Updated: Sep 29, 2021
Empowering one's self esteem is not anymore a just trend in today’s society, which seeks self determination. But, it became an inherent value of the human soul, characterizing one’s adherence to the modern culture, through which one can attain his/her fulfillment and the life one is wishing to have. With just a quick search on the internet, looking for inspiring quotes to boost the self esteem, one can see that the core idea around which pivots the empowerment of the self esteem is the love of the self as being the basis for success and happiness. Take for example, these following quotes regarded as among the inspirational ones: “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Or, "A healthy self-love means we have no compulsion to justify to ourselves or others why we take vacations, why we sleep late, why we buy new shoes, why we spoil ourselves from time to time. We feel comfortable doing things which add quality and beauty to life.” Or, "You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection"!! The reading of these quotes draws for us the image of a man or a woman embarking on a journey of the love of the self: lonely and auto centric, to trying to spark life and joy in a self, thirsty for compassion and esteem, which “magically” then turns him/her in a happy, productive, powerful person. It is again this materialistic ideology that is dominating the creed of the people. This makes flattering of the self, showing off and the following of whims virtuous characters, when in reality, they are poisonous actions, the effects of which end in blinding the soul.
Islam does not prohibit the love of the self, but it instructs the way to do it, defines the way to honor it and provides the guidance to its enjoyment and fulfillment. In fact, an intense, blind love of the self will not change the characteristics innate to the nature of life, such as trials, difficulties and daily worries. Then one must wonder, how can solely the love of the self serve as the savior?
The journey of the believer in honoring him/herself starts by knowing one’s self. One should know the following characteristics innate to the human being: The human being is created weak, vulnerable, hasty, impatient, anxious, greedy, etc. Such characteristics and more are all revealed in the Quran. The human being is by nature inclined toward deviation, as mentioned in Hadith Qudsi: “O My servants, all of you are astray except those whom I have guided, so seek guidance from Me and I shall guide you ...” The human being does not have any regard in the sight of Allah, if he/she does not follow the path Allah. “… And if you turn away [i.e., refuse], He will replace you with another people. Then they will not be the likes of you” (47:38). “O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion, Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him …” (5:54). “O mankind, you are those in need of Allah, while Allah is The Free of need, The Praiseworthy. If He will, He can remove you and put in your place a new creation” (35:15-16). Knowing one’s true nature, how can one then be arrogant, boasting about his/her origin, privileges, rank, status, wealth, knowledge, etc? Once a righteous predecessor sitting among a group who were remembering their forefathers and boasting about their origins said, “As for me, I came from semen and I will be soon a dead corpse, and between these two points I carry my impurities within me. That is my reality!” Acknowledging one’s reality, illustrates the radicalization of the ill values instilled by the modern culture, the likes of which were mentioned above. It resurrects the modesty in the self, which revives then the light in the soul, cleanses the insight and enables the viewing of the world in its right perspective. One will come then to understand that his/her honor is only gained through the belief and the actions that bring peace and tranquility in the relation between the servant and his/her Rabb (Lord). He/she will savor the meaning of the following Ayah: “O mankind, what has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Generous, Who created you, proportioned you, and balanced you? In whatever form He willed has He assembled you” (82:6-8). He/she will understand that the only way to honor the self and enable for it a guaranteed path of success, ease and peace is to be a sincere servant of Allah (swt): “Behold! verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve. The ones who believe and are God-fearing. For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present and in the Hereafter. No change can there be in the words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme felicity” (10:62-64). "O My servants, no fear will there be concerning you this Day, nor will you grieve, (being) those who have believed in Our Signs and bowed (their wills to Ours) in Islam” (43:68-69).
The core purpose of Ramadan is to gain piety, meaning to reset the settings of the self to enable it to be modest, attaining humility and honoring one’s self. Ramadan is the time of renewal of the oath with Allah (swt). Therefore, the upcoming season of blessings (Ramadan) is the opportunity to free the soul from the bondage of the ill effects of the modern culture and be again a beacon of light, contributing in the betterment of the universe.