I am not a fan of “self-affirmation” “self-esteem”, “self-confidence”, “loving the self” and standing in front of the mirror, morning and night, saying “personal affirmations about how amazing I am”.
Self-affirmations vs God-centered affirmations
Instead of self-affirmation, I believe in “self-tarbiyah and accountability”, “knowing of the true self and its nature”, “loving the self through doing what Pleases Allah only, which is the ultimate formula for self-care” and “standing in front of the mirror, morning and night, saying “oh Allah beautify my character like you beautified my physical appearance”, a beautiful appearance, by the way, is actually a given no matter how one looks like, although we were told otherwise.
Unfortunately, in the world we live in, the media, therapy sessions, seminars we attend to better ourselves > there’s a massive emphasis on the ME and the I as in self-affirmation. Feeding the ego, without realizing it, which leads to harming the soul without realizing it.
Filter out the un-Islamic Self-Affirmation
This self-affirmation stuff doesn’t sit right with me and it never did because I consciously try to make sure that the source of all knowledge I learn and teach comes from the teachings of Islam only, the only source I fully trust and can with certainty say the only perfect source of knowledge. Anything that goes against that even by a small measure; we have a duty to filter out, not live it or help teach it to others.
And this should be the case in every profession. Not everything you were taught at university or through courses with all “evidence-based research” will always be right. This is a fact. The only complete and beneficial source of knowledge for humanity till the end of times is Islam; and we need to continue to learn our deen so we can make it the standard, the foundation and the measure by all that we do.
Daily remembrance v Self-Affirmations
In Islam; we are actually told to “seek refuge from the evils of one’s nafs and desires”
(اللهم إني أعوذ بك من شر نفسي)
And every day in the daily Athkar, morning and night, we say:
اللهم لا تكلني إلى نفسي طرفة عين
“Ya Allah do not allow my nafs to control me not even for a blink of an eye!”
Allah (swt) tells us in Surat al Jaathiyah, verse 23
:أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّهِ ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ
“Have you seen he who has taken as his god his [own] desire, and Allah has sent him astray due to knowledge and has set a seal upon his hearing and his heart and put over his vision a veil? So who will guide him after Allah? Then will you not be reminded?”
And the examples from the Qur’an and sunnah are so many to mention here.
Taming the ego instead of self-affirmation
So this “me” emphasis is actually dangerous for the self!… it can create people who are self-absorbed, arrogant, have narcissistic attributes and can lead to making decisions based on الهوى the nafs, which is harmful unless this nafs was tamed and aligned with Taqwa.
We are not meant to do whatever we like, feel like, want… because we all have toxic forces that impact us: society, shaytan, lack of knowledge, lack of faith, upbringing, attachment to Dunia, etc. So if I was to leave myself to myself; I would most likely fall into matters that I think are good for me but are not.
This is super important to recognize.
This is not to say that you don’t look after yourself, your needs, wellbeing, etc please don’t get me wrong… but it’s saying that you do these things according to how *Allah* (swt) and *his messenger* (s) taught us to do.
Positive Islamic affirmations
Some examples of Allah related affirmations rather than self/ego ones; these are just some examples to give you an idea in sha Allah (but there are countless more):
- Alhamdulilah for everything
- I am strong with Allah
- Allah created me in the best of taqweem (form)
- So I have everything I need within to live my best self for His sake
- Everything is khair (good)
- I have ease in my heart knowing that Allah is the Most Just and Most Merciful
- Allah Sees and rewards; even when people don’t
- My intentions are not for worldly gain; rather hereafter focused
- I am the most honoured of Allah’s Creation (كرمنا الإنسان)
- Al- Jabbar (the mender) will mend my wounds and Heal me
- All athkar
- All du’a
Self-care and wellbeing is not through feeding this nafs that can be advising of wrong (النفس الأماره بالسوء). Rather through nafs purification (purifying the soul), depriving it of that which makes it animalistic like, disciplining it so it can ascend spiritually and experience ultimate joy.
Trusting Allah (s.w.t.), not our nafs in decision making and defining ourselves and seeking our self worth in terms of our relationship with Allah, the authentic maqam of the nafs, rather than our own worldly needs and desires with self-affirmation
Don’t trust yourself; trust the Creator of yourself >>> Allah (s.w.t.)
Halalop Editor’s Note: Sister Dalya has also two other articles on a related topic here:
Dalya Ayoub is a Life Matters Academy director, community leader and educator. Life Matters Academy teaches personal development from an Islamic perspective and serves to inspire growth and change in the lives of its participants. She is a guest author on Halalop.