Tag Archives: Keep it Real

Keeping it Real – in Islam (Fi Sabilillah)

If, as mentioned in the previous post, the essence of keeping it real is excellence then it has some implications in Religion. I will talk about Islam being the one most familiar to me. But remember what it means to keep it real in psychology, this is a continuation.

It is a core teaching is Islam to keep it real. Of course in the 7th century AD such slang did not exist, nor was there its equivalent in Arabic. But in the tropes of the time, the prophet said (not verbatim): He who does a good deed for people’s acknowledgement, gets his rewards from the acknowledgement (instantly in this world). And he who does a good deed for God’s acknowledgement, gets his reward when he meets his Lord (God, in the hereafter). (I appologize for lack of reference here, this is a pretty common saying of the prophet. i’ll update the post if I find exactly where it is)

When we were kids, the explanation we had of this hadith was not as you would expect. Our teachers didn’t use to get down like that so they wouldnt know to tell us that it means keep it real. They told us that if one performs their daily prayers so that people can see them, then that person gets no reward from God. Until recently, I have maintained this myopic view.

In light of the new insight from psychology, a new (additional) interpretation is pertinent. The rewards that one gets from people acknowledging their act is a dose of the fluid that they get in to their brains; these fluids are responsible for creating the social reality that makes the person feels so good, as if they have achieved what it is they are aiming for. The reward from God may be in the literal sense, but in addition, it will be the higher internal state reached by the person through humility and more striving. The humility comes from non acknowledgement that protects the ego from the feeling of being “holier than thou” or the retirement that it has done enough worship.

Wanting to show others all the “good” things we are doing can be addictive; after all it is “rewarding” instantly; not too different from the kicks of narcotics.

This also solidifies the claim that good deeds are not ends in themselves, but are means to ends. By “ends”, I don’t mean the afterlife. I mean getting to that higher state of being and just being a better person. Hence, the popular saying of the prophet that one who prays well will have a swift judgement on judgement day. “well” means “keeping it real”.

So when next you want to tell a muslim to do things for the sake of God (fi sabilillah), just tell em to keep it real. If you wanna tell a muslim be God Conscious (dhikr), just tell em to stay real.

Stay Real!



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Keeping it Real in Psychology

Keeping it Real

Keep it Real! you can find it on posters and banners along side “Life is too short, Enjoy it!”. It is the greeting you will want to receive from a Hip Hop fan. It is the best goodbye and sometimes comes as the alias “Stay Real”. It feels good to be acknowledged as being “Real” and then being encouraged to continue.

“Keep it Real” is arguably the most popular phrase in rap. Yet its meaning is so diverse that it can mean almost anything. The “Conscious Rappers” like Mosdef and Common tell us to keep it real. At the same time, the “Gangster Rappers” like Tech 9 tell us the same. The “Grimy Rappers” like Ol’ dirty bastard and RA tell us they keep it real. Does it still have any meaning left? its easier to say what it is not, rather than what it is. For the sake of this post, lets use one if foremost meanings: Excellence.

The next popular phrase in rap is “faking”. that is the opposite of “keeping it real”

…in Psychology

According to Derek Sivers, studies have shown that keeping your goals to your self highly improves the chance that you will achieve those goals. It was tested on two groups of people; first group were told to announce their commitments and the second group were told to keep it to themselves. People from the second group spent more time on trying to achieve their goals, even if it was not achieved in the end. The reason the first group slacked in their effort is that by telling others of their goals, they received accolades, in form of enzymes to their brains (I suppose) which made them feel good. Whereas the second group is working hard to receive their accolades when they achieve their goals.

Surely, this may not be true to all goals but it is an important discovery. The brains of people in the first group are tricked in to thinking they have achieved their goals… illusion, fake!

If you want to keep it real, you will do away with all the “fake” accolades that you get by bragging about your goals. You wait for the REAL accolade that you get when you do achieve your goal. Delaying gratification.

Keep it Real Y’all! Coming soon, is the second part of the Keep it Real series

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