Seeking validation from others is one of the primary causes of our social downfall and the cause of much of our despair. Only God can give us our true sense of worth.
I have lived and visited quite a few countries around the world from India, Japan and all the way to the United States. Experience has shown me that cultures can be very different across the world. Even in your own local community at the SABA Islamic Center you will notice vast differences between people.
Just this morning as I was driving to SABA, I saw someone cut another person off. I turned around to see what had happened, expecting that the person on the wheel would give an angry look or shout from his car – but no, the East Asian gentleman didn’t even bother to look, he just rode off. Now I am not one to generalize races or cultures, but this is not the first time I’ve seen this but so far I have never seen an East Asian man yell at another person on the rode. Maybe it’s just my limited experience, or maybe it is the good forms of behavior that Japanese and Chinese cultures encourage.
My experience has also shown me that people can be very similar to one another as well. Take the subject of my post: validation and social despair. Many of us spend our lives seeking validation from others. We firmly believe that this form of validation fulfills our worth. We go out of our way to seek validation from others, our bosses, teachers, friends and yes, even our spouses. Sometimes we grow so desperate that we end up humiliating ourselves. We not only lose the respect of our bosses and friends, but we also lose the respect of our spouses.
The desperate need for validation from others is a symptom of an inner emptiness. In Qur’anic terms, it is a disease of the heart. Where does it come from? My take is that it comes from a lack of that awe-inspiring and loving fear of God called khushūʿ. It comes from the lack of one’s will to please his or her Creator. This empty black hole or spiritual disease has real time consequences in our relationships with others.
So how can we go about in fixing this? Remember that the problem here is spiritual. It goes back to the problem of imān, namely that relationship of trust that we have with Allah (swt). Our inner states go a long way in not only molding and shaping our external actions, but also the auras (haybah) that we give off.
Most of the ways we communicate with others is through non-verbal means. Our words may say something, but our facial features, body language and more importantly, the aura of our souls say something else. People tend to catch on to our states pretty quickly. Sooner or later, they will pick up the real vibes that our souls emit. It is through our auras that they form their true opinions of us. If we are disconnected from God, we will never be able to have that true source of inner strength that not only gives us inner peace, but also gives a sense of tranquility to all others around us.
As I said once before, if you want to lead those around you towards salvation, make sure to acquire inner tranquility. Inner peace (itminān al-qalb as the Qur’an terms it) is the greatest tool you can ever have if you want to transform the world. But this can only happen through true reliance on God where He is our only source of validation. If we learn to be truly at awe of God, God promises that we will receive “two” heavens, one in the next life and one in this life.
And for those who stand in fear and awe in their Sustainer’s presence, two gardens of paradise [are readied for them]. (Surah al-Rahman, verse 47).
Dr. Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Aalim of the SABA Islamic Center (Shia Association of Bay Area)