By defying stereotypes, these are the kind of stereotypes I am referring to:
By studying Islam, you are subjecting yourself to a life of poverty!
If you get married too young, you will not be able to have fun!
You can’t study, work and take care of a family at the same time!
If you don’t dress the way society wants you to, nobody will take you seriously!
If you homeschool your children, they will become unsociable!
These are just some of the many stereotypical expectations which I have strived to prove wrong over the past few years. Humans have a strange habit of limiting what we are capable of doing by enforcing man-made stereotypes and expectations. In many ways, we create our own limits and live our lives imprisoned by them.
Alhamdulillah, I have been gifted with a rebellious nature, which means whenever people tell me you can’t do this or that, without giving a genuine reason, I get a strong itch to prove them wrong!
Allah has created us with the potential to accomplish so much and gifted us with a religion that allows us to do any worldly thing that isn’t explicitly prohibited or harmful. This creates a situation in which there are so many possibilities and very few limits to what we can accomplish in our lives.
Yet for some reason, we were not content with the laws of Allah and decided to invent our own limitations, making life unnecessarily difficult and robbing ourselves of our own potential.
These limitations are generally linked to race, country, gender, age, family or career paths. You are told you can’t do that because you are a female, too young, too old, from a specific race, or because your family doesn’t do it that way. A lifetime of indoctrination of such self-limiting beliefs leads to young people who lack belief in themselves and are chained to cultural expectations.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. Allah has given each of us a brain to think for ourselves and the abilities to accomplish amazing things. It is up to every individual to use these skills to evaluate what to believe and what is just man-made nonsense.
From this day forward, do not allow the expectations of people to stop you from accomplishing anything great. The next time someone tells you, “You can’t do this because xyz reason,” ask them why! Is it something prohibited by the Creator? If so, thank them for reminding you and stay away from it. If not, then they need to provide a clear logical reason, otherwise it is just a self-limiting belief invented by someone.
Whenever you feel chained to such self-doubting beliefs, remember the following points:
1. Allah created you and has given you great skills and opportunities
2. Allah has given us a religion that allows us to do anything Halal we desire
3. Islam encourages us to strive for excellence (Ihsaan) in every aspect of our lives
4. You are primarily responsible for fulfilling your obligations to Allah and being your best self, not living by the expectations of His creation.
Allah has created you with gifts, skills and abilities to accomplish amazing things. Listen carefully to constructive criticism but ignore the doubters who tell you you can’t do it, simply because they did not chase their own goals and dreams.
Break that stereotype, defy those expectations and let the world see that, with the help of Allah, we have the ability to accomplish far more than we thought possible.
Best Of Creation: An Islamic Guide to Self-Confidence is available for purchase and download here.