Tag Archives: personal growth

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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