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Self Discovery: An Islamic Perspective for 2020

by in Lifestyle on 2nd January, 2020

With the explosion of self-love and self-discovery talk across the internet, I started to notice a pattern across the board. Islam is known to be not just a religion, but a holistic lifestyle. And by attaching – or re-attaching – Islamic meanings to these new trends, we start to integrate Deen into Dunya, to create a holistic approach to knowing our self.

Intentions

Simon Sinek, in his book ‘Start with Why’, outlines why Apple is such a hit of a company.

It’s simple: they start with why

They understand why their company exists and why people should buy into them – then they execute their ‘what’ i.e. their products. 

All successful companies have a raison d’etre, their reason, or intention for being, for existing.  In the same way, we as Muslims must implement our reasoning. Islamically, the importance of Niyyah has already and always been emphasized. The Prophet (SAW) succinctly states it in this hadith:

Umar ibn al-Khattab reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, Verily, deeds are only with intentions. Verily, every person will have only what they intended.” Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 54, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1907. 

When we embark on a new journey, we should think back to the source of it – our thoughts. Why are we doing this? What purpose does it serve? Are we truly doing it for the sake of Allah? If we put an Islamic spin on it, we can start to earn Barakah for it, provided our intentions are pure.

One way of ensuring you are staying on track is by creating a document or keeping a journal of intentions. Whenever you start a new project, a new job, a new course – write down the reasons for why you’re doing what you’re doing.  And when you start to lose your way, refer to it. 

And remember, it all starts with the simple act of saying Bismillah.

Looking inward

Dr Carol Dweck, in her book ‘Mindset’, outlines the difference between the fixed mindset, and the growth mindset. 

In summary, the former is a belief system which stunts personal development by thinking that what you have is all you get. For example, if you get a C grade on your test, that’s all you’re capable of getting – if an A grade doesn’t happen the first time, it will never happen. Conversely, the growth mindset is one who, on receiving their C grade, will think: ‘If I put in the effort, I will improve – I will get that A, In Sha Allah’. Failures become feedback. And feedback leads to growth.

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Fortunate is he who is preoccupied with his own faults rather than the faults of others.”Source

It’s time we stopped looking at others and look in the mirror instead.

Forget other people – we cannot fix them wilfully, nor should we try to, but we can fix ourselves. And with so much to fix, we are and should be our own lifelong project. 

And remember, this isn’t to be taken negatively: yes, we have flaws, but the growth mindset is always one which focuses on the positive potential outcome. It is through this, that we can grow, and become even a little bit closer to what The Almighty wants from us.

Affirmations 

These positive statements are a method in self-help, which combats negative thoughts through the constant repetition of positive statements – for example, ‘I am happy’, ‘I can do this’ or ‘I am grateful’. Through constant repetition, you eventually start to believe in the phrases and negate any adverse thoughts.

Due to the awareness around mental health, there is now an increasing reliance and hype about the use of these affirmations. But, just by reading the Quran, we can see that Allah has already given us beautiful affirmations within the Deen.

‘Which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?’ – Al-Qur’an 55:13

This ayah is repeated 31 times in Surah Rahman, interspersed in between every other ayah as the surah progresses. We, the reader, are encouraged to reflect and be grateful for the gifts the Almighty has bestowed on us. The choice of words in affirmations are extremely important, and who writes better than our Lord. Note the choice of Rabb as the name of Allah mentioned here, as it is the overarching word for The Provider, The Sustainer, and The Nourisher. An apt description for the One who gives us everything.

Keep a gratitude list and see what favours your Lord has gifted to you. As Allah says,

‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]” – Al-Qur’an 14:7

Mindfulness

In the era of noise, we struggle to find a moment of peace. The act of solitude and reflection was practiced by the Prophet (SAW) before revelation, where he would seclude himself (SAW) from society by meditating on Mount Noor.

Muraqabah in Islam, is the idea of knowing that Allah is watching you, as he states in Surah Al Ahzab.

“And Allah is Ever a Watcher over all things.” – Al-Qur’an 33:52.

By practising mindfulness, of taking some time out of our day to sit and reflect inwardly, we start to gain a sense of calm and peace which penetrates into our everyday life. This article outlines an exercise of Islamic meditation which can be implemented in your daily practice.

Alternatively, simply stepping away from your desk and having a few moments of phone-free peace to reflect amidst your hectic schedule, whether that’s after salah, or on your daily commute, allows your brain to decompress. Step outside or look out of the window and take notice of what’s happening in the world – many an ayah in the Quran call for us to reflect on the beauty of creation: 

“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.”- Al Qur’an 3:190-191

Think deeply, and let’s start seeing beyond our physical senses, to understand and reconnect with the gifts God has planted for us.

Noor Majid

Noor Majid

Noor is a soul-searcher with a brain that never sleeps. She is also a recent Architecture graduate and is currently pursuing her journey of self-discovery via art and existentialist captions on Instagram. https://medium.com/@nnmajid