Seven elements of Islamic attitude
By Shaik Kadir
Allah tells us Muslims that we make up the best community: You are indeed the best of peoples evolved for the good of mankind: you enjoin the doing of what is right and forbidding the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in Allah. (Qur’an, Ali-Imran 3:110)
Since Allah has already said that Muslims form the best community, we Muslims need to ensure that we do not fall short of the honour. Indeed we ought to possess a praiseworthy attitude to reflect that we are “the best of peoples”.
Our attitude is something we think and feel about. It is personal but it is displayed in our behavior. What we ought to have is not just any attitude but an Islamic attitude. The elements of an Islamic attitude are many but they can be contained within seven easy-to-acquire ones. Without relating in any specific order of importance, they are:
(1) Striving for achievement
By nature people feel good when they achieve something – like, say, passing a driving test, winning an arts contest, taking the first position in a sports event and passing a school/course examination. In all these end-results (achievements), one would have to set a goal, and then strive to accomplish the goal. You cannot attain any honour or credit without striving. Striving to achieve a goal is Islamic.
A goal need not be always big or long-termed. Goals can include taking brisk-walks for exercise after the suboh salaat, reading a novel, reading the Qur’an or learning a useful hobby such as photography or calligraphy. Going through these activities would give one a sense of achievement as they bring direct or indirect benefits such as meeting people, making new friends and exchanging views in life. Muslims ought to be people who are always striving for achievements.
(2) Having a ready smile
We usually smile only at those we know. But do also smile, with a nod of friendship, at those people whom you see frequently in your neighbourhood, like shopkeepers and the shop’s customers. But, of course, you need to smile discreetly – male with male and female with female to avoid any misunderstanding. When you smile at them, they would reciprocate your smile, as I have experienced, and you will really feel good.
You will soon realise that the other person is actually waiting to receive a smile and when you initiate it, not only will your smile be returned as a favour most of the time but you also get the satisfaction of making the other person feel less disconnected.
(3) Keeping in touch
Today, with modern technology, we have the handphone and internet communication facilities, like the email, Facebook and live transmission (via Skype or Facetime). So, with these easy-to-use facilities, contact and connect with your relatives and friends, even with the elderly acquantance, telling them that you are contacting them just to say “Hello: or ask them “How are you?” If they are Muslims, start with the salam, and proceed with nice words.
The Qu’ran allures to people who use nice words (words of truth and kindness) with a parable, thus: A good word is like a good tree whose roots are firmly fixed, and whose branches reach the heavens, with the tree bearing fruit at all time… (Qur’an, Ibrahim 14:24-25) The people you are contacting with will then know that you are thinking of them and that you care for them. They will feel good, and on your part, you will feel good for initiating a good deed. Keeping contact with relatives and friends is a good deed.
(4) Building confidence in yourself
Muslims ought to be people with confidence in themselves – they ought to believe that they can do it – anything good and praiseworthy. What one needs is believe in oneself and believe in Allah, and isha-Allah (Allah willing) anything good they attempt to do could be successfully done. Expel doubt, expel fear, expel the feeling of inadequacy in you. Never give up hope or effort. Believing in yourself and having self-esteem is the catalyst for building confidence.
Train yourself to think positively and you will soon realise the worthiness of yourself. You will gain confidence to say “I can” in any circumstances within your ability and expertise.
(5) Having time to relax and appreciate
People are always busy and constantly on the move. Therefore, you need to find time to relax and appreciate – in various ways, like taking up a hobby, reading a novel, reading about other countries, watching good television programmes, visiting friends, going for outings and travelling.
Appreciate people and their cultures, music and history. Appreciate the sea, flowers, landscapes, arts, architecture and anything man-made or natural. The pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal of India, the Effel Tower of France, the Grand Canyon of America, are all great sights to behold. You can acquire lots of gainful information of other countries’ environment, the undersea world, the animal kingdom, monuments and people and their achievements by personally travelling to these countries or through books, magazines and TV programmes.
You may even write your own poems or short stories and posting them in your blog for enthusiasm, creativity and satisfaction.
Relaxing and appreciating is re-charging your energy and take you away from boredom and lethargy.
(6) Being charitable
Charity increases awareness and understanding of the needs of people who are deprived of important things in life – food, shelter and one’s physique (being handicapped, blind, etc).
Charity here is not zakah which is obligatory. Sadaqah is voluntary.
Sadaqah can be given in any amount according to your affordability. When you drop a coin into the hat of a handicapped man, that will make you feel good for helping him or her buy food. Charity is rewarded by Allah – the giver gets rewarded in so many ways, many unrealised. This is the secret of sadaqah.
If you lift someone who had tripped and fallen on the road, that is helping and helping is sadaqah. Other examples include carrying the basket of an old lady returning from the market, guiding a blind man cross the road and rescuing a kitten that had fallen into a hole or drain. But these “incidents” do not happen every day.
As sadaqah also means volunteering your services, you may wish to give sadaqah in a more sustained way, like in a welfare or non-profit institution. You may wish to volunteer your services in a mosque, an old-folks home or an orphanage or in a community organisation in ways you prefer and according to your interest and ability. You may help to roll out mats in a mosque before every Juma prayers or conduct motivational talks or become the secretary of a welfare or youth section of the mosque.
The essence of charity is the display of the spirit of togetherness, compassion, kindness and generosity.
(7) Being grateful
But, the most important thing is to be grateful to Allah for what He has given you. Be grateful for the food you have, the energy you have, the health you have, parents or siblings you have. Always look humbly “below you”: “Look at those below you (less fortunate than you), and don’t look at those above you, for this is better.” [Muslim]
When you look “below you”, you will realise that there are very poor people who do not have three proper meals to eat, there are handicapped people, blind people, old and weak people, orphans. When you see or realise these, you will be grateful and thankful of what you have. If one is poor but is healthy and has all the limbs, one ought to be grateful to Allah because he can work for sustenance. Enjoy life; life is short but beautiful.
All these seven elements of the Islamic attitude is part and parcel of all other righteous deeds a Muslim ought to do to have a good life in this world. Allah says: Whoever works righteousness – whether male or female – while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision)… (Qur’an, Nahl 16:97)
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Published in Vizier (Issue: No. 15; May 2014)
(Reposted in this blog on 15 May)