Assalmualaikum First name / Friend!, May peace be upon you.
If you’re reading this, I’d like to firstly say how appreciative I am of your continued interest in The Core.
What once began as an individual platform to be vulnerable has now become a forum I share with many gifted writers. It’s incredibly rewarding to see others advocate for the importance of expressive mediums while educating our Muslim Youth in the process.
As President and Founder of The Writer’s Block, a club I founded in 2019, I recently curated a project that’s allowed me reflect upon the importance of Ramadan, and its key role in rejuvenating our hearts.
I’ve urged my members to consider the term “empowerment” and provided them with a series of questions to answer:
How do you define empowerment?
How do you specifically feel empowered?
What is one piece of advice or affirmation you’d give to someone struggling to feel empowered?
Empowerment is a huge part of our identity, and it can be felt in several ways.
When we feel empowered, we are assuring ourselves of the virtue that lies in our character.
However, on the flip-side, empowerment can be rooted in our appearance.
And while there is no harm in feeling comfortable in our skin, certain consequences come from overlooking our character and using our appearance as a greater means to feel empowered.
Truthfully, feeling empowered is something I’ve struggled with for a severely long time.
And when I say that, I don’t mean to say that I’ve only struggled with not conforming to standards, but that I’ve seen my lack of empowerment have a visible effect on my faith.
I’ve seen it tarnish my perspective of the world,
And worst of all,
I’ve seen it leave me attached to everything that is utterly meaningless.
Allow me to explain:
About a year ago, when I truly started to educate myself about Islam, I learned about the severity of attachment.
I consider attachment to be a type of poison, a silent killer.
We don’t immediately recognize the presence of poison until it attacks and leaves us in a critical state.
Similarly, as humans, we are oblivious to negative habits or negative people until they take a toll on our mental health.
It is only then we step back and realize,
how dearly attached we are to the wrong things.
Attachment is a topic that Yasmin Moghaed covers heavily in her novel “Reclaim Your Heart.” She discusses how Tawheed (the oneness of God) is something we often misinterpret.
When we take our Shahadah (or our pledge) to Islam, we oath that there is one God and that we may not worship anything before Him.
My notion of this was always worshipping inanimate objects as opposed to worshipping God.
It never crossed my mind that I had made my desires, my masters.
It had never occurred to me that I had become a slave to my worldly pursuits,
and that my dismissal of faith was due to all the fleeting things I cherished.
And lately, even after understanding this,
I still struggle with attachment.
When I become attached to things like social media, I lose sight of who I am.
When I am on a platform that encourages young women to give into beauty standards, to become hyper focused on vanity, and to only portray their best selves,
I feel less empowered.
I can’t even tell you how many hours of my life I’ve wasted on Instagram,
picking apart my own photos and sitting in anticipation,
just waiting to see how others perceive me.
Just hopelessly waiting for them to validate me,
and to define “empowerment” for me.
And I sit here in loss, just wondering why I gave into that culture for so long.
How was I convinced that this was my path towards fulfillment?
That all the sadness,
the pain of never feeling complete—
was worth the mere ounce of praise.
So, to answer the questions I raised before:
I define empowerment as having my inner beauty be a reflection of my power.
I feel most empowered when I educate myself and actively make efforts to be a better person.
And lastly, a piece of advice that I would provide someone else with:
Release what’s between YOU and your ULTIMATE goal. Recognize what is fleeting and what is eternal.
By permanently deleting social media, I have released my attachment to vanity.
I have chosen to live a more fulfilling life,
and have recognized that my body is futile—
but my soul is eternal.
May you all be blessed with a fulfilling, incredible Ramadan.
And as clique as this sounds,
remember that you only live one life.
Find what makes you feel empowered, and reclaim who you are.