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Putting People on Pedestals

written by Theresa Corbin for About Islam

Pedestals are for Prophets and plants. This has been my mantra since I nearly let someone destroy my heart with their short comings. I put someone high up on a pedestal and it was unfair to them and to me.

Pedestals are unstable structures. And that inevitable fall from a pedestal is hard and painful.

Learning about pedestals

As a child and a young woman, many of the men in my life were untrustworthy, abusive, and dangerous, with the exception of one shining example. I looked to this one man to restore my trust, to restore my faith in men, to be that perfect example. I created a perfect idea of him and put that fiction up on a pedestal.

When that idea of this last man standing finally fell from the pedestal, as it was always meant to fall, it nearly broke my heart. I became bitter, angry, and hopeless until a friend reminded me that I had put him in a place only the prophets are meant to be.

Taking this to heart, I began to do the work of learning about the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) perfect character. His life story gave me hope. The more I learn the more I understood what a real man’s character should and CAN be. The more I learned about him, the more I healed. And I started to slowly put him and all the prophets in that highly esteemed place to the exclusion of all others.

Honestly, I am so glad that Allah (SWT) allowed the image of the last man I trusted to fall from the pedestal. I am even grateful for the pain it caused me because painful lessons are the best teachers.

As Yasmin Mogahed writes in Reclaim Your Heart , “That broken heart and that pain are lessons and signs for us. They are warnings that something is wrong. They are warnings that we need to make a change. Just like the pain of being burned is what warns us to remove our hand from the fire, emotional pain warns us that we need to make an internal change. We need to detach. Pain is a form of forced detachment. Like the loved one who hurts you again and again and again, the more dunya hurts us, the more we inevitably detach from it. The more we inevitably stop loving it.”

And so I told myself pedestals are only for Prophets and plants.

Trusting

What happens when we put someone on a pedestal is that we put all our hope in another flawed being, we trust an imperfect person to perfectly pass all the tests of this world, or we imagine that they are here as a perfect example for us.

And in the end, we don’t even realize that the object we put on the pedestal is a flawed being- a human. That is until the image we have of them falls and breaks our hearts.

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