How the fixed mindset reminded me of Iblis


What does a fixed mindset has to do with Iblis, shayton you may wonder…

Well, I was reflecting on the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset lately as my focus this year is to grow and help my sisters grow as much as possible bi idhnillah. I pondered on the differences between the two mindsets and realized how in our deen, the growth mindset is far more valued than the fixed mindset and much closer to the mindset of a believer. Let me explain.

A person with a fixed mindset as per the works of Carol Dweck in her book, mindset, is a person who strongly believe that her talents, intelligence, and abilities are fixed traits that can’t be changed.

Carol Dweck says in her book: “Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.”

This aspect of a fixed mindset is what reminded me of Iblis versus the believer. Shayton’s whole focus was his physical traits, what he was made of and because of that alone, he felt he was better than Adam Alayhi Salaam.

Allah asked, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” He replied, “I am better than he is: You created me from fire and him from clay.” Qur’an 7:12

I like to believe that every ayah in the Qur’an is there to teach me something, a lesson about life, about me. Thus, when I reflect on Shayton’s behavior and how he compares himself to Adama Alayhi salaam, I think about myself and how do I compare myself to others? What do I think of my own qualities and traits? Am I engaged in proving myself to others, do I feel threatened by others because they may have what I don’t have? Iblis felt threatened by Adama, maybe he thought that bowing to Adama Alayhi salaam would mean something about him, that it would mean he was not as good or good enough. In the end, he failed to recognize that the ONE who created him out of fire was asking him to obey HIM. He failed to recognize the opportunity for growth His Maker was giving him.

People with a fixed mindset behave similarly, they feel threatened by others because they attach their sense of worth to what they have or are able to do at that time. The easiest way to recognize a fixed mindset is by paying attention to your inner dialogue.

Everyone has an internal voice, and part of this voice is an inner critic, inner hater, or inner doubter—it is the fixed mindset persona. You can hear this persona within the negative self-talk that happens in your thoughts and mind. It can sound like:
• I’m not good enough.
• I will probably fail.
• I can’t do this.
• I don’t want to risk it.
• I shouldn’t have to try so hard.
• If I’m not naturally good at this, I should just quit.
• It’s not my fault.
• This makes me uncomfortable, I’m not doing it.
• Why try if it won’t change anything?

I have definitely heard myself think some of the above statements several times, but Islam has truly helped me with that. I love the fact that Islam pushes us to have a growth mindset. It values efforts, humility, repentance, asking for forgiveness, persevering and the journey of becoming better.

Remember the man who killed 99 people and sought advice from people of the Deen? What led to his salvation? His willingness to change, his willingness to unstuck himself. He could have easily thought, I have killed 99 people already, all the evidence points to the fact that I am a killer and that’s it. How would that thought have helped him attain Jannah?

Imagine Umar RadhiyAllahu anhu, or Khalid ibn Waalid, or Abu Sufyan or Hind, may Allah be pleased with them all, had all decided to stay the way they were and thought initially?

It’s a fact that they had to be willing to step outside their comfort zone, repent, ask for forgiveness and embrace the truth. This became their salvation in this world and the next.

People with a fixed mindset on the other end, rarely leave their comfort zone. They stay stuck in their position and beliefs and end up not growing into a better version of themselves. I don’t know about you sisters, but I definitely don’t want to stay stuck. I want to face my Qadr with faith, trust in Allah and challenge myself to take the opportunity my Qadr gives me to grow closer to my Maker who is in control and decreed it all.

I am slowly pushing myself to leave the fixed mindset and embrace growth and the process of becoming a better version of myself by His infinite Grace.

Do you see now how Iblis actually had the opportunity to be a better believer by overcoming his insecurities and bow to Adam as commanded? Yet, he denied this opportunity for growth, he remained stuck to the idea that he was made out of fire. How do we adopt this behavior in our lives? What ideas are we remaining stuck to that prevents us from coming closer to Allah Azza Wajal? What do we learn from this example in the Qur’an?

One of the lessons I take from that example is that the willingness to grow and face my insecurities is what will lead me to Jannah in shaa Allah. I will in shaa Allah be rewarded every step of the way. For every effort I put in for the pleasure of Allah Azza Wajal and in accordance to the sunnah of His Messenger, salallahu Alayhi wa salaam, there are rewards awaiting me in shaa Allah.

For my clients and students who get stuck when something seems difficult, here is an example of how you can reframe and step out of the fixed mindset:

When you hear yourself thinking: “If it’s this hard, you’re probably just not good at it.” Change it to: “If it’s hard, it means I need to put in more effort and it will be a great achievement when I get good at it bi idhnillah.”

I love seeing my sisters overcome their limiting beliefs, step outside their comfort zone and embrace a growth mindset. Alhamdulillah, I coach sisters on doing just that in my coaching programs. If you are interested in overcoming your limiting beliefs, book your free interview session with me to see if our coaching options will be a good fit for you. Book it now here.

May Allah give us tawfeeq! Aameen. You got this bi idhnillah🌱.

Binta Umm Yahya is the owner of Al An 4 U Online Coaching which is an online platform for Qur’an lessons, Islamic studies and Lifecoaching for Muslimas and women interested in Islam. She has been teaching Qur’an for over 7 years now and is an ongoing student of Qur’an with her husband imam Ahmed Abu Suhailah. She loves reciting, teaching and reflecting on the Qur’an. She is a Certified Master Lifecoach and a NLP Practitioner who absolutely enjoys coaching her sisters in faith to help them gain clarity, focus and understanding of their religion so they live their best life and connect to their Maker. Whenever she is not teaching or coaching, you can find her staring at the sky, reading or journaling with a big cup of tea. 🙂

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