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Self-Worth: Capitalism vs Consciousness

by in Soul on 15th May, 2022

This world trains us to feel like our value as humans is tied to our achievements, status and acquisitions. From career titles to the size of our family, degree qualifications to whether we own a detached property or car, there’s always something it’s linked to. Alhamdulillah I’ve never been materialistic but I still felt constant guilt if I wasn’t in a 9-5 job earning a reasonable amount of money, alongside furthering my education constantly and reaching other extra-curricular goals I set myself long ago. If I had an ‘unproductive’ week, or wasn’t somehow achieving highly, I’d feel stressed and negligent. We hear about so-and-so’s net worth as being x million, and popular culture is constantly pushing us to ‘hustle on the side’, to ‘build our own brand’, to be entrepreneurs, self-starters, professionals & everything in between.

Everything is monetised, and there’s an onus to share and display everything we get up to with the world.

I took a break from full-time work and found myself struggling to introduce myself to people. I felt somehow worth less than when I could reel off a job title. On logical reflection of course this is ridiculous, but I know it’s something many of us battle with regularly.

We are ALL intrinsically worth more than we can comprehend because we have SOULS. The divine spark inside us all gives us value that jobs, brands, followers and hustles never can. Even if no one in the world knows your name and you’ve never earned a penny, a righteous soul is priceless with Allah. Who cares about fickle, temporary recognition when we have the opportunity for our names to echo through the heavens?

Since beginning my hifdh journey recently and committing to the Qur’an, I no longer care as much about my public image, my introduction to people or my ‘value’ in this draining capitalist system. Alhamdulillah I found a sense of wholeness in knowing that I am worthy in the eyes of Allah, and that I can build on THAT unimaginable weight through my relationship with His gift to us: His book. 

What is your most prized possession? What is worth the most in the world to you? What from your belongings has the highest value? Would it be a car? Jewellery? A laptop or a camera? A house? Perhaps you’re more the sentimental type and it’s an ancestral heirloom, or an old family photo album? A pet?

Imam Ghazali said we only truly possess what cannot be lost in a shipwreck. Even if we deposit our jewels in a secure safe, our savings in an account, our car in an underground guarded car park, nothing is 100% guaranteed. Our beautifully decorated homes, our sentimental belongings and even loved ones can be lost in the blink of an eye (may Allah protect us from all calamity).

Since beginning my hifdh journey, I have been reflecting a lot on Imam Ghazali’s words. The Qur’an we have memorised falls into this narrow category of what is truly safe and certain. Nothing and no one can take it from us, whether we are in the belly of a whale, a prison cell or anywhere else. On completing one juz of memorisation, I began to deeply feel that what has been placed in my chest is my MOST precious possession. This small portion of Allah’s words, 1/30th of the blessed book is the most valuable, priceless thing I have.

May we all be granted the ability to memorise until we die, and for our Qur’an to be divinely guarded and preserved for us in the way that it deserves, as the most precious and expensive thing in the world.

Hasan al-Basri (RA) said, “The reciters of the Qur’an are of three types:

  • Those who take it as merchandise with which they ply their trade.
  • Those who recite its words but fail to comply with its injunctions, they use it to lord over the people of their land and rely on it to ascend to positions of authority. There are many who fall into this category, may Allah make their number small!
  • Those who treat the Qur’an as a cure and apply it to heal the ailments of the hearts. They recite it in their places of devotion and attain tranquillity, they weep in their hooded cloaks, and they are overcome with fear and sombreness. It is for their sake that Allah sends down the rain and it is through them that Allah confers victory against the enemy. By Allah this category is rarer than gold.”

(Ibn Abi Dunya – Al Hamm wa’l Huzn #152)

Self-Worth: The Family of Allah

The family is no doubt, a sacred unit in Islam, the building block of communities, and a source of blessings, comfort and sustenance. But for so many of us, it’s complicated in one way or another. 

For some, rather than feelings of joy and tranquillity being evoked on mention of their family, tension, pain and stress descend. Perhaps there are intense familial pressures, petty politics and rivalries, or perhaps it is loss and absence that hurt the most. Mourning the death of a beloved family member is something that never fully leaves, no matter how much we grow around the pain. Some amongst us find ourselves at the epicentre of violent family rifts, or are rejected, disowned, abandoned by our nearest and dearest. Others of us remain yearning to begin a family of our own, exhausted after years of hoping for a baby, devastated by pregnancy losses. Whether it’s single parenting or infertility, a divorcee or someone with strained relationships, family feuds or yearning for a partner, almost everyone experiences some sort of struggle in their family identity, be it immediate or extended. 

We know that our families are both tests and blessings for us from Allah, but there’s no doubt that the form our family takes or doesn’t take can lead to feelings of deficiency, guilt and unworthiness within us. Worth is once again all too often pinned to our relationships, and while we know the honour and reward for treating a spouse right, for caring for elderly parents and for raising righteous children, these avenues are not always open to everyone. After losing three babies in the womb and feeling the lack of being a mother, I know first-hand how the tests we are given through family, or lack of, can cause a sense of insufficiency and inferiority. 

I heard the following hadith just after beginning my hifdh from my teacher:

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah said, 

Verily, Allah has His own family/people among humanity.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, who are they?” The Prophet said, “They are the family of the Qur’an, the family of Allah and His chosen ones.”

[Sunan Ibn Mājah 215]

I was awestruck by the term ‘the family of Allah’. In that moment, I felt a deep desire in my heart to be afforded the unique honour of this status, and marvelled at how simple the route to it was. By becoming close to the Qur’an, I would be included in the family of God. The pain and frustration with my own family situation melted away, salved by these words, by the prospect of being from the family of The Lord of the heavens and earth. What greater honour or rank than this? Open to every single one of us, irrespective of lineage, passport, last name. Regardless of whether we have spouses, children, parents or anything else. May we be part of the blessed family of Allah.

His Call, not Yours

I’ve been making dua for something in particular for many years now. After every salah, before every iftar, on the plains of Arafat, while circulating the kaaba, and a thousand other places and instances. I’m very ashamed to say I’ve felt at points like I’m just not being heard, that I’ve been forgotten or abandoned. Other times I’ve become convinced that my sins are too weighty, that I’m simply unworthy and wretched.

But in reality, the Lord we call upon is All-Hearing. He is All-knowing. All Aware. All Compassionate. Since committing to the Qur’an, I felt a shift, not only in my deficient feelings about my relationship with Allah, but a sense of serenity that transcends the burdens of this world. I still feel the pain of course, but it is not as sharp and unbearable.

Ultimately, I realised that the biggest sign of Allah REMEMBERING ME, turning to me in love and EMBRACING ME with His mercy is the fact that my heart has opened to His words. The very fact that I was pulled to come closer to the Qur’an shows the very opposite of my fears of being disliked or neglected by Allah. If our hearts are touched by an ayah, or we feel a pull to open the mushaf, if we feel peace on hearing recitation or have embarked on a journey with the Qur’an in any way, it is not because WE wanted to do so. It is because Allah called us to do so. So much of the world is heedless to the Qur’an, even if they do believe in its truth. What greater sign of Divine acceptance and love can there be than Allah selecting us to be receptive, to have love and time for His book?

The stirring in your heart towards the Qur’an’s treasure is not you. It’s Him gently calling you. The peace that descends when you reflect on an ayah is not you. It’s Him enveloping you in His warmth. The magnetic pull that causes you to open the Qur’an and read, or to want to memorise or recite beautifully is not you. It’s ALL Him, inviting you into His presence and love. If you have read this far, and felt even the tiniest inner movement, it is your Lord, calling you back.

May we feel His call clearer and deeper than anything we’ve ever felt before. Ameen

MyQuranSerenity

MyQuranSerenity

MyQuranSerenity recently embarked on her own Quran hifdh and Arabic voyage. You'll find her on IG: @MyQuranSerenity reflecting about her journey to Allah across the plains of loss, grief, healing and light, through His perfect words.