Connect with us

Development

Please the One, Not the Many

You’re not expected to try to make everyone happy, nor is it possible. That’s not Islam. Respect for others is vital, but in the end we answer to Allah.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

You’re not expected to make everyone happy. That’s not Islam. Maybe people push that expectation onto you—in some cultures young people are taught to cede control over their lives to every elder aunt, uncle, sibling and even in-laws, until they feel squeezed from every direction and stripped of free will. But that is not the dīn. Respect for others is vital, but in the end we answer to Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

” … But it is more fitting that they should please Allāh and His Messenger … “ [Sūrah At-Tawbah;62]

The ultimate example of this is the Prophet Ibrahim [alayhis], who rejected the idol worship of his people, including his father, to such a degree that they tried to kill him. Imagine him, as a young child, tying a rope to the idols he was charged with caring for, and dragging them through the dust to the marketplace, calling, “Come and buy these lifeless idols that can neither benefit nor harm anyone!” SubḥānAllāh! What incredible will and independence of thought.

Looking at it from a more conventional perspective, many young people nowadays are forced into unwanted marriages, or are denied the partners of their choice because of un-Islamic reasons such as caste and race. Young women are pressured by their boyfriends into having sex -and yes, this occurs among Muslims all the time- because they don’t have the fortitude to say no, or because they are suckered by false promises of future marriage. People do all sorts of reprehensible things in order to be accepted by their peers.

Women, in particular, are taught to be “pleasers,” and sometimes measure their own self-worth to the degree to which they make others happy. Pleasers have a narrative running constantly in their minds: “I’m nothing if I can’t make others happy. If I please others I will be loved. If I just keep on trying, the people around me will change.”

This narrative is a myth. In reality, pleasers are often taken for granted or taken advantage of, and end up feeling depleted, hopeless, and angry. Managers and co-workers can get away with dumping extra work onto them. Friends ask them for steadily bigger favors, knowing that the pleaser never says no. Stuck in a relationship with an abusive man, a pleaser will try ever harder to cook, dress and smell the way the abuser likes, convinced that if she can only please him, he will become kind and loving. When this doesn’t work and the pleaser can’t take any more abuse, she feels like a failure. The feeling can be extreme, as if the world is coming to an end.

Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), by contrast, is One who rewards us with far more than we give in His cause. When we strive to please Him we feel contented, right, and spiritually hale, rather than exhausted and disillusioned. Pleasing and serving Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is never a one-way street, as it so often is with human beings. Everything we have already came from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). When we’re grateful, He increases our provision, and when we work in Allāh’s cause He outmatches us.

We have to stop surrendering our souls to other human beings, and surrender instead to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

The Challenge of a Lifetime

We were created to live in the cause of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), fulfilling our greater purpose, and living the dream imbued in our hearts.

Every one of us has a role to play in healing this fractured world and bringing truth to the fore. We are asked to dedicate ourselves to the One, and it’s not a small task. It’s the challenge of a lifetime. We shine with our full glory only when we bow exclusively to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). When we do that, all others will either fall into step with us on this lighted path, or will lose their power to harm us spiritually and emotionally.

“Those (the believers) to whom the people (the hypocrites) said: ‘Verily, the people (the pagans) have gathered against you (a great army), therefore fear them.’ But it (only) increased them in Faith, and they said: Allāh (alone) is sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs.” [Sūrah Āl-‘Imrān;173]

Sahl bin Sad As-Sai’di raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported: “A man came to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh, guide me to such an action which if I do Allāh will love me and the people will also love me.’ He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, ‘Have no desire for this world, and Allāh will love you; and have no desire for what people possess, and people will love you.’” [Ibn Majah Al-Albani classified this hadīth as authentic]

To “have no desire for this world” doesn’t mean that you don’t strive to achieve the necessities of life. Rather, it means that you do not hunger for luxuries, and that you don’t envy what others have been given (what people possess). You have a greater goal, which is the achievement of Jannah. Therefore your concern in worldly affairs is the pleasure of Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

You will never succeed in gratifying everyone, not if you lived a thousand years. As the old saying goes, you can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. It is also true that sometimes you will please none of the people, and that’s fine too. Work on pleasing Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and you’ll find yourself in harmony with the fundamental forces of the universe.

These are not just pretty words that I toss out like confetti. These are my deepest beliefs, condensed from decades of loneliness, bitter pain, and also joy and gratitude. I have truly seen miracles, and in many ways I’m a walking miracle myself; not because of anything I’ve done, but because Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has saved me from so much, and guided me from such depths—Alhamdulillāh.

If my posts help anyone then all praise is due to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). And if you think I’m off the mark, then māshā’Allāh, that’s alright. You have lived your own life and gone where you’ve gone on the face of this earth, and you must make your own judgments. I’m putting forward what I believe to be true, if anything can be said to be true in this dunya. And Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows best.

What is Real?

For what is real in this universe if not Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)? All else passes away. If one was to venture into quantum physics, you find that our physical “reality” itself is bizarre and impossible to comprehend.

In the last century the science of physics has been upended. It was once believed that everything was either a particle or a wave. Now we know that particles are also waves, and waves are also particles. Quantum objects can exist in multiple places and states at the same time. Two particles can become entangled on the quantum level such that the behavior of one affects the other instantaneously, even when they are light years apart. When these theories were first proposed scientists resisted them, feeling that the universe would no longer make sense if such things were true (Einstein labeled quantum entanglement “spooky action”). These theories have since been confirmed by repeated experiments, but scientists still have no idea how these things are possible.

What makes sense in this life except Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)? With all the suffering we human beings go through, with all the starvation, war and crime, how can we even justify our existence except in the name of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)? We need that ultimate justice. We need that One Single Reality, that Eternal Presence, that Final Arbiter.

Coming back to the original thought, why should we torture ourselves trying to indulge people who are themselves flawed? Other human beings don’t set the standard of truth. They don’t have the right to sit in judgment over every slip and fall. They don’t see our souls. They don’t know our hearts or our pain. Only Allāh is Al-Baseer (The All Seeing), worthy of our striving. Let us be kind to others, honor our parents, and show respect. But let us not submit our souls to anyone or anything but Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Reader comments and constructive criticism are important to me, so please comment!

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s fictional stories on this website.

Avatar

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels – including Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters, Zaid Karim Private Investigator, and Uber Tales – are available in ebook and print form on his author page at Amazon.com.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Wael-Abdelgawad/e/B071CYWVDM?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1579756718&sr=8-1Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including IslamicAnswers.com and IslamicSunrays.com, and various financial websites. Heteaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at WaelAbdelgawad.com.For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Umara Tanwer

    January 3, 2014 at 7:16 AM

    JazakAllahu khair! May Allah reward you immensely, this is exactly what I needed to know! Alhamdulillah. I truly find this helpful, and I ask Allah to make all of us of those people who truly submit their souls to none other than Him. Ameen.

  2. Avatar

    amatullah

    January 3, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    assalamualaykum
    u mention pleasers in an abusive relationship.What about when everyone around u , even your own parents want u to go back to the abuser n try to please n change him. i m in an emotionally abusive marriage n i feel lost n suffocated. How can we decide to what extent we have to try n work to save our marriage.
    cz here in India divorcees become outcastes , looked down upon n degraded by society.
    How do i decide whether to stay in marriage or to get out n face more abuse.

    • Avatar

      Melanie

      January 3, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      InshAllah, Allah will guide you to the best decision. Do not be too hard on yourself, sister.

    • Avatar

      Wael Abdelgawad

      January 3, 2014 at 6:42 PM

      amatullah, you are in a difficult situation, but I would say do not go back to the abuser unless he is willing to change and shows you that he is changing. For example he could agree to see a marriage counselor. However if the pattern of abuse is persistent and no change is in sight, then get your divorce, and trust Allah to bring you someone better, Insha’Allah.

    • Avatar

      SisterX

      January 7, 2014 at 4:42 AM

      Amatullah. You are not alone. I am in a similar situation. It took me a long time to realize that i have been abused, because the abuse is rarely physical. If I could leave, I would but I am financially dependent on him, have no family support, and young children to care for, so I stay. At times it is enough to look for the good qualities that my husband has, because in many ways he is religious and a good person, but has this other side that can be very hurtful and isolating.

      I am not telling you what you should do, but rather that you must look to your own circumstances and decide what is best.

      I wonder if anyone at MM, or any readers know of any Islamic resources for anyone who is in an abusive relationship?

      • Avatar

        Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        January 8, 2014 at 2:09 AM

        Dear SisterX

        Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting. You may also use a blog handle provided your blog is linked and the email address is a valid one.

        Best Regards
        Comments Team

    • Avatar

      niha

      July 19, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      wa alaikum salam. this might be late, but i hope it helps you. i live in india too and i am kind of familiar with the situation. i want you to know that you are worth a lot more than what he treats you like. be firm. let everyone know that you wont compromise on yourself. Allah SWT will question you about your own rights too. if you feel the situation is getting very bad then do consider getting a divorce.

      please dont be afraid of degradation or difficulties from the society. because Allah SWT is always with you. and i want to share something that i have found to be true: “people will treat you the way you treat them and people will never treat you badly unless you let them.”

      so be strong and when people see that you will not be forced into doing something you dont like, Inshaa Allah, they will come to respect your decisions.

      (and even if they dont, dont care for them. after all, its your life and your choice. they want to look down on you they are free to. just dont let that affect you.)

      may Allah guide you and be with you always. ameen.

  3. Avatar

    San Jose

    January 3, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Mashallah, a wonderful reminder for all of us.

    I’d like to add that “not becoming slaves to other people” should not be understood to mean “I’ll live my life the way I want”. By doing so, one may fall into the danger of being a slave to one’s own nafs, and that would be just as bad. Our ultimate goal is to be a slave of Allah, and to follow the example of our beloved prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

    • Avatar

      RCHOUDH

      January 6, 2014 at 4:59 PM

      Great point San Jose about how we shouldn’t go towards the other extreme of “living our lives the way we want”, because that isn’t what Muslims should do either. And great article Brother Wael. I’d just like to add that sometimes some people try to take advantage of others by using Islam as an excuse. An example would be parents pressuring their kids to major in specific fields (such as medicine or engineering) and blackmailing the kids into believing that they would be going against their parents wishes if they refused to do so. Another example would be a family member going around asking other for a loan (that he/she might never pay off) and claiming that if someone refuses to help, they’re breaking the ties of kinship. In these cases, it becomes harder for the pleaser to get away from having to please such people. My advice would be for the pleaser to first explain to those trying to take advantage of them, that Islam does not require that we are forced into doing something we don’t feel comfortable doing, even if that action is permissible. If the person still insists upon trying to make you do something you don’t want to do, then continue to refuse doing it, but continue to maintain the ties of kinship anyway. If they break the ties, they’ll be held accountable for it, not you.

  4. Avatar

    Melanie

    January 3, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    These are not just pretty words that I toss out like confetti. These are my deepest beliefs, condensed from decades of loneliness, bitter pain, and also joy and gratitude. I have truly seen miracles, and in many ways I’m a walking miracle myself; not because of anything I’ve done, but because Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) has saved me from so much, and guided me from such depths—Alhamdulillāh.

    I will engrave these words in my heart. Jazaka Allah Khayr

  5. Avatar

    Sister

    January 3, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Assalaamu Alaykum warahmatullah

    JazaakAllahu khair and baraakAllahu feek

    If I personally follow the opinion that I shouldn’t congratulate others on the gregorian New Year, how would you suggest politely/gently dealing with the situation of my grandparents calling to congratulate me (1 grandparent is atheist or agnostic, and 1 of them is muslim)? Should I say I only celebrate the 2 eids? Should I change the subject? Should I say, I hope each day is better than the next not just on Jan 1..?

    JazaakAllahu khair

    • Avatar

      Razan

      January 3, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      Say, I hope EACH of your days is better than the next(not just Jan. 1st). ALWAYS take a positive approach to these sort of things.

    • Avatar

      Wael Abdelgawad

      January 3, 2014 at 6:44 PM

      Sister, when they wish you a happy new year you can just say, “Thank you! What did you do for the new year?” They won’t even notice that you did not say “Happy new year” in return.

      • Avatar

        Basmah

        January 10, 2014 at 1:32 AM

        I do the same for all non islamic holidays :) works well .

  6. Avatar

    Maira

    January 4, 2014 at 1:41 AM

    Beautifully written, mash’Allah, brother Wael. You have become one of my most favorite writers in a really short while. May Allah swt reward you immensely for this effort. Hope you and your daughter are doing well! Jazak’Allah.

    • Avatar

      Wael Abdelgawad

      January 4, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      Thank you Maira, we’re good Alhamdulillah. Salma just read my bio here and wanted me to add, “Her name is Salma and she loves vanilla ice cream. She also loves to ride her scooter. She has lots of dolls. Maybe even millions. She loves them all.”

  7. Avatar

    carolyn

    January 4, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    I want to say thank you and so i shared t his but had to put it in parts so that others would actually read it. hope you do not mind.I am just learning that many do not like to read long articles. as you have written this well.. Please keep up the work and may Allah bless you greatly

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      January 6, 2014 at 1:11 AM

      Dear Carolyn:

      Please see our policy regarding posting content from MuslimMatters elsewhere http://muslimmatters.org/about/legal/

      COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

      All articles on MuslimMatters.org are copyrighted, with all rights reserved to the extent permitted by law. Please also note that the name “MuslimMatters.org” or “MuslimMatters”, the MM logo, and the phrase “Because Muslims Matter” are trademarks belonging to MuslimMatters.org.

      For purposes of reproduction, the following only applies to non-profit usage:

      For internet or any electronic usage: please only use excerpts (no more than half the article), with specific link to the article on MM, and a clear citation at the beginning of the excerpt. Under no circumstances, may full articles be reproduced electronically without the express permission of MM.

      For non-electronic usage (newsletters, flyers, etc.): full articles can be reproduced with full citation and weblink to the exact article. The credit to author and MuslimMatters.org should be at the top of the article, and a weblink to the specific article location should be provided at the bottom. You may shorten specific link using tinyurl.com.

      Any original photographs on MM cannot be reproduced or cross-posted without explicit permission from MM.

      Note: If your intended use is commercial, you must obtain from MM express permission in advance of any use, regarding scope and intended usage.

  8. Avatar

    Shahin

    January 4, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Extremely beneficial reminder and the part about women being molded into being “pleasers” is so true…May Allah protect us all.

  9. Avatar

    Diah

    January 5, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    This touched my soul and gave words to what I have been contemplating!
    JazakAllah

  10. Avatar

    Abdullah Khan

    January 5, 2014 at 2:41 AM

    As salam.alikum.

    Mashallah very well written.

  11. Avatar

    FARID

    January 5, 2014 at 3:27 AM

    JAZAK ALLAH KHEIRYN.VERY BENEFICIAL.

  12. Avatar

    Sara

    January 5, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    I am 4 years older to the man I love. We both are muslim, and wish to be married. His parents are against it, and refuse to allow it to happen. His mother has ordered me to stay away from him and told me if I love him, I will let him go. He does not want to disobey his mother, and is torn in the middle. I have my family’s approval, but we do not wish to get married without his parent’s consent even though Islam allows it. She refuses to accept me even though she is a very educated person. Are we disobeying Allah by trying to get married and disobey his parents wishes? I have done istikhara 7 times as well but there is no clear sign.

    • Avatar

      Wael Abdelgawad

      January 5, 2014 at 4:48 PM

      “desperate”, a man does not necessarily need his parents’ permission to marry, especially if their reasons for rejecting a potential spouse are not based on Islam. If the only reason they are rejecting you is the age difference then I suggest you arrange a visit to them by a knowledgeable Muslim who can point out to them, for example, the age difference between Khadijah (RA) and the Messenger (sws). Perhaps they can be convinced.

      If they are adamant then the decision belongs to you and the son. Get married without his parents’ consent, or break it off. I might point out that often parents threaten a child with being disowned, and they might indeed be angry for sometime, but when the grandkids come along they usually soften and relent.

  13. Avatar

    Please exclude my name from the post

    January 6, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    ………………. ….

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      January 7, 2014 at 12:09 AM

      Our apologies but we do need a valid name to be used. We have just used the first name to still provide a level of anonymity. You may also contact comments [at] muslimmatters [dot] org with a valid Kunyah and we will change it to that.

  14. Avatar

    Riz Khan

    January 6, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Mashallah! Well Written! We should do our best to please Almighty Allah! but Allah also tell us to be kind, beneficial, courteous to others.So caring for others is according to commands of Almighty Allah. The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and the respected Sahaba Karaam used to sacrifice their own needs for others i.e. they would themselves remain hungry and gave their food to others.The following narrates such an incident

    One old woman made a habit of throwing rubbish on Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) whenever he passed from her house! Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had to pass that house daily on the way to the mosque.
    Even when the old woman threw rubbish on him, he would pass silently without showing any anger or annoyance. This was a regular, daily event.

    One day when the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was passing by, the woman was not there to throw the rubbish. He stopped, and asked the neighbour about her well-being, and wondering why she wasn’t dropping any rubbish on him.

    The neighbour informed the Prophet that the woman was sick on bed. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) politely asked permission to visit the woman. When allowed he entered the house, the woman thought that he had come there to take his revenge when she was unable to defend herself because of sickness.

    But the Prophet (Peace be upon him) assured her that he had come to her, not to take any revenge, but to see her and to look after her needs, as it was the command of Allah that if any one is sick, a Muslim should visit him and should help him if his help is needed.

    The old woman was greatly moved by this kindness and love of the Prophet. By the example of greatness of Muhammad, she understood that he was truly the Prophet of God and Islam was the true religion. She accepted Islam at once, Alhamdulilah.

    I think the article present those cases of pleasing the people which displeases Allah! For example doing something for pleasing others which is against the spirit of Islam. That is what came to my mind. Am I missing something ?

  15. Avatar

    SisterX

    January 7, 2014 at 4:46 AM

    May Allah reward you for the excellent article. I always look forward to reading your words as I believe you are sincere and honest in your efforts and there is never a hint of self-righteousness in your words. There are several times that your words have brought me to tears because it was exactly the message that I needed to have at the time.

    I think when it comes to abuse, one of the difficulties in the case of many sisters is that obeying and pleasing our husbands is part of obeying Allah, unless it is something that clearly goes against Islam.

    If a husband doesn’t want his wife to see or communicate with friends, or attend social events at the Islamic center, that does not violate Islam, but is detrimental to the woman’s happiness. If a woman has an acceptable view islamically on an issue but her husband takes another view that is also acceptable, he can use his authority to enforce her to follow the opinion that he prefers. By emphasizing obeying the husband, it would be possible for a husband to control virtually every aspect of her life and as long as it didn’t contradict Islam, she will be inclined to obey out of fearing Allah.

    I think this is a point that should be clarified. At what point does it go too far when a husband expects his wife to obey him, and she sacrifices her own identity, wants and needs in order to please him?

    • Avatar

      RCHOUDH

      January 7, 2014 at 8:03 AM

      Yes exactly Sister X, I was trying to make a similar point to yours up above, except I used an example involving parents and their older kids. This is important to think about in light of this article, over when does unconditional obedience go too far, where the pleaser’s well-being has become neglected, despite them having to obey orders and requests that are not always necessarily haraam? I provided a possible suggestion up above, but would like to hear from others if there are other ways to solve this problem.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      January 8, 2014 at 2:09 AM

      Dear SisterX

      Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting. You may also use a blog handle provided your blog is linked and the email address is a valid one.

      Best Regards
      Comments Team

  16. Avatar

    amatullah

    January 8, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    i request the MM team to please work on something related to emotional needs of women. Many men dont understand that women are like a rib and should be dealt with in a kind manner .Verbal and emotional abuse of women is a rampant problem and even religios men argue that only provision of clothing n shelter is required of them. If a women tries to resist , the society quietens her down and expects her to keep sacrificing to stretch an unhappy marriage.

  17. Avatar

    Amy

    January 15, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Another late response- apologies. I actually always love reading articles like this. I don’t think I can ever be reminded enough to look after the balance in my life.

    I do think you could probably write a separate article on the nature of reality, though. lol.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Life

7 Powerful Techniques For Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Studies show the most common New Year’s resolutions revolve around finances and health.  Unfortunately, they also show only a relatively small number will keep most or all of them. The rest will mostly fail within the first few weeks. Here are 7 powerful techniques to make sure you’re not one of them.

New Year's Resolutions
Who uses sticky notes on a cork board #stockimagefail
Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

It’s the end of the year, and I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking – after wondering if New Year’s is halal to celebrate, you probably want to lose some weight, make more money, talk to family more, or be a better Muslim in some way.  The New Year for many of us is a moment to turn a fresh page and re-imagine a better self. We make resolutions and hope despite the statistics we’ll be the outliers that don’t fail at keeping our New Year’s resolutions.

Studies show the most common New Year’s resolutions revolve around finances and health. Unfortunately, they also show only a relatively small number will keep most or all of them. The rest will mostly fail within the first few weeks.

Given such a high failure rate, let’s talk about how you can be among the few who set and achieve your goals successfully.

1. Be Thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

Allah Gives You More if You’re Thankful

You’ve been successful this past year in a number of areas. Think of your worship, career, relationships, personality, education, health (physical, mental, social, and spiritual), and finances. Take a moment to reflect on where you’ve succeeded, no matter how trivial, even if it’s just maintaining the status quo, and be thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for those successes.

When you’re thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), He increases you in blessings.  Allah says in the Qur’an:

“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you give thanks (by accepting faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My blessings); but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily, My punishment is indeed severe’” [14:7] 

In recent years, there’s been more discussion on the benefits of practicing gratitude, though oftentimes it’s not clear to whom or what you’re to be grateful towards. We, of course, know that we’re not grateful simply to the great unconscious cosmos, but to our Creator.

Despite this difference, there exist interesting studies on how the practice of gratitude affect us. Some of the benefits include:

  • Better relationships with those thanked
  • Improved physical health
  • Improved psychological health
  • Enhanced empathy and reduced aggression
  • Better sleep
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved mental strength

Building on Your Successes

In addition to being thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), reflect on why you were successful in those areas.  What was it you did day in and day out to succeed? Analyze it carefully and think of how you can either build on top of those present successes, or how you can transport the lessons from those successes to new areas of your life to succeed there as well.

In the book Switch by Dan and Chip Heath, they note that we have a tendency to try to solve big problems with big solutions, but a better technique that has actual real-world success in solving complex problems is to instead focus on bright spots and build on those bright spots instead. You have bright spots in how you’ve worked and operated, so reflect on your successes and try to build on top of them.

2. Pick One Powerful, Impactful Goal

Oftentimes when we want to change, we try to change too many areas.  This can lead to failure quickly because change in one area is not easy, and attempting to do it in multiple areas simultaneously will simply accelerate failure.

Instead, pick one goal – a goal that you are strongly motivated to fulfill, and one that you know if you were to make that goal, it would have a profoundly positive impact on your life as well as on others whom you are responsible to.

In making the case based on scientific studies, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, writes:

Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick with your habits if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior. For example, in one study scientists asked people to fill out this sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].”

Further down, he states:

“However (and this is crucial to understand) follow-up research has discovered implementation intentions only work when you focus on one thing at a time.”

When setting your goal, be sure to set a SMART goal, one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound.  “I want to lose weight” is not a SMART goal.  “I want to achieve 10% bodyfat at 200 lbs in 9 months” is specific (you know the metrics to achieve), measurable (you can check if you hit those metrics), achievable (according to health experts, it can be done, realistic (it’s something you can do), and time-bound (9 months).

3. Repeatedly Make Du’a with Specificity

Once you lock onto your goal, you should ask for success in your goal every day, multiple times a day.  Increasing in your du’a and asking Allah for success not only brings you the help of the Most High in getting to your goal, it also ensures it remains top of mind consistently.

A few of the best ways to increase the chances of a supplication being accepted:

  • Increase the frequency of raising your hands after salah and asking for your intended outcome.
  • Asking while you are in sujood during prayers.
  • Praying and supplicating in the last 3rd of the night during qiyam ul-layl.

When you make your du’a, be specific in what you ask for, and in turn, you will have a specific rather than a vague goal at the forefront of your mind which is important because one of the major causes of failure for resolutions themselves is lacking specificity.

4. Schedule Your Goal for Consistency

The most powerful impact on the accomplishment of any goal isn’t in having the optimal technique to achieve the goal – it is rather how consistent you are in trying to achieve it.  The time and frequency given to achievement regularly establishes habits that move from struggle to lifestyle. As mentioned in the previous section, day, time, and place were all important to getting the goal, habit, or task accomplished.

In order to be consistent, schedule it in your calendar of choice. When you schedule it, make sure you:

  • Pick the time you’re most energetic and likely to do it.
  • Work out with family, friends, and work that that time is blocked out and shouldn’t be interrupted.
  • Show up even if you’re tired and unmotivated – do something tiny, just to make sure you maintain the habit.

A Word on Automation

Much continues to be written about jobs lost to automation, but there are jobs we should love losing to automation, namely, work that we do that can be done freely or very cheaply by a program.  For example, I use Mint to capture all my accounts (bank, credit card, investments, etc) and rather than the old method of gathering receipts and tracking transactions, all of it is captured online and easily accessible from any device.

Let’s say you wanted to give to charity, and you wanted to give a recurring donation of $5 a month to keep MuslimMatters free – all you have to do is set up an automated recurring donation at the link and you’re done.

Likewise, if you’re saving money for a goal, you can easily do so by automating a specific amount of money coming out of your bank account into another account via the online banking tools your bank provides.  You can automate bill payments and other tasks to clear your schedule, achieve your goals, and keep you focused on working the most important items.

5. Focus on Behaviors, Not Outcomes

We’re often told we should set up SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound.  However, one way to quickly fail a goal is by defining success according to outcomes, which aren’t necessarily in your hand.  For example, you might say as above:

“I want to be at 10% body fat in 9 months at 200 lbs.”

This is a SMART goal, and it’s what you should aim for, but when you assess success, you shouldn’t focus on the result as it’s somewhat outside the scope of your control. What you can do is focus on behaviors that help you achieve that goal, or get close to it, and then reset success around whether you’re completing your behaviors.  As an example:

“I want to complete the P90X workout and diet in 90 days.”

Here, you’re focused on generally accepted notions on behaviors that will get you close to your goal.  Why? Because you control your behaviors, but you can’t really control the outcomes. Reward yourself when you follow through on your behavior goals, and the day-to-day commitments you make.  If you find that compliance is good, and you’re getting closer to your goal, keep at it.

Read the following if you want to really understand the difference in depth.

6. Set Realistic Expectations – Plan to Fail, and Strategize Recovery

After too many failures, most people give up and fall off the wagon.  You will fail – we all do. Think of a time you’ve failed – what should you have done to get back on your goal and complete it?  Now reflect on the upcoming goal – reflect on the obstacles that will come your way and cause you to fail, and how when you do fail, you’ll get right back on it.

Once you fail, ask yourself, was it because of internal motivation, an external circumstance, a relationship where expectations weren’t made clear, poor estimation of effort – be honest, own what you can do better, and set about attempting to circumvent the obstacle and try again.

7. Assess Your Progress at Realistic Intervals

Once you’re tracking behaviors, simply mark down in an app or tracker that you completed the behavior.  Once you see you’re consistent in your behaviors over the long-term, you’ll have the ability to meaingfully review your plan and assess goal progress.

This is important because as you attempt to perform the work necessary to accomplish the goal, you’ll find that your initial assessments for completion could be wrong. Maybe you need more time, maybe you need a different time. Maybe you need a different process for accomplishing your goals. Assess your success at both weekly and monthly intervals, and ask yourself:

  • How often was I able to fulfill accomplish my required behaviors?  How often did I miss?
  • What was the reason for those misses?
  • Can I improve what I’m doing incrementally and change those failures to successes?  Or is the whole thing wrong and not working?

Don’t make changes when motivation dies after a few days.  Don’t make big changes on a weekly basis. Set an appointment on a weekly basis simply to review successes and challenges, making small tweaks while maintaining the overall plan. Set a monthly appointment with yourself to review and decide what you’ll change, if anything, in how you operate.

Be something of a Tiger mom about it – aim for 90% completion of behaviors, or an A grade, when assessing whether you’ve done well or not.  Anything below 90% is a failing grade.

(ok, so Tiger Moms want 100% or more, but let’s assume this is a somewhat forgiving Tiger Mom)

Putting it All Together

Set ‘Em Up

  • First, take a moment to reflect and be thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for what you’ve achieved, and reflect on what it is you’ve accomplished and what you’ve done in the way you worked and operated that helped you succeed.
  • Next, pick one goal and one goal alone to achieve, and use the SMART goal methodology to be clear about what it is.
  • Once this is done, make du’a with strong specificity on a regular basis during all times, and especially during the times when du’as are most likely to be accepted.

Knock ‘Em Down

  • Schedule your goal into a calendar, making sure you clear the time with any individuals who will be impacted by your changed routines and habits.
  • On a daily basis, focus on completing behaviors, not the outcomes you’re aiming for – the behaviors get you to the outcomes.
  • Plan on failing occasionally, especially a week after motivation disappears, and plan for how you’ll bounce back immediately and recover from it.
  • Finally, on a daily and weekly basis, assess yourself to see if you’re keeping on track with your behaviors and make adjustments to do better. On a monthly basis, assess how much closer you are to your goal, and if you’re making good progress, or if you’re not making good progress, and try to understand why and what adjustments you’ll make.

What goals do you plan to achieve in the coming year?

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Life

I Encountered A Predator On Instagram

A predator on Instagram posing as a hijab modeling consultant, going by the name of @samahnation, tried to prey on me- an underage, 16-year-old. We don’t know if the photos on Instagram page have been stolen from a victim. These predators operate under various names.

instagram predator
Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

It was a Wednesday night in April and as I was getting ready to go to bed, a direct message popped up in my Instagram inbox. A little background; my personal  account on Instagram is private and it is rare that I let anyone, whom I do not know, follow me. But seeing that this was a grown “woman” with a baby and I had at least seven mutual friends, I let her follow me. 

I will say, I was definitely in the wrong to respond to someone I didn’t personally know. Somehow I thought her 105K followers gave her credibility. 

I was gravely mistaken. 

I opened the direct message. 

She had sent me a message complimenting me. This wasn’t new to me because I often get messages with compliments about my appearance from friends — we are teenagers. However, the stark difference was that I didn’t know this person at all. (I came to learn that these types of messages can go under the category of grooming). After complimenting me, she asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company. 

Many young women are targeted by predators on Instagram. Here is my story. 'After complimenting me, 'she' asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company.'Click To Tweet

I replied, saying that if I had more details I’d consult with my parents and give her an answer the next morning; to which she responded demanding she must have an answer the same night as she had other offers to make. 

I then went to ask my mother. Mama was sick with the flu, quite woozy, but despite her state she said,

“this sounds like a scam to me…”.



I decided to play along with it and test her. 

I told @samahnation to tell me more and how I could verify her and her company. She then sent me numerous copied and pasted answers —hecka long— about how I could trust her; how the company would pay me and how they will still make money in the meantime. 

hijab modeling scam

Thankfully, I was apprehensive during the entire ordeal, but as you can see, this type of manipulation is so real and possible for young women and girls to fall prey. This experience was honestly quite scary and jarring for me. I was so easily distracted by what she was portraying herself as on her profile. She had a GoFundMe for a masjid in her bio and posts of photos depicting her love for her baby.
predator

I began to do some research. I stumbled upon an article about a ‘Hijab House’ model scam. Using the title of ‘consultant director’ for a well-known hijab company, Hijab House, predators were allegedly preying on young girls in Australia. Hijab House has denied any link to this scam. 

Hijab House model scam

 

The predator went as far as to blackmail and pressure their victims into sending nude photos, or doing crazy things like smelling shoes! Eerily enough, @samahnation’s Instagram bio stated that she was based in Melbourne, Australia.


The more I engaged with this predator, the more ludicrous their responses and questions got. And this happened within the span of 24 hours. 

She went as far as to ask me if I would answer questions for a survey, saying all that mattered was honesty and that the purpose of the survey was to make me uncomfortable to see if I “won’t fall under pressure.”

Clearly, this last statement about being a speech analysis specialist was a complete fabrication. Again, may I reiterate that even older people can fall prey. You don’t have to be young and impressionable, these manipulative perpetrators will do anything to get what they want.



As shown below, the situation reached an obscene level of ridiculousness. You can see clear attempts to gaslight me and pressure me into answering or changing my stance on my replies.


This was the last thing I said to the predator before I blocked and reported them in an attempt to get them caught. Observe how as soon as I called this person out they immediately became defensive and tried to manipulate me into thinking that what they were doing and asking me was completely normal- that I was the crazy one for asking for proof. 

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. They had asked me questions I found too lewd to even answer or take screenshots of.

This bizarre encounter was honestly astonishing. I do not even know if I was talking to a man or a woman.

Alhamdullilah, I am so glad because even if I was a little bit gullible, I was aware enough about predatory behavior that I didn’t fall victim to this perpetrator. I am especially grateful for my mother, who has educated me about predators like this from a very young age; whom even in her drowsy state was able to tell me it was a preposterous scam.

I could have been blackmailed.

Talk to your parents or a trusted adult

I am grateful for having an open channel of communication, that my relationship with my mother is based on trust and I could go to her when this occurred. This is a reminder and a learning opportunity for all of us how these scary things can happen to anyone. We must learn how to take caution and protect ourselves and our (underage) loved ones against such situations.

Sis, please talk to your parents. They love you and will be your first line of defense.

Grooming

Grooming is a very common tactic online predators use to gain the trust of their victim. According to InternetSafety101, young people put themselves at great risk by communicating online with individuals they do not know on a personal level. “Internet predators intentionally access sites that children commonly visit and can even search for potential victims by location or interest.

If a predator is already communicating with a child, he or she can piece together clues from what the child mentions while online, including parents’ names, where the child goes to school, and how far away the child lives from a certain landmark, store, or other location.
Online grooming is a process which can take place in a short time or over an extended period of time. Initial conversations online can appear innocent, but often involve some level of deception. As the predator (usually an adult) attempts to establish a relationship to gain a child’s trust, he may initially lie about his age or may never reveal his real age to the child, even after forming an established online relationship. Often, the groomer will know popular music artists, clothing trends, sports team information, or another activity or hobby the child may be interested in, and will try to relate it to the child.”

These tactics lead children and teens to believe that no one else can understand them or their situation like the groomer. After the child’s trust develops, the groomer may use sexually explicit conversations to test boundaries and exploit a child’s natural curiosity about sex. Predators often use pornography and child pornography to lower a child’s inhibitions and use their adult status to influence and control a child’s behavior.

They also flatter and compliment the child excessively and manipulate a child’s trust by relating to emotions and insecurities and affirming the child’s feelings and choices.

Predators will:

* Prey on teen’s desire for romance, adventure, and sexual information.
* Develop trust and secrecy: manipulate child by listening to and sympathizing with child’s problems and insecurities.
* Affirm feelings and choices of child.
* Exploit natural sexual curiosities of child.
* Ease inhibitions by gradually introducing sex into conversations or exposing them to pornography.
* Flatter and compliment the child excessively, send gifts, and invest time, money, and energy to groom the child.
* Develop an online relationship that is romantic, controlling, and upon which the child becomes dependent.
* Drive a wedge between the child and his/her parents and friends.
* Make promises of an exciting, stress-free life, tailored to the youth’s desire.
* Make threats, and often will use child pornography featuring their victims to blackmail them into silence.”

Gaslighting 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? 

According to Psychology Today, gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. “Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind,” writes Dr Stephanie Sarkis. 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? Click To Tweet

Recognizing signs that you may be a victim of gaslighting:

Second guessing. Are you constantly second guessing yourself when talking to this person or questioning your own morals that you wouldn’t have thought twice about otherwise? For example, when this person popped up in my inbox I wouldn’t have thought twice about blocking or just deleting the message if it was a man but, since it seemed to be a woman I was duped into thinking that it was more acceptable or I could trust them more.

Feeling as if you are being too sensitive. Again I cannot emphasize this enough that you must trust your instincts, if you are feeling uncomfortable and your internal alarm bells are ringing- listen to them! Anyone can be a victim of gaslighting or manipulation. 

Feeling constantly confused. Another sign that you may be falling victim to gas lighting is when you are constantly confused and second guessing your thoughts and opinions.

Three takeaways:

1. Trust your instincts (I’m going to reiterate this, always trust your gut feeling, if you feel like you are uncomfortable whether it’s a situation you are in or if you don’t have a good feeling while talking to a certain person I advise you exit the chat or don’t answer in the first place.)
2. Never answer to someone whom you don’t know. I will say this was my first and biggest mistake that I have made: allowing this person’s messages into my inbox, and replying to their ridiculous claims and questions. Now that I think about it I don’t even know if this was a woman or not.
3. Set your boundaries! This is probably the most important tip to take away from this article. Setting up your boundaries from the beginning is so important. Whether it is a friend, partner or colleague, if you do not set your boundaries from the beginning of your interaction or relationship with that person; people will not respect your limits and choices later on. Especially if your boundaries have to do with religion, moral compasses, or even specific pet peeves you have. I cannot emphasize how much boundaries matter when it comes to any daily interaction you may have in your daily life.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Life

How Grandparents Can Be Of Invaluable Help In A Volatile ‘Me First’ Age

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

I grew up in a small rural village of a developing country during the 1950s and 1960s within a wider ‘extended’ family environment amidst many village aunties and uncles. I had a wonderfully happy childhood with enormous freedom but traditional boundaries. Fast forward 30 years, my wife and I raised our four children on our own in cosmopolitan London in the 1980s and 1990s. Although not always easy, we had a wonderful experience to see them grow as adults. Many years and life experiences later, as grandparents, we see how parenting has changed in the current age of confusion and technology domination.

While raising children is ever joyous for parents, external factors such as rapidly changing lifestyles, a breath-taking breakdown of values in modern life, decline of parental authority and the impacts of social media have huge impacts on modern parenting.

Recently, my wife and I decided to undertake the arduous task of looking after our three young grandchildren – a 5½-year old girl and her 2-year old sibling brother from our daughter, plus a 1½-year old girl from our eldest son – while their parents enjoyed a thoroughly deserved week-long holiday abroad. My wife, who works in a nursery, was expertly leading this trial. I made myself fully available to support her. Rather than going through our daily experiences with them for a week, I highlight here a few areas vis a vis raising children in this day and age and the role of grandparents. The weeklong experience of being full time carers brought home with new impetus some universal needs in parenting. I must mention that handling three young grandchildren for a week is not a big deal; it was indeed a sheer joy to be with these boisterous, occasionally mischievous, little kids so dear to us!

  1. Establish a daily routine and be consistent: Both parents are busy now-a-days earning a livelihood and maintaining their family life, especially in this time of austerity. As children grow, and they grow fast, they naturally get used to the daily parental routine, if it is consistent. This is vital for parents’ health as they need respite in their daily grind. For various practical reasons the routine may sometimes be broken, but this should be an exception rather than a norm. After a long working day parents both need their own time and rest before going to sleep. Post-natal depression amongst mums is very common in situations where there is no one to help them or if the relationship between the spouses is facing difficulty and family condition uninspiring.

In our trial case, we had some struggles in putting the kids to sleep in the first couple of nights. We also faced difficulties in the first few mornings when our grandson would wake up at 5.00am and would not go back to sleep, expecting one of us to play with him! His noise was waking up his younger cousin in another room. We divided our tasks and somehow managed this until we got used to a routine towards the end of the week.

  1. Keep children away from screens: Grandparents are generally known for their urge to spoil their grandchildren; they are more relaxed about discipline, preferring to leave that job to the parents. We tried to follow the parents’ existing rules and disciplinary measures as much as possible and build on them. Their parents only allow the children to use screens such as iPads or smartphones as and when deemed necessary. We decided not to allow the kids any exposure to these addictive gadgets at all in the whole week. So, it fell on us to find various ways to keep them busy and engaged – playing, reading, spending time in the garden, going to parks or playgrounds. The basic rule is if parents want their kids to keep away from certain habits they themselves should set an example by not doing them, especially in front of the kids.
  2. Building a loving and trusting relationship: From even before they are born, children need nurture, love, care and a safe environment for their survival and healthy growth. Parenting becomes enjoying and fulfilling when both parents are available and they complement each other’s duties in raising the kids. Mums’ relationship with their children during the traditional weaning period is vital, both for mums and babies. During our trial week we were keenly observing how each of the kids behaved with us. We also observed the evolution of interesting dynamics amongst the three; but that is a different matter. In spite of occasional hiccups with the kids, we felt our relationship was further blossoming with each of them. We made a habit of discussing and evaluating our whole day’s work at night, in order to learn things and plan for a better next day.

A grandparent, however experienced she or he may be, can be there only to lend an extra, and probably the best, pair of hands to the parents in raising good human beings and better citizens of a country. With proper understanding between parents and grandparents and their roles defined, the latter can be real assets in a family – whether they live under the same roof or nearby. Children need attention, appreciation and validation through engagement; grandparents need company and many do crave to be with their own grandchildren. Young grandchildren, with their innate innocence, do even spiritually uplift grandparents in their old age.

Through this mutual need grandparents can transfer life skills and human values by reading with them, or telling them stories or just spending time with the younger ones. On the other hand, in our age of real loneliness amidst illusory social media friends, they get love, respect and even tender support from their grandchildren. No wonder the attachment between grandparents and grandchildren is often so strong!

In modern society, swamped by individualism and other social ills, raising children in an urban setting is indeed overwhelming. We can no longer recreate ‘community parenting’ in the traditional village environment with the maxim “It needs a village to raise a child’, but we can easily create a productive and innovative role for grandparents to bring about similar benefits.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

Trending