Exactly this time 1,391 years ago, on the month of Duhul Hijjah, our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stood for the last time to address his ummah knowing his mission on this planet was almost over.
He spoke of many things – so far, we discussed the way he advised us on treating each other well based on our masculine and feminine nature, the importance of anti-racism in Islam, and now, we’re going to talk about the way he commanded us to treat each other with dignity.
Overall, each of the topics that our beloved Messenger covered in his last sermon relates to dignity in some shape or form, but he addresses dignity specifically in this part of his speech:
“O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city (Mecca) as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Treat others justly so that no one would be unjust to you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds.”
It’s not a coincidence that one of our core values at Muslim Aid is to treat everyone with dignity. This is fundamental to our organisation because it’s fundamental to the teachings of our beautiful faith.
With dignity comes love, respect, understanding, kindness and justice. Mastering the art of dignity means you’re striving to be a better person from a holistic perspective, and this serves you in this life and the hereafter.
In the Qur’an, Allah says: “And whoever does a speck of good [in life], will see it [on the Day of Judgement]. And whoever does a speck of evil, will see it.” (100:7-8).
On that day, even our tiniest actions will bear witness to the way we lived our lives. This is why when we treat others with dignity, we’re also doing justice to ourselves.
This means we can only truly master treating others with dignity when we give this dignity to ourselves. How does this start? Through knowing your worth.
There’s a misconception that knowing your worth comes from the egotistical notion of identifying with the way others treat you. “I know my worth and I’m not going to let that person speak to me like that” is one of the ways we bring this concept into our reality. While this holds truth because you should always defend yourself, this is a very shallow interpretation.
To understand this concept properly, you need to reverse engineer the way you look at your life, because your habits and actions can tell you a lot about your subconscious intentions and self-talk. For example, you could intend to treat yourself with dignity, but are you being kind to yourself when you make mistakes and looking to learn from them, or do you beat yourself up about them, or do you accept you’ve made them and regard your actions as part of your personality?
Here’s the formula to test and improve yourself:
Take note of your weekly habits (not daily): This way, you have enough of an overview of how you live on a short enough basis to find daily patterns beneath your daily habits and can use your week to forecast how your habits will affect you in the longer term. If you’re a woman, use your cycle to understand the way you respond to each week of your hormonal fluctuations. A good book to understand this concept better is Do Less by Kate Northrup.
Pick out the habits (or lack of) that stand out to you the most and ask yourself how you feel about them being in your life. If you notice that you spend a lot of the time on the couch and not enough time being active, visualise yourself doing what you’re currently doing and write three emotions that you feel. Then do the same for how you’d feel if you did the opposite.
Really feel into these emotions that your actions invoked and listen to what you’re telling yourself. For example, if sitting on the sofa for most of your day helps you feel ‘lethargic, lazy, but comfortable’, find the story in these words – in this case one of the stories is ‘I don’t feel worthy enough to go outside and change my lifestyle’ or ‘I can never be one of those fitness fanatics’
Ask yourself: Are you speaking to yourself with dignity? Is it dignifying for you to sit on the sofa all day because you don’t feel worthy of becoming the best version of yourself?
Make change on all fronts with the intention to give yourself the dignity you deserve. Be more conscious of your self-talk, feel into your habits and change them because dignity is your core belief.
Now that you’ve got a deeper understanding of the concept of dignity by giving it to yourself, make sure you deepen the way you treat others with dignity.
It’s so easy and simple on paper, but it isn’t easy to implement. It's also a process you should keep doing, especially as you change because you become aware of the way you’re treating yourself by allowing yourself to access deeper layers of your mind and heart that you won’t otherwise access. Once you start this process, keep doing it because the more you learn and the more you unfold, the more space there is for you to know yourself deeper and become a better person.
We are a faith-based British international charity that provides help to people who are victims of natural disasters or conflict or suffering from poverty, hunger, disease, homelessness, injustice, deprivation or lack of skills and economic opportunities.