Patterns

puzzle pieces

Much has happened in the past few years, and as I have been looking back and reflecting on all the events that have occurred, lessons I’ve learned, thinking about where to start with my blog, the major, overall theme that jumps out at me is patterns.  I can categorize nearly everything into a pattern of some sort, things that have happened before might have had different forms, different faces, different details – but the underlying story is the same.

As human beings, we are all creatures of habit, and thus we all have patterns and certain ways of doing and thinking about things.  Our patterns are formed when we are babies and throughout early childhood, when our impressions about the world and the way things work and who we are are being created and solidified.  Habits are often passed down from generation to generation, as our early habits are formed through our interactions with our caretakers – our families.  Children in families grow up to have their own children, and they pass down the same habits to them – and so it goes.  These habits are mostly unconscious, yet deeply ingrained and rarely challenged.  Everyone around us behaves a certain way, and that becomes our ‘normal’.  In our minds, this is how the world operates.  Those who don’t operate in the same way are seen as outside the norm and strange.  Some of us may dismiss those people and not take the time to consider why they behave the way they do; we don’t give them any importance and simply forget about them and move on.  When we don’t allow ourselves the time to reflect on the basis for the behaviors of others, we cut off any opportunity for growth and positive change in ourselves.  We stay stuck in our ingrained, unconscious habits and patterns, and continue to encounter the same problems, the same difficulties, the same people, our entire lives.  Nothing will ever change.  We keep thinking if only this person would stop doing that, if only people could understand me, if only the world weren’t so messed up, if only other people didn’t have all these problems… But the truth is, when everyone and everything around us is flawed and problematic, the reality is that the problem lies in YOU.  If, for instance, you find yourself always ending up in relationships with people who treat you badly and don’t respect you, the problem is not them.  The one thing all these relationships have in common – is YOU.  The question you must ask yourself is not what is wrong with them, but instead, what is wrong with me?  What is wrong with me for allowing and tolerating such behavior?  For not standing up for myself early on and walking away when the red flags first began popping up?  Why did I continue to hang on?  Why do I not believe that I deserve better?  And on and on the questions go.  It is in this kind of reflection, reflection about the self, that change can occur and we can truly begin taking steps to stopping unhealthy patterns once and for all.  We must stop looking at others, and start looking inside.

It is sometimes said that like attracts like.  It is also sometimes said that opposites attract.  But, the truth is that neither are really the case.  Newton’s law states it best: for every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction.  What that means is, whatever you put out there will attract its match in return.  If you have low self-worth and don’t believe you deserve to be treated well, that is exactly what you will get.  You will get others who don’t think highly of you and who will not treat you well.  Your psychological and energetic state will draw in your match.  When relationships fail, the last thing to cross our minds is that we were well-matched… but the truth is, you were.  You were the exact match for each other at that point in time; the matching piece of the puzzle.  A good match doesn’t equate a healthy match; it simply means two people fit the needs of the other, healthy or unhealthy, conscious or unconscious.  One thing I’ve heard therapists and life coaches often say is that relationships are a dance.  It takes two, and each of you dances in a specific pattern that fits exactly the pattern in which the other person dances.  It is not an identical dance, you are not doing the exact same moves at the same time for the same reasons – rather, it is a symbiotic, complementary dance.  And then relationships fail because one partner changes and the dance no longer works; it falls apart.  Relationships also fail if one partner becomes aware of the dysfunction and no longer wants to continue in it.  However, too often that person does not look at their role in the dysfunction, and continues on with the same patterns and will eventually end up in yet another dysfunctional relationship.  That particular partner changed, but the patterns – the source of the dysfunction – did not.  That is not to say we should continue on in dysfunctional relationships or continue to tolerate inappropriate, disrespectful, or abusive behavior.  Rather, we should look inward to work on changing our internal patterns, and the relationship will reveal itself and work out in the way that it is meant to.

Now that I’ve begun to take a critical look at myself and my life and have seen the clear patterns neatly tying everything together, I am astounded at how obvious it was all this time – and yet I never saw it.  I was too stuck in them; they were so deeply ingrained and a part of what I thought “normal” was that I never once questioned them; I never took a step back and really examined my patterns and habits.  It’s also amazing that now, after discovering this about myself, how clearly I can see the issues of others all around me.  It all comes down to patterns that were imprinted upon us during childhood.  So simple… and yet, the hardest part is seeing our own patterns, seeing ourselves as we truly are, and our central role in the problems that plague us.

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Forgiveness and Respect

Although I’ve written on this subject before, I find myself still continuing to regularly grapple with forgiveness and respect – for myself. 

Earlier today a friend posted something from a Christian site that I found to be very powerful and true for all of us, regardless of religion – or lack thereof.  It stated:

“true respect for another comes from self respect. True love for another comes from self love.   True forgiveness for another comes from self forgiveness.” 

How true this is.  We can’t actually connect to others or have any impact on others until we first deal with ourselves.  Jesus (as) is reported to have said in the Bible that we must take the plank of wood out of our own eye before we can comment on the speck of dust in another person’s eye.  But, in order to begin that process, we must first see ourselves honestly.  Prophet Muhammad (saws) said the one who knows himself knows God.  What does that mean?  It essentially means that knowing yourself opens the door to understanding the world around you and all that is in it.  You must truly know yourself before you can know others, and most certainly before you can truly know God.   

My friend also commented that she found the advice timely as she had been “beating (herself) up” over some past sins that God had long forgiven.  Her thoughts resonated with me because I often do the same thing.  Past sins and mistakes sometimes come hurtling back, hitting me like a runaway train, paralyzing me with shame, fear, and self-loathing, leaving me incredulous that I could have ever done such a thing. 

Yet I often wonder what role our past sins and mistakes should have in our lives.  We should not forget them altogether, because then we may not remember the pain and anguish we suffered through the experience, and the important lessons learned may quickly fade.  We may also find ourselves back in the same place again because we failed to keep in mind the small, seemingly inconsequential steps we took initially that eventually brought us to that horrid place.  Yet in contrast, if we always think about our past sins, we may render ourselves unable to pick ourselves up and move on, paralyzed by the shame and self-hatred.  In essence, we can’t forget our past but we also can’t get lost in it.  It’s a difficult balance to maintain.  

Further, if we lose ourselves in our past sins, we’ll be unable to forgive ourselves, which means we won’t be able to love ourselves, and certainly not respect ourselves.  And if we can’t do that, we will have great difficulty in doing that with others in a way that feels genuine and real to the other person.     Yet, if we easily forget our past and dismiss it quickly, self forgiveness, love, and respect may be shallow, and perhaps not even a conscious process, which may eventually lead to not being aware that we’ve messed up in the first place.  Our ethics with others may be superficial as well; fleeting, changing, insincere.  We will quickly find ourselves repeating the same mistakes over and over, either wondering why it keeps happening, or perhaps simply accepting it as an uncontrollable way of life, part of our personality or environment.  And eventually, some may become completely unaware that they’ve done something wrong, and others may even begin to boldy defend their actions as something good.  

As human beings, we have a tendency to block out the bad things and remember only the good.  Think back to your own childhood or to any fond memory.  Chances are, it’s a warming, glowing, positive memory – with nothing negative clouding the view.  In fact, maybe someday you’ll look back on this moment in time right now with fondness, completely forgetting all the hardship and agony you may currently be facing!  So, it appears that we should actually make concerted efforts to remember the shameful, sinful things we’ve done and struggle retain what it felt like and how we got there – because otherwise… we’ll quickly forget. 

A careful balance is necessary though, because if we go too far, it will be difficult to hold our heads up high, speak with any confidence, or even feel worthy to have friends or other relationships.  Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) encouraged us to look at those less fortunate than us.  This doesn’t mean only financially, but in all other aspects as well.  If you keep your sights set on the big picture, you’ll have a more accurate view of yourself and how you fit in with the world around you.  Chances are, you aren’t that bad.  And even if, in the worst case, you ARE that bad, more than likely you aren’t bad in EVERYTHING in your life.  You probably have something not so bad, or perhaps…. even something good. 

You might think that you’re the only one you know with this particular situation so you have no one less fortunate to look to, but in that case, I would suggest looking online!  There are forums on every possible subject imaginable in which people, strengthened by the anonymity the internet provides, share their stories and experiences with more honesty and detail than they ever would in real life.  Reading the accounts of others is eye-opening.  If you still don’t find someone in a worse situation than you, at the very least you’ll find someone who is similar to you, which helps to make you feel not so alone, and – not so bad. 

So, we can’t forget what we’ve done… but we can’t let it destroy ourselves either.  As Hussain ibn Ali aptly stated, “Moderation is wisdom.”  And so it is.  Balance, moderation… this is the wisest – yet most difficult – path.

Identity Crisis

My sincere apologies for my long silence – work, life, and everything else has kept me too busy to post anything. 

Nevertheless, one issue has been growing in my mind over the past few months and is beginning to take a toll on my mental well-being: my identity. 

Upon conversion, I was excited to be seen as a white American convert to Islam; I enjoyed being different and didn’t mind the curious stares.  However, as time has passed, the excitement is wearing off and I am now feeling almost desperate to be seen as ‘normal.’  It would be nice to ‘fly under the radar’ so to speak every once in a while, to fit in with SOMEONE at least.  Everywhere I go, I’m different.  Born Muslims stare at me with curiosity, and some approach me and talk to me about it, but the conversations rarely go beyond that; it seems that I’m viewed as some sort of exotic rarity that they want to pump enough information out of to be able to rush home and call their families to tell them about an American convert they met (sometimes they ask to take pictures with me so that they can show their families even)… while all the while failing to realize the seriousness of the impact my conversion has had on my life. 

Americans either stare coldly, smile kindly (or with sympathy rather), and a few (mostly women) compliment my scarf or my outfit.  And there are always some who treat me rudely, assume I don’t speak English, or believe I must be brainwashed or a complete idiot for accepting Islam.  Although the people around me from day to day are mostly polite, I find myself being held at arm’s length, despite my efforts to get to know them and move closer toward them.  

Of course, I can’t fail to mention the few true friends I have found online; kindred spirits who either share my experiences or simply are sincere and genuine enough to move beyond my appearance (most of them don’t even know what I look like anyway!).   

As a result, I find myself suspended between two worlds – the Muslim world, which seems to be something one must be born into, and the dominant culture in the American world, which seems to consciously or unconsciously reject all those who fall outside the white, Christian(ish) ideal.  I can’t really blame either one outright, however, as it’s basic psychology to be attracted and feel close to those who share similarities, and feel unsure or distrustful of those who are different.

And all the while, I have begun to struggle with my own concept of who I am as an individual as well.  I fit nowhere.  Due to my conservative Christian background, I find myself resonating more with Muslims from collective backgrounds, who value family and more traditional roles of the husband, wife, and children.  Yet my own family seems to have drifted more into individualism, living life for themselves, depending on only themselves, and thus not extending a helping hand when other family members need it most.  At the same time, I support the Islamic view of the roles of the husband, wife, and various family members (which is definitely not always the same as the cultural traditions most Muslims practice, and differs slightly from the traditional Christian ideals); I still value independence and minding my own business; I hate the nosiness and mindless (yet destructive) gossip that often accompanies collective cultures, and believe that people should be left to manage their own lives, make their own decisions, and find the right path for themselves without the intrusion or judgment from others. 

And I am so many other things as well.  I am a musician, an artist, an intellectual, an athlete, someone who is open-minded, compassionate, educated, moderate, skeptical (in that I ask questions and am unconvinced if something is not logical), hard-working, curious, and earnest.  I have a million different interests and enjoy learning about everything.  I have a great deal of knowledge about Christianity, and am knowledgeable about Islam as well.  Compared to my family, I’m a raging liberal.  Compared to most other highly educated Americans, I’m conservative – moderate. 

Yet…. none of that is evident when others only look at my scarf and the color of my skin – they simply make their judgment, and then brush me from their mind.  Of course, I remind myself that even if I didn’t wear the scarf, people would just look at my overall appearance and pass me off as X or Y and move on.  So, it’s not a question of a piece of cloth; I like wearing it and cherish its benefits greatly.  I just think it’s regrettable that it’s become an item highly marked with preconceptions and stereotypes.  Muslims and non-Muslim Americans alike see it and come to entirely different, and incorrect conclusions. 

And yet, what does it matter that others see me for who I truly am or not?  It doesn’t really… but I think it’s just the combination of being hugely misunderstood everywhere I turn AND struggling with my own concept of who I am.  I am many things, but am having great difficult to tie it all together in order to conceptualize myself as one, single individual.  I don’t expect others to fully understand me, but I suppose it’s not entirely fair to complain about it either since no one can get a clear picture of who I am until I first understand myself.

Health: Our Most Precious Possession

To follow up with the post I wrote a few weeks back regarding the hadith that details the conversation Prophet Muhammad (saws) had with his companion Abu Dharr,  I just wanted to include the second piece of advice given.  The last post dealt with taking advantage of youth before old age, whereas the second admonishment was to take advantage of one’s physical health before illness.

Certainly health is something we all take for granted except when we lose it.  The older we become, the more conscious we are of how our bodies simply aren’t responding the way they used to.  I’m sure many of the middle aged, older, and elderly may look back with regret at the careless way they lived their lives and the flippant attitude toward taking care of their health.  Some may even look at today’s youth and shudder at the careless, unconcerned approach they hold regarding their health, knowing full well that despite popular belief, no one will escape the reality of aging and the inescapable downward spiral of our health.

I know each time I’m sick, I am constantly thinking to myself that when I’m well again I’ll always be thankful for each second of my wellness, and will be conscious of every healthy moment.  Yet inevitably, after some time has passed since I begin to feel better, the memory of my resolution begins to fade and I struggle to make a conscious effort to remind myself of the phenomenal blessing God has given me of such good health and the full use of all my limbs.

SubhanAllah, on the days when I feel most down and depressed, I try to always remind myself of all the numerous blessings I’ve been given (physical as well as mental) – I’m sure there are countless others who would love to trade places with me in a heartbeat, despite all my overwhelming and obvious shortcomings and failures.   As Imam Ali (as) mentioned, whenever we start feeling badly, we should look at those less fortunate than us to remind ourselves of all the blessings God has given us, and to help us put our vision of ourselves back into perspective.

Part I: “Why are they always so late?!” Cultural Concepts of Time

 

One of the constraints that has been placed on the whole of humanity and creation is the concept of time.  Despite the fact that time itself is unchanging, constant, and ever present, the meaning we assign to it, the way it is used, and the importance placed on it varies widely from culture to culture.  Not realizing that others view time in an entirely different way than we do can create a great deal of misunderstandings, hard feelings, and hostility.  

Americans and the Western world in general have a future oriented focus on time.  Time is based around the clock: we are always looking ahead, marking the exact time until the present task is finished so we can hurry to the next item on the schedule.  We are constantly thinking about the future, planning for it in the present, and arranging our lives with future events in mind. 

Others have a more present focused sense of time.  Importance is placed on the current moment; time is based around the event.  Time duration is based on how long it takes to finish a task, unlike the converse in Western time: a time duration is set and the task must be completed during that space no matter what.  Schedules are more general, and everyone expects that when you give a time, you don’t mean exactly that – you mean around that, give or take even an hour or two.  No one really minds if you come in after the given time as they understand that you obviously were completing something else. 

Levine & Wollf (1985) undertook a study that looked at the clocks in major cities around the world to measure their accuracy.  They found that Japanese clocks came in first, with their clocks being the most accurate, and Indonesian clocks came in last, with their clocks being the least accurate (I’m not sure what cities were included in the search though, as the article doesn’t list them).  As the authors note, when discussing science or technology or even fashion, we often hear that the Japanese are “ahead” and that we need to “catch up.”  Our highly valued Western devotion to the clock suffers when we realize that someone else is actually ahead of us in time! 

An Asian friend of mine worked as a government employee back in his country, and told me that he was required to be at work at least an hour before his boss to make sure everything was unlocked, coffee ready, documents prepared, and so on.  Even if there was nothing to do, he was required to be there earlier due to his lower status.  Yet, his boss was certainly never considered to be ‘late;’ he always came in at the same time every day, right on schedule.  Interestingly, it seems that some cultures tie one’s adherence to the clock to social status.  We also find a similiar phenomenon at work here in the US: I’m sure many of us have heard stories of celebrities being hours late to photo shoots, events, or concerts.  For Westerners, it’s as if the more privileged and important you are, the less you are required to respect the time of those around us (the rest of us still aren’t happy about it though).  Yet perhaps for those in countries like that of my Asian friend, being ‘late’ is an acceptable privilege afforded to those in higher social and power ranking, and has been carefully incorporated into the standard way of operating.  Everyone there knows their place in the caste system of time. 

Of course, the examples I have given thus far are with cultures that practice strict adherence to the clock – and we can see that there is a great amount of variation even within one category! When it comes to cultures that regard time as being subject to the present, to the completion of current tasks, trying to figure out exactly when something will be done in the future can be an impossible task.  I’ve often heard Westerners living in the Middle East complain about the term “bukhura” – meaning tomorrow.  This is the standard response given whenever someone wants to know when something will be done – tomorrow will take care of itself.  For Arabs, the future is an abstract concept, and exact times will be determined when the unreachable ‘tomorrow’ moves into the grasp of ‘today’ and the task becomes concrete and measurable. 

Fortunately, all is not lost in the confusing mire of cultural perceptions of time.  Levine (1997) offers us eight lessons that we should learn and try to incorporate into our interactions with those from cultures with different concepts of time.  He points out that no one concept of time is more correct than another; each has its drawbacks and each has something positive to learn from as well.  Yet, the importance of learning about other concepts of time is crucial, as Levine astutely states:

“In many instances, temporal illiteracy leads to situations that are simply awkward and embarrassing; in other cases, however, the lack of knowledge can be socially disabling.  The latter is often the result when non-clock-time people must achieve by the standards of fast-paced cultures.  Entire subpopulations with otherwise economically vital communities are marginalized by their inability to master the clock-governed pace of the mainstream culture.  These temporally disabled subgroups are particularly common in societies with large multiethnic, multicultural populations, especially those undergoing rapid social change” (Levine, 1997). 

Indeed, “temporal illiteracy” as he terms it is not just something that can cause occasional annoyance or misunderstanding, but can push entire subcultures or even countries down in the economic or power system if their concept of time does not match the majority that happens to be in power.  Thus, the importance of incorporating his suggested lessons becomes even more important for not only improved communication with those around us, but for survival! 

In the following series, I will expand on his proposed lessons, and am looking forward to hearing any experiences you might have had with each of these! 

Sources:

Levine, R.  A Geography of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist, or How Every Culture Keeps Time Just a Little Bit Differently. HarperCollins, New York, 1997.

Levine, R., & Wolff, E. (1985). Social time: The heartbeat of culture.  Psychology Today, 19 (3), 28-35.

Healing: Miracles or Medicine?

Found a very interesting hadith today and thought I’d share, especially in light of the fact that some people believe they do not need medicine or doctors as long as their faith is strong enough.  Others who take medicine are sometimes viewed as lacking in faith (particularly those who seek help for mental health issues).  Yet, Islam reminds us that all healing comes from God, whether directly or ‘indirectly’; through both miracles and medical advancements.

Imam al-Sadiq (as) said, ‘A prophet from among the prophets fell sick and said, ‘I will not treat myself [with medicine] until the One who made me sick heals me’. Then Allah revealed to him saying, ‘I will not heal you until you treat yourself [with medicine] for verily the healing is from Me.’

Bihar al-Anwar, v. 62, p. 66, no. 15

This serves to remind us that God has given humankind the intellect and curiosity to explore and research the universe in order to find cures for the diseases that afflict us.  Refusing the results of this blessing is not faith, but is ignorance.

With that being said, it also doesn’t mean to rush out and take medicine for any ailment your doctor or the commercials on TV say you have (the US is far too over-medicated as it is).  It is best to do your own research in order to have a thorough understanding of your condition, along with the various options for treatment, their outcomes, and side effects.  Understanding side effects is very crucial as sometimes the side effects are worse than the original condition!

Hijab: A Protective Factor in Women’s Body Image Issues?

Although many people in the West know little about Islam, the veil is one exception that everyone is familiar with.  Although the Western perception is that the veil serves as a form of oppression (I also used to share this view), Muslim women see it as quite the opposite.  Some researchers have taken the debate a step further by putting the veil and its effects to scientific testing.

Although I found very few studies done on the effects of the veil, the handful I did find seemed to have mixed results.   I found it curious and wondered what other factors were affecting the outcomes.   Anyone familiar with the Middle East can attest to the fact that despite the veil being a requirement in many countries, women still suffer from body image issues, which can also result in depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem.  Thus, the act of simply wearing the veil does not seem to automatically protect women from body image issues.

However, I found another study (Rastmanesh, Gluck, & Shadman, 2009) that was much more telling.  In this particular study, the researchers took three groups of Iranian women, all of whom are required to wear the veil by law, and separated them by those wearing the chador (full coverage, beyond the requirement), those maintaining the basic requirement of veiling, and those just under the requirement, wearing tight clothes and a loose veil with hair still showing.  The researchers measured participants’ answers on a variety of instruments, such as the Beck depression inventory, the body shape questionnaire, the eating disorders inventory, the Rosenburg self-esteem scale, and questions on the importance of slimness.

The results yielded that women who veiled above and beyond the basic requirement scored far better than those in the other groups, with the women in the third group scoring the lowest.  What this indicates is that indeed, simply wearing the veil does not safeguard a woman from body image issues, but wearing the veil willingly does.  The results also should not be interpreted to mean that covering oneself from head to toe should be strictly enforced – nor does it mean that Muslim countries should abandon the veil requirement – not at all.  It simply indicates that those who 1. cover the Islamically required areas, and 2. do it because they believe in it and desire to do it, are the ones who benefit most from the veil.

So essentially, the veil is not only a physical practice.  Rather, the veil must be both physical and mental in order for it to serve as a protective factor against body image issues in women.  In fact, if a woman doesn’t believe in it, she risks being even more vulnerable to the mental health issues that plague women, as her sole source of value – her body – is covered and she has no way of competing against the other women around her, either in real life or in the media.  Her value is invisible and shielded from view, so from her perspective, she has nothing else that gives her worth.  Obviously, when you believe that you have nothing to offer, it is easy to fall into low self-esteem, depression, and so on.   Such women may even attempt to go to more extremes to make their sole source of currency visible, by wearing tight clothes so as to show off as much as they can, engaging in disordered eating in order to make their body more noticeably slimmer than those around them, and what reportedly is becoming a quickly increasing phenomenon in the Middle East, undergoing facial plastic surgery.  If the face is the only thing still visible, altering it in order to make it more appealing makes the most sense.  Apparently rhinoplasty enjoys great popularity in Iran and other places, and anyone who watches Arab media knows that Arab women (and other Middle Eastern women) wear a great deal of make up (not all of them of course, but those who have adopted the idea that a woman’s worth is in her appearance).

One of my Saudi friends has often told me stories about how Saudi women, who have to cover their faces (with the exception of the eyes), often go to great lengths in order to have very extravagently made up eyes.

He said there are many jokes about a guy being lured in by a woman’s eyes, only to later find, after pursuing her for marriage, that her eyes were the only thing appealing about her – at which point it was too late to back out!

The lesson in all this is that the West is not the inventor of female sexual objectification and oppression.  Isolating oneself completely from the influence of Western countries does not mean you will be safe from all things evil.

No, on the contrary; the abuse and mistreatment of women is something that we are all capable of; its potential lurks in all of us.  This is why God has first asked men to lower their gaze, and second for women to cover.  If one fails, the other protective component will still be in place.  But, as shown by this particular study, Islam also emphasizes the importance of knowledge and intention behind each action.  Actions that are empty and ritualistic are worthless and a waste of time.  But actions done with full knowledge and understanding of the purpose and benefit behind it, and with the right intentions have reward both in this life and in the hereafter.  A woman who veils simply because she has to will not experience the full benefit of it.  In fact, any benefit she does receive may be viewed negatively (i.e. men aren’t staring at her lustfully anymore, which she perceives as negative since her value is increased and measured by such attention).  In contrast, a woman who veils because she wants to and because she understands and desires its benefits will indeed reap the full reward in this life by being treated for who she is as a person and not as a set of body parts, and will receive the reward in heaven as well.  Correct knowledge, pure intention, and action comprise the optimal combination we all should strive for.

With all that in mind, should a woman who covers merely because Islam has asked her to give up and refrain from doing so?  No, because she still receives benefit from it even if she may not recognize it as such.  Plus, as Imam Ali bin Abi Taleb (in Nahjul Balagha) has sagely stated (Bihar Al-Anwar, p. 196)), there are three types of believers.  The first is one who obeys God from fear of punishment.  The second is one who obeys from the desire for reward.  And the third is one who obeys God simply because they want to, not for any reward or escape from punishment, but because they recognize and fully understand that this is the right and true thing to do.  All of these are still believers, and all of them will go to heaven, but their outcomes are all slightly different.  The first will escape punishment but may not have collected much reward in heaven (although there is still reward for doing the right thing), the second will gain a great deal of reward in heaven, and the third will gain reward both in the world and in heaven (despite not seeking either one!).

Indeed, God is the most merciful and the most wise.