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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


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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


Science Fair Secrets

Youll want to read to the end...

You'll want to read to the end...

Glue.  Paint.  Sticks.  Cardboard.  Tape.  Aluminum foil.  Wires.  Hot glue.  Batteries.  Lemons.  Paper.  Wood.  Wood glue.  Markers.  Tubing.  Water.  Syringes.  Crazy glue.  Or, by this point is it just plain crazy?

One of the most challenging things for both parents and teachers is getting children to do excellent projects.  Not just put-a-bunch-of-stuff-together-and-use-four-kinds-of-glue-to-get-it-to-stick kinds of projects, but the ones that really allow them to learn something and stretch their thinking skills and imaginations.  Which ones accomplish this goal, but usually with a lot of stress, an expanding expense, and time that extends into the wee hours of the morning?  The king of all assignments – the Science Fair Project.

An exciting letter goes home with the children outlining the judging criteria and explaining when you can see all of the great things the students have done.  It sounds wonderful, but you know what’s coming.   No one can fool you.

As soon as someone mentions the dreaded words “Science Fair” a rock somewhat the size of Tennessee begins developing in the pit of your stomach.  (Is it igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic, I wonder?  Hmm… a project in the making perhaps?)  You automatically start thinking of items you can cut from your grocery list so that you’ll still be able to afford to feed your family while the masterpiece is in progress.  And you start wondering when you’ll be able to fit in a few afternoon naps so that you don’t fall asleep on your desk at work.

In all honesty though, Science Fair projects can really be quite astonishing.  As a former science teacher and an avid Science Fair coordinator and fan, it always amazes me what young children can do when they set their minds to it.  Did you know that there are actually people from big companies and organizations who scout out the projects at local Science Fairs to gather ideas for improving their own businesses?  That’s the power of creative thought in existence there.

But for those of you whose hands shake nonetheless as they read the school letter, or who have committed to the colossal task of helping their children become better people, or even who just love taking pictures of their children holding awards and wearing gold medals, there’s something coming for you.

As with anything in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things.  There is an easy way and a hard way, an effective way and a not-so-effective way. I’m guessing that if you had the choice you’d pick the right, easy, effective way, correct?

Now’s your chance.  There are secrets that the Science Fair insiders likely don’t want you to know because it makes their judges jobs ever so much more difficult.  But if you come back soon I’ll tell you them anyway.

Just keep your eyes peeled and check back often on this site.  You will definitely want to have this…

By Sonia Dabboussi

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.

Huh?

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