In 2008, I started university. After spending more than 10 years of my life in various school uniforms, I was suddenly allowed to wear whatever I wanted. Suddenly, I had the freedom to plan my outfits every day, from deciding which accessories matched to choosing how to do my hair. It was a completely new environment and I was extremely thrilled at the infinite possibilities. Going to a new school also meant making new friends. As an extrovert, the idea of building relationships with people excited me to no end.
After a few weeks, I started to notice that most of my schoolmates came from very rich families. When I say rich, I mean so rich that some of them were picked up from school with Ferrari and Audi cars. They carried their laptops in shiny Prada bags. They would spend ONE weekend in London because they felt like it. Hailing from what I would consider a middle-class family, I was taken very much by surprise.
However, it wasn’t long before their lifestyle started rubbing off on me. Every other day, I would be trailing along at fancy cafes and spending a whopping $40 on average. I was constantly on the lookout for trendy clothes. I was giving tuition, selling baked goods and acting but I couldn’t keep up. Alhamdulillah, I wasn’t in debt. But that didn’t mean that I had savings either. Honestly, it got very tiring. There was always someone who could afford more luxuries than me.
I realised that I had been living a lifestyle that I could not sustain just to fit in. I was chasing a moving target; there would always be someone who has more money than me. I was spending freely because I feared that if I didn’t join in for all outings, I would lose friendships. I was forking out money to buy acceptance. Was it all worth it?
Let’s take the example of Asiya. She was the wife of Pharaoh, the most powerful man at that time. As the queen, she had the riches of the world at her fingertips. It would not be unsurprising for her to have had countless servants at her beck and call. She could indulge in the finest cuisines. Asiya lived a privileged life.
Pharaoh was a heartless ruler who claimed that he was God. He oppressed the Israelites, who were made to be slaves, without mercy. Things took a turn for worse when Pharaoh was informed that an Israelite boy will rise up to destroy his empire. He immediately ordered that all newborn males be killed without exception.
One day, Asiya and her servants were by River Nile when they spotted a basket floating. Without hesitation, Asiya instructed them to retrieve it. They were amazed to find a baby boy inside. Asiya instantly fell in love with him. She figured that the baby must be an Israelite but persuaded her husband to allow her to raise him. We all know that he eventually grew up to become a Prophet who would lead his people out of Pharaoh’s clutches.
When Asiya heard Prophet Musa preaching on the oneness of Allah, she was moved and her heart started to change. She started practicing her faith in secret. She knew that this meant that she could lose everything – her wealth, status, companions and even her life but she understood that these mean nothing without closeness to Allah. When Pharaoh found out, he offered her an escape. All she had to do was to renounce her beliefs. However, her resolve was unshakeable. Even while she was tortured, she remained steadfast. Right before she died, her only thought was Allah. She cried, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharoah and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoers. ” Asiya didn’t care about anything else. She knew that reuniting with Allah in the hereafter is absolutely priceless.
It’s true what they say – we only have what we cannot lose in a shipwreck. Through Asiya’s story, I learnt that I don’t have to imitate others’ lives in order to feel valued. My self-worth is not defined by people around me. Instead, my self-worth is defined by my relationship with Allah. Allah does not judge us according to how we look, but He looks into our hearts and observes our what we do. And what is the state of our hearts? Just ask yourself 5 simple questions:
- Do we seek refuge in Allah and trust Him completely?
- Do we ignore our conscience?
- When we feel sleepy, do we persist in praying?
- Do we remember Allah every moment?
- Is the Quran a long-forgotten friend?
It is never too late for us to perform tawbah and return to Allah. May we be persevering believers who submit fully to Allah, strive to keep our hearts clean and do the right thing, with full sincerity, in shaa Allah.