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Building Life’s Foundations

Pearls of Wisdom
Praying for Our Enemies
The Hundred Letters

Arshi Dokadia

When we lay our foundations in our faith, we become more aware of the facts and we learn how to balance our emotions because our faith relies on Allah.

Life is dynamic. It keeps on changing…and change can be scary. Change is intimidating to many, and perhaps only a few accept the oft-transforming nature of life. It is a very human tendency to hold onto familiarity. We have keepsakes, memories, and nostalgia we like to hold onto. Holding onto or relying on things is not the problem. The problem starts when we begin to rely on shaky foundations. When we do not have firm roots to rely on, even the smallest of changes or unexpected situations can shake us and make us crumble. This is because we have built our entire lives based on unreliable foundations.
In general, a person may base their foundations of life on three things: feelings, facts or faith.

As Muslims, it is also very important to us that we have a good character. These good characteristics should be our aspiration.

Feelings indicate what we are going through emotionally. It can outright seem like a very weak foundation to base our lives upon. If you have ever met someone who would be classified as “emotional”, this statement might ring true. Emotions are fleeting and fickle. A very emotional person is as fickle as emotions are. They may seem like the best person to be around one moment, and a short while later you feel you can barely stand them. A person becomes unreliable if they are too emotional, and if their work, behavior, and productivity are all dependent on whether they feel good or not. This inconsistency drives people away from them because it becomes a constant guessing game if they are up for things or not, or which version of them is going to show up today.

Facts define who we are and what we have the capability of becoming, the traits we choose to define ourselves with: a good brother, a loving father, a caring mother, a dedicated sister, and so on—the roles we play in this world. If we look at facts, then we know that this can be a good foundation to build our life on.
“Who we are” helps us identify where we stand in life right now – with all our competencies and weaknesses, our good and bad (including our imperfections, for it is important to accept that we, as humans, are all imperfect).
“What we can be” gives us a vision, a destination to reach, our definition of success and the role we wish to see ourselves in, in this life.
On the surface, facts seem a good place to lay a foundation of our life. We have a sturdy support with the knowledge of who we are and a place to be and to develop into what we wish to become. But facts have something basic lacking—the right direction.

Faith is what we believe in. It is the push with which we wake up every morning and step out of our homes, hoping things will be okay. Faith becomes like a place to check whether we are going in the right direction. Are we doing the things that will bring us success in this dunya and in the Hereafter? Or have we lost ourselves to the greed and the golden hue of blinding lights that promise pleasure?
Our faith does not just give us hope but also a place to check our intentions. It does not just give us a direction of what we wish to become but a purpose, a mission, and the motivation to stick to our goals. This is because our goals are very action oriented.

What should we aspire to be as Muslims?
As Muslims, our goal is to worship Allah.
I did not create jinn and humans except to worship Me. (the Holy Qur’an, 51:56)
Repeatedly, we have been prescribed the obligatory acts, such as salah, zakat, fasting, reading, and reflecting over the Qur’an and remembering Allah. As Muslims, it is also especially important to us that we have a good character. These good characteristics should be our aspiration.
When we lay our foundations in our faith, we become more aware of the facts and we learn how to balance our emotions because our faith relies on Allah. Our grief is lessened knowing Allah’s Mercy because He often reminds us that His Mercy overwhelms His Wrath. Our worries are abated knowing that Allah’s plan is better than what we can ever plan for ourselves. He is saving us from many trials and tribulations. Our happiness and elation is managed by the humility in knowing whatever we have is from Allah alone, so we don’t become arrogant and lose ourselves in pride.
Our definition of success is in the guidelines from Allah so we don’t lose ourselves to the greed of this dunya and blinding power.

Where Should We Start?
I will leave you with the reminder of tazkiyyah – purification of the heart. Finding our purpose and mission as Allah prescribed us to do.
Successful indeed is the one who purifies their soul. (The Holy Qur’an, 91:9).
Ms. Arshi Parvez Dokadia, the founder of Phoenix Counselling Services, is a psychologist and educator by profession. An avid-reader and inherently curious, she loves to explore the questions the universe may possess. She has experience as a clinical counsellor, a college lecturer as well as an online content creator and editor. Currently she works on providing psychological services for youth and women.