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Showing posts from June, 2015

Self-worth: Is Life Unfair?

Assalamualaikum.

I have this one problem. I am insecure with myself. Why do some people have perfect lives? They have a loving family, wealth, intelligence, etc. I sometimes envy them. I know it's wrong, but it's hard to control.

Please help.

Thank you.

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Waalaikumussalam warahmatullah.

Thank you for your email and for your honesty.

About your situation, I kindly ask that you reconsider your thinking that other people's lives are really perfect. Is it really? I would challenge that mindset by telling myself that if a perfect life does exist, then our Prophet Muhammad should have the most perfect of lives.

But he didn't have a perfect life, did he?

Our Prophet's life was full of tests and challenges, yet he was and still is the closest person to Allah. That is a lesson for us all: no lives are perfect. It might seem perfect in our eyes, but trust me they too are being tested by Allah. Perhaps their tests are different than ours, but they are being tested.

I g…

I Don't Know

Have you ever been asked about something, a topic that people assumed you know, for example: a question about the subject you are majoring in, a question during a group discussion, a question about your family, or a question about your faith, but you don’t know the answer?

In those situations and many more situations like them that you can possible think of, it might be difficult to simply say, “I don’t know”. Saying “I don’t know” hurts the pride and it makes us feel stupid, perhaps a bit guilty for not knowing what to say or not knowing how to say it.

But realistically speaking, if I don’t know something, then what are the options?

Option No. 1: Well, I could say “I don’t know” but that’s not good for my image. People might make fun of me and I might get humiliated.

Option No. 2: I could make up an answer and make sure that it sounds brilliant so that people will be impressed and then, they will finally like me.

Option No. 2 sounds appetizing but I know better not to do that (even t…

Skinny, but Fat

Soon after I got married, my wife and I decided to add a routine of regular blood checkups into our lives, to keep track of our height, weight, sugar level, cholesterol level, blood pressure, and other stuff.

I’ve never done regular blood checkups. I’ve never thought of it as something I need. I thought that as long as I stay physically fit in my appearance, then I must be doing okay internally.

So we the checkup. Alhamdulillah, my wife is healthy; everything checks out. I, on the other hand, was a bit afraid that my sugar level is going to be high. I have a medical history of diabetes in my family so that kind of puts me at risk. I know, my family is very sweet.

Alhamdulillah, my sugar level is A-okay! But, my cholesterol level was off the chart. The doctor was surprised because I am still young and I am not physically fat. But my cholesterol level suggested that I am 70 and that I am physically obese.

The normal cholesterol level is between the 4-point to 5-point range (correct me …

The Internet is Public

The internet is a public place. Anything and everything you post online will become available to anyone and everyone who has even the slowest of all internet speeds.

You might be thinking, “Well, it’s a good thing that we have privacy settings. It is also a good thing that I only post things on the internet to my family and friends.” *thumbs up* *ting sound*

Allow me to demonstrate how that is not the case in reality by giving you a few real life examples.

Example number one, one of my friends made his Facebook account private and he limited his Facebook friends to about 200 friends or so. Which if you think about it, in current standards, that is only a handful of friends. Not even a handful, it’s just a pinch.

The reason why he wanted to make his Facebook so private is because he wanted to limit his Facebook postings to just family and friends. Nobody else. It’s private. He even told people that all his postings are private, so that they don’t share them around.

But, as you might h…

Becoming a Better Person

We don’t want to be the same person before and after. We want to improve. There must be something in our lives that we need to remove, or add, or modify in order to become a better person.

But becoming a better person is a pretty huge and vague goal to achieve. As such, we can’t really tell for sure if we have become a better person or not. So, we need to set a more specific and a more reasonable set of goals.

Once we have achieved those goals, then we can safely say that we have improved to become a better person. But setting goals is pretty tricky because it largely involves managing our expectations.

We can’t set too high of an expectation for ourselves, that might cause us to get burnt out and it might even discourage us even further. We can’t set too low of an expectation either, just to play it safe or whatever. We can’t improve without challenges.

So it can’t be too easy, but at the same time it can’t be too difficult. It’s about balance and setting reasonable goals for ourse…

Moving On

If you have never made a mistake, then you are either an angel or you are dead.

Making mistakes is what makes us human. It is in the fabric of our humanity. It is our inherent weakness, but it is also our inherent strength…if, we choose to learn from our mistakes and from the mistakes of others.

If you want to call something a mistake, you should call not learning from mistakes as a mistake. If you have not gained anything from that experience, then that is a mistake.

Making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn, if we are willing to learn from them. The difference between a successful person and a non-successful person is not that the successful one didn’t make any mistakes.

The difference is that the successful person has the courage to embrace mistakes, to learn from them, and to apply what they learned. In order for us to learn from mistakes, we have to first provide some room for mistakes to happen.

That doesn’t mean that we intentionally make mistakes, and then we use the…

Community: Is It Our Fault That Muslims Are Leaving Islam?

Salam.

I have a question about the growth of apostasy. Is it because of the influence of western lifestyle that made them question Islam? As I have observed, the westerners like to question and like to search for answers.

But even then, many people are reverting to Islam in the west so it can't be because of western lifestyle that many others are leaving Islam.

It made me wonder: is it our fault? Do we make them dislike Islam and leave Islam altogether?

If so, what can we do?

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Salam wbt.

Thank you for your question.

As you pointed out, there are people who leave Islam. But at the same time, there are people who embrace Islam. We shouldn't overlook the latter. Sometimes, you could see that the reason for people leaving Islam is similar to the reason for people embracing Islam: they have questions and they found the answers.

Whether the answers are correct or not, that is an area of individual choice. What I mean by that is that a person will decide what he or she believes…

Parents: So Close, Yet So Far

I don't know which one is worse: having no parents or having disconnected parents.

There are a few emails in my inbox where people are expressing their distress over the fact that they don't feel the presence of their parents in their lives, even though they live with their parents under the same roof.

Here is a snippet of one of the emails:

"...most of the times I don't feel his [my father's] presence. Sometimes I feel like I don't have a father. I do everything on my own. He never ask anything about my health or my needs, but if he has anything to complain about me and my brother, he would say it to our mother, but not directly to us. I don't speak to him except for important things because I could sense the way he looks at me that he doesn't like me. I don't like to stay here anymore, to stay with him. I get depressed."

So close, yet so far.

There seems to be a lack of connection. Problem arises when they find themselves in a situation where…

The Burden of Debts

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"O you who have believed, when you contract a debt for a specified term, write it down. And let a scribe write [it] between you in justice. Let no scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him. So let him write and let the one who has the obligation dictate. And let him fear Allah , his Lord, and not leave anything out of it. But if the one who has the obligation is of limited understanding or weak or unable to dictate himself, then let his guardian dictate in justice. And bring to witness two witnesses from among your men. And if there are not two men [available], then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses - so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her. And let not the witnesses refuse when they are called upon. And do not be [too] weary to write it, whether it is small or large, for its [specified] term. That is more just in the sight of Allah and stronger as evidence and more likely to prevent doubt between you, except when it is an im…

People, Labels, and Intellectual Racism

Liberal, Progressive, Moderate, Secular, Fundamental, Traditional, Modern, Conservative, etc.

Have you ever heard of any of them? They are all labels, just labels.

But apparently, many people are so focused on these labels up to a point where they would immediately draw conclusions about the labelled people without due consideration on individual uniqueness and context, engaging in a type of "if you are not with me, then you are against me" type of mentality.

Personally, I care less about the labels and I care more about what they mean. Specifically, I care about what individuals mean when they mention a label because we might be talking about the same label but we mean different things.

For example, when a person says that he/she doesn't believe in God, the first question to ask is not "Why don't you believe in God?" The first question to ask is, "What do you mean when you say God?"

It might sound ridiculous to ask that question since the word &q…

Focus on the Solution

Hank Green, from the vlogbrothers channel on Youtube, said something interesting in one of his latest videos. He said, “It is more fun to complain than to appreciate.” And I agree. I think there is truth in that statement.

It is true. It is more fun to complain. We feel better after we complain. It is like venting out all your frustrations. It is therapeutic for the self. It is satisfying for the ego. But is that it? Is that all that we aim to achieve? Satisfying our ego?

What about the problem? Do we ever think about how to solve the problem and making the situation better? Complaining is not always bad, but in many cases it is. Especially when no alternative effort towards a solution is being given.

When is complaining a bad thing? When is complaining a good thing? It depends on the goal. Are we seeking to make the situation better or are we seeking to satisfy our ego? Because those two things don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

It is possible that the best course of action and the …

Be Honest With Our Leaders

When I was in secondary school, once in a while we would receive a visit from a representative of the local education ministry. We call him "nazir". He would visit our school (and other schools) to see how we were doing. I would imagine that he would report back to someone higher up, to know the current status of our education.

I believe this is a good practice, since we need this constant revisiting of our system to see if it really does what it claims to do i.e. to educate the students. If there are shortcomings along the way, we can fix them as we go. This is better than implementing a system without any follow up.

However, that is only true if the nazir could observe the true reality of the schools he visited, and not the constructed reality showcases to him in order to impress him and the individuals he work for. I remember that whenever we would have a nazir visiting, prior to his visit we would be informed of it and all of a sudden the whole school went into this fren…