It all started with some anxiety and a side of insecurities that made me put everything on hold and take care of myself, again. Not that it’s a problem, I am a human after all and require maintenance from time to time, emotional, spiritual, physical, mental. Sometimes all I really need is to shut down and rest for a better reboot.
In recent years one of my biggest goals has been working to get closer to الله سبحانه وتعالى and experience closeness and divine love, and so my journey began. I attended classes, joined Dhikr groups, listened to lectures, read books, learned to understand the why’s of Salaah, all while trying to perfect my actions as I stood before my Lord. I felt myself drawn to a softer life just by focusing on my Creator. There was peace around me, calm within me, a head and heart filled with His remembrance. It. Was. Beautiful.
And then…. Chaos!
A test. A test that made me question everything about my life. Why is this happening to me? Am I worth so little that I couldn’t have the one thing I had hoped and prayed for, for years? Do I mean nothing? What was it about my life that I was always struggling with something or the other? Why am I even here if I can never be happy? I won’t get into the details of the circumstances, but these questions say a lot about how low I felt to be questioning my own existence.
Months after the chaos calmed and I settled down, wisdom began to surface. Another level of self-love dawned on me. This message was just for me, something I had to learn after years of misunderstanding. There would be no growth on my journey unless I learned this — to get closer to God, I must know myself, to see and feel His love, I must love myself, to grow and be the best I can be, I must believe that He placed potential within me. I realize how important loving myself is because through love of myself I am able to see and feel my worth, respect my body, control my mind and feed my soul — all for the sake of الله سبحانه وتعالى.
When man is tested he tends to fall to his knees, begging for help and relief. Tears run and hearts bleed. Despite exhaustion, his sleep is lost. It seems as if a dark cloud follows him everywhere. Fear and confusion rain on him. Questions fill his head, heaviness weighs down his heart — hopeless at its best.
So begins his awakening. An opportunity to take the test and turn into the foundation of a new, updated version of himself. Just like a laptop or phone, an upgrade requires one to remove old programming and replace it with new, better quality programming for better, results. Man must do the same.
الله سبحانه وتعالى mentions in the Qur’an -
I will not change the condition of a people until they change what it in themselves.
I realized quickly that the test is there for reasons beyond me, but I could choose how to respond. This was the kind of test where it was not my job to change anyone or anything because الله سبحانه وتعالى was working on me… like a mechanic or an IT specialist.
The test came and went. I changed. Things changed. Time went on… Here’s what I learned.
If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done!
As with most things in life, you have to work for what you want. Learning requires reading, a page at a time. Building requires action, brick by brick. But we get so caught up in getting it done, so focused on the end result that little to no attention is given to who we become through the process. This is one of the reasons I believe الله سبحانه وتعالى tests us. It is not because we are unworthy or undeserving of the things we want, but to bring out the version of ourselves that will match the desires we have. We have to become a certain kind of individual to receive it — mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
I made it my goal to gain deeper understanding of my Creator, reach deeper levels of love and spirituality. What I didn’t understand was that I couldn’t reach this goal until I gained a deeper understanding of myself, reach deeper levels of love and acceptance for myself and learn to forgive myself for the wars I fought against myself for years. So that’s exactly where I began…
The way in which you talk to yourself has an impact in the way your life plays out. Whatever you believe to be true, that is what will manifest. Think about it, when you feel good about yourself, you’re confident and almost everything turns out in your favor. You’re happy, content and your energy is flowing. This happens because you think good about yourself so you feel good about yourself. Now think about those times when you criticized yourself constantly, you felt bad about yourself and didn’t have an inch of courage or confidence within you, you feel like your whole life is gloom and doom.
Learning to speak to myself with confidence, courage and kindness took me from gloom and doom to bloom! This showed me just how valuable I am, no matter your circumstances, I believed in myself again and ultimately الله سبحانه وتعالى even more. There is no escaping my tests, but they do not mean I am worth less.
Learning to see and think of ourselves in a positive light, no matter the circumstances, will lead to a positive life. To change your life, change your mind. Our lives will change, people will come and go but how and what we think of Allah and ourselves should always be of the highest standard and through that, we will always find confidence in ourselves, believe that we can overcome hurdles and see the wisdom in a situation before we drown in a pool of whining.
Here are some affirmations that helped me reframe -
*I am worthy and valuable because I am a creation of Allah.
*I am happy and grateful with all that have because Allah blessed me with it.
*Wherever I am, whatever I do, I have a purpose because Allah placed me here and now.
Point of Reflection:
- Does Allah talk negatively about any of HIs creations? So why do I? I too am a creation of Allah.
- If Allah believes in me, shouldn’t I? He says in the Qur’an “ ﷲ does not burden a soul with more than it can handle”
- Allah does not criticize His creation, so why do I criticize myself?
The only time you should compare yourself is when you’re trying to be better than who you were yesterday. It is so easy to sit in a room full of people and see how others look better than you, wear better clothes than you or scroll on social media and feel like everyone is traveling to the hottest spots in the world and you’re not. It’s okay to want to dress well, (modestly) and travel and explore, reach financial goals and drive a dream car, but these things do not define you. You have a purpose here that is bigger than these things.
الله سبحانه وتعالى created me, all of me and I choose to love, accept and appreciate every single part of myself because I am a Creation of The Almighty, and He creates everything with love and beauty, no matter how it looks through human eyes, this face and body that الله سبحانه وتعالى molded Himself, in the most perfect manner. I have learned to understand that I do not need to measure up to other peoples standards of beauty.
He has written for me a life that is meaningful, fulfilling and purpose driven. It is my duty to take this experience and find the meaning, feel the fulfillment and use it to achieve my purpose here.
Point of Reflection:
- Does الله سبحانه وتعالى compare His creation, so why do I?
I am an imperfect being, designed to make mistakes. But growth happens when I acknowledge the mistakes, seek forgiveness and move forward, promising to do and be better. This is a key factor of forgiveness — commitment to do and be better. This is a promise to الله سبحانه وتعالى and myself.
Though it’s normal to feel ashamed even judge oneself after committing a sin, big or small, that should not discourage you from seeking forgiveness and make changes to ones life in order to do better. Allah does no expect perfection from an imperfect creation, instead He encourages progress. Everyone has a weakness but there is reward and growth every time you refuse to give in and fight off the temptation.
Forgiveness is healing. Forgiveness is growth. Forgiveness is humility. Forgiveness is love.
In this world where temptation lies all around, error is expected. But in this life, where one seeks forgiveness constantly and works toward improvement, there is reward today and tomorrow.
Point of Reflection:
- If الله سبحانه وتعالى is always willing to forgive me, why can’t I forgive myself?
- If الله سبحانه وتعالى never judges me for my mistakes, why do I judge myself?
- If الله سبحانه وتعالى gives second chances through forgiveness, why do I give up on myself?
“How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside of us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we.” Shams Tabrizi.
This test is one of the most special moments on my journey and I will carry it with me always as it reminds me of my worth, my purpose and the fact that الله سبحانه وتعالى does what He does out of love and mercy. I would love to say that I have reached my goal of experiencing deeper love and understanding of myself and my Creator but in writing this article, I understand that the path to الله سبحانه وتعالى is never ending and there are other versions of me yet to surface but I will always work to do and be the best I can.
Naseeha Tayob Ibrahim
I speak. I write. I coach.
I want to make the world a better place.
As an avid reader and writer, it’s no surprise that communications became my career and line of work. There is never one thing in particular that defines who I am, except the fact that I am passionate about everything I do. That made me the odd one out most of my life. It made realize how important it is to listen to my heart.
- hashtag for Post: #mentalhealth #lifecoach #personaldevelopment #therapy