Embracing Differences

Intan Aidura Alias, PhD

Alhamdulillah for the good things that have happened to me

Alhamdulillah for the ’bad’ things that had happened to me

All things happened for a reason and I can trust Allah that it was only for the good.

Alhamdulillah.

You try hard to be the same as others but you often cannot and end up thinking that you are not good enough like others.  You fall into self-blame. You become disappointed with who you are and regret for what you cannot do.

What’s so wrong if there’s someone who likes to talk more than others…

What’s so wrong if there’s someone who likes to talk less than others…

What’s so wrong if you like something while the others don’t…

What’s so wrong if you work slower than others…

What’s so wrong if you are the clumsy one…

No one needs to be labeled.  Alhamdulillah I wasn’t.

O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware (Hujuraat: 13). We are created differently and we are asked to get to know each other so that we can treat each other better.

The truth is Allah has created us perfectly with our own imperfection.  This includes if we are born without hands, without sight, without hearing, if we think differently, or even if we are more sensitive than others.  We are still created perfectly.

So we do not necessarily need to be corrected for what we were created to be.  If we do, it’s like saying that Allah made a mistake in His creation of us.  I remember a verse of a doa by a child with autism ‘kami bukanlah barang-barang rosak’ (we are not damaged goods).  Indeed. Allah did not make a mistake. There was not a flaw in the creation.  Everyone is good as one is.  

Perhaps what we need to do is embrace these differences.  We accept and don’t correct it as if the mistake is intentionally done.  Instead we should focus on the extra skill that Allah has blessed us with.  Allah created us in the best of mould, a balanced state. We may lack something, but we have something extra.  The extra is what we should tap in ourselves.  Not just making the difference to be the same as the others.

After all, as the verse goes, ‘the noble of you in His sight is the most righteous among you’.  It’s about what we do, not how we do.  That is what we want to prioritize, doing the righteous, be it as one who is ‘normal’, one who can’t see or can’t hear, one who thinks differently.  What we want to be careful of is just to not do the wrongful deeds. The good deeds we do need not be the same across people.  We each have our preferences as Allah has made us.

For those who are different, do not feel bad about your difference.  If you need to adapt to the ways of others, for the sake of doing something righteous, it’s okay that you need to put the extra effort.  Look at it as Allah’s way to grant you more ‘rewards’ for the difficulties that you have to go through.  Remember, ‘And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives. And that his effort is going to be seen. Then he will be recompensed for it with the fullest recompense. (An-Najm: 39-41)

For this, find ways to do things differently but still meeting the objectives.  You may differ from others but what matters is that the way works for you.  You may have to make some try-and-error attempts and take more time but it’s okay.  The internet stores many tips on this.  Just need to do the search. And as always, when acting, say a prayer and ask for Allah’s blessing and guidance plus strength. 

When you understand why you are different, you need not regret your past difficulties and challenges. Everything has been planned by Allah in His Careful, Wise ways.  A hadith states as narrated by Abu Haurairah,  ‘”The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, “if only I had done such and such” rather say “Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does).” For (saying) ‘If’ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.'” .  So, no ‘what ifs’. This can help your mental health.

So let’s embrace our differences and make the best of it. 

May Allah ease and bless all our effort. 

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