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Umar Zulqarnain Headshot

On the Journey Towards Sincerity

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The reality of this world is that most of us aren't selfish enough. We prescribe to this idea of self-preservation that gives us the opposite in return. Our perception is clouded by petty narrowness and shortsightedness. We attempt to look out for ourselves first and others second. In reality, if we were truly selfish we would realize that the concept of "selflessness," how it is commonly understood, is the ultimate form of selfishness. It is our path towards becoming closer to God, filling our hearts with light and living a happier life, a life that is enriching and fulfilling.

To become "selfless" we have to understand ourselves and others. We have to understand how we manipulate ourselves and bridge the gap in understanding the true nature of our actions. How do we behave? Are we truly attempting to fit into this idea of "selflessness"? We often tell ourselves that we are "good people" and this allows us to rationalize our actions towards others. What does it mean to be "selfless" and how can we attempt to at least walk towards that goal?

I think the root of "selflessness" is sincerity. I think for us to be truly sincere, we have to question what is guiding our actions. Whether we are justifying insincere actions and how.

Part of that journey requires us to understand our emotions. We tell ourselves we are sincere but when emotions contradict sincerity, we often let our emotions guide us. When sincerity and emotions coincide, we use that to reinforce the idea that we are in fact sincere. One of the biggest hurdles towards sincerity is the belief that we are sincere, without questioning what it means to be sincere.

This requires us to sit down and define sincerity. Define what sincerity means and how we have to act to embody that characteristic. Part of that journey requires empathy. It requires us to understand how our actions may impact others, how others will perceive our actions. It requires us to understand that how we perceive things is not necessarily how others perceive things. An action that would be sincere towards us in the same situation would not necessarily be sincere towards someone else. It requires us to think about everything we do in depth.

This journey requires us to step outside ourselves. It requires us to stop letting our thoughts be inward and force ourselves to be present. It requires us to be completely mindful in every situation. What does it mean to be mindful? Being mindful is to be conscious or aware of our surroundings. Being mindful is to be conscious that those we interact with bring their own life, their own experiences and their own perspective. It is to understand that every situation is not limited to our own personal perspective and thought process. Being mindful is to be present in a situation not just physically but mentally. It is to understand that the voice in our head that is telling us to orchestrate a show that will allow others to perceive us a certain way, also exists in the minds of those we are interacting with. Being mindful is to understand that the show is nothing but a façade, that who we are will not be dictated by the success of our performance. Being mindful is to let go, to let be.

This is something that is increasingly difficult in our modern culture. Where we are increasingly conditioned to think inwardly, think about our insecurities, think about how we are being perceived. Where conversations are transactions of words rather than meaningful connections. Where we are conditioned to use conversations to put on a performance, to validate the image of ourselves we have in our minds. To move forward, we have to let go of those things. We have to realize that living life that way will only lead to anxiety and mental stress.

While working on our own sincerity, we have to realize that the reality is, we will rarely meet sincere people. We will rarely meet people who will genuinely step out of themselves to attempt to see things from our perspective and act accordingly. Unfortunately, most people don't sit down and try to figure out what is guiding their actions. People don't act with insincerity out of choice, but rather out of ignorance. We can't blame others for being insincere towards us. All we can do is work on ourselves. Islam is built on love and mercy and it is our job to embody those characteristics when people are insincere towards us. If we can't show love and mercy towards others, how can we expect love and mercy from God?

"The man of Love does not subscribe to the power of evil, he sees a lack of love as the root of all problems."