For quite some time, people were drowning in self-pity and throwing pity party for themselves due to low self-esteem. Social media became the voice of all the people trying to fit in, breaking and self-loathing. It became our dearest diary, so we spoke up. We talked of our deepest pain and how we wish we could be like so and so, look like so and so, dress like so and so, have partners like so and so…Slowly with time, the social media power gave people a chance to appreciate themselves, love how they are without having to necessarily to fit in. Different became the new trend. It was all good at first. Emotional support from people we barely know, a chance to know people who are like us…until finally, FINALLY, we learnt to embrace ourselves. It was great! Self-love rocks no doubt. But something else happened too. We now became overly-obsessed with ourselves. And as the saying goes, ‘Too much of anything is poisonous.’

We don’t want anyone correcting us, we don’t want anyone to put a mirror in front of us and show us the darkness eating our insides like worms. We became the untouchables. Me above Everyone else. Me as flawless as I am. Me being perfect. Look, look at the particles of empathy slip between our fingers. Look at kindness being the toilet rag. Look at appreciation breaking into a thousand glass pieces. Look at forgiveness flying with the wind. While we were showering ourselves with all this love we desperately needed, we over-stepped a bit. We became too blinded and eventually did not recognize the beast we have created within ourselves with Social media being our partner in crime.This beast is called Narcissism.

Narcissism: extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

Don’t get me wrong, self-love is so beautiful and uplifting for the soul but when we let it infest our brains like mites, we become arrogant. We become selfish (not in the good way). We look down upon others who are on a different journey from ours and disregard and call names to anyone trying to advise us. We idolize ourselves too much to the extent we disrespect other people.There’s a thin line between self-love and Narcissism, and majority of us have crossed it.

So we became these people who can’t be told anything, unapproachable and inhumane. We speak and treat people recklessly in the name of loving ourselves.

The thing with people is that they don’t forget. They don’t forget how good or bad or even how indifferent you were to them. And you might be so surprised how something small you did to a person years back may result to them helping you in a difficult situation or decide to do the total opposite.

{Worship God alone and do not associate with Him any partners. Be kind to your parents and near of kin, to orphans, the needy, the neighbor who is related to you and the neighbor who is a stranger, the friend by your side, the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. God does not love those who are arrogant and boastful.} (Qur’an: 4: 36)

A simple example, I know of this lady during campus who was staying at the hostels and one time needed help fixing her room plug which wasn’t functioning. So she asked the campus guard for help and he did fix it. Some other girls were really surprised that he had actually helped because they had just a few days asked him for help and he didn’t offer any help. They asked the lady jokingly why he favoured her and she said, ‘I usually greet him every time I pass by the gate’ And that was just it. She greeted him and he appreciated it more than she personally imagined.

Have you for example ever seen the reaction of a non staff, like the school cook or guard or cleaner when you coincidentally bump into them after you are done with school and actually recognize who they are and greet them? They most probably would give you a glowing smile, not necessarily because of the greeting but mostly because you remembered who they are. They really appreciate you for it. And that’s how it always is with people. Your simple act of kindness and respect goes a long way.

Right now most of us thump our chests and say, ‘I don’t need anyone. Kwani who are they to me? Hawanilishi hawanivishi’ Well, it may be true they don’t feed or clothe you but that doesn’t make you any better than them or them any lesser than who you are. People keep pumping it to us that we shouldn’t listen to what others tell us. That this is your life, do as you wish. You are not accountable to anyone nor does anyone have the right to question your behaviour. But where do we draw the line between self-love, our self-efficacy, our independence and straight up disrespect and narcissism?

Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in his or her innate ability to achieve goals. 

 “And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.” (Surah Israa: verse 37)

I agree that certainly there are circumstances whereby one needs to disregard what others say about you. Like when they make you feel inferior or paint you in an unrecognizable way. Like when people try to stop you from achieving your goals or being who you truly are. Nonetheless, bad behaviours shouldn’t be romanticized with, ‘This is who I am so like me as I am or leave’. Like really?!

I purposely highlighted bad habits because I don’t want the statement to be misunderstood. Yes, none of us is perfect. We all have personality flaws and bad behaviours. But the only time we are justified to ask people to accept us for who we are is when we are trying to be better and working on ourselves, NOT as we continue disrespecting other people or the bad habits we have.

Remember the advice of Luqman Al Hakim to his son:
[And Luqman said], “O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted.O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination.And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.” (Surah Luqman: 16-19)

Don’t allow this temporary world make you be egoistic, boastful, inconsiderate and impolite because truly, you never know who will benefit you eventually. So treat people as you would want to be treated.

Be kind. Respect others. Love yourself within limits and enough to accept your mistakes and work on being better. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Because yes, what goes around comes around. In Arabic we say, ‘Kama tadin tudan’ to mean ‘What you do unto others will eventually be done on you too!’

Abu Darda (RA) reported that Rasulullah (SAW) said, “Nothing is weightier on the Scale of Deeds than one’s good manners.”(Al-Bukhari)