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The difference between guilt and shame(DW# 765)

When we are talking about the conscience and how it guides us towards wise action through remorse, it is helpful to distinguish between guilt and shame.

When we do something wrong, we feel guilty. It is normal and healthy to feel guilt and remorse when we do things that hurt other people or ourselves. This guilt is our internal moral compass that alerts us when we move away from our values and from our sense of right and wrong.

Healthy guilt allows us to see that we can change our behaviours and make amends. And it gives us the motivation to do so. And when we act in accordance with our guilt to make amends, we feel much better about ourselves.

Shame, on the other hand, is different.

While guilt makes us feel bad about our actions, shame makes us feel about ourselves—about who we are. Unlike guilt, shame may not go away when we take actions to repair the hurt that we have caused. And the fear of feeling shame makes us very reluctant to own up to our mistakes and...

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Self protection(DW# 764)

Continuing with our exploration on why it is so challenging to apologize when we have hurt someone, today let’s talk about self protection.
 
As human beings, we are designed to protect ourselves and this includes protecting our sense of self, our ego from feeling badly. We are hard wired to defend ourselves from outside threats, as well as from thoughts and beliefs that lead to a threat to our sense of ourselves as good people.

This is why we do not like to admit that we are wrong. When we admit that we are wrong or have made a mistake, our conscience makes us feel remorse which is an uncomfortable feeling.

 
Of course, we need to remember that our conscience has been designed for precisely this purpose: to make us feel remorse when we fail to live up to our highest values. It is our moral compass. It is what helps us realign ourselves and our actions to our enlightened self-interest and live as humans in the full sense of the word. It is also what ensures that...
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Talking about magnitude(DW# 763 )

relationships wellbeing May 27, 2020
It goes without saying that not offences are the same. And apologies for smaller offences can be much easier to offer than for the big ones.  

What do I mean by that?


Harriet Lerner in her great book on the subject: Why Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts explains the difference between small medium and big hurts.
 

Small everyday happenings that are not necessarily in our control or our fault.

There are things that happen everyday in our lives which cause inconvenience to our loved ones and they involve us in some way.


For example, I get held up in a traffic jam on the way home from work causing the family to wait for dinner
 
Saying sorry in such a situation is not really asking for forgiveness since these happenings are not anyone’s fault. Rather, it is simply an empathic response to another person’s pain. We are saying, in essence, I am sorry you have to go through this ordeal.
 
Saying sorry in...
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Why is it so hard to apologize?(DW# 762)

relationships wellbeing May 26, 2020
Yesterday, we talked about why it is important to learn how to apologize effectively.
 
However, it can be very challenging to do this.
 
This is how author Sharon Begley explains it:

Apologies are the Brussels sprouts of relationships. Research says they’re good for us, and, like a dinner of the green stuff after a lunch of burger and fries, they can erase or at least mitigate the ill effects of a transgression. But there’s something about both apologies and tiny bitter brassicas that makes us often choose something else on the menu, thank you very much.

 
In the next few days, let us explore some of the reasons why it is so hard to apologize.
 
Firstly, there is often a "magnitude gap" between how each side perceives an offense. When we hurt someone, it is very tempting to underplay our offence and chalk it down to their "sensitivity" rather than to take responsibility for our actions.
 
For the one on the receiving end of the transgression,...
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Why must we apologize?(DW# 761)

relationships wellbeing May 25, 2020
Today inshallah we start a series on apologizing.

Why is this important?

As human beings, we make mistakes all the time.

All. The. Time.

Despite our best intentions, we often end up saying or doing things that hurt other people, often people we love most. In fact, it is our closest relationships that are the most impacted by our shortcomings and slips.

And when our loved ones are hurt by us, it impacts our own wellbeing whether we recognize it or not.

It is now well documented that our happiness and wellbeing is best predicted by the breadth and depth of our social connections, that is, our relationships with spouses, friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues. Strong relationships are good for us on many different levels and so it is important that we repair relationships that are struggling or impacted by small hurt and big betrayals.

Not apologizing also impacts our relationship with ourselves, our self-esteem and our spirituality (we will explore this in the...

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Talk to the best listener(DW# 760)

Our verse for reflection today is from Chapter 12, Sura Yusuf (Joseph).

When Prophet Yusuf (as) is separated from his father Prophet Yaqub (Job) (as), Yaqub (as) is so grief stricken that his other sons fear for his life and wellbeing. To them, he replies:

I complain of my anguish and grief only to Allah [Holy Quran 12:86]

There are times in our lives when we are so distraught that we do not know where to turn. If we are lucky, we have good friends, family and others who can listen to us for a bit, who provide the much needed support and guidance at times when we are unable to make it through on our own. But we sometimes get frustrated when, despite their best intentions, they fail to truly "get us". Or we may be wary of stretching the limits of people’s goodwill and support. We are concerned that their patience with us will run out well before our troubles or grief have run it’s course.

 
At times like this, let us remind ourselves that His door is always...
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If we strive, He will guide(DW# 759)

Continuing with our reflections on verses from Chapter 29 of the Quran, Sura Ankabut [The Spider], verse 69, the final verse of the this Sura says:

And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, (in Us) We will most certainly guide them in Our ways; and Allah is most surely with the doers of good. [Holy Quran 29:69]

This is the final ayat of this Sura. The chapter ends with an important statement that encapsulates the theme of the Sura: Although the journey of righteousness towards Allah is challenging, you do not need to traverse it alone. He will hold your hand, strengthen your spirit, stabilize your footing and steer you forward.

A beautiful promise that gives hope and meaning to the struggling wayfarer.

In this world, we are forever striving.  Everything we achieve comes as a result of striving and effort. To get anything in life, we have to try hard, fail, try again until we get somewhere. This verse reminds us to invest this effort wisely. For the best return. To strive...

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Prepare to return from whence you came(DW# 758 )

Continuing with our reflections on verses from Chapter 29 of the Quran, Sura Ankabut [The Spider], verse 57 says:

Every soul must taste of death, then to Us you shall be brought back.[Holy Quran 29:57]
 

The only certainty is death. This verse reminds us of this fact of life. For human beings, the sojourn on this plane of existence is but a brief transit stop.

We are all, in a sense, waiting in the departure lounge. The tickets and visas for our travel have been arranged. We simply do not know when our flight is scheduled to leave. Unlike other journeys (mentioned in this Sura), the journey of death is choice less. Allah swt guarantees that we will all taste it. The choice lies in how we prepare for it.

For believers, we are reminded that the purpose of this transit stop is simply to gather provisions for the life that lies ahead.

The injunction to remember death at all times is of course not new to Islam. Philosophers and Stoics through the ages have always embraced the...

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Be in a state of constant remembrance(DW#757 )

Continuing with our reflections on verses from Chapter 29 of the Quran, Sura Ankabut [The Spider], we have been exploring verse 45, in which the Quran lays out a three-point plan for success in this world and the next.
 
Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Book and keep up prayer(Salaat) (establish prayer); surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil, and certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest, and Allah knows what you do. [Holy Quran 29:45]

Towards the end of this verse, the Quran reminds about the most important point: certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest.

In other words, Salaat, like the other daily rituals is a tool. It is a tool for remembrance of God, which is the goal of every worship. The Quran in fact explicitly points to this in Surah Ta-Ha, verse 14 when Allah tells Moses: "…and establish prayer for My remembrance." [Holy Quran 20:14]

 
The daily, consistent and disciplined practice of...
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Establish prayer(DW#756 )

Continuing with our reflections on verses from Chapter 29 of the Quran, Sura Ankabut [The Spider], we have been exploring verse 45, in which the Quran lays out a three-point plan for success in this world and the next.

Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Book and keep up prayer(Salaat) (establish prayer); surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil, and certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest, and Allah knows what you do. [Holy Quran 29:45]

 
So the Holy Prophet (saw) is being told to announce that the way to keep focus in this world, and to seek strength through the trials of life is to

1)    recite the Book,
2)    establish Salaat and
3)    engage in constant Remembrance or Zikr.

Let us explore the second one today: Establish Salaat/prayer

When the Quran talks about the five daily prayers, it uses the word:"aqeemus Salaat": establish prayer. Don’t simply pray but establish...

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