On Human Dignity: Sura 17, Aya 70
“Indeed, We have conferred dignity on the children of Adam, carried them over land and sea, provided for them nourishment out of good things, and endowed them far above most of Our creation”.
This aya points to an important spiritual reality: the intrinsic worth of man because of his great potential. Everyone knows this truth instinctively. For this reason, the most important need of a human being is to feel valued, to be respected and to be honored.
We don’t need to earn our self-worth by accomplishing anything; it was given to us by God. However, when we internalize this truth, great achievement is inevitable. We must first become conscious of the fact that we were made by the Most Magnificent God and that we have a degree of His magnificence within us. If we reflect on this idea regularly until it becomes a conviction, we begin making favorable choices in every situation and, eventually, these accumulate, resulting in a spectacularly successful life.
We are blessed as Muslims because a solid understanding of our religion gives us freedom and power. God infused us with His spirit and therefore, we have inherent great worth. Through this understanding, we are saved from the agony of desperately seeking to conform to externally imposed ideals. We are preciously unique creatures and do not need to prove our worth by spending our lives chasing after material and social standards of success dictated by society or imitating the artificial beauty norms established by the latest trends. This never-ending chase destroys a person’s self-esteem.
In contrast, when we have high self-esteems, we treasure our lives and spend our time wisely. We take care of our minds by constantly learning, of our souls by reflecting and praying, and of our health and bodies by eating well and exercising. Our bodies and our souls were given to us by God as a trust; they do not belong to us. We are accountable for them and must take excellent care of them. If we follow this path, the path of Islam, we manifest an inner and outer beauty so radiant and powerful that no superficial approach could ever match it.
The Quran and the Life of Excellence teaches us that in order to benefit from this knowledge: “we should act in ways that recognize our self-esteem, irrespective of our circumstances. Train yourself to behave with poise, to walk like a dignified person, and to talk like a noble person. Do not use words of inferior meanings and never use foul language. You create your self-esteem by how you conduct yourself when you are alone. Always be aware that the way you dress, sit, stand, talk or eat, even when you are by yourself, makes a statement about the value you place on yourself.”