In this counseling answer:
“The first thing to remember is that what you have been experiencing is something that we all go through in one way or another at some point. Most importantly, remember, this man is more of a coward for picking a fight with you. Instead of feeling intimidated, you can instead focus on remembering the brave people before us, focusing on your strengths and asking Allah to give you strength and courage.”
Wa ‘Alaikum Salaam wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatuh,
What you are experiencing is not unusual. You are not alone. Most people feel intimidated in one way or another at some point in their life. It may be that they feel physically intimidated like yourself, or it can be due to other things such as feeling inferior in looks, intelligence or accomplishments. Whatever the cause, the end result is generally a very similar feeling that you also experience – lack of confidence and shame. This is because you consistently feel the need to compare yourself to someone who in your eyes is more superior. This feeling is made particularly salient when in the presence of the man who you feel intimidated by.
Why did he fight you?
Looking at the situation from another perspective can also make things psychologically easier for yourself. Most of the time people who choose to pick fights will do so with someone who is smaller than them. This is because they feel more confident of a win which will, in turn, boost their self-esteem. This is, in fact, more of a sign of cowardice than the one who feels intimidated by the big person picking a fight. After all, if he had chosen to fight a man his own size or bigger, he probably would have ended up in trouble himself. So why bother?
The very fact that he was trying to pick a fight for no apparent reason also suggests that he is harboring some kind of anger problem. Apparently, he is also lacking self-esteem that he decided to pick a random fight with you as a means of coping with his own deficits. This is not your fault, sister, but as a result of his own lack of esteem and self-restraint.
Du’aa’s for cowardice
As you mention, feeling the way you are has stripped you of your confidence. This could progress to impact your life beyond simply feeling intimidated in this man’s presence to the point that you may end up isolating yourself more generally from others. For this reason, it is certainly important to tackle the feelings you are having.
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet (SAW) used to say, “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 6369)
In addition, always remember that there is no power and no strength except with Allah.
Remember what really matters
It is important to remember that it’s not what others think of you that really matters. Ultimately, the only judgment that is ever going to matter is that of Allah’s. So, by remaining steadfast in your religion and faith, you can stand tall feeling confident that no matter how tall you are, how smart you are, etc. is really quite irrelevant. The most important thing is that you are staying firm in worship for the sake of Allah that He will judge you favorably.
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW)) as saying: Verily Allah does not look to your faces and your wealth but He looks to your heart and to your deeds. (Sahih Muslim 2564 c)
Remember your strengths
At present, your feelings of intimidation stem entirely from your physical appearance. Remember that whilst you feel that this is a trait is a weakness for you, you also have many other positive traits.
In fact, others may be looking to these positive traits of yours and feel intimidated by you. Perhaps there is something that you are particularly good at, or you possess a certain personality trait that others also wish they possessed too.
The very fact that you are talking about what happened is a sign that you are brave.
People in Islamic history
We can see many examples of people in Islamic history who were seemingly powerless compared to their enemies yet defeated even the biggest and strongest of enemies.
The people of ‘Ad were destroyed by Allah despite their strength.
As for ‘Aad, they were arrogant upon the earth without right and said, “Who is greater than us in strength?” Did they not consider that Allah who created them was greater than them in strength? But they were rejecting Our signs. (Qur’an, 41:15)
Dawud conquered the great giant Jalut.
So they defeated them by permission of Allah, and David killed Goliath, and Allah gave him the kingship and prophethood and taught him from that which He willed. And if it were not for Allah checking [some] people by means of others, the earth would have been corrupted, but Allah is full of bounty to the worlds (Qur’an, 2:251l
And the battle of Badr where Muhammad and his companions fought in small numbers against their enemies, yet were still able to defeat them by the will of Allah.
And already had Allah given you victory at [the battle of] Badr while you were few in number. Then fear Allah; perhaps you will be grateful. [Remember] when you said to the believers, “Is it not sufficient for you that your Lord should reinforce you with three thousand angels sent down? Yes, if you remain patient and conscious of Allah and the enemy come upon you [attacking] in rage, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand angels having marks [of distinction] And Allah made it not except as [a sign of] good tidings for you and to reassure your hearts thereby. And victory is not except from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise (Qur’an, 3:123-126)
By no means is this any encouragement for you to fight back. However, it is a reminder that we can deduct from these examples alone is that being small in size or small in number means nothing if you have Allah on your side. It is important to not fear anyone but Allah.
That is only Satan who frightens [you] of his supporters. So fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [indeed] believers. (Qur’an, 3:175)
Overall, the first thing to remember is that what you have been experiencing is something that we all go through in one way or another at some point. Most importantly, remember, this man is more of a coward for picking a fight with you. Instead of feeling intimidated, you can instead focus on remembering the brave people before us, focusing on your strengths and asking Allah to give you strength and courage.
May Allah protect you and make you strong and brave and give the courage to see your own strengths. May you find strength, courage, and comfort in His remembrance.
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