Whether an informal occasion like a family and friends gathering or a formal occasion like a job interview or business meeting a mandatory ritual is to exchange introductions. Perhaps it is one ceremonial conversation that is repeated innumerable times to suit the occasion. But still what is uttered is without any real deep dive into the subject. It is more as-you-like-it and intensely loaded with acquired labels like name, place, age, occupation, achievements, and credentials sometimes borrowed labels of others just to add extra weight.
Is this a true description of oneself? Who am I? Who can better describe me more than me but still one is unaware of one’s characteristic features that are worth the definition? What is used to describe oneself is just mere external features that in most probability are acquired and temporary in nature. Human beings are constantly evolving into various shades of one’s personality, which predominantly comprises physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual features. The dilemma of lost identity in one’s own inner world is not to be shed as an arbitrary confusion or abstract concept. There could be a significant gap between what is uttered and what could be real. Many times the person himself is not aware of some of the significant traits oneself. Quran beautifully mentions and describes the situation aptly and vehemently “If you pronounce the word aloud (it makes no difference, for) Allah (swt) knows the secret and what is even more hidden”. (Quran: 20-V7)
This verse is an eye opener to accept that many things knowingly one hide for whatever may be the reason and there are few things the person himself is unaware of but Allah (swt) is aware. Now the bigger challenge is how to be aware oneself of those things that one is unaware of. Alhamdullilah all praises to Allah (swt) we are not pushed into the darkness of self-unawareness. Allah (swt) gives guidance and clue to the believers as to how they can be fully aware of themselves. Allah says “Do not be like those who forgot Allah (swt), so He (swt) made them forget their own selves”(Quran: 59-V19). More and more hidden secrets of self unfold the more the believer spends time in remembering Allah (swt), there should be no instance and an event in one’s life where a believer is not Allah conscious. A corollary to the argument is that the more one discovers and understands oneself then more Allah (swt) makes it easy for the believer to remember Allah (swt). Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said “Man Arafa Nafsahu, Faqad Arafa Rabbahu” which is translated as “Whoever knows himself knows his Lord”.
Psychological behavioral model tries to answer the reason why we act in a typical way in each given circumstance. The flow model of the behavior is
Conditioning => State => Behavior => Result
All the events or results are the outcome of behavior. The behavior is dependent on the state of the mind of the behaving person. An angry person’s behavior is different from that of a cool person. The state of the mind is influenced by the conditioning or cognitive mind. Conditioning is influenced by the attitudes, beliefs, and values that have been ingrained over a period of time. Mind is the meaning-making machine that gives favorable or unfavorable meaning to every situation.
A true believer tries to always be in the state of God’s consciousness. This refrains them from doing anything that displeases Allah (swt). The God Consciousness in all our thoughts and acts is Taqwa which brings us closer to Allah (swt) and strengthens their connection. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was asked “What is Ihsan (perfection)?” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) replied, “To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you.”
Modern evolution gives a spin to human identity by equating it to animals. Considering human beings as evolved animal is to tie them to basic survival instincts. Once these thoughts are ingrained deeply then there is no escape from self-interest motives. If we see a selfish society around us then it is the programming of the minds to focus on fulfilling their personal wants and constantly seeking gratification. The creator of all of us wants us to live a life of higher purpose that is beneficial to self and others.
What could be a better occasion to restart and recalibrate one’s life than in the month of holy Ramadan? Let us resolve to mend our ways of worship to move from content to context. If all the attention is pinned on the content of Ramadan then the fruits of all the efforts die down even before or sometimes just on completion of the holy month. We all are aware that there will be a lot of fanfare in the initial days and then the enthusiasm fades off. Once the celebrations of Eid Ul Fitr is over then it is the return to oblivious routine life.
Whereas if the focus is on context, then there will be a constant endeavour to seek pardon and pleasure of Allah (swt). “Whoever makes himself blind against the advice of Rahman, We assign for him a devil, who accompanies him all the time. And they (the devils) prevent such people from the (right) way, while they deem themselves to be on the right path;” (Quran: 49, V36-37). Who can be more unfortunate that Allah puts a person in distress due to disobedience?
Let us resolve to dive deeper into ourselves and discover ourselves in our own private world. Strive to seek the pleasure of our Lord to end up being successful in both the worlds here and hereafter.
Meri Zindagi ka maqsad tere deen ki sarfarazi
Mein isi liye Musalman, mein isi liye namazi