Salam Dear Musa,
Salam Dear Musa,
Thank you for writing us with your concerns.
You’ve raised several important questions that I’m not sure we can address them altogether, but you are always free to email us again with a follow-up.
Knowledge & Heart
One of the keys to loving Allah and His Messenger is knowledge. The more knowledge we have of Allah’s greatness, His mercy, His kindness, and His compassion, the closer we will want to be to Him and the more that things like reading the Quran will mean to us.
There is also a hadith about reading the Quran that says, in essence, that we should read the Quran until it affects the heart, meaning that we cannot stop just because we don’t feel it, but should keep going and continue until it begins to take root inside of us.
The essence of Islam is struggling with the lower self (tazkiyah un-nafs), as it is in that lower self that all these ugly aspects of our personalities reside. Similar to your question about being a weak person, self-conscious, etc…, the way to transform yourself is through the continuance remembrance of Allah.
Allah is the Source of all goodness and it is only through Him that we can become transformed. However, you need more guidance on how to do it; you cannot solely depend on yourself and your own judgment.
Like anything in life, if you feel it’s not working, then we need to make a change. In this case, you need to engage at a deeper and more serious level with Islam to improve your practice of it so that it begins to have an impact on you.
I think you could really benefit from having a teacher to help you better understand Islam, the Quran and yourself. There is no substitute for having a knowledgeable human being to take your knowledge from, as well as having someone helps you understand yourself and guide you to that which is best for you. Along with a teacher, being in the company of other students and having a stronger sense of community would also be helpful.
When we have these three elements: truth, teacher and community, it can greatly help you to focus on Allah and acknowledge everything else, as opposed to the other way around, which is to focus on everything else and merely acknowledge Allah.
That’s what I can clearly see from your question; you’re preoccupied with all these things that you don’t like about yourself, yet you mention Allah in passing. A life built around Allah, with Him as the focus is where you draw all the resources to strengthen and improve yourself, not the other way around.
You care about others and what they think of you because you have put them ahead of Allah on your priority list. Devotion to Allah is what changes not only the way you see yourself, but also the way others see you. However, how you view yourself is not necessarily how handsome you truly are.
You have a very negative perception of yourself; however, how real is this image that you have created? Why is this image so negative? What evidence do you have that the way you see yourself is really how you are? All of these things are a symptom of having your priorities in disarray.
If possible, I suggest finding a teacher, hopefully someone nearby to where you live, who can help you re-prioritize things, as well as help you to better understand Allah, the Quran and Islam at a deeper level.
Perseverance in Worship
Also, do not give up on your daily worship, praying, reading Quran, etc…; for perseverance is struggle, and struggle is Islam. If it’s not working then you need to learn more, acquire more knowledge and understand yourself and why it’s not working, but don’t abandon it ever!
Perseverance is how we overcome our lower selves and arrive at self-refinement. But we cannot just keep spinning our wheels either; we must try and become better and more knowledgeable about our religion to make our worship more meaningful and effective.
I know you asked many questions and I only responded in a general manner, so please feel free to write us again if you have any follow-up questions or concerns.
(From Ask About Islam archive)
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