I remind myself first, and then others, that the strive towards excellence is an internal one. It is an “in-house” competition. We aren’t racing against our neighbors. We can’t depend on others to keep score. We can’t measure our own progress while looking and trying to compare ourselves to others. In competing against ourselves, there are four categories that I think many of us stumble upon.
These are four areas that if we only take a closer look at, they can inshaAllah, become avenues that can help in our building of self, for the sake of Allah SWT. We don’t have to see these things as excuses to why we can’t grow. These four things are:
TIME“Say: Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works? They are those who deny the signs of their Lord and the fact of their having to meet Him (in the Hereafter) : vain will be their works, nor shall We, on the day of judgment give them any weight.” – Holy Quran al-Kahf (18:103-105)
- Stop comparing clocks
For example, you often hear people say: “You have as many hours in a day as <<so-and-so>> (major pop singer/actress/ect), what are you doing with your time”
This makes it easy to then look at our own lives and feel that somewhere we are falling short. Let’s have a moment of clarity and realness, while being fair and patient with ourselves. Those in the “public-eye”, are not leading the same types of lives that we are. While most of us are making salat to start our day, these “role models” have careers on their mind and not Allah SWT. While most of us are jumping in the shower, cooking breakfast, cleaning up while getting our children ready for school, “super-stars” have entire entourages/employees doing the very same thing we are, for them while they sleep. If you’re thinking how impossible it would be to do so much with such little time, you are right. These celebrities aren’t any more “human” then you or I. They don’t have any super powers that we don’t or haven’t tapped into. They just have an entire team doing the same things you and I do ourselves. The best thing for us to do when wanting to gauge our progress or look for direction is to take our focus from creations/duya and stay as close as possible to the Creator and the examples He has given us Alhamdulilah .
Say, "Not equal are the evil and the good, although the abundance of evil might impress you." So fear Allah , O you of understanding, that you may be successful.” Holy Quran Al-Mā'idah (5:100)
“The most beloved actions to Allah are those done consistently, even if they be few” B 5861 - Prophet Muhammad PBUH
- Your inventory
Just because we don’t “have” the time to take on certain projects or to participate in certain things, doesn’t mean we should make ourselves feel bad about it. It also doesn’t mean that there will never be time in the future. So many mothers like myself overwhelm ourselves with things we have to do and things we want to do, only to burn ourselves out and fall into discouragement. We don’t have to run at the same pace as anyone else, nor should we punish ourselves for not being able to. We also should remember that, along with time to make our salats, we need time to actually take in the day to feel alive inshaAllah. Each moment can’t be filled with hustle and bustle.
Two biggest differences between Muslims and those obsessed with dunya are our priorities and where we find peace. As Muslims we are striving to inshaAllah please Allah SWT while others are begging for the approval of man. While we are inshAllah teaching our children by example to be guided by Islam and to walk with patience and love, dunya encourages envy, sabotage, corruption, jealously and the “rat-race”. When living the lifestyle of Islam, we become safer by default because we are in the will of Allah SWT. We are inshaAllah, trying our best to lead a life that is pleasing to Allah SWT and not man. This does not mean that things will be perfect or as smooth as one might want. What it does mean is that we have a shot of attaining success in this life and in the here-after.
“Whoever is a slave of gold, silver, fine material, and expensive clothes will be ruined. If he gets it, he is pleased. Otherwise he remains unhappy.” B 2886 - Prophet Muhammad PBUH
“Wealth should not be measured by material possessions. True wealth is contentment of the heart.” B 5353 - Prophet Muhammad PBUH