Building a Successful Personality

Published January 12, 2011

By Mohammad Mateen

Everyone’s personality is unique. In fact, personality is the sum total of all of the behavioral and mental characteristics by which an individual is recognized as being unique. Decisions define personality, and personality guides decisions. Among the many things that go to make a personality, some are innate and some are learned (acquired). Acquired traits in a personality exert a powerful influence on human destiny – collective and individual. While a constructive behavioral attitude can propel human society to glory, a destructive personality can destroy the very foundations of a glorious civilization.

Being that personality development is so crucial to the health of a society, it is sad that most of us are letting our personality take shape by itself. In other words, we are letting external forces to influence and modify our behavior at will. No conscious effort is made to build a personality. How many of us have consciously done it? It just happens. In the absence of an internal modular, the TV, newspapers, internet, magazines, organizations, and schools begin to play havoc with human minds. Diverse ideas are propounded, and it is seen that people not only learn it but absorb it, internalize it, and mimic it as though it is natural to them – a bit like monkeys. What is more is that they even think they are ‘cool’ in adopting these discordant pseudo values. It is no wonder that Darwin came out with his origin of species’ sham.

Obviously, the ideas clash. When one opinion is taken from the pope’s sermon, another from a feminist, another from a gay activist, one from the op-ed in the Times, one from Facebook, and one from a TV soap, the consequence is utter confusion, schizophrenia, bipolar states, and disaster – individual and collective.

Humans are a part of creation. No other part of creation, we notice, is as confused as human minds are. The sun does not decide to take rest, nor does the moon rise in the west. There are no galactic clashes. Everything is fully disciplined, following a predictable behavior for an assigned length of time.

Being that personality development is so crucial to the health of a society, it is sad that most of us are letting our personality take shape by itself

We have to develop an internal modulator to process information, to have a judgment process by which we thrash out the good from the bad, to assimilate the good and excrete the bad. The development of this standard, this measure, this scale which distinguishes truth in all of its forms from falsehood in all of its forms is the most critical aspect of personality development. In fact, once developed, it is the personality itself. The Quran calls itself the furqan (distinguisher between right and wrong) and claims to reveal the meezan (balance). It gives us this knowledge to distinguish the good from the bad.

It is interesting to note how civilizations have shaped personalities. The Romans promoted physique and physical skills. It persists to this day in our admiration for athletes, gymnasts, bull fighters, and sports people. There were those who encouraged literary arts, painting, dancing, and music. Some societies honored intellectual achievement. Personalities were judged on these counts. How tall are you? How skillful are you? Can you dance well? Can you play the piano? What physical achievement can you boast of? What degrees in education do you possess? How much wealth do you possess? If you are educated with all of the above, you are considered cool, classy, and jazzy. Nobody cares how truthful you are, how honest you are, how faithful you are, the way you earn, the way you spend, how you talk to neighbors, how you behave with parents and children, how you treat the poor, the less fortunate! Here is where Islam steps in. It teaches us that actions are judged not by consequences, but by intentions. It teaches us that human differences in physique, in wealth, in intellect, in knowledge, in abilities are all clever ploys by which God tests people.

(A Muslim) believes that when truth, justice, honesty are lost, everything is lost

They have frequently argued. “Hey! Look at these guys (in rags) who cannot afford two square meals and have come to tell us (the wealthy people) that what we do is incorrect. Can anything be more amusing? How could they claim their way leads to success when we are the people responsible for the entire economy?” Today, people say, “We made cars, airplanes, rockets. We invented the internet. We made all the comforts possible today. What did Muslims do? Nothing. So, who is better?”

While Islam does not discourage physical pursuits, pursuits of wealth and knowledge, it exerts powerful and overwhelming stress on establishing in public life virtues like truth, honesty, trust, kindness, justice, mercy, fairness, courtesy, manners of discipline and equally powerful stress on the suppression (forced if need be) of injustice, dishonesty, cruelty and bad manners.

A liar cannot also be a Muslim at the same time. One who cheats is not a Muslim. One who does not keep up promises is a Munafiq (hypocrite). One who eats a full meal while his neighbor goes hungry is unlike a Muslim. Likewise, one who gambles, drinks, and robs is unlike a Muslim. Courtesy to women is stressed beyond limit. A Muslim is fair in his dealings. He is not afraid to lose, and is rather scared to cheat. He would rather be a loser in this world. He is not even afraid of death for the sake of justice.

He believes that when truth, justice, honesty are lost, everything is lost. What remains – wife, children, family, life, wealth, house, business – is all inconsequential. He knows he has to stand in front of Allah (SWT) and account for all of his actions. What good are wealth, family, education, or, for that matter, your life, when you cannot benefit from these in the trial of your life (unlike the trials you see on this earth). These are universal truths. These are the premises on which our inner voice acts, on which Muslims base their decisions, and that defines our personality. Let us pray to Allah (SWT) that He guides us to the straight path and in developing a total Muslim personality. To end, let us say, to Allah (SWT) is all praise – the Lord of the universe.

Mohammad MateenAuthor Dr. Mohammad Mateen is the Managing Director of Acura Hospital, Banglore, India.

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