You must be familiar about the story of Adam together with his wife (peace be upon them). They were admitted to paradise and were given everything they need. Allah (SWT) permitted them to enjoy everything therein except one tree. Allah (SWT) warned them even before they were given abode in Paradise. Adam and his wife (peace be upon them) understood that they should not touch the tree which Allah (SWT) forbade them from but among the traits of humans is to forget. Iblis took advantage of Adam’s humanity and fooled him through his whispers. One day, they ate the forbidden fruit. As punishment, Allah (SWT) took their clothes from them and when they saw themselves naked they started to cover their bodies with leaves.
There are many lessons we can reflect upon the story of Adam (AS). Upon seeing their bodies apparent from each other, they covered themselves because they are conscious of their body and naturally they felt ashamed. The sons of Adam (AS) inherited that trait of self-consciousness. Today, that consciousness is still instilled in every one of us. We are naturally covering ourselves because we are conscious of our body. In a deeper context, our consciousness has reached the point that we want ourselves to look good, to feel good and to be dressed well. However, we aim for that pleasant appearance as how it is being portrayed today and not how it is told to us in Islam. We want to look good as how the celebrities look, we want to feel good by being praised by people and we want to be dressed well to fit in to what’s latest or trending.
Due to the modern definition of success and beauty of both man and woman most of us are having this new perspective of what success and beauty is which actually will make us fall off from the truth. We keep on looking at these influences which have different concepts and ideas and if we don’t qualify to these then we will start to feel less of ourselves. We will feel worthless for we think that we don’t belong to this world because we are different from the majority. Once we think to get our honor and dignity outside the fold of Islam then we will be among the losers. We will continuously feel negative about ourselves because we ignore what is actually will make us best in everything and that is Islam.
Only in Islam should we get our dignity and honor and only in Islam should we base the definition of beauty and success. We should eradicate these false thoughts that beauty is by the waistline a girl has or by the cosmetics she wear. These are being taught in everywhere — magazines, TV, internet, etc but we can’t see these from Qur’an, our authentic guidance. Qur’an doesn’t tell us to be skinny and get some thigh gap or collar bones. If we detach ourselves from what is not Islam, we will earn our genuine self-esteem. We need self esteem and confidence to feel good about ourselves so we can be effective in everything we do which will benefit us. However, be reminded that we should humble ourselves and we shouldn’t be filled with arrogance and self-centeredness which we can get from having high self-esteem.
The story of Adam (AS) will make us think that when he was given everything in paradise to enjoy except one tree still he wasn’t contented with that so many things and he chose to taste what was forbidden for him. We are indeed children of Adam (AS) for we are like that. We are not contented of what we have and we kept on looking for more things. When we get something, we will want more. When we see others have their success, we will feel jealous and envious and we will aim to have the same success they have. Everyone has their time to shine and the successes we see in others are temporary and whatever situation we are at now is also temporary. If we stop comparing ourselves and our life to that of others’ and be happy of what we have and what we will have then we will not feel less of ourselves. We should not look at ourselves as pitiful and we should uplift ourselves to be confident enough as believers. Allah (SWT) gave honor to Adam (AS) so we should not belittle ourselves by looking at ourselves as worthless.
There is this quote from an intelligent woman which we should take as an inspiration to embrace who we are. Nobel Peace Prize winner “Tawakkul Karman,” ‘The mother of Yemen’s revolution,’ when asked about her Hijab by journalists and how it is not proportionate with her level of intellect and education, replied: “Man in early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is a regression back to the ancient times.”
To earn the self-esteem we need, we must detach ourselves from the voices that tell us corrupt ideas and embrace our own beauties and our unique stories. Everyone has a role in the society and a story that could inspire others. We should not just sit and wait for Allah (SWT) give us success, we should work for it and Allah (SWT) will grant us success. “Verily, Allah (SWT) does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” [13:11]