It is a smoldering fire that eats at your heart slowly and unremittingly. The feeling of rejection comes from those closest to you. It steals under your skin and creates a weight that drags you down, into the abyss of depression. The one most hurt is your ego or Nafs, but your perception is that your heart has been hurt. Is there a soul on this earth who at some time in their life has not suffered from rejection?
How can one rise above the feeling of rejection? Especially rejection by those related to you with love.
The answer is hidden in what Allah has ordained for us. Every act we do whether it is personal or professional it is to be “Fi SabillAllah” i.e. for the sake of Allah. When I do something to please someone and do not get a response that I expect, or get an inadequate response, I feel rejected. This happens when I do something for a loved one. I have a subconscious expectation for a positive reaction from the recipient.
On the other hand If I consciously do an action for someone I love, for the sake of Allah or “Fi SabillAllah, I have no expectations from the recipient. I only expect a return from Him (SWT) now or in the Hereafter even though it will be delayed gratification.
If I had expectations from another, the level of response from them is interpreted by my Nafs. If it does not feed my Nafs (ego) as much as it expects it is read as rejection. When this happens I know that my action and my disappointment of the other persons response is because the act was not done Fi SabillAllah.
So how is an act Fi Sabillah in every day terms………..?
Someone thinks feels or demonstrates more love and care for a person other than me. I feel cheated as I feel I have a right over his or her affection based on my relationship of love or blood ties. How to evaluate this plethora of emotion and tease out the real reason?
In every corporate entity, there is an algorithm of hierarchy posted in the department, as to who reports to whom. So, it is with Allah SWT. We can either report to Him (SWT), i.e. our actions, thoughts and emotions are geared to be for His (SWT) sake i.e. Fi SabillAllah and it gives us consistent serene, continuous unfettered, non-dependant happiness. On the other hand, we can report to our Nafs and depending on its state and characteristic, it interprets the emotion we feel as rejection.
If our actions are directed to satisfy our non-angelic Nafs, we are on a roller coaster of emotion entirely dependent on the boosting of our ego/Nafs by others.
But what of expectations…………….my mother always reminded me, “ do things without expecting anything back in return” I always thought you have to be an angel to do that. I know I am not an angel. The answer lies in the components of our SELF/Nafs and what dominates our life?
If we look at the composition of our Nafs, it has four major characteristics:
Allah SWT gives each characteristic to us for survival, to use and develop as needed. Only one of the four connects us to Allah and makes us happy, the rest are for daily living and survival.
1. The Bahemy Nafs: this characteristic is which brings us joy in food, drink and sensual activities. If we overindulge in these aspects, this Nafs may become so fat that it may literally sit on the others and suffocate them.
2. The Predatory Nafs: Allah SWT gave this to Adam (AS) and his children so that they could hunt and stay alive, however if this Nafs is indulged too much then we become avaricious and aggressive in our desires to take what others have by hook or by crook.
3. The Shaitani Nafs: This characteristic is the devil in us that enjoys throwing oil onto the fire of dissention, sits back, and enjoys the outcome.
4. The Angelic Nafs: This characteristic connects our heart to Allah SWT. Enhancing this characteristic through Dhikr and Ibadah, keeps us connected to Allah SWT and thus brings us joy, serene happiness and contentment.
It is here that I falter. If I ignore the methods i.e. Dhikr and Ibadah to stay connected to Allah SWT, and indulge in the other three types of Nafs excessively, either by watching, hearing or committing disobedience to Allah then the other three Nafs prevail.
In this condition with my Angelic Nafs weakened if I face a situation, where someone else’s behavior towards me does not fulfill my expectations then rejection sets in. In this mind set instead of rejection, being a small irritation as a mosquito’s bite, it enlarges to the size of a mountain that sits on me. It compresses my hearts with submission to sadness rather than the thankfulness of all the naimah Allah SWT has given me.
My formula to ward off rejection is more preventive than therapeutic. Knowing myself, I find it is better to contemplate actions of other people and mine in the light of “Fi SabillAllah”. Once I sit back and do this, everything falls into place:
What I do: If I am feeling rejected, sad, depressed, or disappointed from another human beings behavior…………I Dial 1-800 A-L-L-A-H and spend time in Dhikr. Perhaps fast a day or two to get the Bahemi and other types of Nafs in control .I ask Him (SWT) to give me the happiness that comes from actions dedicated to “Fi SabillAllah”.
It has not been an easy path and I slip often, especially if I spend too much time in continuity exposing my eyes, ears and tongue to the disobedience of Allah.
When I first began this ascent towards conquering my Nafs, I had to look around me and evaluate each item and experience that my senses were exposed to and ask myself: Is this a disobedience to Allah?
In the past, I believed that I had to be “tough” to live in this world and seeing violence, or listening and seeing other people being disobedient to Allah was okay. After all, I was not doing it! I felt that being exposed to all the disobedience of Allah would toughen me.
I know now that I am weak. If I have many choices, which feed my other three Nafs, and I do not keep my senses and my limbs away from the disobedience of Allah, I am overtaken with all the emotions that come with the strengthening of the Bahemi, Predatory and the Shaitani Nafs.
I have gradually disengaged from movies, songs, conversations, pictures and people that are disobedient to Allah. It cleanses me like the wudu and allows me to strengthen my link to Allah. It brings me consistent flow of serene, happiness. Aren’t we all in search of happiness?
Each one of us has to find for one’s own self the critical point where our Bahemi, Predatory or Shaitani Nafs takes over, with a point of no return, and learn to avoid that end.
In my humble experience, I being very weak, have to consistently keep the non-angelic three characteristic Nafs in control at all times, because if I am not vigilant they have a tendency to take over surreptitiously and completely.
It is the struggle from time immemorial camouflaged as a gift called “freedom of choice”.
Rejection is like a tidal wave crashing on the shore that inshallah I can look at, analyze from afar and not experience the suffocating feeling of going under.
May Allah reward my friends who introduced me to the understanding of my Nafs and its components.
**The description of the Nafs has been taken from the CDs by Sheikh Mokhtar Magroubi on the “Purification of the heart” available at http://www.zawiyah.net