Rasulullah SA states:
“Seek help in the fulfilment of [your] needs by concealing them”
Some people feel the need to be seen and heard. Under the illusion of exuding self-confidence, they are oblivious that it is their insecurity which drives them to flaunt themselves. Every task they take upon seems to need the acknowledgement of others for it to be validated.
The lack of discretion muddies the intention behind everything which one does. Why parade to the world what it is that you do? Not only are you exposing yourself to others, but doing so erodes the integrity of what you do. It undermines the sincerity behind it. To do for others, and not yourself, is ultimately a self-sustained attack on yourself.
In an age of constant exposure and perpetual scrutiny, where privacy is a luxury, we are already struggling to maintain any boundaries of self-respect. Even if one is sincere in the pursuit of wants and needs, they risk presenting themselves for envy, jealousy, intimidation and menace. Many talk of the ‘freedom of information’. There is no libertarian virtue propelling this movement; rather, it is an innate hunger for curiosity. Why feed a global community of followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and every other social media platform with constant updates of where you are vacationing, what you had for breakfast, how you are planning a birthday bash? What purpose does it serve? We are so consumed by both our desire for self-validation and, from the other side of the spectrum, by an impulse to know what the other is doing, that we lose focus on the tasks at hand. By not being discrete, we divert our focus on the irrelevant and eventually, our goals remain unfulfilled.
This hadith has such resonance in our time, perhaps more than any other time in history. We need to safeguard our individuality, for that makes each of us special, from the conformity that plagues us. Secretly, we want to be accepted by seeking confirmation from others for what we do. There is rarely an altruistic motive that agitates us to share with others what we want and do.
Discretion is a virtue that safeguards both the task at hand and conserves our moral integrity. Prying eyes and wagging tongues are not the measure of success; it is the single-minded and focused determination to achieve that ultimately underpins our sense of fulfilment.