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Counseling Q/A on Self-Esteem and Confidence

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you for participating in the session.

Please find the questions to which our counselor provided answers. If you do not find yours here, check out our upcoming session or submit it there again.

Question 1. I want to feel normal again

Aoa, I’m a Muslim but I am not so close with my religion. My mother was a non-Muslim so I didn’t get enough Islamic education. I don’t remember the last time I prayed. I try to get better but people around me make me feel like they own the religion and as if I am praying for them and now if I start praying again, they’ll be like “WHAT NO WAY LOOK SHE’S PRAYING? CAN’T BE REAL”, so to not make that image of myself in their eyes I keep doing my thing to make them feel I don’t give any importance to them and their ideas.

Since past few days I’ve been feeling really down and having nightmares a lot in which I see people dying, cannibalism and blood, I had a dream just right now about my brother dying too. I searched and the information is not fully correct anywhere now I feel like Allah is mad at me and I am unforgivable, the people who I live with painted me as a non-Muslim when they don’t know they are the ones who made me go this far.

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I am bad enough to express my emotions to my family since we have this gap between us that can’t be recovered, they are all so judgmental and the think very highly of themselves when they don’t even know how to treat a human according to the teachings of Islam. It’s a great sin I guess to name a person non-Muslim then not giving them their proper rights I don’t think that only praying can make you go to heaven for real. I feel scared and helpless when they spread misinformation about me the things that I never do and then I end up going into a state where I feel numb, emotionless then they go mad about it saying I don’t talk with them like who am I supposed to talk with when everyone in that room dislikes me and talks bad stuff about me.

Salam alaikom, dear sister,

I am so sorry to hear of your struggle. May Allah make it easy for you and help you out of this.

What you relate about your family sounds quite distressing, and it must be very hard to deal with your family’s judgments and discouraging attitude.

It can really have a negative impact on your mental health, so it is not surprising that you feel “down,” “emotionless, and numb.”.

What can you do?

  1. Regarding worship and prayers

Your struggle with discouraging comments about you starting to pray again is real. However, try to get power and motivation from the example of the prophets of Islam. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, had to endure the worst forms of slander, insults, and attacks from his people when he started preaching Islam. This was the case with Prophet Ibrahim, Nuh, and others; their families did not stand by them and were openly against them. What did they do? They kept focusing on their main and final goal: pleasing Allah and worshipping Him. They did not let others ill words stop them from their mission.

So, this is what I advise you, dear sister: try to ignore their comments, and remember, you do it for your own sake and for Allah. The others do not matter. You can ask them to respect your deeds, as you are not hurting anyone, and let you practice your deen. Even if you turn back to Islam, you can let them know that, alhmadulillah, you made this decision and you expect them to support you; otherwise, kindly leave you in peace.

What you can do is make dua for them and ask Allah to forgive them for their attitude. Finally, they will be responsible for them; it is not upon you. What it is is your own worship and connection with Allah.

Set your boundaries with them, and try to distance yourself until you feel strong enough to respond to their comments with assertiveness and confidence. It is something that is learned, alhmadulillah, and surely you can learn how to stand up for your needs and ignore ill treatment or verbal abuse.

If you feel that you are not heard at home, try to find solace somewhere else. I know we all want to feel the acceptance of our family, and in sha Allah, you will also feel that. But it is not your fault that they are not able to support you properly. They also have no right to judge you for your struggle with the deen. They are supposed to encourage you and try to draw you closer to Islam, not away from it. You are right when you say that not only prayer counts but also good character, manners, good deeds, and acting upon the commands of Allah. So, with this being said, what about looking around in the masjid? Or in an online group or at school? You may join a circle or a study group and seek like-minded ones. Also, remember, it is Allah who knows the truth and sees and hears everything, and He knows what is in your heart. It is enough and sufficient. alhmadulillah

2. Regarding your dreams

In Islam, we have little knowledge about dreams and their meanings. From this article on our site: 

„As for interpretation of dreams in Islam, this issue is certainly one of hidden secrets known only to Almighty Allah, the Knower of the Unseen.”

What we know are found in the hadith: 

“At the approach of the Hour, the Muslim will have a true vision, and honesty will help him to have the clearest and truest vision. Moreover, seeing a true vision is the 45th degree of prophethood. Vision is of three kinds: the good one with glad tidings from Allah; the bad dream, which is from Satan to invade hearts with sadness; the third one is the effect of an aforethought matter. So if any one of you sees something sad in a vision, he should offer two rak`ats in prayer and never reveal it to anyone.” (Al-Bukhari)

The latter ones are dreams about daily matters: persons, problems,situations, places, etc. that bother us, occupy our thoughts and emotions, or we just simply had an  

So, as your current struggles occupy your mind and cause you negative emotions, it is possible that you find them in your dreams too.

Furthermore, social media and news about bloody and sad events can also intensify these emotions, and you may mix these images with your own struggles in your dreams.

As a practical tip, you may limit your news intake and avoid the painful images about death and suffering, especially before going to sleep.

3. Counseling

I am not sure whether you have any means to take part in counseling, but it would be good if you could get some sessions. You may check online or see whether your school or masjid provides this service for free. Talking about your situation and gaining some strength by boosting your self-esteem and confidence would help you feel better.

May Allah help you with that.

Question 2. Is it normal to be bothered by relatives talking about girls’ bodies and weights???

Keeping this debate aside that what’s a healthy weight and what isn’t, I’ve noticed that my relatives are obsessed with talking about the bodies of young women in an unhealthy way. Recently, I was part of a family get-together, and one of our uncles and a few aunties launched into a long session about the sizes of all of the girls present. Idealizing the thinnest girl who happens to be very skinny. She was mostly praised for being extremely skinny, but later was told that another girl, who’s slightly less skinny but not fat either, has a better figure and she should aspire to look like her. Similarly, the chubby ones were shamed and the skinny ones were presented as an idol. Some of the skinny girls ended up refusing to eat anything for dinner that evening because they had to demonstrate that they wanted to maintain that skinniness.

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah, dear sister,

Thank you for contacting us.

My answer, in short: unfortunately, it is common but not right. You have also made an observation by saying that they were talking in an unhealthy way. So, you have noticed, masallah, that this is something that is not okay.

Self-acceptance is a very important aspect of well-being, and if someone is criticized for their appearance, especially by their loved ones, it has a negative effect on their self-esteem and self-love. She may come to the conclusion that, in order to be loved and accepted, she has to look a certain way.

But this is not the standard that Islam teaches us, and it is not what we know about nurturing the healthy self-image of our children.

What we need to do is foster a sense of self-acceptance by encouraging them to be proud of the way they look, accept their bodies, and shape what Allah has entrusted them with.

Of course, it is also good to foster healthy eating and exercise habits for the sake of taking care of our health and bodies, as granted by Allah. Obesity is a health problem, and it is true that in many cases it can be preventable with proper habits, and directing towards this can be okay, but it does matter how.

On the other hand, measuring females only by their body shape is kind of degrading them, and one should not participate in conversations like this. Let alone the negative and harmful consequences this can lead to for one’s mental or physical health.

What can you do next time it happens?

Take this hadith as a recommendation and try to prevent the harming of others.

It was narrated that Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Help your brother whether he is a wrongdoer or is wronged.” A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, I can help him if he is wronged, but what if he is the wrongdoer? How can I help him?” He said, “Stop him or prevent him from doing wrong. That is how you help him.” al-Bukhaari (6952).

Kindly remind the others that there is no fixed beauty standard, and it is unrealistic and unfair to set one and measure everyone by that. Either through media, culture, the fashion industry, or family members, we do not have to please the expectations of others on our looks, than Allah. If Allah willed, He would create everyone with equal body shape and form, but this was not the case. We need to learn to appreciate the diversity of His creation. So, in order to feel confident in one’s look, one should feel okay with herself, and criticism won’t help anyone feel better, but rather the opposite.

Also, you can add that, as a result of these comments, which are basically body-shaming, there are many girls who suffer from long-term negative consequences, like eating disorders, and other forms of mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, sometimes even in their late adulthood.

Look at the following hadith:

Abu Hudhaifah narrated, and he was one of the companions of ‘Abdullãh bin Mas’üd, from ‘Aishah, who said:

“I told the Prophet (ﷺ) about a man, so he said, ‘I do not like to talk about a man, even if I were to get this or that (for doing so).” She said, “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Safiyyah is a woman who is…” and she used her hand as if to indicate that she is short. ” So he said, ‘You have said a statement which, if it were mixed in with the water of the sea, it would pollute it.” Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2502

Commenting on others’ looks or making gestures, not in a praising way, can pollute our speech, so it is something we should avoid.

What you can also do is offer your support to those family members that were criticized and try to help them restore their confidence and self-acceptance by assuring them that they are beautiful as they are and that they have to be proud of themselves.

I hope this helps. May Allah reward your efforts, ameen.

Question 3. Feel lonely, want to get married, losing hope

Aslaam Alikuim,

I don’t know what to do, I want to get married but I feel like I will never find anyone. I am 38 years old work a graduated last July with a photography degree I have been applying for jobs but have not got a job yet, while I am working a factory job.

I have mentioned many times to my parents I want to get married and how I feel but they always have so many conditions or they feel unbarred by me, they say I am too fat, and that I need to save ` certain amount. The things they’ve said over the years has taken a lot from my confidence.

I have been trying marriage apps for years but most women waste my time or don’t know what they want or want to commit haram, I have never had girlfriends or committed zina, I often feel I am a failure and that I am a mistake, that I’m too old to fix my problems and there’s no hope for me that I will be on my own forever, I know this life is a test, it’s just people I knew who committed haram all of them are married and have families.

I feel all parts of my life are a mess, career, my family life is really toxic no love and I don’t have my own family.

I don’t know what to do I feel I have tried it all asking my parents to find someone and they don’t do anything I have been looking myself but that has not worked.

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah, brother,

Thank you for reaching out to us.

You say that you are 38 and would like to get married, but your parents always come up with excuses. You feel that your career and life are a mess, your family is toxic, there is no love, and your parents don’t help you find anyone.

Despite all, you have stayed away from haram relationships, and you endured with patience this time. Masallah, may Allah reward your efforts and your patience. 

You say that you feel like a failure and that you are too old to fix your problems. I would like to tell you that it is never too late. Everything happens by the will of Allah and He is the Delayer of the events. We have to put our full trust in Him and in His will while trying our best to reach our goals.

What can you do?

Sometimes, our goals seem too huge and, therefore, unreachable, right? If you start listing what you would like to change, you may end up with a long list, and it can be overwhelming and just leave you feeling more down.

But, brother, we do not have to fix everything overnight, right? What about going piece by piece? What about starting with a change of outlook on all this?

You say that your parents present obstacles to your marriage plans. But are you sure that the solution is in their hands and that you depend on them? What if it is more of a perceived dependency than a real one?

Actually, you are a grown adult man, and it is about your life, your marriage, your career, etc. Your willingness matters, and while you certainly have to be open to your parents’ opinions, it is you who have to take steps to reach your goals.

Unfortunately, the toxic family atmosphere and discouraging attitude from parents can lead you to believe that you are not able to manage your own life alone.

I am not sure to what extent this applies to you, but if you think that you are struggling with your self-esteem and confidence in your decisions, kindly seek a counselor. The good news is that with support and intervention, you can feel better about yourself and believe that you can deal with everything.

Also, if you feel that the home where you are is not supportive, you may consider moving out or creating a form of distance. Physical and/or emotional. Of course, you do not need to cut ties or treat them with no respect or kindness. But if an environment negatively affects your well-being, you have to move from there and start working on yourself.

So, what I would suggest is:

  • See, how can you distance yourself from people who make you feel that you are not good enough? It is not your fault what they say or do. But your choice is to take responsibility, try to prevent it, and not expect change without your efforts and commitment.
  • Try to work with a counselor on your self-esteem and on your beliefs that say that you are a failure and that you are not good enough. I am sure that you are. I am sure that you are a person worthy of love, have good qualities, and deserve a wife and a family of your own. You have studies, masallah, and also work, even if not in your field, but these are achievements, and you can be proud of them. So, maybe with professional help, you can switch your inner focus and notice and recognize your own worth and that you can do this, as you have managed to do other things in life too.
  • After this, if you are feeling better about yourself, you may look into marriage plans. Do not worry; it is never too late, and Allah is the One who sets the time for everything. Maybe He delays your marriage until you are confident and strong enough and find a partner who will really support and match you.
  • If you start looking for a spouse, you do not need to involve your parents until you find the right one and have made your decision. If there are no Islamic reasons against your choice, you should expect their support and a positive attitude towards your plans. And if they do not support you, then, kindly, keep it between you and Allah. Your parents have to understand that without valid reasons, they cannot reject your plans and delay your marriage.
  • What matters, brother, is that in the sight of Allah, your intentions are pure and clear, and you would like to reach your goals and find contentment in this life and in the next.
  • Some articles that may help: 3 Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem, Boost Your Self Esteem, How Did Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Deal with Low Self-Esteem?

May Allah make it easy for you, brother. I wish you success. 

Question 4. Loan

I live in the Netherlands. I am in my first year of college which takes 4 years in total. I get money from the government, a couple of hundred euros. I get this each month so that I can use a bit of it to pay for school and to also keep a bit for myself. I also get a travelcard which keeps getting money on it each month automatically, because my school is far and it would be a bit pricey. Now the thing is; If I finish this study in 10 years (I should be done in about 3 years) then I do NOT have to pay back anything, as this money and travelcard I am getting is a student loan based on interest? So, it would be a gift and I have a lot of years to finish the study. I am also determined to pass this study and get my diploma. But if I do not get my diploma in 10 years then I do have to pay back all the money + interest. So I don’t know if the money/ travelcard I am getting is  ok for me to use because it is from an interest based loan but I wouldn’t have to pay back anything if I get my diploma in 10 years and I am already getting it (if everything goes as planned) in about 3 years. Please help.

Wa alaikom salam, dear sister,

Thank you for contacting us.

I am not a fatwa scholar but a counselor, so kindly send your question to our scholar for clarification. Meanwhile, kindly check these, related scholarly answers from our site:

Can I Take a Student Loan?

Are Student Loans Halal?

Will I Be Forgiven for Taking a Student Loan?

Question 5. Sihr

I cannot breathe as I have severe sihr, this is sort of reaching out for help

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah,

Thank you for turning to us for help. May Allah ease your situation, ameen. I am not sure how you have concluded that your breath difficulties are results from severe shir.

Do you have some form of evidence to that? Furthermore, is there any possibility that you are dealing with some illness, either physical or mental, that can cause you shortness of breath? Kindly do a checkup to rule out any health issues.

Meanwhile, find here some articles on shir:

Black Magic

My Bad Luck: Is it Jinn Possession, Black Magic, or Fate?

How to Take Precautions against Evil Eye and Witchcraft?

I hope this helps, may Allah grant you quick and full recovery, ameen

Question 6. Divorce

The question is related to divorce. Its from a female. She was divorced through the Whatsapp text messages. Her husband said talaq three times on WhatsApp while he is out of the country. So, is the talaq valid? And, right now he is not responding via phone. And, she can’t go to that country as she doesn’t have any mahram. So, was the talaq valid? Thanks

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah,

Thank you for contacting us.

I am not a fatwa scholar but a counselor, so kindly send your question to our scholar for clarification. Meanwhile, kindly check these, related scholarly answer from our site:

Divorce via Text Message in Islam

What Are the Procedure and Rulings of Divorce?

Valid Reasons for Divorce in Islam

Friday, Mar. 01, 2024 | 07:00 - 08:00 GMT

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