“The Ummah unfortunately have shamed themselves with their own understanding of the guidance!“
In my last article I discussed the root of our reactions to the current climate towards fear, misunderstanding and paranoia of Muslims. I’d like to follow on from my questions regarding the origins of shame, in particularly historically based shame passed on or inherited from our ancestors, Adam and Eve (Hawwa) pbuthem. Whether it is a passed on process or an intrinsic nature of all humanity, shame can be damaging, but it can also change us for better.
In John Bradshaws (2005) book; ‘ Healing the Shame that Binds you’, Bradshaw describes healthy shame as ‘essential’ and a ‘foundation of spirituality‘. Healthy shame, he adds, reminds us of our ‘essential limitations, our healthy shame lets us know that we are not God. Our healthy shame points us in the direction of some larger meaning. Our healthy shame is the psychological ground of our own humility‘. Bradshaw’s book goes on to talk about healing the inner self, child, with compassion and kindness. He suggests guided meditations to heal old thoughts, feelings and behaviours, essentially forgiving yourself.
Forgivness is key, and as Muslims forgiveness begins before every guidance. ‘In the name of Allah, the most merciful most forgiving’ (or beneficial). This quote is at the beginning of every ayat (revelation) in the Quran, except a few where it is in the surah itself. If we have belief in Allah swt then we must believe in what He teaches us , firstly that everything is decided and created in His name, by Him, nothing exist without his knowing and that he is the most merciful, the most forgiving of all. If Allah swt our Creator the One who knows all of us, forgives us and is merciful of us, then why are we so hard on ourselves?
Healing shame goes hand in hand with forgiveness of self but higher than this is accepting the forgiveness from Allah swt. Accepting his forgiveness means we must of course ask. So how do we ask?
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Turn you people in repentance to Allah and beg pardon of Him. I turn to Him in repentance a hundred times a day”.
And our turing to Him, Allah swt will always be accepted;
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“If you were to commit sin until your sins reach the heaven, then you were to repent, your repentance would be accepted.”
Click Here for a link to forgiveness dua
Sounds simple, so what stops us from simply asking? well let us go back to what I said before I requested you to ask, I requested we ‘accept the forgiveness from Allah swt’. The problem with shame is it anchor is heavy in a pit of self loathing, laziness and no hope. When requested to simply ask for help the response from the self is usually ‘why bother’ or ‘i can’t, whats the point?’. When a person is this low , further kicking and scare mongering doesn’t help. A well meaning other once replied to the non acceptance of Allahs mercy as shirk! (association of others than Allah swt) and yes, it is in a way. The pit of shame is wallowing in self obsession . Not that the shamed wants to be in a position of worshipping the self, the shamed wants to accept that there is a higher source, a almighty helper and cure. But unfortunately the shamed is shackled so tight that it constantly denies the acceptance of Allah swt that they are worth forgiving and their nature is good. The problem is the shamed just can’t forgive themselves.
Sticky plaster approaches to healing include jolting the person into springing into action through further fear such as; warning that not accepting forgiveness is shirk and shirk is the unforgivable! I find this approach the standard teaching of the ummah these days. Law before spiritual connection, fear before love!
Preaching through fear has its place, for the rational, reasoning minded perhaps, but who is?
Basing your belief of fear of Allah can’t sustain your connection to Him.
We are turing Allah swt into the ultimate abuser (may he forgive us) and He is the opposite!
It is essential to gain proper knowledge of yourself and of your Lord. To remain consistent in worship of Allah swt is only achievable if we understand who we are worshipping and what are our strengths and weaknesses to striving the straight path (jihad). Remaining consistent on the path you are on , no matter what happens takes guts and strength. This strenght is built on exercising habits.
Consistency is a natural growth of self awareness, self acceptance and ultimately acceptance and worship of Allah swt.
Tips for consistency:
1. Cut the Negative, Pile on the Positive
Anything that is negative in your life, dump it. This means Facebook; daily reminders that are negative. Its good to be knowledgeable of worldly affairs but when you receive a constant stream of death, destruction and dishonesty the beneficial value is drowned by negativity.
other negatives are excessive eating, sugar, talking about others badly, too much sleep, too little sleep, too much tv, internet. There’s more but that’ll need another blog!
2. Subscribe to Positive Reminders and Talks
There are many online resources such as; Noesis Institute , www.bayyinahtv.com, seekers hub are just a few!
3. Meet like Minded People
Go to the masjid, the ummah is key to connecting. Attend circles and courses. Go on a course, go find a therapist, go to group counselling.
4. Daily Quran
Keeping connected to the guidance is essential. the Quran is not for the top shelf of our bookcases! you can subscribe to daily whats app groups that issue a page of Quran a day to recite or simply read in english and then you give thumbs up. This kind of group encouragement is competitive yes, but hey it gets you reading Quran everyday!
5. Daily Dua,
Just ask, ask in the car, ask whilst cooking, ask whilst sitting , walking and running! ask in english , arabic any language. Ask in your heart, in your head and out loud.
6. Find a Teacher
The old days of traveling the globe to sit with a Sheikh and absorb his presence and knowledge are far from a reality for most of us. But if you sincerely want a teacher, you need to sincerely ask your Creator. You will find a Sheikh, whether that Sheikh is a group of students, the masjid congregation or an email or skype away. Of course the Quran is our ultimate Sheikh and Hadiths of the Prophet saws our ultimate example.
7. Read, read read.
The command ‘Iqra’ wasn’t sent down randomly! its the 1st piece of advice we are given. READ, SEEK KNOWLEDGE!
Now this is probably the most hardest task when you have family or young children, but we need time to self reflect. It is essential for your health, spiritual and mental to find a time, place and space for time out.
Go outdoors. pile the kids in the car, on a bus anything and head for outdoor space, forest, trees, lakes, hills, beach, nature. Breath in the air, look at the sky, examine an ant. connect with the outdoors.
There is nothing like giving and helping others. The best way to connect with your compassionate side is to help another. Volunteer or simply smile at a passer by, give away one of your most precious possessions ( a real challenge, but we should always give our best not our rubbish).
These are a few brief ways we can help sooth the shame and in no particular order of priority. Although Quran is our priority, we have to prepare the mind to receive the guidance, so research the best order by looking no further than how, when and why the ayat where revealed over time, there must be a reason for this? Treat your shame as a little child who needs the most loving, caring and inspiring guide. You can be that guide to your own self, but you don’t have to do it alone. We are all in it together.
For further guidance on self healing through the Quran this free intro is a good start : Quran and human Nature
*Please forgive my errors or shortcomings they are a reflection of ignorance and not of my Guide and Guider, Quran & Allah swt exalted in might is He.