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THE GOOD AND BAD ABOUT BEING AN EXTROVERT: HOW TO REFINE ONE’S CHARACTER

Our religion places much emphasis on refining one’s character. Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) says:

“I was sent to perfect good character.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]

In our previous article on “How to be a Productive Introvert“, we reflected on the qualities of the introvert character.  In this article, we reflect on the extrovert character.

The first thing that comes to people’s mind when they think of someone who is an extrovert is that he/she are always active, they take the lead, love public speaking, are sociable, informal, practical, and outgoing…

There are indeed a lot of positive qualities, but in an attempt to refine one’s character, it’s necessary to examine the qualities that are encouraged and discouraged from an Islamic point of view.

Traits encouraged in Islam

1. Being friendly and approachable

As an extrovert, you have a bigger audience to impact, teach, inspire and help in learning, loving and living their deen.

Ibn Mas’ud reported:

Messenger of Allah(pbuh) said, “Shall I not tell you whom the (Hell) Fire is forbidden to touch? It is forbidden to touch a man who is always accessible, having polite and tender nature.” [At- Tirmidhi]

Having a huge circle of friends/connections is great. But, the bigger the circle is, the more you should be aware of how you conduct yourself and how you speak and represent Islam.

Try to keep in mind that, while some people might think that following Islamic teachings hinder their social life, you have the power to prove the opposite. So, seize this opportunity. Whenever you’re out and about, remember to embrace the teachings of Islam, uphold to what’s permissible, and speak up against what’s prohibited. Do not let being an extrovert lead you to compromise your deen, rather take the lead to promote and support your deen.

2. Strong communication skills to help others

You can communicate feelings and emotions effectively; invest this talent in helping others reconcile.

As someone who is capable of expressing thoughts and feelings clearly, you can actually become a problem solver.

In a conflict, you are the first one to jump in and take action, whether by stopping the argumentation or by acting as a mediator between two partners who have reached a dead-end in their argumentation.

Acting as a channel of communication and helping in the process of reconciliation is a great act that is highly encouraged in Islam.

Narrated AbudDarda’ The Prophet (pbuh) said: Shall I not inform you of something more excellent in degree than fasting, prayer and alms giving (sadaqah)? The people replied: Yes, Prophet of Allah! He said: It is putting things right between people, spoiling them is the shaver (destructive). [Sunan Abi Dawud]

So, always take the lead and help your friends, family, and colleagues reconcile. Conflicts are inevitable, but your God-given talent is here to help those in need.

3. Being around when needed

You are probably at every social gathering, so you can easily reap a wealth of hasanat (good deeds/rewards).

Being social means you have a lot of friends who will be celebrating different occasions of their lives at different times. There will always be someone who is getting married, having a baby, or going through tough times like illness or losing someone and/or a financial crisis.

It is an Islamic duty to be there for your brother/sister during their good and bad times. Remember to renew your niyyah (intention) in every social event you attend. For example, while visiting your sick friend or giving condolences at a funeral, you can be doing an act of ‘ibadah, gaining great hasanat and being in the presence of Allah Himself!

It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, who said that the Messenger of Allah said:

Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection: O son of Adam, I fell ill and you visited Me not.
He will say: O Lord, and how should I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds?
He will say: Did you not know that My servant so-and-so had fallen ill and you visited him not? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him? O son of Adam
, I asked you for food and you fed Me not.
He will say: O Lord, and how should I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds?
He will say: Did you not know that My servant so-and-so asked you for food and you fed him not? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that (the reward for doing so) with Me? O son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink and you gave Me not to drink.
He will say: O Lord, how should I give You to drink when You are the Lord of the worlds?
He will say: My servant So-and-so asked you to give him to drink and you gave him not to drink. Had you given him to drink you would have surely found that with Me. [Muslim]

4. Positive energy invested in spreading goodness

You get motivated by an external stimulus. You like to be outdoors, with friends, meeting new people, trying new things, exploring your new neighborhood, etc. Because you get energized by going out and you are self-motivated and can carry on activities solo, your energy can be contagious and this might be the stimulus someone else needs. Make sure to make your interaction with strangers, as well as friends fruitful. Because you have God-given confidence and can easily start initiatives on your own, take niyyah to make them Islamic and in sincere service to Allah’s creations.

For example, start an initiative to visit an orphanage and play with/support the orphans regularly, collect money and bring necessary needs for the homeless you see in your neighborhood. Take care of animal shelters and so on. Because you are confident and outgoing, you can surely impact the community and leave a positive footprint.

Traits discouraged in Islam

1. Being a chatterbox

They say extroverts can talk to a brick wall. You being talkative and loving the idea of meeting new people and sharing your experience is not a bad thing. It might be easier for you to organize your thoughts by expressing yourself verbally. Just remember that talking too much might lead you to idle speech which is highly discouraged in Islam.

You must try to stay away from idle speech as much as you can. This does not necessarily mean you should not share your experiences, or initiate casual conversation, but this should not be the sole reason you have a conversation. Remember we are all here for a reason/a purpose. We are here to serve Allah
 and to spread the words of Allah
 and the teachings of Islam. Remember that servants of Allah
 are those who:

“…when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity.” [Qur’an: Chapter 25, Verse 72]

So, make your conversations purposeful. You can talk about a reflection of a Qur’anic verse you recently came across or a sunnah you started practicing so you can be a means of teaching, inspiring and helping others. Take a few minutes to think about meaningful/fruitful topics to share with people, instead of ending up being absorbed in empty conversations.

2. Lacking a filter when speaking

Sometimes you talk instantly and maybe impulsively without giving yourself adequate time to process the words you utter. It is not because of your bad intentions, but sometimes words come out from your mouth before you get a chance to think. It is essential to remember that talking abundantly is not necessarily a positive thing but talking effectively and wisely is.

Take a few seconds to think about what you are about to say. See if the words you are about to say will hurt anyone and -above all- think about whether Allah will be pleased by what you are about to say.

Remember that the Prophet(pbuh)
 has described a believer as someone who is:

“not a slanderer, nor does he curse others, and nor is he immoral or shameless.” [At-Tirmidhi]

3. Lack of appreciating silence

Silence might not be your best friend, but you have to remember that sometimes it is much better than talking uselessly. Very few people have regretted being silent but many regret something they said.

Remember in many situations, silence might just be the answer to a question, or the means to settle down an argument or avoid conflict. This does not mean you are a passive person, it just means you are smart enough to know when to engage in a conversationthat will be fruitful and when to avoid harmful communication.

Remember that not everything said needs an answer and not every argument needs a rebuttal.

Our Prophet(pbuh) says:

“He who believes in Allah  and the Last Day, let him show hospitality to his guest; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain good relation with kins; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or remain silent.” [Al-Bukhari]

4. Craving attention

You might always be pushed to take the lead, give a speech or even initiate a conversation. With your ability to embrace social awkwardness easily and because you speak smoothly and articulate your thoughts well, you find yourself most of the times at the center of a gathering. You are almost always either forcibly pushed to be under the spotlight or you volunteer to be the under the spotlight to avoid the awkward silence.

But whether you love being the center of attention or you’re being pushed to be there, make sure your ego does not kick in!

Make sure to always put your intentions on check and question yourself whenever you are in a position of centrality, power or leadership. Make sure spotlights does not diffuse arrogance in your heart and remove humbleness from it.

Remember the Prophetic teaching in regards to arrogance. Our Messenger(pbuh) said:

“He who has in his heart as much pride as a grain of mustard-seed will not enter paradise. And he who has in his heart as much faith as a grain of mustard-seed will not enter hell.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]

Finally, it’s worth noting that Islamic teachings are not here to confine us, but rather help us fix our attitudes in a way that dignifies us and allows us to interact among one another in a respectful manner. It is Islam and how much we represent Islam correctly that elevate our status, not only in akhirah but also in dunya. Being under the spotlight discussing a worldly matter is good, but being under the spotlight representing the teachings of Islam is the best service you can do to yourself and others. Do not forget to renew your intention and seek hasanat in everything you do. I pray Allah bless you to live your life as a happy and productive Muslim extrovert, ameen!

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