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Why You Should Not Be Idealizing Your Role Model

Lessons in Putting People on Pedestals

Why You Should Not Be Idealizing Your Role Model
What happens when we put someone on a pedestal is that we put all our hope in another flawed being, we trust an imperfect person to perfectly pass all the tests of this world.

Pedestals are for Prophets and plants. This has been my mantra since I nearly let someone destroy my heart with their short comings. I put someone high up on a pedestal and it was unfair to them and to me.

Pedestals are unstable structures. And that inevitable fall from a pedestal is hard and painful.

Learning about pedestals

As a child and a young woman, many of the men in my life were untrustworthy, abusive, and dangerous, with the exception of one shining example. I looked to this one man to restore my trust, to restore my faith in men, to be that perfect example. I created a perfect idea of him and put that fiction up on a pedestal.

When that idea of this last man standing finally fell from the pedestal, as it was always meant to fall, it nearly broke my heart. I became bitter, angry, and hopeless until a friend reminded me that I had put him in a place only the prophets are meant to be.

Taking this to heart, I began to do the work of learning about the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) perfect character. His life story gave me hope. The more I learn the more I understood what a real man’s character should and CAN be. The more I learned about him, the more I healed. And I started to slowly put him and all the prophets in that highly esteemed place to the exclusion of all others.

Honestly, I am so glad that Allah (SWT) allowed the image of the last man I trusted to fall from the pedestal. I am even grateful for the pain it caused me because painful lessons are the best teachers.

As Yasmin Mogahed writes in Reclaim Your Heart , “That broken heart and that pain are lessons and signs for us. They are warnings that something is wrong. They are warnings that we need to make a change. Just like the pain of being burned is what warns us to remove our hand from the fire, emotional pain warns us that we need to make an internal change. We need to detach. Pain is a form of forced detachment. Like the loved one who hurts you again and again and again, the more dunya hurts us, the more we inevitably detach from it. The more we inevitably stop loving it.”

And so I told myself pedestals are only for Prophets and plants.

Trusting

What happens when we put someone on a pedestal is that we put all our hope in another flawed being, we trust an imperfect person to perfectly pass all the tests of this world, or we imagine that they are here as a perfect example for us.

And in the end, we don’t even realize that the object we put on the pedestal is a flawed being- a human. That is until the image we have of them falls and breaks our hearts.

It’s alright, we all are inclined to do this. Some do it to musicians. Some do it to media personalities. Those of us who are struggling to seek nearness to God do it to those who seem nearer to God or those who have more knowledge than us.

This is a natural human inclination because Allah (SWT) has create us in such a way that we will seek out examples of people to imitate. This is so that we can seek out the Prophets (PBUT) He sent to us as perfect examples.

But sometimes we get mixed up and lose sight of this. We look to those around us who seem more immediate and we put them in too high a place.

This doesn’t mean we can’t see others as good and trustworthy. This doesn’t mean we can’t hold people close and see them as good examples. We certainly should. But we should not keep people closer than prophets. We should not give people blind trust that only God deserves. We should not put imperfect people on pedestals. Pedestals are for Prophets and plants (and sometimes even plants fall from pedestals).

God and His messengers

{Put your trust in Allah. Allah loves those that trust [in Him]}. (Surah al-Imran 3:159)

No matter what happens in life, God and by extension the few people He has sent as examples are really and truly the only ones deserving of our ultimate trust. Always and forever trust Allah (SWT) endlessly and with every fiber of your being. Verify and then trust what He has sent to us through His messengers. If we do that, no one will be able to destroy our faith, no one can break our hearts, and without doubt, God will never let us down.

 


About Theresa Corbin

Theresa Corbin is a New Orleans native and Muslimah who converted in 2001 after many years of soul searching and religious study. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for AboutIslam.net and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and the Washington Post, among others publications.Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discuss the intersection of culture and religion.

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