When I was in high school, one of my teacher’s told us a story about a class of boys who were told to create an ideal ‘football’ team of inspirational people. All of the boys chose celebrities and sportsmen, except for one boy whose team consisted of sahabah (companions of the Prophet pbuh) with the beloved Prophet pbuh as the captain. The boy had recognised role models who could positively inspire spiritual and moral aspects of his life, which would ultimately bring him closer to God and make him a better person.
My teacher asked us to do the same as part of a competition. As I went to an all-female, Islamic, private school, we were asked to create a team of eleven (football team size) inspirational women, and choose one as the captain. We also had to give reasons for our choices, and the best team would win a prize.
So we went off, aged 13/14/15 (I don’t remember exactly how old), to create our teams. Some key players in my friend’s teams were famous icons of our time and the past because of their humanitarian work – Angelina Jolie, Princess Diana – or because of how much they have achieved in their lives etc etc. Other people also included Sahabiyaah (female companions of the Prophet pbuh) and pious women of the past.
My team looked quite different. I could not relate to many of the women my friend’s had put. They were amazing in their own right, and most likely do inspire women everyday, but they were not key players in my life. I knew what they had achieved, but didn’t know them personally and didn’t feel like I could use their experiences to shape my own life (mainly because I didn’t really know their experiences).
Firstly, I included the Sahabiyah, because they were and still are perfect role models for me to copy and try to emulate in order to become a better Muslimah and closer to God. They are examples of the best character, outstanding morals, and the highest levels of taqwa (God-consciousness) and religion. They spent their time in the company of the best of the best – the beloved Prophet pbuh. However, I realised that although I could find inspiration from their lives to help me through almost every situation and become a better person, they were not my only role models. Their lives seemed distant from mine, as my mistakes are so much bigger and faith weaker.
I went on to include role models who were closer to home. My family members and my teachers. I wrote about how they inspired my life at that particular moment. And…to cut the story short, I won the competition – much to mine and my peers’ surprise (I wasn’t exactly the best student). [Spoiler: My team captain was MUMMY].
At the time, I actually didn’t realise how important it was for me to see those particular people as my role models. But looking back now, I understand that they were the ones who positively helped me to become who I am now, and will continue to do so everyday. My reason for mentioning all of the above is because I know for a fact that I could look back at the ‘football’ team created by teenage-me, and agree with it completely. (By the way, I actually lost the paper, so only vaguely remember my full squad).
So, who inspires me today?
I won’t be creating another ‘football’ team of inspirational women in my life, but I will mention just a few. First and foremost, my mum. (Just started crying when I wrote mum. Eek). She is
probably most definitely my biggest inspiration and role model. She always has been, and always will be. Everything I am today, I can say she played the key role in creating. She literally taught me how to talk and walk. Literally. She’s shown me that when something goes wrong, you don’t sit around expecting it to fix itself. Get up and sort it out. She didn’t just teach me how to do things, she taught me how to learn to do things on my own. And I think that is the most important thing of all. I just love her so much, and aim to be as amazing as her everyday.
I would say second to my mum is my older sister. When I was little, I guess I did look up to her. But showed it by being the most annoying little sister ever – trying to dress the same, and hang out with her friends and stuff. My sister definitely has my mum’s just-get-it-done attitude. She is super-organised, which is a pain when she tries to organise my schedule, but works for her, and she has achieved so much (even if she doesn’t think it). She inspires me to do what I love, and do it well. Btw, my sister is like a master chef. Like sod ‘the best chefs are men’ rubbish. Could Gordon Ramsay prepare a three course meal with a child attached to his leg? Didn’t think so.
My other role models include teachers and friends, who have helped me get through sticky moments in life, and bought out the best in me. To be honest, I gain inspiration from real life people I meet everyday. Sometimes even random people.
Overall, most of my inspirations show me in a real life example what it means to be a good person, and how I can implement the perfect character and morals of the sahabiyaah into my life today. My mum, for example, always tell me to look for the good in people no matter what, which is difficult at times, but a vital part of being a good person.
Everyone has better and worse times. I think that understanding that our role models are not perfect is key to fully appreciating who they are. I know that there are many celebs and famous people who achieve amazing things, but we’re generally shown the best in their lives. It is important to know that they are also complex human beings like us. The illusion of only the best that we see of their lives would be impossible to fit in our lives of ups and downs.
In the end, you choose who you surround yourself with, and who you take as a role model. Sometimes we come across people who naturally inspire us, and wish we can be the same inspiration for others. Well, you can. Each and every human being has something amazing to offer. I am certain that someone out there holds you as their role model. Embrace the role, and be the best at it.
So here’s the final question….
Who inspires you?
This post is based on female role models, but I couldn’t end the post without mentioning my dad too, who inspires me everyday to work hard for what I want, and always help those around me. He is a key player in shaping who I am today. Love you lots Dad.
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