Often, I wonder, ‘who are we really?’
In the midst of meeting a million people in our lives, experiencing new experiences, feelings, emotions, and moments, something makes us the ‘us’ we are from within.
Biologically, we are from the genes of our parents. Geographically, we are an amalgamate of cultures past and present, an influence of practices and habits and food and dress passed down from a hundred generations. Psychologically, we are a product of the environment; a mixture of people our subconscious minds get inspired by, hobbies our hearts found delight in, failures that may have affected us in good or bad ways, victories that defined us, books that we read, education that tried shaping us, friends who have influenced us, and so on and so forth. We are people who keep changing with influences like these.
We are also a paradoxical merge of emotions; of agony and joy, of falling flat on our faces meeting the ground and rising above it, of tears and smiles, of struggles and relief, of pain and comfort. Sentiments also shape who we are; how far we go when we lift ourselves up from the ground, how much mercy our hearts hold when we know how it felt to face injustice, how beautiful our souls get every time we learn empathy by yearning for it ourselves, how big our hearts grow when it oozes out every single pain by providing relief to someone else, how strong our minds get after being mentally bruised, how understanding we turn out to be when faced with situations we could relate to, how ambitious we get when we’re appreciated on our paths and efforts. We are a part of everyone else and every emotion, we meet.
Sometimes, we are also defined by those around us; ever had that moment when your mom or sister or a colleague said something so peculiar about you that you never noticed yourself? Ever seen that moment bloom into something that made a significant part of who you are today? I remember overhearing my mother’s conversation with my dad, when I, for the first time ever in my life, heard someone say ‘Sameera seems to be a budding artist’. I was just 7 then, yet it stuck to my mind and heart like something I thought i was perpetually meant to be. I vividly remember the classroom, when I was so frustrated about the injustice of an English teacher and exclaimed ‘I hate her’ with so much sadness, to which my friend replied, ‘This is the first time I’ve heard you use the word ‘hate’. You never hated anyone for as long as I’ve known you’, and that was the moment of knowing a part of myself I had never known before- I can’t hate people. I remember when my sister said very casually in a normal conversation, ‘you are a people’s person. It’s easy for you to get along with people’ which I never noticed in myself until then. Later, I became a wife of an introvert and started seeing the amazing differences two personalities could have in interacting with people! Even negative remarks shape us, sometimes more influential than the positive ones (unfortunately). When someone says ‘she isn’t very creative’ ‘She is weak in Math’, it makes us grow believing that’s how we are, like as if we cannot mend it. Such are the ways people’s perceptions of us or comments about us, even in random conversations, shape who we are. It may be in the innate corners of our minds, totally unnoticed by our subliminal minds, yet completely significant in molding who we are eventually.
A lot of ‘who we are’, is made up of what we want to be in life as well; our passions drive us in shaping our personalities. We want to be successful. No matter who we are, all of us want to be something. We want to be the best mother, the best teacher, the best in this and the best in that. We toil to make ourselves someone we aim to be and when we eventually meet that person in the reflection of our mirrors, we toil to add another being, another characteristic to that imagery of our selves.
Amidst all this that makes us who we are, I ask, who are we really?
We are, the slaves of our Most Prefect Lord.
‘There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most Beneficient (Allah) as a slave.’ [Qur’an 19:93]
The term ‘slave’ might draw a picture of injustice with a cruel/brutal master, the taking away of freedom and rights, and everything else negative.
Far removed is Allah SWT from such traits! For being a slave of Allah swt means:
We find pride in submitting to being His ‘abd, first and foremost; knowing who He is, and submitting to His will.
We leave our affairs to Him in all matters, trusting that His decree for us is unmatchingly more beautiful and perfect, in ways we could never for ourselves proclaim.
When the tides hit low, and darkness engulfs us, we don’t turn to alcohol or drugs for temporary delights; we turn to Allah SWT for that burning ray of light, and eternal peace.
When the tides hit high, we don’t lift our heads high with pride; we bow down with humility and thank Him, seeking His mercy, only to be given in increase.
When trials and temptations surround us, we don’t indulge in the desires of our bodies; we control our souls, we cleanse ourselves with every effort we make to resist the unlawful inclinations.
We find honour in knowing and learning how beautifully Allah SWT describes the characteristics of His slaves in the Qur’an; that He gifted the Quran to HIS slave, that the Prophets are HIS slaves, that He defends HIS slave, He reminds HIS slave, HIS slave is the one who obeys Him, or even that HIS slave is FREE to be His slave or go astray.
We find closeness to Him when HE, the Most High, the Almighty, says HE is near to His slaves who call upon Him.
We depend and hope for His mercy, have the freedom to love and expect His love, we fear His punishment, and toil for His pleasure; and yet, it is we who are benefited in all our acts of worship. For everything we do by obeying Him, WE are rewarded.
We submit, willingly, to Him alone.
If we truly understand what it means to be a slave of Allah SWT, then THAT is the moment to rejoice! Because that is the moment we are freed and liberated from ANY form of slavery in this world! Alhamdulillah.
Is not Allah sufficient for His servant? [Qur’an 39:36]