Allah loves those who put their trust in Him as shown in Surah Ali Imran verse 159. The verse says: “It was by the mercy of God that you, Prophet Muhammad, were lenient with them, that you showed indulgence toward them when they disobeyed you; Had you been harsh in speech, Ill-natured, and fierce of heart, Brutish and coarse towards them, They would have dispersed, split away, from about you. So pardon them, pass over what they have done, Pardon your Companions for that which may ensue from them And ask forgiveness for them, for their sins, until I forgive them, And consult them; find out their opinions, in the matter, Consult with them upon the conduct of affairs In order to win their hearts over And so that you may be emulated in this respect; And indeed, the Prophet would frequently consult them. And when you are resolved, to carry out what you wish after counsel, rely on Allah, put your trust in Him, Put your trust in Allah to give you triumph and domination For Allah loves those who rely on Him.”
When the Iranians put out a sentence of death on Salman Rushdie, the non-Muslim world laughed and shook their heads. When a Pakistani owner of a New York TV station devoted to the beauties of Islam cut off the head of his wife when she asked for a divorce, the non-Muslim world, much to our consternation, laughed and shook their heads.
People who have sufficient self-esteem do not do such things. Evidently, Muslims are still lacking in this bedrock of their identity. And this lack causes them to behave in such ways that Islamic outreach becomes much more difficult for the rest of us.
The question arises, WHY do Muslims have such problems? WHY do they so often scream “Kill!”, when they might be much better advised to walk away peacefully, saying “Salam!” as Qur’an also suggests when encountering the disrespect of the unbelievers.
There is also the phenomenon that levels of Muslim self-esteem often seem to be much higher when they live as a minority community in a western country. In San Diego, California, for example, Muslim professionals have organized themselves so well that there is a SEPARATE “yellow page” telephone book exclusively for Muslim service business listings. And it is equally bulky with the non-Muslim “yellow pages”.
We all know the verses that designate Muslims as “the best of peoples”, and yet we usually do not behave as such. The study of self-esteem in secular psychology may help us to understand why low self-esteem can be such a crippling problem.
For one thing, the basic attitude of people with low self-esteem is defensive. This defensiveness is actually a cover for what is called an “inferiority complex”. There is a type of bellicose belligerence among many Muslims, and not the least among the Malay Muslims. Its deepest cause is feeling threatened, not feeling blessed.
Such people will go to almost any extreme to avoid having to apologize for their mistakes, preferring to engage in excessive “finger pointing”, more popularly called “the blame game”. This is the dominant face of Malaysian politics today.
Most intelligent citizens of this country have become appalled at the amount of time devoted by their leaders to this continual blaming, screaming, “Scandal! Scandal!” Unfortunately, the so-called “war on corruption” more often takes this form than any orderly process of law-and-order in dealing with what the late Professor Syed Hussain Alatas called the greatest threat to the future of Southeast Asia.
One of his last books was entitled, “Corruption and the Future of Southeast Asia”, and it details all the ways corrupt individuals OR POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS may use to secure their access to corruption. As Muslims, we should know that self-esteem depends entirely on the lawful gain of wealth, not “haram” money at the expense of others.
As Dr Alatas points out, corruption is a crime against whole groups of people who are its victims, and should be punished as such. There are many, many victims of corruption, not only individuals. Therefore, a law such as was passed in the Philippines might be appropriate (why do the Catholics have to set the example?) –- PLUNDER of the public wealth carries the death penalty.
Sincere Asian Muslims used to decry the widespread existence of corruption among Muslims leaders here, and now even the Americans have been exposed as corruptors on a scale of millions and billions of dollars. Such a scale was probably undreamed of, even by Professor Alatas who passed away before the revelations of the “rot of Wall Street”, which now threatens to bring down human civilization itself.
What can we simple people do, we who struggle hard enough to shelter and feed our families with whatever “halal” money we may be able to earn, even in the present environment of financial disaster that has spread almost everywhere? There are a few Hadith that seem very helpful in this regard, as long as we truly prioritize the Afterlife over worldly life in our efforts and our deepest longings. Here they are:
One day the Messenger of Allah (PBUH: peace be upon him) asked his companions: “Which of God’s creatures possess the most amazing iman (faith)?” “The Angels,” answered his companions. “How would the Angels not have faith in Allah when they are always close to Him,” replied the Messenger in disagreement. “The prophets,” answered the other companions. “How would the prophets not have faith when words of God are revealed unto them?” the Messenger disagreed. “We – your companions?” the companions suggested. “How would you not have faith when I am always amidst you?” retorted the Messenger.
Finally the Messenger decreed: “The creatures with the most amazing iman are those who live after me. They have never met me but they declare faith in me. They love me more than they love their children and elders. They are my Ikhwan (Brothers). They read the Quran and are faithful to all its contents.” (Related by Abu Ya’la)
“O Abu Bakr,” the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) asked, “Do you not long for my Ikhwan since they also love you because you are my companion?” (Related by Ibnu Hajar Asqalani).
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) continued: “Good tidings for those who meet and declare faith in me. And sevenfold good tidings for those who declare faith in me but have never met me.” (Related by Ahmad)
How can we fail to be encouraged by these words? In spite of everything, it is imperative that we believe in ourselves, and these words from our Prophet (s.a.w.) can help us do exactly that.