“Give a man a mask and he will show his true face”
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ
O you who believe, fear Allah and be with those who are true.
Surah At-Tawbah 9:119
And Allah said:
فَلَوْ صَدَقُوا اللَّهَ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُمْ
If they had been true to Allah, it would have been better for them.
Surah Muhammad 47:21
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
إِنَّ الصِّدْقَ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْبِرِّ وَإِنَّ الْبِرَّ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ وَإِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَصْدُقُ حَتَّى يُكْتَبَ صِدِّيقًا وَإِنَّ الْكَذِبَ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْفُجُورِ وَإِنَّ الْفُجُورَ يَهْدِي إِلَى النَّارِ وَإِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَكْذِبُ حَتَّى يُكْتَبَ كَذَّابًا
Verily, truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man may speak the truth until he is recorded with Allah as truthful. Verily, falsehood leads to wickedness and wickedness leads to the Hellfire. A man may tell lies until he is recorded with Allah as a liar.
Sahih Muslim 2607
It was Oscar Wilde who said, “Give a man a mask and he will show his true face.”
Most of us wear a kind of mask, a persona that hides our deepest thoughts and feelings, and presents a polished, controlled face to the world.
Why? Somteimes to avoid having to suffer any consequences for what is one e.g. anonymity and trolls on social media. Thinking they have an added layer of security, they post nasty comments on youtube videos, cyberbullying, hate on people everywhere, things most wouldn’t dare say in real life. There is no regard or responsibility, if you’re hiding, for the hurt caused which ranges from depression and anxiety to negative behaviours and perhaps even suicide.
As opposed to this, many people censor themselves in real life to prevent any backlash from coming their way.
People are wearing physical masks too – they hide behind anything from a false smile to Dr. Dre headphones to a hoodie.
Then there are the emotional masks, the masks we hide behind because of fear. For example, if we are insecure, we might hide behind the mask of name-dropping. If we are unsure of our power, we can hide behind mask of being a bully. If we don’t think the world loves us, we can hide behind mask of anger. We mask the debt we’ve incurred to pay for lifestyles we can’t afford; we pretend things are fine at work, when our jobs are on the line; we pretend things are okay in our marriages when there is distance.
Much of the time, we interact mask-to-mask with other people. And pehaps there’s a place for that. But can you remember a time when someone saw through your mask to the real you, the person back behind your eyes. Living in the same house as friends, I began to see their true personalities and once you’re married you being to see a persons more complete personality. These experiences can be both unnerving and wonderful.
There are three practical reasons why we should shed our masks. The first is to live into our full potential. We have to bring all of who we are to what we do. There are numerous people who have our same skillsets, or maybe an even better one. But none of these people bring the same personality, creativity, and spirit that you do. That’s something they can’t match. The irony is that we often mask that part of ourselves and lose our greatest potential.
The second reason is relief. It is exhausting to live an inauthentic life. You put on a mask or two or ten, then take a few off, then put a couple more on … It’s exhausting! Worst of all, you start forgetting who you really are. It was once said, “Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?”
The third reason is healing. When we wear masks, we carve a piece of ourselves out— withholding parts of ourselves as unworthy. But in relationships, especially in our spiritual relationships, we can’t be truly healed unless we offer up all the pieces. It’s like handing someone a broken vase and asking him or her to fix it but holding back two or three of the broken pieces.
Think about the masks you wear and commit to taking them off. Hold your gifts out to the world—no apology, no shame, no regrets. As the old saying goes, every creature has its rightful place, and in that place it becomes beautiful.
Being true to ourselves takes courage and strength. Knowing yourself truly will help overcome your real challenges and enable you to be truthful with others. And ultimately, we know that Allah(SWT) knows our true self – even we hide behind our mask to the world, we can never hide from the angels who are writing our deeds, nor hide our intention from the All-Knowing, Allah (SWT).