Tag Archives: money

Episode 5: Reaction Formation As A Self Defense Mechanism

Defense Mechanism

Self defense mechanism

 

 

Episode Five: Reaction Formation As A Self Defense Mechanism

 

 

“Thank you for meeting with me Alfred. I won’t take up too much of your time, I just have a couple of questions about the night Mrs. Zahir’s necklace went missing” I said.

“Of course” Alfred, the butler, replied with a quick nod.

“In the earlier investigations, you said you went upstairs right after dessert was served, correct?”

“Mrs Zahir needed ice for her rash. I had no choice. I was only doing my job” Alfred went pale and his hands were shaking.

“Calm down. I’m just confirming the information with you.”

“I’m sorry. I’ve just been around long enough to know the unprivileged always serve as everyone else’s scapegoats….”

 

A couple of months ago….

“What are you, deaf?” Mohanad snapped. “I said Scottish smoked salmon. This is clearly Norwegian”

“I will have it replaced right away, Mr. Zahir” Alfred replied with courtesy, even though he was burning inside.

“Rich people are arrogant sick freaks. What difference does it make Scottish or Norwegian? They’re both stinky pink fish!” Alfred slammed the plate on the counter top when he walked into the kitchen.

Giselle, the housekeeper, didn’t say anything. She gulped down the unwanted food, straightened out her apron and then stood at the sink to wash the dishes.

“He’s taking out his anger on me like he always does. We’re lucky we’re not like those people. Their lifestyle is so pretentious and toxic. They have everything they want and they’re not even happy. Take Mr. Zahir, he’s always grumpy, right? And Mrs Zahir is popping pills all day to relax. But people like you and me Giselle, we sleep peacefully coz our conscious is clear.”

“So you wouldn’t want to be in Mr. Zahir’s shoes?” Giselle asked with one eyebrow up.

“Of course not. I hate this exaggeration and fakeness. I’d rather lead an honest simple life, than sit by the pool smoking cigars all day and crying coz my drink doesn’t have an umbrella in it!” Alfred spit out bitterly.

“I’ve worked for many rich families. They’re not all bad” Giselle shrugged.

“Money is a curse I tell you, a CURSE! It turns people into monsters. Wealthy people are everything that’s wrong with this world. They’re bloodsucker. They exploit the poor for their hard-earned money and then pat themselves on the back when they give their leftovers to charity!”

Alfred went back to his room after making sure everyone was sleeping. He looked at the suits he was supposed to take to the dry cleaners for Mr. Zahir, put one on, and sat down to eat a plate of salmon and caviar. He followed his little weekly tradition with lighting up one of his boss’s expensive cigars, while looking at pictures of Mr. Zahir’s Ferrari.

“I hate myself..”, he sighed….

 

 

“So how long have you been working for the Zahirs?”

“About six months now.”

“How’s your experience so far?”

“I can’t complain. They’re fine people. I hope to stay working here for years to come.”

“I heard you got married recently.” I told Alfred, watching his facial expression slowly.

“What does this have to do with anything?” He panicked.

“Well, I spoke to your wife earlier this morning. She’s under the impression you’ll quit your job in a couple of weeks and move permanently to South Africa. She said you plan to buy a house by the beach. Is this true?”

There was a long awkward silence. I could sense the poor butler’s inner struggle and embarrassment at being caught in a lie. He obviously had no intention of working for the Zahirs’ ‘for years to come’.

“We’re still thinking about it….” Alfred finally said after clearing his throat a couple of times.

“Well it does sound like a good plan. You must have a lot of money saved on the side”

 

 

Later that day

“He’s totally busted. So what did he say?” Jenna, my eager assistant asked curiously.

“He said he wasn’t planning on serving rich people for the rest of his life. He was ready to do something meaningful for a change.” I replied as I stared out of my office’s window.

“Did you notice his antagonism towards wealthy people? Is that a ‘communism’ defense mechanism?” Jenna joked.

“No” I laughed. “He’s using Reaction Formation as a self defense mechanism”

“Sounds like something we learn in Chemistry class.”

“Except this mechanism is used when there’s no chemistry between the heart and the mind. It makes people appear the opposite of what they actually are. Like Alfred, he criticizes rich people and yet deep down he wishes to be one of them.”

“What a hypocrite!” Jenna put a hand on her hip.

“It does seem that way, but it’s more like repressing socially unacceptable feelings. Some people cover them up and instead, behave in the completely opposite manner.”

“But why?”

“Because fitting in is a basic need, Jenna. And whenever you start feeling you’ll be ridiculed, judged or left out for having different views or emotions, you sometimes ‘self defend’ yourself against this ‘social pain’ by pretending you’re one of the crowd.”

“But why?”

“La Hawl Wala Kowata Ela BiAllah, I just explained.” I laughed. “Like for example, a father who’s emotionally unavailable, will go the extra mile to show he’s overly protective of his kids. Or a man who secretly has homosexual tendencies yet openly and excessively criticizes gays. Or a woman who inwardly despises her colleague might be extremely nice to her in public. This kind of exaggerated behavior is what we call “Reaction Formation’”

“Good luck treating patients who use this weird mechanism” Jenna scoffed.

“There’s usually a deeper and a much more complicated psychological problem beneath the surface of what the ‘Reaction Formaters’ show. Therapy can provide a safe environment for them to explore their contradictions and perhaps get to the bottom of their primary conflict.”

“Maybe Alfred’s primary problem is his inferiority complex. And maybe he stole the necklace to trick his wife into thinking he’s rich and that way he’d feel superior in her eyes.”

“Maybe….”

“Come on! There’s no other explanation. It’s definitely him!”

“There’s one more suspect.” I said slowly.

“Oh you mean the house keeper, Giselle? You gave me the impression she’s as timid as a blushing newborn rabbit.”

“Yes, but I saw her under a different light.”

“How so?”

“She was eavesdropping on us. And it wasn’t the first time….”

 

To be continued…..

 

 

 

Author’s Commentary:

So I couldn’t tell Jenna but I’m gonna tell you guys what I really think, since we’re all friends here. She was right; Reaction Formation is a sort of hypocrisy, but surprisingly it’s an unconscious one. I know I’m not making a lot of sense but go with me coz it’s a very thin line.
When people try to cover up undesirable feelings or opinions, they’re using a self-defense mechanism to protect themselves from social stigma, but when they add contradictory ‘action’, that’s when they become hypocrites.

 

In Islam, they’re allegedly the ones who want both this life and the Hereafter but end up getting neither. They think they’re so smart they can actually deceive Allah, but He knows their real intentions.

 

“(The hypocrites) will call the believers: “Were we not with you?” The believers will reply: “Yes! But you led yourselves into temptations, you looked forward for our destruction; you doubted (in Faith); and you were deceived by false desires, till the Command of Allah came to pass. And the chief deceiver (Satan) deceived you in respect of Allah.” (57:14 Holy Qur’an)

Now I’m going to touch on a very sensitive subject and please forgive me if I don’t do it very eloquently. Some people judge and criticize sinners so forcefully it makes one wonder why they’re so ruthless when our beautiful religion teaches us to be merciful and tolerant of others. Could it be that those same critics have undesirable wishes to sin, too? Could this exaggerated hatred be a sign of using ‘Reaction Formation’ as a self defense mechanism?

If you catch yourself attacking someone’s lifestyle or behavior in a brutal manner, stop, and take a moment to analyze your intentions. Helping others find the right path involves love, compassion and most of all patience….
We all know this:

Through judging we separate, but through understanding we grow stronger…

And it goes both ways…

If someone condemns you in a hurtful way, (and before you get so mad you feel the smoke coming out of your inflamed nostrils) I need you to remember that perhaps it’s more about them than it is about you. Judging others isn’t listed in our job descriptions as Muslims, and so when we take it upon ourselves to become the world’s most infamous critics, it usually has nothing to do with Islam.

So don’t take the hurt to heart, and try to understand when someone deliberately tries to break someone else, it’s usually because they’re already broken inside…

And ‘having mercy on broken hearts and souls’ is definitely on our job descriptions…

See? Right here on the list, in a bold huge font!

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Don’t Tempt Us!

Throwback hajj 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

Hajj Diaries: Day Four

“Here’s a not-so hypothetical question!” I looked at my brother Mohamed with one eyebrow up. “You know, hundreds of pilgrims die cramped in the humongous crowd of Mena during the stoning ritual. If your wife and I fall, who will you save?”

“I guess that’s why God gave me two strong arms! So I can lift you both up at the same time!” He replied.

“Well played Mohamed….”

Other than understanding why women need a mehrem, evidently for situations like this one, I have learnt so much about the wisdom and blessings behind Hajj and umrah this year, and one of them is that it brings people closer. Up to five or six people a room, you spend day and night together and so a special bond is created that nothing and no one can break. Ask anyone about their Hajj companions and they’ll smile from ear to ear for half an hour first before replying!

I’m staying with my brother and sister-in-law, and at the airport I was delighted to meet a few of my dear cousins, too. We left our kids, families and loved ones behind… And in this beautiful place, after Allah, we have no one but each other…

So this is basically how the day goes: We pray Maghreb at the mosque and read Quran till Isha prayer then go back to hotel for dinner. We usually return to the Holy mosque again for some peaceful remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and come home exhausted, shower and sleep for two to three hours. We open our eyes with the sound of a VERY insistent alarm clock, all sleepy and groggy we debate and negotiate for a good twenty minutes on who should get up first to make wudu and give the other two a chance to sleep five minutes longer. We then head off to pray Fajr and stay in harram till sunrise to pray duha and go back to hotel for breakfast. This is when we sleep for another three to four hours and then go to the Holy mosque to pray Dhur then Asr prayer.

People are more connected with their inner beings here. They really and truly want to do everything right. The women at the mosque are very friendly and kind hearted.  While most of my loved ones have figured out how much of a cry baby I am by now, strangers still haven’t. So random women come up to me while I’m making duaa, offer me a tissue and ask if I was okay. I think I cried on half of the female Hajji population’s shoulders this year! There’s a unity of Islam during these days… The kind of unity that can make us the most powerful and respected ummah in the universe….

Anyways, now that my crying secret is our. Let me prepare you for the scary part of the journey, the stoning of satan, where millions of pebbles (and sometimes flip flops!) fly right over your head. Even though it still happens on the 10th of Dhul Hajjah, I thought we should talk about it now, you know, just in case some one misses the pillars and stones me! If that happens, know that I’ll miss you all and that my will is in the second drawer of my nightstand. Please tell my kids that I love them and that it was me who ate all the chocolates that day when I pretended they had gone missing!

Okay back to the “stoning of the devil” ritual. Pilgrims throw seven pebbles on three different pillars representing Satan for three consecutive days. Most of us know the story behind it, right? When Allah ordered Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismail, and on their way to carry out the unbearable task, satan appeared three times in the same locations of today’s three pillars. Prophet Abraham stoned satan when he tried to convince him not to kill his own son! Until the third time, satan is knocked down like a silly idiot!

But did we ever think of the wisdom behind the story? I mean, we say it so casually!

Can I ask you something? Do you have a son or a daughter? One you’ve waited years for, and watched grow into an amazing, obedient loving boy or girl ? Do you have a beloved nephew or niece who bring so much joy to your heart? A dear child whose laughter is the only sound that keeps you going?

Would you be able to sharpen a knife and put it to your child’s throat? Would you be able to look in his or her eyes, knowing it would be the last time…

The last time to kiss them and hold them and breathe in their scent…?

And even more so, would you stone and curse the person who tries to stop you saying “Wait! How can you not have mercy on your own child? You must be hallucinating! God would never order you to end the life of an innocent pure boy!”

If God ordains it… Would you really kill your own flesh and blood, your mom or dad or offspring and then live with the grave memory forever?

I’ll give you a minute to think about it…. But I want you to be honest with yourself…

Coz this is what “Ram’y Al Jammarat” is all about… Sacrifice…

It’s about understanding the reason behind your existence … Submitting to the will of God no matter what it is… The mission is total submission… “Islam”

God won’t ask you to slaughter your own child to test your faith. But he might take something away from you. A loved one… Money… Health… A safe home…

We all have something missing or will face a great loss one way or another… And then the devil will come to counteract…

You might be poor, and satan will come in the form of unlawful wealth…

You might be single, and satan will come in the form of passion and love out of wedlock…

You might be lonely or insecure, and satan will come in the form of devious friends who live to drink and smoke up

You might be needing something and satan will intercede to offer it beautifully wrapped up. Unless you close the door in his face and swallow the key, temptation WILL overcome submission…

Prophet Abraham was willing to give up what he loves the most for the sake of Allah… He was willing to sacrifice his Ismail…

If you had to… And if the One who holds your life in His hands wills it, would you give up your desires, dreams, wealth, pleasures or loved ones…?

Would you sacrifice your Ismail…?

 

Your Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen 

 

Inside The Therapist’s Office: Episode Four

Office

 

Mr. Ramzy was one of those incredibly rich businessmen; sharp, smart and intimidating. Forty-eight years ago, when he got his first job at a carwash, he knew in his heart he would make it all the way to the top. And he did! Today, he is the CEO of the well-known ‘Ramzy Empire’, owns tens of mansions, private jets, yachts and multi-billion dollar businesses on almost every continent. And even though his perfect life is sparkling proof that dreams DO come true, the man was dying inside slowly, and he had no idea why…

“I did it on my own! I overcame unimaginable roadblocks! I made something out of nothing, I built a whole kingdom and trained the world’s new leaders! I see the future before it happens and I create lucrative opportunities out of thin air!” Mr. Ramzy stated proudly.

“Was it you who did that on your own? Or was it God?’ I asked.

“Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s all God’s doing of course! But it was my hard work, achievements and me being thankful to Him. That’s why I’m different. Suceess stories don’t just happen by chance! I’ve dealt with all kinds of people, and through experience I’ve seen how some of them fail out of laziness, envy, and bitterness. I know how people can be down right ungrateful… even the ones I’ve generously and selflessly helped….”

 

He had seen her a couple of times at the office. There was something about this young woman’s mysterious aura that distinguished her from anyone else he’d met. He approached her a couple of times but she politely rejected him. She wasn’t the least bit intimated by his status or money! He found out later her mom was one of his employees and so Ramzy requested to see her immediately.

 

“How have you been Lila?” Mr. Razmy asked the old woman, before crossing his legs and lighting a Cuban cigar.

“I’ve been very good thanks to Allah. I don’t know how to show you my appreciation for offering me this job and for all your help You’ve been very kind to me since my husband died!” Lila said.

“Your husband was a good man! He was one of my best employees!” Mr. Ramzy replied. “So let me get straight to the point. I’m sure you’d be very happy to know that I’ve decided to get married again!”

“That’s wonderful. Congratulations!” Lila smiled.

“To your daughter!” Ramzy added.

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand. My daughter is already engaged” Lila stuttered.

“So I’ve heard. But I’m sure you can talk to her. It’s the least you can do given my huge investment in your family!” Ramzy said in a warning tone.

“I don’t mean any disrespect sir, but from what she hears about you from me, I think it makes her think of you more as a father figure not a potential husband!” Lila spoke firmly.

“I’ll give you three days to think about it” Ramzy frowned, motioning with one hand for Lila to leave. It was obviously payback time, for the look in their eyes said it all…

 

“And then what happened?’ I asked Mr Ramzy.

“That rude ungrateful woman! I practically kept her family afloat for years. You’d think she’d want to return the favor, but instead she refused my proposal!” He shook his head. “I fired Lila and cut her monthly charity of course! And sobhan Allah a couple of years later, I did marry her daughter, who by the way despises her mother till the day! That’s the punishment for her ingratitude! Allah is Fair ”

“Mr Ramzy, have you ever paid for a house or a car in installments?” I asked.

“My first car, yes!” He replied, a bit confused at the sudden change of subject.

“What happens if after the last installment, the vendor refuses to give you the car?” I asked.

“I’d sue him! If I pay for a product I expect to receive it! A deal is a deal!”

“Now, if you were paying Lila money, expecting one day she’ll return back the favor, why do you call it ‘charity’ and not a business deal? Isn’t it the same concept?” I asked.

Mr. Ramzy paused for a minute, and I took that chance to continue…

“You say Allah is Fair, but now many people are born into poor families, warzones or suffer a disability or sickness. Do you think Allah isn’t being fair to them?”

“It must be a test! They’d surely be rewarded for their patience!” He replied quickly.

“And just like He tests the less fortunate with poverty, He also tests the rich with their wealth and power. Those who were patient will get the fast track to Jannah! And as for the affluent, the wealth isn’t theirs to start with, it was a trial, and that’s why they’ll be asked on the Day of Judgment about how they spent it, in excruciating details! If we only give charity to get something in return or even expecting to hear a ‘thank you’, then the deal is done in dunya! But if we give it expecting reward from Allah alone, that’s when the Greatest and the Most Generous will multiply the blessings and happiness both in this world and in the Hereafter.”

“So are you saying I’m miserable because I denied Lila her allowance, even though I regularly pay my zakat (obligatory charity) and even though Lila and my wife, her own daughter, are estranged?!” Mr. Ramzy asked.

“All I’m saying is the concept of ownership isn’t real, because we don’t belong here!! We’re just visitors in this world. Allah gave you the brains and health to work hard, and allowed you to accumulate wealth. He then put needy people on your path to reward you for helping them! Allah doesn’t need your money, sir! He will put Lila on someone else’s path and she’ll be taken care of, no problem! He was only giving you a chance to help selflessly because Allah loves you Mr. Ramzy, and He wants you to be happy! Did you know it’s a scientifically proven fact that giving charity with no strings attached activates the mid region of the brain? That’s the part responsible for cravings and pleasure. Once we fulfill that innate need to give, we all receive! Some experiments even proved giving charity felt better than eating chocolate! I’m still skeptical about that part though” I joked.

Mr. Ramzy, the previously angry miserable man, finally smiled.

 

“This is what the third pillar of Islam is about. Zakat is true, heartfelt happiness. There’s nothing else like making a difference in a person’s world just for Allah’s sake! Try it and you’ll be hooked to this ‘joyous feeling’ forever! Once you see this life for what it really is, you’ll see it’s the poor and needy who are doing you a favor accepting your money, both in this life and the Hereafter. And when you help someone you don’t even like, or someone who has hurt you, it’s a clear statement you’re doing it for Allah’s sake alone!”

“Those who spend their wealth in the Cause of Allah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Holy Qur’an, 2: 262)

“Which would you rather do Mr. Ramzy; deny and punish the ungrateful and live a miserable life, or spend that money on Allah’s needy servants, and live happily ever after? With no fear and no grief? Think about it” I said as I closed the file. “And I’ll see you next week inshAllah.”
“I think we are done here!” Mr. Ramzy said. “There’s no need for me to come back! I finally found what I’ve been looking for!”

He walked towards the door, stopped and turned around to face me. “Thank you…” Mr Ramzy added and I nodded with a smile.

I was getting ready to leave too when my assistant walked in and handed me the phone, saying it was extremely urgent.

“It’s okay… You can tell me! Did you take it?” I asked the frantic caller two minutes later.

“No I didn’t!”

“Oh thank God!” I whispered.

“But I might….”

 

To be continued….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Inside The Therapit’s Office: Episode Three

Office

 

“Your next appointment is here” My assistant announced.

“Al Salam Alaykom Adam!” I greeted the grumpy teenager. “So how was your weekend?”

“Yeah, whatever!” Adam spit out. “Let’s get this over with!”

 

He sunk into the chair across of me and took out his earphones, totally uninterested in what I had to say. “What’s your wifi password?” He asked.

“Listening to music, ha? Why don’t you put it on speaker and we can listen together” I suggested.

“I thought you were an Islamic psychologist! Isn’t listening to music ‘haram’ like everything else in this world?” He mocked.

“Well… that’s one way to look at it. But now if everything is ‘haram’ the word ‘halal’ wouldn’t exist, now would it?” I smiled.

“Cut it out! We both know I’m here only coz I got suspended! So how about you tell me what it is I need to say or do for you to sign this slip. I can’t miss the finals this year! My gramps promised me a sports car if I graduate high school!”

“What about your parents?” I asked.

“What about them? They’re cool either way! I wouldn’t know really. I hardly see them….” Adam shrugged. From the innocent look on his face, I could tell his mind had wandered far back into the past….

 

“I said I want my mommy!” Little Adam stomped his feet. It’s been six days in row now, and his nanny was honestly too tired to come up with cover stories on why his mom had disappeared.

“Go watch TV till your dad comes. He said something about taking you out for ice cream!” She sighed.

 

“Hey buddy, what you watchin’?” Adam’s dad walked in three hours later.

His dad had been weirdly nice and attentive this past week, Adam thought.

Ten minutes later he found out why….

“Listen Adam… Something came up. I’m gonna have to move to a different country for work. But I promise I’ll try to come see you as much as I can!” His dad explained.

Adam soon discovered ‘as much as I can’ actually meant ‘a couple of days every other year’. His dad was a workaholic. He lived and breathed for his job, neglecting everything else including his beautiful lonely wife and only son. He figured showering them with gifts would make up for his non-existence. Sadly, Adam’s dad had no idea the more money he gave, the emptier his family felt inside….

 

“Mom! Wake up! I need you to sign my report card!” Adam said. “Come on, I’m late for school!”

“Let granpa sign it!” His mom slurred.

“Why?” Adam asked. He had secretly wished his mom would see it and praise him for his good grades. Fifth grade is hard you know!

“Coz I said so!” His mom snapped.

“Good one mom! You should be a lawyer!” Adam stormed out.

 

She was either sleeping, watching TV or out with her weird friends. His mom was obviously not interested in motherhood, so why should he worry about being a good son? You know what? The hell with it, he thought! Adam quickly went from being a straight A student to being an A class bully, surrounded by corrupt friends and hardly passing his tests. The school principle was one of the few people who believed in Adam, and was devastated to see such a bright talented boy spiral out of control. He was given another chance on one condition! He must seek therapy….

 

 

“Where do you see yourself in ten years Adam?” I asked when he put his I-pod away.

“Successful! Rich! Travelling around the world on my private jet” he replied.

“But do you have a plan to make those dreams come true? I’m sure you know how the saying goes. ‘Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow’” I added.

“I dunno” Adam shrugged. “But I’m sure I’ll find a way! I always do!”

“Okay I’ll tell you what! If you can tell me the three ingredients of success, I’ll sign this slip and you’ll be free to go! Pretty sweet deal, no?” I challenged.

“Just like that?” He asked suspiciously.

When I nodded, Adam walked to the big white board and started scribbling , before listing them all beautifully. I knew the seed of knowledge was in there somewhere.

 

  • Time:
    Successful people have one thing in common. They respect each tick of the clock! They’re never late, never waste time and their schedule is perfectly managed and organized. If they have an important meeting, they make sure they’re there before it starts.
  • Practice with Passion:
    Successful people are fully dedicated to their goals. They’re focused, consistent, and determined. They’re always practicing and reviewing to stay on top of their game.
  • Humility:
    Successful people are respectful and humble enough to learn.

 

I crossed my arms and stared at Adam, hardly able to control my proud smile.
“Yeah, I read a lot!” He said, blushing a little bit.

“Well, since you turned out to be a genius, I have a couple more questions!” I added.

“But that wasn’t part of the deal!” Adam complained.

“Well, now it is, so sue me!” I said. “Do you pray?” I asked.

“Sometimes!” Adam replied. “My gramps drags me to Friday prayer every week!”

“What if I tell you that you’ll never be successful if you don’t pray!” I asked.

“I’ll prove you wrong!” Adam replied. “Lots of people don’t pray, yet they roll in piles of money! Many have received awards, or have the coolest jobs, or have so much power and they don’t even pray!”

“If success is another word for wealth and power, then would you consider the drowned Pharaoh successful?” I asked. “Us Muslims, we know better! Success is is true joy inner peace Adam, and no money in the world can buy you that!”

“But what does praying have to do with that?” Adam asked.

“When we fail or make a mistake in our job, we tend to avoid our boos, or the person in charge. And when we fail in life, when we sin or go astray, some of us abandon prayer coz they’re too ashamed to run to Allah. But only those who want to succeed have the perseverance to keep trying. Only successful people are never late for their most important meetings in their lives; ‘salah’, they practice their faith with passion and they stand humbly before their Lord. Those are the ingredients of success in this world and the Hereafter, and that’s why it’s the second pillar of Islam and the essence of our faith. Without this connection to Allah, we have no identity whatsoever!” I said as I signed the school slip and handed it to Adam.

“That’s it?” He asked.

“You can watch success from far or you can become it! It’s your choice.” I said.

 

Adam walked out towards what I’m sure would be a bright future inshAllah, for one cannot un-see the truth after seeing it so clearly. I went home feeling so peaceful, and came back to the office the next day all bright and shiny for my next appointment.

 

“Leave the door open, please” I instructed my assistance, before my patient started relating his story.

 

“I have the perfect life! And yes I pray five times a day! I’ve reached my goals! I have a loving family, more money than I can count, fame, wisdom, health… you name it! I’m the billboard ad for success! All my dreams came true yet my life is a nightmare! I have an invisible illness no one can diagnose! You say you help people find their path to peace and happiness? I have found it and I’m STILL SO UNHAPPY!” My patient slammed the desk violently.

“Okay, take a deep breath Mr. Ramzy. Calm down” I said.

“Don’t tell me to calm down! FIX IT!” He yelled.

 

 

To be continued….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Money Talks, Shut It UP!

Published by ProductiveMuslim.com on Feb 11th, 2015
Below is the original uncut version

When Money Talks
Shut it UP!

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Two

“No I’m just a normal person like everyone else! Granted `I live in a 17 floor mansion, but you know, it’s very simple. The walls are gold plated and the fireplaces and crystal lights are all voice activated. I got my bedroom suite for only 250,000 pounds! Pretty good deal, huh? But anyways, enough about me! Now tell me something about you”

You probably met one of those before; the kind of people who don’t necessarily brag out loud, but instead work it into the conversation to let everyone know how ‘well’ they’re doing. They feign that shocked look when they hear that not every person in the world owns a private jet or summers in Cannes with all the celebrities. Then they’ll pout as they try to make you feel better about your miserable life, all the while adding more insult to injury, with details about how they spend lonely nights on their 20 feet yachts and light their cancerous cigars with hundred dollar bills, rubbing their riches in your face till your teeth hurt.

Well, on second thought, I really hope you’ve never met anyone like that. I must say it’s not a very pleasant experience.

And even though these people might brag about modern day luxuries, their three-step technique is as old as time itself, and is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an more than 1400 years ago in a chapter Muslims are required to read every single Friday. It’s the story of the man with two gardens in Surat Al Kahf, and yes, we read it weekly for a reason!

So let’s quickly recap the events of the story. Two men have a conversation in which the richer one boasts about his wealth, denies Judgment Day and lets arrogance overcome him. The less fortunate man reminds him it can all perish in an instant, and soon enough, the wealthy man’s estate falls to pieces before his eyes. The End!

STEP ONE: Pretentiousness Turns To Conceit

Perhaps they were neighbors, but companionship was all those two men had in common. One’s resources were scarce to the point of negligible, while the other man, oh my, he had it all! Endless palm trees surrounded his vast acres of lush grapevines and huge field of crops. A river gushed between his two heaven-like gardens to eliminate the problem of irrigation. His estate didn’t manage itself obviously, which is how we know he probably had hundreds of employees working for him. This man’s empire produced crops and fruits at full capacity, with 0% probability of lost or damaged goods. The money rolled in endlessly and well, this man was evidently one of those ‘if you got it flaunt it’ kind of guy!

Yet the wealthy man did not go up to his poor companion and boast out of nowhere!

It wasn’t like:

“Knock knock”

“Who is there?”

“Rich!”

“Rich who?”

“Richer than you are! Bye”

No, Allah specifically explains that he let it slip in a conversation both men were already engaged in. And what was the poor man’s response? Nothing! I mean what would you say when someone adamantly tries to make you feel less of a person because you’re not rich enough? Planting a seed of inadequacy in other people’s hearts is the first step downhill. You can’t drag someone down unless you’re lower than they are, and that’s what showing off turns us into; conceited, mean and low.

STEP TWO: Conceit Turns To Violation

For some reason, arrogant people with high statuses hear stories of disasters around the world and brush it off completely as if they’re not susceptible to any of that. Their wealth blinds them into thinking they’re superior in this world, and consequently the first runner ups for bigger treasures in the Hereafter. That’s arrogance on top of arrogance! At this point, they become unfair not only to people, but to themselves, for they forget everything they own was ‘given’ to them with Allah’s will. The poor man reminds his rich neighbor that his arrogant attitude is a form of ‘disbelief’ in the Lord, and explains that all his wealth can disappear in the blink of an eye.

(Confession: I have to say every time I read this part of Surat Al Kahf, I thought the poor man was asking Allah to take the rich man’s wealth away, and it really confused me why a believer would do that. I would read that part quickly and block out my disappointment in the poor man. For years I never thought of digging deeper and finding out the real meaning of this verse. I guess that was lack of humility on my part, thinking my interpretation was all there is to know! Now that I did my homework, I realize I was so wrong it’s ridiculous. Sorry Allah)

Wow, that was hard to admit!

Conceit abuses others, but before it does, it violates our own souls; the pure loving hearts we once possessed become tarnished with self-importance. A true believer understands that poverty is a test from Allah, but so is wealth! It’s your humble attitude that counts, not your bank account.

STEP THREE: Violation Turns To Destruction

This poor man did not ask Allah to terminate the wealthy man’s kingdom, but let’s face it, most people would feel violated by the insinuations that they’re not ‘good enough’, and those negative feelings will definitely yield negative vibes. Take for a example a poor woman, who can barely pay school tuition, listening to her rich cousin go into excruciating detail about how tiring it was to throw such a lavish party for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday. She complains the tulips flown all the way from Holland were not the right color, and the giveaways were not engraved with each guest’s name, like Oh My GOD, how embarrassing?!! Let’s pause here for a second, how do you think that poor woman listening to this would feel? She would probably start harboring anger and hatred towards all rich people, wouldn’t she?

The wealthy man’s empire tumbled to the ground, and in my humble opinion, that is also a symbol of destruction in general, whether in material things or in society as a whole. This poor woman will probably feel pressured to throw her own daughter a party too, with money she doesn’t have! Violating people’s meager lives poisons their thoughts with the need to compete; to live up to shallow expectations and that only creates hatred and jealousy.

Golden Tip:

One of my beloved Islamic scholars became so popular that when he visited one country the people were so excited to meet him they gathered around his car when he arrived and lifted the whole car up, chanting his name! When he came back home, he was found on his knees cleaning the floors of a public bathroom. When his followers gasped he cried and said, “Leave me be! I’m terrified of becoming arrogant. I’m here to remind myself that I’m just a mere slave of Allah.”

What about us? How do we remain humble in a society that shoves competition and immodesty down our throats?

Well, our beautiful Islam left no questions unanswered, and our beloved Prophet’s teachings (PBUH) are overwhelmingly and beautifully profound. Amongst the ways to remain humble is to feed the hungry, visit the sick and have patience when others disagree with you. But two of the most characteristics I have personally found very effective and are truly humbling are RESPECT and MERCY.

 

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn al-‘As:

The Prophet () said: Those who do not show mercy to our young ones and do not realize (respect) the right of our elders are not from us.”

 

The Anti-Christ (Dajjal) will come with four ultimate and extremely difficult challenges. It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah, used to seek refuge (with Allah) from the torment of Hell, the torment of the grave, and Al-Masih Al-Dajjal.”

We are up for some huge trials people! The first challenge is FAITH and the second one is WEALTH!

(No I’m not telling you what the other two are yet!)

The treasures will follow the Dajjal like ‘swarms of bees’, so if wealth impresses or blinds us now, guess how much trouble we will be in at that time! But Allah is kind, He gave us all the aid we need in Surat Al Kahf, and gave us the key to the trial of wealth in the verses after the story; it’s remembering that all of this is temporary, for we will all stand before Him soon and testify to our deeds.

Seventy or eighty years on Earth are nothing compared to eternity in jannah inshAllah…

So if you want to be productive instead of destructive, whenever you hear that voice in your head of money talking, do yourself a favor and shut it up! Money comes and goes…. But the best is still ahead of us, and will last forever…..

Just hang in there…

Lilly S. Mohsen