Do you know how we take that one last look in the mirror before walking out the door, how we make sure that every hair is in its place, that our shoes match our outfit — you know, the meaning of “dress to impress”? It’s amazing how much time we take to make sure we look good on the outside, especially if we are going to meet someone special. So much of our market and our thinking is based on fashion, makeup, hairstyles, the latest must-have gadget — what’s “in” and what’s not.
We are fantastic consumers because we believe (through all the advertising) that these products will somehow make us happier or even more beautiful.
I remember when I was in high school, my much younger sister had just washed her hair and as she came out of the bathroom, she emphatically stated, “They’re liars!”
“Who’s a liar?” I asked. The quite annoyed 5-year-old replied, “The TV said if I use this kind of shampoo, my hair would be long, shiny and beautiful just like the lady.” I laughed at how innocent she was, but the reality is that we adults must believe these advertisements; otherwise, we wouldn’t consume so many of these products.
Our actions prove what we believe and value.
I wonder if we were all to wake up one morning and instead of thinking, “What will I wear” or “What will I eat,” we just stop and ask, “What will my heart consume today?”
The heart is like a sponge. It absorbs what we see, hear, say and do. Even when I feel that I can place myself in a negative environment without any harmful effects occurring, my heart eventually will absorb some of its surroundings. What I consume will directly affect my intellect, thoughts, emotions and character; and as a result, affect others, too.
Furthermore, whether we realize it or not, the first place we seek advice is within ourselves — so if we choose to consume negative things, how can we see clearly to help even ourselves?
Our hearts are part of our essence, which is fed by our inner intentions and beliefs. These are then followed through outwardly with actions. These positive actions require discipline, patience and perseverance. This is our individuality.
Muhammad said: “Do not be an imitator saying: If people do good we do good, and if they commit injustice we commit injustice, but take control of yourselves: If people do good then you do good, and if they do bad then do not commit injustice.”
Hence, every positive action is considered worship and remembrance, when the intention is made to please God. In return, our hearts find true contentment.
Quran 13:28 says, “Those who believed and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”
Jenan Jondy has a degree in biology and is a volunteer with the Literacy Volunteers of Bangor (www.lvbangor.org). She lives in Hampden with her husband and is the mother of four children. Columns on Islam are published in cooperation with the Islamic Center of Maine in Orono. Voices is a weekly commentary by Maine people who explore issues affecting spirituality and religious life.