right way. 

“Those who refrain from committing wrong actions out of their love for Allah are of the highest status in His sight” (Ibn Qayyim) so while psychopaths cannot “love” in the empath’s version of the word, they can still follow Islam and outwardly be on the right path even if their fitnahs and intentions are very different than others.’

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So then what’s the point of intentions? You can still be an outwardly good person for all the wrong reasons. You may not even be being fake– you may genuinely want to be good– but only for the sake of your own ego and not because you think others’ deserve good treatment; not for the sake of Allah SWT. You may be so concerned about wanting to be a good person that you miss out on having the intentions that an inwardly “good person” would genuinely have, and so while you may apologize and make up for doing the wrong thing, your reasons are in order to make you feel good about yourself, not because you truly feel bad for the person you have wronged. But does it matter? Does it matter as long as outwardly, you are doing the right thing?

My opinion is as follows:

There is a personal benefit and a societal benefit to being a good person by actions or intentions. 

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From a societal perspective, your intentions don’t necessarily matter. The reason why you feel guilty doesn’t matter. As long as you are trying to be a good person and succeeding in behaving correctly, you are not negatively affecting those around you. You’re a functional part of society. You aren’t making Muslims look bad, if you are a Muslim. You aren’t causing trouble, no matter why exactly you are not causing trouble.

From a personal perspective, this isn’t enough. You won’t be able to feel truly good about yourself, or have good interpersonal relationships, if you don’t have pure intentions. If your guilt is a selfish guilt.
(So ironically, being selfless is the most helpful for yourself in life). Additionally, people can often tell when you’re being selfish, and they don’t like it. A pure-hearted person will light up a room and you’ll want to be just like them, versus a person who hasn’t technically done anything wrong, but you simply get “bad vibes” from being around them. A pure-hearted person makes others feel loved, while an inwardly selfish person makes others feel used even if they go through all the motions externally.

If you do something that brings you guilt, think about why you feel bad. Look into the deepest corners of your inner self. Do you feel bad for what you did to them, or feel bad for yourself, thinking this makes you a bad person?
If your reasoning for guilt isn’t selfless, try and empathize with the person. Put yourself in their place– and not just what YOU would do if you were IN their place, but imagine that you are viewing it the way that THEY are viewing it, and then try to feel for them.
But also remember that guilt is a good thing. So even if you feel guilty for yourself, it does mean that you indeed want to be a good person. Don’t plague yourself with guilt to the point that you can never overcome your struggles. Practice not self-love, but self-compassion– advise yourself like you would advise someone who you care about.

Maneuvering through life with pure intentions will give you a much more fulfilling experience than a good-playing psychopath, even if you both make it to Jannah, and will bring true good to the lives of those around you as well.

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How to Be Smarter Than Everyone

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Sometimes I hit random bursts of creativity and I suddenly develop a random devotion to creating an entire project. When I was about 13, I hit one of those bursts and decided to start a website called How To Be Smarter Than Everyone. It was going to be a knowledge database, full of psychology and worldly knowledge.
Unfortunately, this website could not be finished… because no one can actually make one website that can teach you how to be smarter than everyone, especially not a random 13-year-old who had no idea where to begin compiling anything.

However, now this random 22-year-old is going to try and pull it off in one little blog post.

1. RECOGNIZE THAT YOU ARE NOT SMARTER THAN EVERYONE 
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I have this one Facebook friend who is quite possibly (trying not to judge trying not to judge trying not to judge) the dumbest woman I have ever met. Her prime error?
She thinks she’s smarter than everyone. She’s constantly sharing Facebook posts about how lonely it is to be so intelligent, so knowledgeable, to know what’s up (alternating with frame-worthy idiotic and straight up incorrect statements about everything under the sun). Of course, she spends so much time thinking that she’s always right, she doesn’t have any time to realize when she’s NOT right. I think everyone knows someone like this– and hopefully that person is not you.
To recognize that there are people who are smarter than you, or, in fact, simply people who know more than you do, will allow you to open your mind and thus have a chance to be ACTUALLY intelligent. Just when you think you’re done being naive about things will be just when you realize you’re naive about something else– and that is a good thing. This is how you learn. 

2. HOWEVER, BE SELF-AWARE ENOUGH TO RECOGNIZE YOUR INTELLIGENCE 
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At the same time, while you should recognize that you have so much more to learn (as do we all) be self-aware enough to recognize your own mental capabilities. I know some people who are absolutely brilliant and yet don’t entirely realize it because they’re too busy putting themselves down or comparing themselves to others. Also, you can be an incredibly intelligent person who just isn’t very book-smart, or vice-versa. Take a look at yourself and know where you are at. There are likely many people who you are already smarter than. Only when you truly know how intelligent you are do you know where you need to improve.

3. SEEK KNOWLEDGE 
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My first martial arts instructor told me that smart people read everything that they get their hands on. This is typically true, although I know some people who prefer to gather knowledge through other means than just through books. But the fact remains that intelligent people seek knowledge, whether it be through books, videos, podcasts, or wise people that they may know. Once you get started, you’ll get hooked on it. And seek all kinds of knowledge– plus remember, as Muslims, you are obligated to. Learn about your religion. Learn about your history. Learn about how humans work, what makes them tick. Practical knowledge that will help you maneuver through life, or lesson-worthy knowledge that can help you understand life.

4. BE A GOOD LISTENER 
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Oftentimes, people who don’t listen to others miss out on almost everything. By being a good listener, you can learn more about people, especially– and since you live in a world full of people, and you ARE a human, then learning about humans is extremely vital. Additionally, perks of being a good listener include being a likable person, and if you are likable you will have more opportunities to learn. To get started, there’s this cool book called Listen Like A Dog by Jeff Lazarus that I recommend.

5. BE OBJECTIVE AND RATIONAL 
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For goodness’ sake, please try to be objective and rational. There are plenty of people who have a lot of book-smart knowledge, but only from one perspective, and this will be a perspective that they blend with their own opinions and preach as truth. Especially when it comes to Islam, you’ll learn that not everything is black and white. Learn all the opinions about as much as you can in life, and then be objective and rational both when coming to conclusions and when sharing information with others. Evaluate sources. Use your brain and do not just blindly trust others. In life, don’t always just side with your friends or the people that you know when you don’t know the full story. There are plenty of people who are technically smart, but are not objective OR rational, and no one who IS objective or rational wants to be around such people.

6. TEACH OTHERS
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Back to my first martial arts instructor– he often would have students teach lower ranks their stuff, as opposed to having a black belt teach them. Why? Because teaching others is an excellent way to learn. In life, it’s a little different, because we don’t have ranks to mark how much we know about the world– but if you learned something cool, try to share that knowledge. You can learn through teaching– whether it be learning different opinions, learning more about the subject, or simply learning how to effectively teach.

7. HAVE FRIENDS WHO ARE SMARTER THAN EVERYONE
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If you’re the smartest one in your friend group, you have a problem. Hey, you should at least be tied for smartest with a few other of your friends! Keep good company– not only people who are good people, but people who are intelligent, too. It’s awesome when you find that person who thinks like you do, but it’s also excellent when you find someone who doesn’t think like you, but can bring different perspectives to the table. Different friends can activate different parts of who you are, or help you learn different things. I would go crazy if I didn’t have people to have intellectual conversations with! If you don’t have anyone PLEASE find someone.

At the end of the day, the best way to “Be smarter than everyone” is simply to be someone who values intelligence and loves learning. Learning about the world and everything in it, and beyond it, not just memorizing random facts. You can’t learn how to do this from some blog post, and some people never do. But if you actually clicked on this blog post, you are at least on the right track. Keep learning. 

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Can a Convert Truly “Belong?” Or, Islam and the Middle Path

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Back when I first started becoming interested in Islam, I asked to be invited to events, and as such, was invited. I didn’t know what to expect— I knew Muslims, but didn’t really know what they were like in a group setting. I have never been one to actively try to “fit in” to anything, and if Muslims were a group to “fit into,” I certainly wasn’t going to try (I never try, when I don’t know many people in a group– I usually hide into a corner until someone forces me to interact with people lol).

At the same time, I didn’t want to cross any lines that I didn’t know existed, and I certainly wanted to understand as much as possible about the environment surrounding the belief system that I was curious about.

In short, I wanted to know– was there are a particular way to BE Muslim? 

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And, a sub-question that I myself did not ask, but others HAVE asked– can a convert truly “belong?”

Islam is often portrayed as a cultural religion, and I once had someone ask me if my masjid was only for certain ethnic groups or races (answer: heck no. They were quite surprised). If this was the case, no convert could really be Muslim; no born-Muslim who wasn’t Arab or Desi (in these parts, as that’s the majority in my area) could be a “real Muslim.”

This could not be further from the truth.

When Islam as we know it was first brought to the world, the Quran being revealed and Muhammad (SAW) a Prophet, enemies were confused as to what brought these ‘Muslims’ together. In a time of tribal ways, it was only your tribe that could bring about group loyalty; your blood and class-level.
But the Muslims were not bound by blood or tribe or race or class.
To the people of the time, therefore, it appeared as if there was nothing TO bind them. But of course, there was- Islam, a way of life that goes far beyond race, class, or origin.

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And also note that at the time… every single Muslim was a convert.
The original Muslims, the original people who represented Islam: they were all converts, they all CHOSE Islam as their religion for one reason or another, and soon came to feel it in their souls.

And today, while some people are born into Islam and other people find Islam, each individual hits a turning point and chooses to accept, at some point in their lives (also, fun fact, Islamically one is not allowed to force their children to be Muslim).

Islam is not a culture to fit into– it is a system, a way of life, a lifestyle.
It is guidance and knowledge. Above human things like tribalism.
Aside from the basics, there is no one way to be Muslim. As in, a person is still their own, individual person, with their own life and backstory– and they are also Muslim. Each Muslim is different, while united by belief.

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So can a convert fit in? OF COURSE a convert can fit in. Islam is a religion of converts. And while everyone has their own journey, oftentimes converts are “more Muslim” (if that is a thing) than born-Muslims because the journey of seeking knowledge starts from their beginning, and they have no ingrained culture vs. religion to try and differentiate from Islam, aside from what they learn about along the way.

So if I am at a party with all desi people, for example– will I fit in? Nope, I’m not desi, so of course not! Desi culture is not my culture, and is separate from Islam (as is any culture that often overlaps with a large amount of Muslims).
But in a room of all Muslims, no matter what their background– any Muslim “fits in.” (Certain people may be more likely, culturally, to follow a certain school of thought, but Islam itself is separate from culture based on background).
If there is something that seems to be about Islam that doesn’t make sense, chances are it is a cultural thing, not a Muslim thing.

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But what about Islam itself? 
Can a convert really embrace Islam? How exactly does it work, integrating yourself into a religion?

The more that I learn, the “easier” I realize that Islam is. It is not “hard” to be Muslim at all– Islam is meant to make one’s life easier.

The more I learn, the more that I realize that Islam is NOT a strict religion— it is, in fact, the middle path.
In Yasir Qadhi’s podcast lectures, he often reiterates that Islam is the middle path— it isn’t lawless, but it also isn’t extremely strict. It also isn’t Judaism but also isn’t Christianity.
Islam is very fluid— it is meant to adapt to situations, to the environment and the time and the person. It simply would not be practical otherwise.
From the start, Islam was not only a belief system, but also a political entity. A political entity could not have been so tremendously successful if it were ridiculously rigid– but that’s a story for another post, perhaps, inshallah.

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A few months ago I attended a workshop, and Abdul Nasir Jangda explained that we have to be careful about that first result on Google– because what comes up on Google may not even be majority, or even straight up incorrect. Islam is full of nuances and specifics and context– there are rarely simple “this is this” answers to questions or “this-or-nothing” rules to follow.

In my notes from the seminar, I paraphrased (the context being discussing gender roles):

“Note that when it comes to Islamic opinions, the most popular opinion on the internet is not necessarily the strongest opinion. Also, just because the majority of people you know think something does not mean that it is true. Sometimes they are completely baseless opinions that are actually the majority opinion! So just because you’ve heard ‘ISLAM SAYS this is the woman’s job, this is the man’s job!!’ it is not only possibly inaccurate, it is likely COMPLETELY inaccurate. Sometimes you don’t even know these things until you can genuinely read the material yourself in the original language.  Just because 18 pages on the internet say the same thing DOES NOT mean that it is true or even a strong opinion at all… People keep mixing things that were assumed ‘best for a culture’ with things that are actually how it is in the Quran and based off the Seerah. In our society there is a lot of ‘strictness’ that has no basis in Islam.”

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I am not saying that Islam is in-line with liberal beliefs, but I am also not saying that Islam is in-line with conservative beliefs.
This is a long way of saying that in the end, not everything is black and white. In fact, most things are not black and white. For such a complex, vast universe that we live in, would we really be given a path too basic, too this-and-that to equip us for it?
Of course not.
I don’t know everything there is to know— not even close– about Islam. The more that I learn, the more that I realize I can learn– and oh, what an exciting thought that is. A wonderful, exhilarating, yet calming thought.

In short
-A convert does not need to belong to a certain “culture” because Islam is not about culture
-A convert does not need to follow some insane rules to be a Muslim, because Islam is not about rigidity

So yes, OF COURSE a convert can truly “belong.” In fact, it can be argued that in Islam, there is NOT something to “belong” to, merely something to accept. Islam is meant to be owned by the mortal for the sake of Allah for the sake of themselves (and so on in a never-ending loop).

There was a brief time where I didn’t want to be viewed as a convert, just a Muslim. Then I realized that, of course, those are one and the same, as is any Muslim regardless where they started. Heck yeah I’m a convert!! (I’m not a noob though).
Dear me, who first went to those events not knowing what to expect– Islam is so much more than you’ll think it is. It’s even better. 

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My First Eid-al-Fitr

‘Round these parts, there are 3 major Muslim holidays:

-Eid-al-Fitr
-Eid-al-Adha
-ICNA-MAS Convention

…Wait, what’s that? ICNA isn’t a holiday?? What the…???
Hold up. Let me go and take a moment.

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Alright I’m back. As I was saying, there are some major Muslim holidays, but at the end of June I experienced my first Eid-al-Fitr (last year I was on a plane) so as promised, I’m going to write about it.

There isn’t too much to say, but I can indeed say that it was pleasant.

The masjid was packed. So packed, that I know some volunteers who literally wound up praying in a closet. I managed to squeeze into the back row of the overflow area, but it was a bit difficult to concentrate since there were so many people.

I am thankful to have been invited over by friends and I think I did indeed get a glimpse of what the born-Muslims feel during Eid. I also quite enjoyed my Eid outfit; it was really fun to wear a sleek, new, flowing dress (girly moment alert) and a homemade headpiece. On top of that, I had also gotten invited to a nikkah later in the day that took place at a beautiful masjid that is always fun to visit.

One negative: getting used to NOT fasting. Getting back on track when it comes to actually drinking water is a struggle.

A good summary of my Eid is this message that I wrote the night-of:

“Alhamdulilah for good families who have converts ’round for Eid and kind friends who wish me Eid Mubarak. Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who helped make my first official Eid a good day by making me feel included, shooting me a text to wish me an Eid Mubarak and/or see how I was doing (especially), giving a gift, or even just exchanging a hug or a wave. As a convert I don’t really know what to do about holidays and these days can be tough, so you guys have no idea how much your kindness meant and how much a personal message brightened my day. Please continue your kindness with the next batch of converts and may you be rewarded”

It’s been quite a while, but I am still bummed that Ramadan is over. Fortunately, time flies, and inshallah it’ll be next Ramadan before we know it.

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“And We Created You In Pairs,” A Reminder That Isn’t What You Think It Is

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So there’s this girl I know who is always talking about wanting to be with someone. Like legit this happens–

Me: “Yeah I went to Spain once”
Her: “Omg I would toooooooootally marry a Spanish guy!!”

Nearby girl: “Yeah I’m Indian”
Her: “Omg you should tooooootally find me an Indian guy to marry!!”

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Quite ridiculously, we all know both men and women who are like this. Also quite ridiculously, these same people are always caught up on whether they will ever find someone who will accept what they have to offer, and are typically overly-worried about superficial things that they “need” to have in order to have someone “want them.”

The thing is, while superficial things do indeed play a part, on a core level you have to own what you have to offer. Here, we shall not focus on the things that you could work on when it comes to personality and self-presentation, but inherent characteristics that you already have.

So with straight people, there are things that only a man can offer for a woman and things that only a woman can offer a man.

Simple as that. Men and women were created in pairs, not as twins, which is in fact a good thing. They are different, which means that you as a person have unique attributes that the other of “your pair” will need.
“They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them” (2:187) is a beautiful description about men and women, as you know.

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If you as a woman simply owns that what you have to offer a man is something that they cannot get from anywhere else, and if you as a man simply owns that what you have to offer a woman is something that they cannot get from anywhere else, then you will not become desperate or needy.
You won’t be caught up on all this superficial stuff.
You won’t try ridiculously hard to “win” someone, because you know that you do not need to. You know that what you have to offer will be exactly what the right person needs.

Here is a quote about women: 
“The fact is that you are bringing something valuable to a man’s life – your warmth, your caring, your wit, your beauty, your interest, your presence. You are a woman. Wars have been fought over you, tomes have been written about you, monuments have been built to you” -Ali Binazir

And with different attributes, men are also bringing something valuable to a woman’s life. So for both men and women, once you can recognize that, you can stop obsessing. “We created you in pairs.”
If you truly feel that this is true, then you can walk through life knowing that you are a prize.

Additionally, do not just give this away for free. No one who is not committed to you should have all of the “perks” of knowing you. They have to earn it.

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So then, just focus on living your life. It is okay if you want to meet someone, and it is okay to be looking (I can’t relate, because I am certainly not) because yes, as annoying as it may be, there is a person of the opposite gender who has something to offer that you can’t get anywhere else. But don’t freak out over “looking” if that is indeed what you are doing. Since you know that you have a lot to offer, inherently, then make the rest of your life something that is worthy… for YOU, not another person. And if it is worthy for YOU, if you know you are content with your life and who you are, then someone else will think so, too.

So dear that girl I know, and every other person who is like that, own your power. Then go talk about something else because dear lord.

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What’s The Point of Eid?

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“Eid is really fun!”
“But what do you… do, on Eid?” I ask, as I have every time anyone has mentioned Eid -al-Fitr, both this year and last year.
Last year I was on a plane during Eid and therefore missed it.
“You just pray at the masjid and spend time with your family!”
“Besides Eid prayers and family is there… anything else?”
“No,” the person always says, “really just stuff with your family. You eat together, share gifts, sometimes invite family friends over. Yeah!”
*heart sinking* *internal sighing*

If you read my blog much, you may remember that I didn’t write anything about Eid-al-Adha. That’s because my Eid-al-Adha was kind of a bummer. I prayed and helped hand out cookies at the masjid, and nothing else happened. I felt empty afterwards.
When learning about it it had sounded “cooler” than Eid-al-Fitr to me, if that makes sense. But now I’m not so sure about this upcoming Eid.

I had enjoyed how unadulterated Eid seemed– it was all the best, pure parts of Christmas without the pressure and commercialism and over-the-topness, and I liked that. I wanted to learn about how that felt, what the traditions were, get a feel for this low-key celebration.
However as a convert it seems that I can’t, really.
I have nothing to complain about– my family celebrates ALL the holidays and have some fun and wacky traditions. Definitely didn’t miss out on holidays growing up. Certainly had plenty of opportunities for food and gift-giving, and loads of great memories. I just wish I could look forward to Eid the way the born-Muslims do.
To me, Eid means Ramadan is ending, and who would want to celebrate that?
No, really, I don’t understand…? Like do I get the concept. But I don’t understand.
It would be nice to understand.
Eid has a spiritual meaning to me, because it’s a part of my religion, it’s of something I chose. Yet I am not sure if I’ll be able to have the same connection to the day as others do.
We shall see though.
I’m all set with my new Eid clothes, and I have a lovely family of people I’m friends with who invited me to spend Eid with them alhamdulilah, so provided Eid doesn’t fall during a time when I have other life obligations then perhaps I’ll get to experience it the way that they do.
Maybe I’ll have a eureka moment and “the point” of Eid will hit me.
In the meantime, I’m sad that the last 10 nights are almost over.
Best continue living in the moment.

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Can You Be Humble AND Confident? A Critical Look At Self-Worth

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“I kinda like arrogant people lol” I smirk.
My friends shake their heads.
“That’s not good,” one friend replied once, and quoted this Hadith from Sahih Muslim: “No one who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Someone said, ‘But a man loves to have beautiful clothes and shoes.’ The Prophet SAW said, ‘Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.‘”

Of course, I correct myself. I don’t like ACTUAL arrogant people. In fact, the closest I ever came to hating someone was this person who was one of the most baselessly arrogant people I’d ever met. My blood boils just thinking about him. In fact, if I (judgmentally) made a list of least-favorite people, everyone near the top would be an arrogant nitwit. 
No, I can’t stand arrogant people. No one can. I do, and we do, however, like confident people.

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Think about some of your favorite TV and movie protagonists. We like the confident ones. We like the quiet underdog who never gives up, the spicy woman who outdoes the men, the knowledgeable leader who knows their stuff. Sometimes the characters are blunt and even a bit of a jerk. Maybe they get called an a-hole. Maybe they call themselves an a-hole (of course, no matter how cocky they may come off, the characters always have a heart of gold). This is, of course, far better for movies than real-life, but why do we like these characters?
We like them because they are self-assured.
They all have their own kind of self-assurance, but they are self-assured. Confident. They all have some kind of sense of self-worth.

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Let’s take a look at the difference between confidence and arrogance before we bring humility into the picture.

con·fi·dence | the state of feeling certain about the truth of something; a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities; feeling or showing confidence in oneself; self-assured

ar·ro·gance | the quality of being arrogant; having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.

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If we use a Harry Potter analogy, arrogance is Draco Malfoy and confidence is Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Malfoy didn’t actually think he was that great, and he wasn’t that great. We know that he had issues, and so projected an exaggerated sense of importance to make himself feel better. Everyone knows a Malfoy- a person who isn’t really that great but acts like they are.
The person I almost-hated had issues, too, and thus acted like a jerk all the time. Could never be told he was wrong. Always put people down, even children. Always came up with excuses. Would spend his time boasting about how great he was and talking about how awful everyone else was. Inside, of course, he hated himself, but it was incredibly hard to feel bad for him when even the way he walked into a room oozed sickening, baseless arrogance. The majority of arrogant people you meet are Malfoys. Of course there are also people like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, who may have one thing going on (for Gaston, success and muscles) and then genuinely feel like they are better than everyone else and genuinely have an exaggerated sense of self-worth and therefore act awful to everyone else. These are the people who look down on others, like in the hadith.

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Then we’ve got the confident people; the Kingsley Shacklebolts of the world. He may not have been a huge character in the movies, but Kingsley was a confident dude. He never needed to tell people he was awesome– he just was. In Harry Potter, 0 power-hungry people remained in power positions. No one who sought power ever achieved it. Even Dumbledore wanted to avoid being Minister of Magic because he knew that he had an ego. Kingsley, who never sought power, winds up becoming Minister of Magic in the end. He earned it. He knew his worth and his quiet confidence earned him respect. Did Kingsley parade around saying that he was better than everyone else? He was certainly better than most of his friends. But he did not. Confident people don’t need to, nor do they have the desire to. They don’t need external factors to prove their worth; they just maintain self-assurance and maneuver through life as best they can.
We all know a Kingsley, too. Think about the people who you look up to. They all have at least some sense of confidence, that’s for sure. But, you might be thinking, people look up to me/a friend and I’m/they’re not all that confident. What’s up?

Now let’s check out the different types of confidence. 

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Confidence In Your Abilities- You know what you bring to the table. No more, no less. You are aware of what skills you have and to the extent that you have them, you are aware of how good/bad you are in certain situations, you are aware of your value based off of what you have to offer. Even though you own what you have, you still work to improve– and not for praise or to outdo other people– simply because you want to.

Knowledge Of Your Self-Worth– If you’ve ever stumbled upon a book or an article about the psychology of relationships, you’ll have learned that the most attractive people are the high-value man and the high-value woman. These people are high-value because they are aware of their self-worth, and live life in a confident manner because of it. This one is tricky to define, because if you consider yourself to have high-value then are you being arrogant? You actually are not. You are merely being confident.

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Truly high-value people don’t think “ayy I’m so much better than everyone else” they think, “I have great self-worth for exactly where I am at. I deserve to be able to improve. I deserve to go for what I want to go for in life. I deserve happiness.” High-value people put value on who they are as a person while simultaneously attempting to better themselves. Arrogant people do not ever attempt to better themselves– they exaggerate their self-worth, so instead of owning what they truly have, they boast about what they think/wish they had. People with knowledge of their self-worth are always attempting to improve, but not because they feel that, on a core level, they aren’t enough, or aren’t capable of improving.

External Confidence- This has to do with your self-presentation. You may be confident in your abilities and own your self-worth, but you may still be working on projecting that confidence to others. Sometime it’s just a matter of getting used to the environment, especially if you are shy. With external confidence, people will believe in you just from noticing how you act. It is very difficult to fake external confidence if you do not have internal confidence (the last 2) first.

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Now the tricky part… can you be humble and confident?

There are a couple of definitions of humility.

hu·mil·i·ty | The quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people: the quality or state of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

This may seem like it is in direct contrast with confidence. But take a closer look. Nowhere does it say that humble people do not know their worth. Arrogance and humility are opposites. But confidence? Confidence and humility go hand-in-hand. 

Many people take martial arts in order to build self-confidence. By the time these people progress in rank, the true martial artists have built that self-confidence, and therefore exemplify humility. Arrogant people exaggerate their worth, whereas confident people know exactly what it is– and in knowing this, they are humble. Arrogant people think they are better than everyone. Confident people do not think that they are exaggeratedly worse than others, not at all, but they are humble in their confidence. They don’t boast about it. Because they are confident, they are free to be humble. At worst, they may be a little jokingly cocky, but never in a way that puts other people down or makes the person they are talking to feel like a lesser person (this is what I ‘liked’ at the beginning of the article). People who are confident are a joy to be around because they are humble.

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True Muslims are both modest and humble, but also confident and high-value people.
Think about the Prophet SAW. He was a Prophet of God. People loved him to the point that they wanted to collect his sweat to gain barakah. People would realize that he was a true Prophet merely from speaking to him. He had that confidence. However, he was also the most humble man they’d ever meet. He always built his companions up, never put them down, no matter where they were at in life. He was a gentle and shy man. If you even know a little about the Seerah, can you imagine the Prophet parading around boastfully? He hated boastfulness. Couldn’t stand to see anyone walk with arrogance. And yet no one could say that he was not confident. His quiet confidence carried him to success, through God.

So, yes. You can know your self-worth and still be humble. In fact, it is knowing your self worth that ALLOWS you to be humble. You can CERTAINLY be both confident and humble. It is BEING confident that ALLOWS you to show humility. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Like Kingsley Shacklebolt, people will simply know.

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Arrogant people hype up what they do not have, whether genuinely or because they inwardly dislike themselves. Confident people are self-aware, know exactly what they have to offer and no more, and own it. They have the humility to know that they can still improve but the self-worth to know that they aren’t worthless even in their efforts to better themselves (and others) as human beings. Confident people know their worth, and are humble about it.

Are YOU confident? Know that confidence is not stagnant. You can be a confident person in one scenario and have no confidence in the next. You can be going through a rough patch and lose some confidence, which can trigger either arrogance or a depleted sense of worth. As humans, this struggle is a part of life, that balance between confidence and lacking of assuredness, of humility and arrogance. Additionally, you might have confidence in your abilities but a low sense of self-worth, or a high sense of self-worth but a low confidence in your own abilities. It varies and wavers.

This is where someone may look up to you even when you are feeling like you lack confidence– perhaps you have one aspect of confidence but not the other.

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If you are lacking confidence, think of how you might’ve viewed a friend or relative who was lacking confidence even though previously you’d thought of them as a role-model. Even in their lowest points, you can likely see their worth. So with yourself, the best I can suggest is turn on your self-awareness to 9000 and take a look at yourself, and find what you value. Then own it. Hone it, and own it.

As you own it, live your life. Life has a way of proving where you are at. If you’re struggling in a certain area, improve it until you can be confident about it. Never become jaded and over-exaggerate something, leading to arrogance, but be the high-value person that everyone likes so much.

This, however, is just my advice. I’m no expert, but I think that my theories are onto something.
But perhaps it is different for different people. Take a moment and think about what YOU think “the cure” for lack of confidence is, and the remedy for arrogance. If you ponder it enough, you might even find it. 

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