Category Archives: Prophetic Character

The Rise of Villain Era

by Manaal Amir Ahmad  Is pop psychology just throwing the term ‘self-care’ around to hide all the chaos underneath? Are we sliding into selfish territory or as the trend says, “Entering into our Villiam Era”? The self-care craze is a hot topic worldwide these days. Research suggests about 80% of individuals have engaged in self-care routines since COVID-19. The mental health industry coupled with TikTok and Instagram is witnessing a blow-up like never before. Terms like ‘toxicity’, ‘setting boundaries’ and ‘taking a break’ are being thrown around a lot lately. But let’s keep an eye on how these values are making their way into our homes and shaping our behaviours. Is this well-being boom a boost for us in reality, or is it slowly eclipsing our virtues? A study by PlushCare last November found that a whopping 83.7% of mental health advice on TikTok globally might not be reliable. Also, approximately 14.2% of the videos carry content that could be harmful. This is concerning as many youths take advice from TikTok and Instagram influencers. According to a February 2023 survey by Hall & Partners, which included 10,000 participants worldwide, more than 59 million Americans turned to TikTok and Instagram influencers for health-related advice. Here is a list of some common well-being advice that has been going around our daily feed; You’ve probably got a few examples of your own popping up in your head by now. These practices have redefined our relationships and categorized them into labels such as, ‘‘good for my mental health’ ‘my safe space’, that’s ‘toxic person’, he has got a very ‘negative vibe’ etc. Even though these statements might seem all about empowerment and taking control at first, they kind of skate on the edge of being a bit selfish. Are we subtly engaging in selfishness in the name of self-care? Let’s take a look at both the terms first, Self-care: is the ability to care for oneself through awareness, self-control, and self-reliance to achieve, maintain, or promote optimal health and well-being. Selfishness: Selfishness is perceived in ourselves and others when we detect a situation-specific desire to benefit the self that disregards others’ desires and prevailing social expectations for the situation. Looking at these terms we can see that self-care is internally focused on recognizing the importance of relationships but behind selfishness is disregard for others’ feelings and how our actions might impact them. A book by Psychologist Jeffrey Bernstein called “Why Can’t You Read My Mind” talks about how toxic labelling can lead to a destructive cycle of blame, resentment, and further misunderstandings. Some of these trends, actually qualify as ‘bad akhlaq’ for us Muslims. We have a concept of ‘Ummah’ which is very different from the individualistic society that we are moving towards, we are taught about numerous Qura’nic verses hadiths since childhood, that contradicts what we are witnessing around the world these days; “Be mindful of God, in whose name you make requests of one another. Beware of serving the ties of kinship, God is always watching over you.” (Translation – Abdel Haleem) But those who break the covenant of Allāh after contracting it and sever that which Allāh has ordered to be joined and spread corruption on earth – for them is the curse, and they will have the worst home. (Translation – Sahih International) (So would you perhaps, if you turned away) meaning, from Jihad and you withdrew from it. (spread corruption on earth, and sever your ties of kinship) which means, would you then go back to your old practices of the time of ignorance: shedding blood and severing kinship ties? These are the ones whom Allah has condemned, deafening them and blinding their eyes. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir) In this delicate dance of keeping your space and keeping those connections alive, one inevitably grapples with the question: where does one draw the line before it begins to take a toll on mental well-being? One of the most profound Ayahs to reflect upon this subject is from Surah Taghabun, the 64th Surah of the Qur’an,  “Believers even among your spouses and your children you have some enemies- Beware of them- but if you overlook their offences, forgive them, pardon them, then God is all forgiving, all merciful. Your Wealth and your children are only a test for you. There is great reward with God, be mindful of God as much as you can hear and obey; be charitable- it is for your good. Those who are saved from their own meanness will be prosperous ones;” – (Qur’an 64: 14-16) The fact that Allah said ‘Be mindful as much as you can’ tells us that it’s a test of our ability to obey and hear him, it’s a test of our Taqwa and Iman. Would we simply just label a person ‘toxic’ and be done with him? Or Will we try to overlook, pardon and forgive, and be the Prosperous ones? Allah says in the Qur’an, “Every hardship that touches you is from Allah, and Allah expiates our sins.” (6:17) The Prophet said: “There was an angel with you who was responding to his insults on your behalf.” Then the Prophet said: “Abu Bakr, (keep in mind) three things which are always true, one of which is that whenever a person is subjected to an injustice but leaves the matter to Allah, then Allah will come to his aid… .” (Musnad Ahmad) Look at the examples of our Prophet Muhammed and Ibrahim A.S, despite being, literarily abused by their kins and friends, they continue to engage with them, striving to convey the truth and provide guidance towards the right path through peaceful discourse. Allah reminds us to have good conduct multiple times in the Qur’an, “Those who spend in ease and hardship and those who restrain their anger and those who are gentle towards people, and Allah loves those who do good.” (3:134) “Surely, He does not like the wrongdoers. The retribution for an evil deed is an equivalent evil. Yet, […]

The Role of Forgiveness in Islamic Psychology

Forgiveness plays a pivotal role in fostering mutual love, understanding, and harmonious relationships within Islamic communities. In Islamic psychology, it is not merely a moral virtue but a powerful psychological decision that contributes to the overall well-being of individuals. This article explores the significance of forgiveness, drawing from both Islamic teachings and modern psychological perspectives. Forgiveness, in its essence, is a conscious and deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance towards those who have harmed us. It’s an act of mercy and compassion, irrespective of whether the wrongdoer deserves forgiveness. This concept aligns with the teachings of Islam, emphasising the importance of compassion and understanding. According to Kornfield (2011), forgiveness, in particular, is the capacity to let go, to release the suffering, sorrows, and burdens of the pains and betrayals of the past, and instead to choose the mystery of love. Luskin (2010), has defined forgiveness in psychological perspectives, stating that forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they deserve your forgiveness. In Islamic psychology, forgiveness is a spiritual and psychological voluntary decision an individual takes to release the burden of suffering and sorrows instead of choosing to take revenge. One example of Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) practice of forgiveness can be found in the Hadith, as follows: “When the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) went to Ta’if to preach the message of Allah, its people mistreated him, abused him and hit him with stones. He left the city humiliated and wounded. When he took shelter under a tree, the angel of Allah visited him and told him that Allah sent him to destroy the people of Ta’if because of their sin of maltreating him. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) prayed to Allah to save the people of Ta’if because what they did was out of their ignorance.” Aisha (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW), said: “O Allah, You are forgiving and generous. You love to forgive.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi] Abu Hurairah (RA) said I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) saying: “I swear by Allah that I seek Allah’s Pardon and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.” [Bukhari] Luskin’s definition of forgiveness (2010), underlines the psychological dimensions of this act. It is about letting go of past grievances, freeing oneself from the burdens of pain and betrayal, and choosing the path of love and compassion. Such an approach aligns with Islamic values, which encourages believers to let go of grudges and seek reconciliation. 1. Know Your Feelings: Acknowledge and express your feelings about the situation, sharing them with trusted individuals. 2. Self-Commitment: Recognize that forgiveness is for your well-being, not for the wrongdoer. 3. Reconciliation Not Required: Forgiveness doesn’t necessitate reconciliation; it’s about finding inner peace. 4. Perspective Shift: Understand that most of your distress comes from current emotions, not past grievances. 5. Stress Management: Use stress-reduction techniques to soothe your body’s response. 6. Manage Expectations: Avoid expecting things from others that they may not give.  7. Seek Alternative Paths: Look for ways to meet your goals that don’t rely on the offence. 8. Focus on Positivity: Shift your energy toward appreciation and kindness in your life. 9. Reflect on Forgiveness: Remember your choice to forgive as a heroic act.           There are two kinds of forgiveness in Islam: Allah’s Forgiveness and Human’s Forgiveness. We as human beings need both since we make mistakes in our relations with Allah as well as our relations with each other. In Islam, all that is needed is to recognise the mistake or sin, improve it and seek forgiveness from Allah Almighty and also from other human beings (Gusau, 2023). Islam places a strong emphasis on forgiveness, with numerous references in the Quran and Hadith. The Quran mentions forgiveness over 100 times. Some of the verses include: In Quran: “The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah.” (Qur’an, 42:40) “Whosoever desires honour, power, and glory then to Allah belongs all honour, power, and glory [and one can get honour, power, and glory only by worshipping Allah (Alone)]. To Him ascend (all) the goodly words i.e. and the righteous deeds exalt it (the goodly words i.e. the goodly words are not accepted by Allah unless and until they are followed by good deeds), but those who plot evils, – theirs will be a severe torment. And the plotting of such will perish.” (Qur’an, 35:10) “That [is so]. And whoever responds [to injustice] with the equivalent of that with which he was harmed and then is tyrannised – Allah will surely aid him. Indeed, Allah is Pardoning and Forgiving.” (Qur’an, 22:60) “And [saying], “Seek Forgiveness of your Lord and repent to Him, [and] He Will Let you enjoy a good provision.” (Qur’an, 11: 3) “And say, ‘Relieve us of our burdens.’ We will [then] forgive your sins for you, and We will Increase the doers of good [in goodness and reward].” (Qur’an, 2: 58) “A kind and courteous word and forgiveness are (much) better than the charity that is followed by (such an emotional) abuse. Allah is free of all wants and the most Forbearing.” (Qur’an, 2:263) In Hadith: “I guarantee a house in Jannah (Paradise) for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a house in the middle of Jannah (Paradise) for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah (Paradise) for one who has good manners.” (Abu Dawud) “It is not permissible for a man to forsake his Muslim brother for more than three days, each of them turning away from the other when they meet. The better of them is the one who gives the greeting of salam first.” (Bukhari and Muslim) “When the believers pass safely over (the bridge across) Hell, they will be stopped at […]

Gentle Masculinity of the Prophet

Gentle Masculinity of the Prophet ﷺ By Hadeel Bahaa “I know when you are content with me and I know when you are angry with me. When you are content with me, you swear by the lord of Muhammad and when you are angry with me you swear by the lord of Ibrahim.” – The Beloved ﷺ to his wife Aisha  Every time I come across this prophetic narration I’m left speechless on the emotional intelligence of the Beloved ﷺ . How amidst his big mission of leading the whole ummah and spreading Islam across nations, he’d notice how his wife addressed him indicating she wasn’t pleased with something and how he’d be playful about it and not take it to heart. This is the Prophet ﷺ,  the Master of the whole creation yet he makes sure that his wife knows how much he cares for her, being mindful of her reactions.  After he’d be done with the duties of the day, he’d engage in an activity with her. “Let’s run together and see who reaches there faster”. He would win the race and remind her that now they are even since she won last time. Aisha would describe him ﷺ: “He was the sweetest person at home.” Aisha’s head would fall into his lap from so much joy and laughter. She heard the Prophet ﷺ making dua for her once. He asked her ” Does my dua for you make you happy?”  She exclaimed, “And who wouldn’t be happy if you made dua for him?!” Who is the most beloved person to you? Amr ibn Al As asks him. The Prophet ﷺ says: Aisha Amr asks: then who?  The Prophet ﷺ says: Her father. They say that when someone is truly in love they are in love with each and everything related to the person. In an environment where no man would speak about his woman publicly. The Prophet ﷺ made a clear-cut statement that she is the most beloved person to him. As if the companion found it strange that he’d mention a woman. He asked the question again. The Prophet ﷺ reaffirmed that her father was his second favorite because she belonged to him. He didn’t even say his name. He said: “Her father”. I love whomever you belong to. Aisha breaks the dish in front of the Prophet ﷺ because his other wife sent it to him. The Prophet ﷺ would say:  “Your mother is just jealous”. That’s it. He didn’t reprimand her. He didn’t quieten her. He acknowledged her raw emotions.  He just made this statement and moved on. ” I choose you o Messenger of Allah”  That was her words when the Prophet ﷺ gave her the choice between having more of the riches of this world by leaving him or staying with him without the world at their feet. And just as she chose him, he chose to die in her presence.  “Please, will you let me spend my last moments with her?”, he’d ask in a polite manner and he could have just done it without asking. Where are we in the prophetic meter when it comes to our relationships?  That was a relationship that was founded on love for Allah first and foremost. A relationship where you could be your most authentic self, vulnerable, and different without the other taking this out against you. “You will be asked about the one you are taking care of” -The Beloved ﷺ Embodying the Beloved ﷺ makes you close to the Beloved. So what are you waiting for?