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Be True And Be You

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By Wael Abdelgawad

Listen to the quiet voice inside yourself. The persistent voice that tells you that there’s something more to life, that calls you to do something meaningful, to experience the world in a profound way. So many of us dismiss that voice and suppress it. We are told that our dreams are not realistic or practical. We are told that we should settle for what is reliable, and will pay the bills, and garner us the respect of our peers.

But if we do not listen to that quiet voice, then who will? There is no external advocate who can read the yearnings of your heart and speak up on your soul’s behalf. You must be the champion of your own soul.

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On the authority of Abu Malik Al-Harith bin Asim Al-Ashari, the messenger of Allah said:

“Purity is half of faith. alhamdu-lillah [Praise be to Allah] fills the scales, and subhana-Allah [How far is Allah from every imperfection] and alhamdu-lillah [Praise be to Allah] fill that which is between heaven and earth. Prayer is light; charity is a proof; patience is illumination; and the Quran is an argument for or against you. Everyone starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.”

(Related by Muslim).

You are the vendor of your soul: either freeing it or bringing about its ruin. You free it by worshiping Allah in love, gratitude and fear; keeping the praises of Allah on your tongue and in your heart; praying and fasting and living righteously (as opposed to self-righteously); by showing love and concern for other human beings; and by being true to yourself.

Allah created you with a unique nature. Do you think it’s only your fingerprints that are unique? Or your retinal scan, palm print, voice print and DNA? Do you believe that your uniqueness is encapsulated by measurable biometrical data? No, your uniqueness extends to your own wonderful thought patterns, your special heart, and your soul. You are you, not anyone else.

You are not an assembly-line robot, or a machine put here to consume, produce and expire. You are different from everyone else in the world because you are you. Respect that, and don’t try to force yourself into an uncomfortable or even impossible mold that someone else has dictated for you. Be true, be you, and free your soul.

I’m not talking about sinful desires. I am speaking of the quiet and inspired urgings of your heart. Maybe you dream of working in disaster relief, helping all those poor souls who suffered after the Indian Ocean tsunami, or from the earthquake in Haiti, or the floods in Pakistan. Maybe you have an inner artist and you’d like to pursue that passionately and see where it takes you. Maybe you love children and would like to teach; maybe you are not satisfied with current school curricula and you have an idea of starting your own school. Maybe you’ve always fantasized about being a karate black belt, or helping poor villages in Africa become self-sustaining, or campaigning for human rights.

Maybe you’re single and you have feelings for a certain person, or just an undercurrent of admiration and respect, but you fear rejection if you come forward with a marriage proposal; or maybe the person comes from a different cultural background and you worry that your family or your peers would not approve.

I could go on, but you get the point. Don’t fear your dreams: cherish them, nurture them, and do your best to live them. Let’s face it, life is short; it passes so quickly, much sooner than we expect, and when we get to the end of the road we will regret only that we suppressed our hearts, and shoved them down into silence, and failed to live up to our potential as believers and as unique individuals, with our own God-given gifts.

We will never regret pursuing our dreams, taking bold chances, and expressing our love in halal and pure ways. We will never regret attempting to fulfill our missions and destinies here on earth, whether or not we succeed or fail, whether we experienced great joy or intense pain. In the end, the difference between success and failure in any venture is in Allah’s hands anyway. All you can do is try, and trying is everything. In that sense, there is no failure, because a sincere whole-hearted attempt is enough of a milestone in itself.

Stand up for your inner voice. Listen to it.

Stand up for your dreams. Give them a chance.

No one else will do it for you.

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Arif Kabir

    January 13, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    Great article, MashaAllah. It was definitely very inspiring…

  2. -M-

    January 13, 2011 at 2:48 AM

    Very timely. JazakAllahu khairan katheera!

  3. Fozia

    January 13, 2011 at 4:17 AM

    MaashAllah excellent article Brother.

    Written with simplicity, but bursting with inspiration, enthusiasm and drive.

    Yes, we should all strive to achieve our dreams and goals as long as they are halaal/pure!

    Keep writing bro, your words are an inspiration to many!

  4. Yahya Ibrahim

    January 13, 2011 at 4:21 AM

    Bismillah,

    I enjoyed reading this.

    Barak Allahu feekum

    Yahya Ibrahim
    http://www.facebook.com/yahya.adel.ibrahim

  5. AnonyMuslimah

    January 13, 2011 at 4:32 AM

    Assalamu alaikum

    This article brought tears to my eyes. All the opportunities killed by self-sabotage because of fear of failure. Subhanallah…

    Jazak Allah khair

  6. Amad

    January 13, 2011 at 4:36 AM

    This is wonderful… something every parent should make his child read (with some PG :) )

  7. Smeagle

    January 13, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    MashaAllah! This brought more than a tear to my eye…a much needed reminder. Jazakallah Khairun.

  8. Contemplating

    January 13, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    JazakAllahkhair!

    Good timing masha-Allah….full of inspiration and reminders!

  9. Nayma

    January 13, 2011 at 8:02 AM

    What you wrote is sooooo true:

    You are not an assembly-line robot, or a machine put here to consume, produce and expire. You are different from everyone else in the world because you are you. Respect that, and don’t try to force yourself into an uncomfortable or even impossible mold that someone else has dictated for you. Be true, be you, and free your soul.

    We can learn from each other due to the fact that we are so different from each other. Each of us brings a different perspective and beautifies the way of doing things. We benefit so much from listening to each individual. Alhamdulillah for our ‘differences’ and imagination.

    Jazak Allahu Khairan for your article.

  10. Slave of AllahSWT

    January 13, 2011 at 9:11 AM

    Assalamalaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh!

    JazakAllah Khairan ya Akhi!

    SubhanaAllah! Indeed our life is about efforts…no one is perfect….neither is our life perfect….and the results of our SINCERE efforts will inshaAllah be rewarded on the Day of judgement!

    may Allah Azzawajal help us to do whatever is pleasing to Him and help us to stay away from all that is hateful in His Sight!

  11. Leo

    January 13, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Inspiring but impractical for me. I can’t follow my dreams due to the implications on people around me.

    • Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

      January 13, 2011 at 12:58 PM

      Leo, most of us have several dreams that call to us. If one is impossible at the moment, another may be possible. One of my dreams is to master the martial art of Hapkido. I’ve had four years of proper instruction, but now there is no teacher in my city. So every few months I travel several hours for one evening of intensive training. Then I come back to my city and I work with my students here, teaching them what I’ve learned and practicing it over and over, hundreds of times. In this way I have become quite proficient. My repertoire is not as broad as some, but what I know, I know very well Alhamdulillah.

      Achieving your dream will certainly take very hard work. It may also require some compromises, a creative approach, and putting up with criticism or even ridicule from others. But if it is something pleasing to Allah, something worthwhile, something you believe in, then put your nose to the grindstone and do not quit.

    • Fozia

      January 13, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Leo,

      Thats ok, it doesnt mean you’re a failure. Taking into account the implications our actions have on others is also from Islam. So just do whatever you do with a good intention in mind, even if that means having to make some sacrifices. Allah will no doubt reward you for that too.

      I spent too long punishing myself thinking that I had failed at some of my goals. But I know now, that was unhealthy and not a good way to deal with life. We must realise that what works for one does not always work for everyone and we have to use our wisdom to judge what is best for ‘us’, in our personal circumstances and personal surroundings and situations.

      Its not easy, but even this struggle will bring you closer to Allah inshaAllah.

      May Allah make things easier for you, Aameen!

      Fozia

      • Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

        January 13, 2011 at 3:51 PM

        You’re absolutely right. We have realities of family to deal with, and that often requires compromise. If I didn’t have a child I would move to a city where I could study Hapkido properly, and since I’m also fascinated by Silat I might move to Malaysia or Singapore. But I do have a wonderful little girl – Alhamdulillah – and she cannot be moved, so I have to find a way to realize my dream while staying put, and fulfilling my duties as a father.

        Pardon me for obsessing on Hapkido; I’m trying to mention a real-world example to illustrate the concepts in the article.

        • Fozia

          January 13, 2011 at 5:18 PM

          Thank you for acknowledging that Wael.

          If we don’t accept this side of reality, it can make life extremely extremely difficult to live. So everything that has not been achieved is not always a failure.

          Achievement is also in knowing when to stop and in being able to liberate one self from the captivity of a dream that is unfortunately beyond one’s reach and also in being able to achieve peace of mind after this.

          I know you’re completely obsessed with Hapkido, but you’re also completely obsessed with your daughter maashAllah : ). A pious child will benefit you in your Hereafter inshaAllah. So may Allah(swt) bless your daughter with the qualities of Maryam(ra), Asiyah(ra), Khadija(ra) and Fatima(ra), aameen!

          Keep writing Brother Wael,

          Fozia

          • Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

            January 13, 2011 at 5:39 PM

            Right. Well that’s why I say that if some dreams are impossible in full, aspects of them are within our reach. In recent years I’ve developed an interest in human rights and disaster relief. I don’t have the ability right now to travel and work actively in this field, so instead I started a human rights blog. I write about human rights issues, and I provide links for people to take action on critical cases.

          • Fozia

            January 13, 2011 at 6:22 PM

            Yes, Wael,

            You’re right. Some aspects of the dreams are always within our reach!

            I would like to give some examples from my own life here, but can’t think of what to write at the moment, lol.

            Oh yes, helping people is one of my dreams, so working on IslamicAnswers.com is helping me to reach part of that goal already! : )

            So is doing relief work, inshaAllah!

            Fozia

  12. mambee

    January 13, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    I had will, now these words give me a drive. If I don’t respond to my inner voice then who will? Nice piece, I’m like popeye after some spinach now. It is so selfless of u to take the time into encouraging us. Indeed time is against us we can’t keep shoving aside our dreams. Allah bless u and may we find the hearts, will and perseverance to pursue our desires. Ameen

  13. Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

    January 13, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    Jazakum Allah khayr for all the positive comments. If anyone has any constructive criticisms I like to hear those as well because it helps me improve my writing and understand what gaps need filling.

    • Mantiki

      January 13, 2011 at 3:30 PM

      Wael. As an un-orthodox Christian, I’ve had many a debate on various subjects in the short time I have followed this web-site.

      I’m happy to say that your article hit the right spot and is completely accurate from my experiences. Many years ago, I had a deep spiritual experience while praying for redemption in which God flooded my heart with love. Somehow without words, I was “Told” that I / we all, are each and every one of us loved by God. The experience blew away forever the doubts I had about God’s existance and that He is a Personal God rather than a distant Being too powerful to notice or be concerned with us.

      There are so many people who feel sad, unloved, useless or angry – if only they would open their heart to accepting God they would live joyful and happy lives doing God’s will.

      It might also be useful to let people know that scientific studies of older people confirm that those who are happiest, are those who help others! Probably you might be disturbed that such people include agnostics and atheists, but to me this simply means that they are doing God’s will unknowingly. I don’t judge such people harshly because I think that the physiology of the brain determines our ability to perceive God. In all likelihood, prayer and meditation change the brain to make this perception easier for most but not all of us. So the Islamic direction to pray 5 times a day is definately a good pillar!

      • Fozia

        January 15, 2011 at 6:08 PM

        Mantiki,

        If anything, these findings just lean towards confirming the existence of Allah : ).

        Studies have also shown that when agnostics/atheists are in a life and death situation, they automatically cry out to God for help. Muslims believe that everyone, you and were all born with a pure fitrah and so our internal programmes are tuned in with the connection of Allah. We just lose the connection over time as we are fed other things that distance us from the truth.

        So you are completely right when you say: ‘if only they would open their heart to accepting God they would live joyful and happy lives doing God’s will’.

        There is a saying which goes, if you want to talk to Allah, pray your Salaah (5 daily prayers) and if you want Allah to talk to you, read the Quran. So our 5 daily prayers keep us in tune, keep our connection with Allah strong, remind us through out the day of our purpose in life and purify us. It also gives us an opportunity to meditate and have a one to one with the Creator! :O)

        Fozia

  14. Rafa

    January 13, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    Masha Allah, great article, and much needed as well. Young people need this. Being part of that age group, I’ve noticed a lot of my peers have this idea that being pious means being barred from pursuing dreams and such. Insha Allah this will help to open doors.

    Jazak Allah

  15. Cucumber

    January 14, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Very beautiful and inspiring mashaAllah. JazakAllah Khair.

  16. Nabi

    January 15, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    -Removed. Pls don’t paste irrelevant links. That is considered spamming. Future spamming can lead to banning.

  17. Mirza Shahebaz Baig

    January 16, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    Thank you Sam Richards (aren’t american’s in general intellectually honest than rest in general?). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUEGHdQO7WA
    Thank you Leseley Hazelton (shouldn’t da’ee be as articulate) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7yaDlZfqrc

    Ask yourself, where are my adab and akhlaq?
    wassalam.

    ps Sunday open thread I did not see up so the next most relevant article I found it to be posted was this. Mods may copy paste this msg once sunday open thread of this week at MM is up.

  18. Sara

    January 20, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    Assalaam Alaikum brother Wael,

    Excellent article, MashaAllah. I loved reading it!

    An apt reminder for today’s times, where often while in search for who we truly are, we are dictated by the world around us, and thereby lose ourselves. The words of the Qur’an and example of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) should be our guides and inspiration, reaffirming that we need to patiently persevere, following the calling in our hearts and Insha’Allah, we will be able to make our dreams a reality.

    Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful words with us.

  19. shiney

    January 20, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    masha’allah…wht a nice article! i really enjoyed reading it. it’s good you made the little disclaimer about sinful desires vs. quiet and inspired urgings of our hearts because i was kinda getting confused.

  20. Alima

    January 23, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum,

    MashaAllah, nice reminder! JazakAllahu khayrun Br Wael.

    I was thinking one way you could improve it is add a formula for success with in it or even to summarise it, an acronym etc, so whenever we’re faced with such an emotion which holds us back, we remember the acronym and bounce back.

    Something like,

    Dreams

    D – Do you dare to dream?
    R – Regardless of what reality seems.
    E – Enjoying the feeling of supposed success
    A – At times held back with feelings you’re unable to suppress
    M – Make sure you move forward regardless of the test!
    S – Success awaits you, these are your dreams, achieve them with Allah in mind to impress!

    …Just a suggestion.

  21. Ayesha

    March 15, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    Excellent!

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