08th Feb2014

Please the One, not Many !!

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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 Allāh subhana hu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He).

But it is more fitting that they should please Allāh and His Messenger …

[Sūrah At-Tawbah, verse 62]

The ultimate example of this is the Prophet Ibrahim (Alayhis Salam), 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!” SubhānAllāh! What an 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 (wife) 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 Allāh 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 Allāh 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 in any aspect, 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 extreme 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 Allāh Subhana hu 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 a state of relief and free from stress.

What makes sense in this life except pleasing 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, we need that ultimate justice from the Ever living, that Final Arbiter, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta’āla.

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).

Article written by Wael Abdelgawad who is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California.

Edited by HASBUNALLAH sealed with the note that “Obedience of Allah’s creation Must not be achieved at all in any shape or form by displeasing the Creator right from His Tawheed  till the act of mere taking away of small bit of a right of any individual.”