The Self, The Dunya, and The Struggle

With empathy may we be able to let go. Nothing is too hard. Nothing is too difficult. Nothing is permanent. We will move on.

The Self, The Dunya, and The Struggle
Stay Simple 

The world is changing faster than we can anticipate. Prices are rising; Materialism and Consumerism is slowly taking over our inhibitions. It’s a struggle.

It would be grossly naïve to say that not one person is having it easy. Be it financially, physically, mentally or spiritually, one way or another we all go through the ups and downs of life.

And in the midst of traversing the road to Him (Allah swt), we may find ourselves lost. The glitz and glamour of the material world keep us distracted.

"The act of Righteousness is measured in our conduct; it is measured by the interaction we have with others, with ourselves"
Distracted queue in fast food restaurant. Can you see the line which is better?
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We begin to demand more, expect more and crave more of what we believe will cure our perceived ‘life ailment’. It starts with the first salary, then the next bump up. Then the car, the House, the Phone and the Rolex Watch or the Nike Shoes. We clutter ourselves with more distractions, focusing on the individual and not the collective. There lies the trap; when all we think about is The Self & The Dunya (this world). It is always the “I” and lesser on “Him”.

Fear not for not all is lost. What is fulfillment and what can we do? What is our guiding principle to be the best versions of ourselves that brings inner peace.

"Essentially the act of Righteousness guides us to be humble, charitable, to be forgiving, seek self-examination, self-respect, patience, kindness, to remain hopeful and to always persevere"
When you need that helping hand!
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The Answer is in the Quran. It is in the verse 2:177 and many more where we are constantly reminded to pursue the acts of Righteousness and Compassion.

Righteousness is not in turning your faces towards the east or the west. Rather, the righteous are those who believe in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Books, and the prophets; who give charity out of their cherished wealth to relatives, orphans, the poor, ˹needy˺ travellers, beggars, and for freeing captives; who establish prayer, pay alms-tax, and keep the pledges they make; and who are patient in times of suffering, adversity, and in ˹the heat of˺ battle. It is they who are true ˹in faith˺, and it is they who are mindful ˹of Allah˺.

The act of Righteousness is measured in our conduct; it is measured by the interaction we have with others, with ourselves, and on the interaction we have with God. It is what will deepen the ink on the stamp that gives entry to our place in the Hereafter.

Essentially the act of Righteousness guides us to be humble, charitable, to be forgiving, seek self-examination, self-respect, patience, kindness, to remain hopeful and to always persevere.

It is to not blame others, it is to do good deeds, seek forgiveness, double our efforts in the face of adversities. It is about treating humankind with respect.

We refer to surah Al Imran, verse 134-135, and footnote by  ‘Abdullah Yusuf Ali

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Footnote 453
“Another definition of the righteous (v134-135). So far from grasping material wealth, they give freely, of themselves and their substance, not only when they are well-off and it is easy for them to do so, but also when they are in difficulties, for other people maybe in difficulties at the same time. They do not get ruffled in adversity, or get angry when the other people behave badly, or their own good plans fail. On the contrary they redouble their efforts. For the charity – for good deed – is all the more necessary in adversity. And they do not throw blame on others. Even where such blame is due and correction is necessary, their own mind is free from a sense of grievance, for they forgive and cover other men’s faults. This is as far as other people are concerned. But we may be ourselves at fault, and perhaps we brought some calamity on ourselves. The righteous man is not necessarily perfect. In such circumstances his behaviour is described in the next verse."
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Footnote 454
“The righteous man, when he finds he has fallen into sin or error, does not whine or despair, but asks for Allah’s forgiveness, and his faith gives hope. If he is sincere, that means that he abandons his wrong conduct and makes amends”
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The righteous man is not always perfect. It has never been the intent of Islam to seek perfection in the common man because we are not. Within the Islamic doctrine, the most perfect being is Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. No, our job is the pursuit of Righteousness in the best way we can. But to declare one is Righteous can lead man to err as it corners one to think BACK to The Self; we become pompous, haughty, egoistic and self-righteous.

It is this very “self-righteousness” nature that we must to avoid because self-righteousness is set on the standards of subjective and normative views that is susceptible to changes. It lacks empathy and sympathy; it lacks social awareness and self-awareness.

Nothing is too hard. Nothing is too difficult. Nothing is permanent.
Standing out on the edge with a 5,000 foot drop below was a scary moment! But, it was all worth the view and photo!
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The antidote lies in developing a Strong Emotional Intelligence (EI). Within it, the key ingredient in it is Empathy, whereby Empathy is having sensitivity to others' feelings and concerns and taking their perspective. We can turn to the following to view how Empathy is reflected in Islam:

For example, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) says: "Narrated Numan bin Bashir: Allah's Messenger (PBUH) said, "The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs is afflicted, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever" (Hadith No. 224).
Also, the Prophet says: "Narrated Anas: Allah's Messenger said: "No one is a true believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself." (Hadith No. 236)
Down roads we go
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Empathy, my brothers and sisters, is core to guide our conduct in a Righteous manner within the eyes of God; it is the way forward in maintaining harmonious relationships. It is the catalyst that gathers the will to reach out to those around us, to be more charitable, to be kind, to persevere and protect ourselves from pursuing the material means knowing that the more we have equates to the less others do too.

It is what allows us to contain our struggles only to ourselves, to cry and frustrate in silence; it is what allows us to reach out to Allah swt for only He can ease the task before us.

With empathy may we be able to let go.

Nothing is too hard. Nothing is too difficult. Nothing is permanent.

We will move on.

A sign that I saw carved into some modern art.  Reminded me that we are stronger together.
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