by Jabin Ahmed
Lack of self-love and appreciation is the root of all unhappiness. Our society has shifted to a culture that promotes changing one’s true self in hopes of finding acceptance. We are moving towards an ideology that believes in sacrificing our natural entity for recognition, love, and success. In the process we are left empty, drained, and alone. Preventing this cycle is only possible when we start loving our unique existence, when we understand that being a creation of Allah (swt) in and of itself is perfection.
“You have to love yourself because no amount of love from others is sufficient to fill the yearning that your soul requires from you.” - Dodinsky
Whether it is your parents, spouse, friends, relatives, children, a job, or even an object—there is nothing that could bring you happiness if you are not already at peace with yourself. As social beings, we often assume that strong social bonds and structures are all we need to be content. But in reality social structures are only strong and worth building when we have learned to love all parts of ourselves. People, objects, professions and materialistic things can bring us happiness for a short period of time, but emptiness will always remain if we have not yet invested our emotions in self-love. Finding contentment is simply impossible if we are not okay being alone with our naked souls. When we learn to find light within ourselves in times of darkness we have found contentment, and that is self-love.
Each of us have been created with unique attributes , although these attributes may be very similar to others they will never be completely the same. Beauty, intellect, talent, passion, and character are all unique attributes with which Allah (swt) has blessed us all. From time to time society places value on certain attributes such as skin color, body shape, personality, and so on. For many of us who are lacking, limited, or are blessed differently with these attributes, this reality makes us feel as though we are incomplete, and in a sense unworthy. In hopes of attaining the set standard of society we begin to change, re-create and edit ourselves. Because we are unable to completely mirror the set standards, we frame our differences as failure. We start to believe that we have not been blessed with anything valuable. At this point we no longer value our gifts from Allah. At this point we have stopped loving Allah’s creation. We have stopped loving ourselves.
If we take a step back and appreciate whatever we have been gifted with both internally and externally, we start to understand how flawless our existence is. As a young women of South Asian descent I have always believed that the color of my skin, the length of my hair, the size of my hips, and the softness of my voice determined whether I was worthy of praise. This was not just an attack on myself, but also an insult to what Allah has created: He (swt) has created us with dark and light skin; with high, low, and soft voices; with large, small, and wide hips. He has Created us with perfection—nothing less and nothing more. Today when I look at myself, at my soul, at my entire being, I am proud, happy, and confident because every inch of me—both inward and out—was meant to be as it is. Every part of me was carefully planned out, calculated, and measured to be as it is. Self-esteem and confidence are found in loving every inch of you, recognizing every hair on your body. In seeing yourself as the perfect creation that you are.
“Comparison is the thief of all joy.” - Teddy Roosevelt
Appreciating what others have is, in a sense, beautiful. This is because you are recognizing Allah’s work. But, if we start comparing our own gifts to the gifts that others have, we begin to move slowly towards ungratefulness. What we have been given in wealth, beauty, intellect, etc. was all preplanned and decided by Allah, and we must remember that everyone's gifts can only be credited to Him (swt). Everyone is granted what is meant for them, and it has been granted to them because it is good for them. We must understand we are all different from one another because Allah intended it to be this way, and as believers, accepting and loving Allah’s (swt) choice will only bring us happiness. None of us are the same. But that does not imply that one has been created better than the other—our value is to be assessed by the strength of our Iman. It is measured for our passion and willingness to do good for others for the sake of Allah.
“Don’t you know yet , It is Your Light that lights the worlds.” - Rumi
As I come towards the end of this brief intro to loving yourself, I would like to emphasize how valuable our existence is. I would like to remind myself first, as well as others, that Allah intended for us to be the way that we are. Loving ourselves first is one step towards satisfying Allah, and I hope that everyone who comes across this piece will take a step back to appreciate all of the attributes and gifts with which they have been blessed.