Self-Esteem and Islam – Part 3

Islam has the Solution

Islam Has the Solution

Since self-esteem requires doing the right thing, it takes courage to defy personal temptations and the social norms.  It is only when you have a positive self-esteem or self-regard that you can restrain your self from debasing or shameful conduct/actions/behaviors.

The Islamic concept of responsibility for our own actions and knowing that we will be held accountable for our beliefs and actions instills a sense of reality and control.  It teaches that if I want a good end I have to be responsible for myself… regardless of how life or others may treat me.  It helps eliminate the ‘blame and shame’ game that leads to conflicts and misery.

Sûrah al An’âm 6.164
Say: “Shall I seek for (my) Cherisher other than good, when He is the Cherisher of all things (that exist)? Every soul draws the meed of its acts on none but itself: no bearer of burdens can bear of burdens of another. Your goal in the end is towards God: He will tell you the truth of the things wherein ye disputed.”

The Islamic concept of life as a test and fate also helps you learn to accept life, as is, whatever the condition we might be in, since it is from Allah (swt) for a reason and a purpose.  Islam teaches us that life is meaningful and purposeful.  Everything that happens is for a reason and we are to accept it with patience, faith and a good attitude… with the belief that everything that Allah(swt) creates in our life is for a better outcome.  This is a powerful belief if we can internalize it since it gives one a sense of peace and confidence.  With this belief we don’t fall apart at any misfortune that may come in our path.

Islam explains individual differences as a means of getting to know each other, as created by Allah so we can appreciate His creativity and as a means of testing us.  Differences in religion, wealth, social status, intelligence, colour, gender, nationality, age, etc. are not to be used to belittle, ridicule, discriminate or abuse anyone.  These are meant as a test for our ability to be fair and just toward everyone.

Sûrah Al Hujurât 49:11
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.”

Finally, the concept of mutual responsibility toward the well being of everyone in the community and world is the most powerful test for us.  Justice is a theme that runs throughout the Qur’ân and we have been asked to be just and fair without discrimination… a person with a low self-esteem will be unable to do that.  So to meet this criterion we have to learn to overcome our own insecurities and weaknesses.

Islam teaches that the ultimate responsibility of mankind is toward God, and that we fulfill this through being just, fair and responsible toward His creation. It instills a belief of life being meaningful and purposeful, which instills a sense of positive self-worth and self-esteem.

By Amanda Adhami

Self-Esteem and Islam – Part 2

And the Qur'an says...

The principles of Islam nurture the development of positive self-esteem as it corrects our thoughts, feelings and actions, teaching us to elevate ourselves from the ‘lowest of low’ to developing a sense of discernment and inclining toward the most ‘ihsan’ (beautiful) way of being. Islam decreases the discrepancy between the ideal and the perceived self. The goal of tazkîyah (self-purification) is to make one be and do the right thing in the best of ways and to strive for excellence, with the belief that you are doing it for the pleasure of God.  It encourages you to realize your potential of becoming the representative of God, toward which aim mankind was created.  This belief is powerful enough to make you develop a positive self-esteem.

The Qur’ân tells us that mankind has been created with dignity, honor and with the potential ability of being the ‘highest of highs’:

Sûrah al Isrâ 17.70
“Now, indeed, We have conferred dignity/honor on the children of Adam.”

Sûrah at Tîn 95.4
We have indeed created man in the best of moulds.”

Though human beings can become “the lowest of the lowest,” the Qur’ân declares that they have been made “in the best of moulds”, having the ability to think, to have knowledge of right and wrong, to do good and to avoid evil.

The Qur’ân teaches us that the only criteria for measuring worth is righteousness and piety with the resulting sense of peace and contentment.

Sûrah al Hujurât 49. 13
“O Mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you”

According to Islam right belief and right action go hand in hand, one without the other doesn’t cut it.  It is only when action follows belief that you feel right.  There are more than 100 verses in the Qur’ân that associate right belief and good acts together.

Sûrah Maryam19.96
“On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (Allah) Most Gracious bestow love.

Sûrah al Ankabût 29.7
“Those who believe and work righteous deeds, – from them shall We blot out all evil (that may be) in them, and We shall reward them according to the best of their deeds.”

Sûrah Sâd 38.28
“Shall We treat those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, the same as those who do mischief on earth? Shall We treat those who guard against evil, the same as those who turn aside from the right?”

Sûrah Ghâfir 40.58
“Not equal are the blind and those who (clearly) see: Nor are (equal) those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and those who do evil. Little do ye learn by admonition!”

Sûrah al Bayyinah 98.7
“Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, – they are the best of creatures.”

From the Islamic perspective, right thoughts/beliefs followed by right/good actions makes one feel good, peaceful, content… ie: positive self-esteem.

(Now on to Part 3…)

By Amanda Adhami

Self-Esteem and Islam – Part 1

Who am I?

Self-esteem is a realistic respect for or favourable impression of oneself, or simply self respect.  Having a high self-esteem comes with great responsibility as a muslim trying to live up to Islamic morals and attain high Islamic characteristics and behaviours. 

Self-esteem is misunderstood as how one feels about him/herself based on their personal achievments, their beauty, their social status and the like, rather than basing it on how their thoughts and actions towards themselves and others are associated to making them feel good about themselves.

There is a difference between high self-esteem, arrogance and pride.

Arrogance is a negative trait in which one thinks highly of oneself, compares oneself with others and believes he is better than others.  Arrogance is a false sense of self-worth.  It is when you think you are better than others based on what societies standards, — ‘I am wealthy so I am better than you’ or smarter, taller, prettier, etc.  There is a discrepancy between who they are and who they perceive themselves to be.  A truly grounded or healthy person has no need to be arrogant.

Pride can be both negative and positive; negative pride is the same as arrogance. Positive pride, on the other hand implies a sense of responsibility toward everything that you aim at doing, that you try your best in whatever you does.  Taking pride in something is about trying to excel in what you do, to improve yourself, to make whatever you do better, to do your best; and to feel good when you have achieved that goal; in this sense it is similar to the concept of ihsân in Islâmic terms.

Self-esteem can be negative (low/unhealthy) or positive (high/healthy); at the positive end of the spectrum it is a sense of feeling at peace with yourself when you have done the right thing in the best possible manner; when you have lived up to your expectations and according to your high values.  There is no discrepancy between who you are or who you believe to be.

However, at the negative/low end of the spectrum it manifests itself in two ways… either as a sense of worthlessness or the flip side of it, as arrogance. 

High self-esteem is can be characterized by you being: tolerant, patient, respectfull, responsible, honest, seeking to improve whatever you do (ihsân), self-motivated, willing to take risks, loving and lovable, kind, generous, helpful to others, and takes responsibility and control of their lives. 

Low self-esteem can be characterized by behaviors that exhibit insecurity, victim mentality, weakness, lack of confidence and self-absorption; since worth is believed to be an external quality that comes to one if one possesses something, e.g. wealth, education, etc.  Low self-esteem is due to a discrepancy between the guiding self-ideal (how I would like to be) and the perceived self (how I am).  And it is to cover up the discrepancy that one acts arrogantly.

(There’s more to come in Part 2!)

By Amanda Adhami

Paralysis is Certain

Limiting Beliefs

I had a student a few years back who was deathly afraid of red pens.  Not exactly in the phobia sort of sense, but if you happened to touch his page with a red pen while you were pointing out a correction he would yell and cry.  He’d panic, and then stop everything he was doing and focus all of his attention on that dot.  He’d struggle to erase it or draw on top of it so no one would see it.  Life wouldn’t go on for him until the red was no longer visible.

Why?  Because he needed to be certain that he was doing the right thing.  He needed to know that his answers were correct, and red pen marks made him unsure.  And this child was only six years old.  If he remained that way as he grew, what would the rest of his life be like?

The story below is one I wrote a while back that you can share with your students.  Perhaps it will help some, like my red pen friend, to take a few risks and reach out beyond themselves to be, do and have more in life.  Perhaps you can help your children get past certainty-paralysis to really see, and explore, the possibilities life has to offer.

Rock Solid?  

Imagine this… You have passed back through the ages to the time of the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. You have traveled on your camel for days in search of the knowledge that this one man possesses, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

Upon arriving at your destination, you meet a generous family who is willing to open its doors to you and provide you with food and shelter for as long as you wish to remain in the city, alhamdu lillah. When you reach their home, you are directed as to where you can allow your camel to rest during your stay. You dismount, exhausted and famished from your long journey, and begin carefully gathering rocks from the ground around you. One by one, feeling them heavier and heavier as you collect them, you stack them on top of one another in a large square until they stand as tall as you. Finally, with your camel securely within his stone wall, you enter the family’s safe haven to gain some much desired food and water.


As strange as the ending of this story may sound, we often find ourselves doing, in essence, the very same thing in our lives. We want certainty to such a great extent that we are willing to do things that don’t even make sense in order to get it. Just as this person wanted the security of knowing that his camel would remain in the same place until his return, we want the security of knowing that our decisions and choices in life will produce the results we want.

So what do we do? We plan and plan but never act. We fill our days with tasks that don’t move us forward but keep us securely where we are now, even though that may not be where we want to be. We delay making choices, waiting for the perfect, and certain, opportunity to arise. But of course it doesn’t.

We need certainty and predictability in our lives because in its absence we are left with only chaos, but at the same time we need variety and ‘spice’ to keep our lives in motion. And that spice comes from taking steps forward when the way is not 100% certain.

One day our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (Tirmidhi).

We have to do our part, for ourselves, our loved ones, and for our communities. And sometimes that means not knowing completely what the outcome of our actions will be when we take them.

As we move forward, we may feel that the path in front of us is perhaps scary and unknown, but seeking Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’s guidance and trusting in Him gives us the certainty of knowing that He will be there with us all the way.

By Sonia Dabboussi

Take it to heart…read, understand, implement

Islam and You

I begin with greeting you with the greeting of Islam, Assalamu Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatu.

We seem to read so much information these days and don’t always have time to understand it, and with regards to implementing, that’s almost non- existent. From exercise routines, to stress reducers, to the most popular diet tips of the year, month or day, we seem to be bombarded with do’s and don’ts of everything. Let’s put aside all the materials and information outlets on hold for a just a few moments and focus on the following bit of advice.

Reading a hadith of our beloved Prophet(pbuh) and trying to adhere to his teachings can be as easy as one, two, three, or reading it, understanding it, and implementing it.

Take a look at the following hadith where the Messenger (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “The rights of one Muslim on another are six” it was said: What are they O messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam)? He (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “When you meet him greet him, and when he invites you accept, and if he seeks your advice then give it. And when he sneezes and says al-hamdulillah then say yarhamak Allah, and when he is sick then visit him, and when he dies follow his funeral” (Bukhaarie & Muslim).

I look at the simplicity of this hadith and think how easy they are to implement but how great the responsibility truly is behind the action. I look at what these simple actions are and how we must make a conscious effort to uphold the responsibility behind the trust.

If these are rights of a Muslim, then that means they are a trust and a duty upon us all.

First, when you meet him you greet him. A simple right, but how should that greeting be; a smile, a word, a hug, a nod, and what if you’re not in the mood?

Second, if he invites you accept, but what is the occasion, the time, the date, the place, and is it for or against the sake of Allah?

Third, if he seeks your advice then give it, and we all know its human nature to love to give your opinions about everything. Right or wrong we enjoy telling someone what “we” would do in certain situations and why “we” wouldn’t make the other decision. Are you giving your opinion or sincere and well thought out advice that you yourself would adhere to before anyone else?

Fourth when he sneezes and says, alhumdullah then say yarhamakAllah. Do we take the time to reply or feel silly in paying attention to his bodily function? Are we paying attention that we are actually making a prayer that Allah has mercy upon them or snicker at the sneeze itself?

Fifth, when he is sick then visit him. There are times when we are sick and think we want to be left alone but when someone stops by for even a moment to drop a greeting, or ask how we’re feeling, we forget the sickness altogether. Are we paying attention to the action that we will bring happiness to the one who is sick and remember that we too can ask for them to pray for us knowing that the prayer of the sick is answered?

Sixth, even as one departs this world they have a right upon us to follow their funeral. This is a final opportunity that will bring peace and blessings of Mercy for the deceased who is prayed for by all who attend. We in turn will be reminded of the rights that this person had upon us when they were alive and whom this will be our last opportunity to give them their rights and be relinquished of our responsibility to them.

With rights come responsibilities. With responsibility rights are protected. As we touch all the lives that we do on a day to day basis in the jobs that we perform and even within our own families, we must remember to uphold their rights and take on the responsibility. If we can take one hadith of information a day, read it, understand it, and implement it, we can truly make such a difference in our own lives as well as all those around us.