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15 Islamic Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser

15 ways People Pleaser

Rabbi Zidnee Ilman
“My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”

“I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody”

This one lined quote summarizes it all. Let’s face it, you can’t please everybody at the same time. There’s a lot at stake, your time, your energy, making a commitment.

Here are 15 ways through which you can stop being a people pleaser without feeling bad or grim.

1. Learn how to say “NO” – Sounds very common and basic but it requires a lot of practice. If you don’t stand up for yourself, no one will. It’s your life, take control. Don’t get bullied and agree to do things you don’t want to. Like someone wants to borrow your stuff or wants to meet up or needs a favor. Be truthful instead of lying or making something up. Say it with conviction. You should realize that you have a choice, an option “JUST SAY NO”.

2. Set your own rules – Don’t do something which you think isn’t right, just for the sake of pleasing someone. Make principles and stick to them. And be firm that people will remember that in the future. People pleasers usually allow others to walk all over them, they don’t have a mind of their own. Believe me if you’re a no-nonsense kind of a person, you won’t be bothered much from friends with silly requests or demands.

3. Huqooq–ul- Allah subhanahu wata’aala: (Allah’s Rights) –  Focus on making your creator “ALLAH subhanahu wata’aala” happy rather than people. As a Muslim its our belief that we are sent on this earth to please and obey Allah subhanahu wata’aala. We practice this in our daily routine but there’s always room for perfection. Offer Salah on time with khushoo and khuzoo, give alms regularly not just annually, fast in the month of Ramadan. We all know our duties but we have to draw the line sometimes like for instance; don’t miss out on salaah by agreeing to go shopping with a friend for long hours. Don’t sacrifice your roza/fast just to throw an iftar (feast/food for breaking the fast) party. It’s so common in our households that we waste the most precious time of the fast in preparing iftar and having guests over. Saving up for kid’s college education or for their fancy wedding and postponing Hajj. These examples are seen in every household. Postponing Hajj for a more appropriate time .We focus on competing with society and in the process forget the sole purpose of being on this Earth.

4. Huqooq-ul Ebad (People’s Rights) 

Co-operate with one another for virtue and heedfulness and do not co-operate with one another for the purpose of vice and aggression.
 {Surah Al Maidah 5: Verse 2}

There’s a huge difference between pleasing people and Huqooq–ul Ebad. Huqooq ul Ebad is defined, as the things that are required of you, which are needs, your ikhlaq, doing good. Whereas pleasing someone can be classified as a want or a demand. The sooner you realize that you can’t make everyone happy the better.

Indeed, the noblest among you before God are the most heedful of you.
{Surah Al Hujarat 49: Verse 13}

And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and destitute.
{Surah Adh Dhariyat 51: Verse 19}

The needy people from your family, the orphans, the travelers and the poor deserve a portion from your wealth. It is their right.

5. “ME” Time  – Be easy on yourself. Do the things that you enjoy doing. Practice things which you feel are right. Identify the things that make “YOU” happy. Like reading a good book, doing something meaningful, cooking an excellent meal, being organized, spending time with your family etc. Your body and soul is your responsibility and how you treat it today you are answerable to Allah subhanahu wata’aala on the Day of Judgment, so use your body and mind wisely and productively.

6. Carpe Diem (seize the day) – Most of us like to procrastinate a lot and that’s how we become unhappy. Some of us are champions in this field. We delay the things that are important to us and just simply waste time by being on the Internet most parts of the day. Watching re-runs of our favorite shows which we have seen before a zillion times. And think we have nothing better to do so we agree to do favors for other people. Live everyday as it’s your last. So instead of wasting time with people and doing the things which are of no meaning to you, make your own plans and seize every opportunity you get for achieving them. The future starts today not tomorrow. Death can come at any time so be prepared and don’t leave things for tomorrow which you can be easily done today.

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”
Muhammad Ali

 7. Time Limit – If you really have to commit to someone, set a time limit. For example make it perfectly clear that “I’m available only between 7pm-9 pm and this day”. In that way you can carry out your other responsibilities around that time frame. The value of time is emphasized in Islam through 5 time prayers and Surah Asr is also about the reality of life; time gone by is irreversible.

By time, Indeed mankind is in loss, except for those who believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.
{Surah Asr 103: Verse 1-3}

‘TIME’ is a real luxury that can never be purchased at any cost.

8. Be Assertive – Assertion with politeness. Be straight forward and to the point. Make your point without being fierce. Keep in mind that tomorrow you may be the one who needs someone’s assistance so never be cruel or think that you are God forbid, invincible. People have feelings so put yourself in their shoes before making a swift judgment. Islam teaches us to be polite and cultured at all times.

9. Offer Advice – Good, moral and ethical advice. Not just taking off the burden from your shoulders or getting the other person to just shut up. Draw on your experiences that “I did that when I was facing this problem or situation” Advice is simple and yet not time consuming. Tell them the right thing to do.

10. Prioritize (Charity begins at home) – When you know your priorities you will know when to say “yes” and when to say “no. A good person always sets his/her priorities. Like a good wife is expected to take care of the household, her husband, children and in some cases elderly parents living with them. Working women are required to balance home and outside work.  Your duty is to attend to them first and then make a commitment to someone else. Knowing your priorities and values helps you put the brakes on people pleasing. A woman is nearest to Allah subhanahu wata’aala when she is in her home taking care of the family and the household.

11. Back biting for pleasure (Ghebaah) – One of the most loved and cherished activity of the women of today is Ghebaah/ backbiting/slander. We usually back bite to make please people. We call friends or neighbors to catch up on the gossip.  We provide it as a public service. And we all know what the consequences of this act are. And when someone stops us from doing so: that stop Ghebaah we say “hey we are telling the truth we are not making it up” this is the very definition of Ghebaah if we state someone’s bad qualities that actually exist in him than its pure Ghebaah and if we are exaggerating or making stuff up than its tuhmat (accusation) which is an even bigger sin.

There is a Hadith narrated by Abu Huraira: The Prophet Mohammad salallahu aleyhi wasallam said,

The worst people in the Sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be the double faced people who appear to some people with one face and to other people with another face.
[Sahih Al- Bukhari]

And Allah subhanahu wata’aala has said in the Quran:

O you who have believed, avoid much suspicion, for some suspicions are sins. Do not spy, nor should any one backbite the other. Is there any among you who would like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?’ Nay, you yourselves abhor it. Fear Allah, for Allah is Acceptor of repentance and All-Merciful.
{Surah Al Hujarat 49: Verse 12}

So if someone has a juicy story to tell you about someone, instead of agreeing to catch up on the gossip, politely decline or change the subject. Believe me you will be doing yourself a favor.

12. Always be Positive & Confident – Many people-pleasers tend to focus on the negatives and that makes them loose their confidence. And a lack of confidence can cause people pleasing. You can stay positive by staying on top of things and by keep reminding yourself of all the good you have done. If it helps keep a journal of your achievements and document all the goals, deadlines, targets that you have achieved in the past.

13. Don’t Lie – The easiest thing to do is lie. People always feel that it’s better to lie than to complicate a discussion. It’s a sure thing that you will be caught later. Most of us usually make up excuses saying I’m busy doing so & so but in reality we are doing something else. It’s better to say what you will actually be doing so if the other person finds out you won’t lose face. In the Holy Quran lying is defined as a disease of the heart.

“In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they [habitually] used to lie.”
{Surah Al Baqarah 2: Verse 10}

So next time try to remember this verse before making false excuses or false compliments just for the sake of pleasing people.

14. Know the difference between Flattery and Manipulation – Some people just like to butter people up; it’s a habit of theirs and that’s how they get other people to do their work. For example: “you are the best cook in the family, can you make 2 of your special dishes for my Eid dinner, everyone loves your food. Manipulation is always backed with flattery so beware. If you get a phone call or a visit that started with praises expect a favor in return. Don’t get manipulated and be ready with a defensive statement. Especially young girls don’t get fooled by flattery particularly coming from a boy.

15. Taken for granted – Don’t let people take you for granted. When I was taking a break from my education & work people used to take me for granted, like I had nothing to do. Which was an insensitive assumption. I was always getting calls for baby-sitting, report writing, grocery shopping. The thing is make it clear that you have a life of your own. You took time off for you, not for running errands for others. People make false assumptions, your job is to clear that misconception as explicitly as possible. When we have out-of-towners in the city they always assume that they can stay with you, and can be their tour guide, and their cook, their maid.

Every situation is different and it totally depends on the person in question. So make your choices wisely without being manipulated. I hope you all benefit from this article. May Allah subhanahu wata’aala make us all better and practicing muslimahs. Ameen.

Authored by Humaira Adnan Agha
Edited by Tahira Amatullah

Prophet Muhammad - "Convey (knowledge) from me even if it is just one ayah" [Bukhari 3461]

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  1. Assalaam alaikom. Some of us sisters like myself learns Arabic, by the sylabols broken down, with the lines on the top, bottom of letters to help with learning. Can someone begin to do that with surahs or any Arabic that you give us to learn?

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