Day Nine: Checking My Ego

If there is anything about the current US Presidency that can be called good, it is the fact that it has put on display what people become when they let their ego run wild. I am reminded that a heart with arrogant pride can’t enter Jannah, and the only way to stamp it out is to remind yourself about how much Allah swta has done for you.

I remember one Ramadan I pulled up to the masjid and saw a teenaged girl crossing the street to the masjid. She wore a long khimar over what was obviously short sleeves and skinny jeans. I rolled my eyes.

“What’s the point?” I thought. 

Later, about midway through the tarawih prayer, I saw her standing in the row in front of me. Unlike most of the other girls her age, she was still participating in the salah. Most of the others had congregated on the swings outside to talk while their parents prayed. And unlike most of the women in the room, her shoulders shook softly as she cried. 

I was ashamed of myself. I misjudged her. But the most agregious part was that I thought that I was in a position to judge her at all.  

I think back on my younger days and the memories of my behavior make me cringe. I was so lost and so desperate, and so convinced that I was smart. All the makings of a first class fool. And yet, after passing through all of that, I was still being foolish. Mistakes are only valuable if you gain insight. Experience is only useful if you gain wisdom. I had both and yet here I was making a rookie mistake. The problem was not the girl in her skinny jeans, it was me.  

People who believe in the myth of the “bootstraps” always make me laugh. They never talk about how they got those boots to begin with. They never thank the One who made their arms and legs strong enough to pull themselves up and move forward. They never remember that before they began their journey they were no different than those they despise. They ignore the people who ran ahead of them and cleared the way for them to travel. My grandmother, whenever encountering somebody’s difficult situation, would always say “there, but for the grace of god, go I”. 

That young sister reminded me that as long as you are striving, you aren’t yet lost. And, nobody has the right to judge you. Where I was then is not where I am now. Before patting myself on the back for being so wonderful and evolved I am taking this time to remember that things didn’t always look so promising to me. The brothers and sisters living foul right now don’t deserve my scorn because “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.

Allah swta repeats over and over again in surah ar-Rahman, “which of your Lord’s favors will you deny”. It is one of the things that makes that one of my favorite surahs. It reminds me that striving is just striving, and nothing will come of it unless Allah swta sets the right conditions for our advancement. As we move into this month of heightened spiritual and religious energy, let’s all remember to check our ego at the door. Instead of ridiculing those who struggle in life remember your Lord’s favor upon you and know in your heart “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.

AS always, the reminder is for me first and foremost. If you get any benefit from this it is truly from Allah swta and only the mistakes have been mine. 

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