First and foremost, I’m truly sorry for it has been two hectic years since i last posted…This past few years were just soo mashaAllah. Filled with various emotions and confusion and identity crisis-the typical emotions of people in this transitional phase of life between teenagehood and adulthood. But it was a great experience and I am very thankful that Allah gave me this chance.
Hence, what I am going to talk about today is self-discovery. Identity crisis. Who am I? Why am i here? Why am I created? Why am I letting hours of my life pass me by speeding away at high speed, while I stand in confusion and bewilderment, distracted by the glares, horns and beauty of the other vehicles around me on this highway of life?
Okay, firstly, I know that we were created for a purpose: to worship Allah, and as representatives to look after the affairs of this world. But do I really know it with all my heart? IS this knowledge really internalised and manifested in my actions?
Secondly, I was once a great believer of the power of the mind. The popular phrase “you are what you believe yourself to be”. I’ve researched into the field of psycho-ing your own self as among the paths for character building and development. I even experimented it on myself, and it worked. So i got even more confused. If I can “build” myself from scratch, then who am I, really? What are my prinsips?
After months of contemplating and holding onto Allah’s rope, beseeching Him to show me the right path, I discovered a few things.
A. The issue of Existentialism vs Essentialism: the belief that individuals create the meaning and essence of their own lives vs the belief that individuals are born with essential characteristics vital to their existence. In short, its a battle between whether “Existence precedes Essence” or “Essence precedes Existence”
If I am an existentialist, I will hold the belief that i have no inborn purpose and goal in life. I am the one responsible to form a purpose for my life as I go on. I form my own principles, my character, my likes and dislikes. I am literally born a “blank slate”.
However, if I am an essentialist, I will hold the belief that there are essential(inborn) and non-essential characteristics. Without these essential aspects such as meaning and purpose in life, physical appearance and etcetra, I will cease to exist. Hence, my purpose is already a part of my essence. Based on this, I will start to build my non-essential characteristics such as principles, likes and dislikes. In short, I exist with an inborn purpose and fate.
B. Exaggerating the importance of the mind- Enslavement by the mind: The problem nowadays is the over-emphasis on the role of the mind in our lives today. We deify our minds. We trust our minds too much, while it is evident that our mind is limited and easily influenced. Hence, we get easily deluded and confused. Why? Because we don’t tie our limited imperfect minds to the Most Perfect. According to one Muslim preacher, this is the essence of Dajjal’s call. He’ll make us deify our minds, and we will be so called “empowered” by this new found power. While in reality, he is the One who is manipulating our thoughts and enslaving our mind. Hence, in reality, we are actually deifying him instead of Allah.
Given these two points, I come to the conclusion that,
Firstly, we as Muslims have an inborn purpose and destiny in us.
Abu Hurayrah narrates that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ إِلاَّ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ وَيُنَصِّرَانِهِ وَيُمَجِّسَانِهِ كَمَا تُنْتَجُ الْبَهِيمَةُ بَهِيمَةً جَمْعَاءَ هَلْ تُحِسُّونَ فِيهَا مِنْ جَدْعَاءَ
“No child is born except on the Fitrah and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian. Just as an animal produces a perfect young animal: do you see any part of its body amputated?”
Then Abu Hurayrah said, “And recite if you wish:
فِطْرَتَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّـهِ
“The fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah.” [30:30]
Scholars have said that fitrah here means Islam. And that the purpose of our Creation is to worship Allah and be vicegerents looking after the affairs of this world. AND we will be asked about this two main tasks.
Allah said in the Quran:
((And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me)) 51:56
Secondly, that being said, we still have the ability to choose between the right path and the wrong path. Allah gave us the ability to think. To differentiate. And he gave us a guide. Why? So that we can build from these tools our principles and character. Using our purpose in life as a basis and the Quran and Sunnah as an anchor, we can form our identity. Islam does not disregard the mind. It gives it a role that suits its capability. But to keep it in check, it must be anchored. And the best anchor here is the Quran and Sunnah ie religious knowledge.
So, who am I? I am a servant of Allah, created for a purpose. And whatever I do, whatever my principles are, I will be held to account for them. My purpose in life is the filter that can make me pinpoint and grab hold of my slippery elusive time amidst the chaos of the highway around me.
And with this new found mindset, alhamdulillah, I began my journey in university, in a blessed land thousands of miles away from home…May Allah bless us all, ease our affairs and give us strength in going through life:)
Ps. It is very important to note the dangers of modern self-discovery methods such as emptying our mind in meditation etc. Why? Because an empty mind is easily influenced by Satan. Instead, as Muslims, during ‘Contemplation’ (something we are highly encouraged to do in Islam), we should empty our mind from all worldy affairs AND fill it with the remembrance of Allah. This is where many Muslims fall short…And Allah knows best:)