Saturday, 24 March 2012

Selfishness, Selflessness and the Modern World

 Innocent brotherhood

As time has gone by, the people have gone further from the Prophetic way (of Islam and all the Prophets). And so the people have lost much of the sunnah and piety, so that the amount of sincere and righteous Muslims has decreased. It has fallen to such an extent that it has related to the increased selfishness in society.

As society and culture has become more selfish (through materialism, love of dunya etc), more people became influenced by the selfishness. And it kept increasing every decade (and even years at times), such that it has become the norm, and the path that people think is good and aspire to. They think its a "dog eat dog eat world", a "cut throat economy", and that we need to care for ourselves because no one will care for us. It became so accepted that people in general tended to think that there are no people who are pious, sincere or selfless. Thus they negated the existence of the Awliya (friends of Allah swt) of the present (and in many cases, of the past).

The selfish people (which is the norm in society, even amongst Muslims) struggle to overcome their selfishness (which includes their desires) if they try, and because of their ego, they think that if they can't do it (become selfless), then no one can. So they assume wrongly about the selfless people, deny their existence, and treat them like the selfless are selfish people. Since the Prophet said A believer is a mirror of the believer.” [Abu Dawud], the selfish person is seeing his own selfishness in the other.

This leads to people who are struggling and want to be selfless, to be treated badly. They try to help others, and prefers others to themselves, and give sincere advice, yet the selfish person thinks "he must have a self-interest or bad intention in this, or must be weird, or let me just use him and ignore him when he's no use". Since these selfless people are often weak, the pressures and maltreatment of society makes them give up and think 'why should I be nice if everyone just uses me and thinks me as a fool if I'm nice?' Sometimes such struggling people might continue to fight the temptation to be selfish, but eventually they “crack” and convert. Even those who don't normally struggle, and are brought up as selfless people often convert to the selfish.  Thus the cycle of selfishness is vicious and converts more of the selfless to the selfish, leading to the eventual destruction of humanity through its becoming like animals (actually even worse since many animals sacrifice themselves for their species).

The selfish trait is valued by society since it fulfills the desires/nafs (as a person gets what s/he wants and self-interests) and increases consumption/profits (that's why firms encourage selfishness) and leads to greater competition. Many of these selfish people are actually normally nice, they may help in a lot of charitable activities, or outwardly act Islamic, but actually they are selfish due to their inner feelings and actions towards other people, using them for their goals, and assuming bad about them without clear reason. They need the purify their hearts, through the Islamic science of tasawwuf.

However Allah swt has promised us, through the Prophet, that there will continue to be selfless, righteous, people on the Earth. They are exemplars of Islam, and the real representatives of the Prophet, reminding people of how it must have been at the time of the Prophet, and how humans can reach the highest of stations, through selflessness and proper following of Islam. This is despite the vast majority of society having fallen prey to their desires and selfishness. The selfless will succeed eventually. The Prophet said “The Abdal (the 40 best people alive) from my nation did not enter into Paradise with their actions, but rather through the mercy of Allah, through the unparalleled generosity of their souls, the fact that they hold no grudge or hatred against anyone and their hearts being at peace with everyone, and through mercy for the entirety of Muslims.” (Bayhaqi)

So those who want to be selfless, yet are selfish, should not judge other people, nor treat them as if they are selfish, since verily they could be of the Awliya, and you may not know the hidden states of that person. Rather assume the best in people (as long as reasonable), and if you start treating people selflessly, and reminder others of it, and propagate Islam (through words and actions, such as importance of keeping your word and honesty). And if you find them make mistakes, remember that Ibn Munazil said ““The believer seeks excuses for their brethren, while the hypocrite seeks out the faults of their brethren.””

Look for the selfless people, the awliya (they can be male or female) so that their company helps improve you and make you of the selfless, and shows you that such people exist. If you look in the right place, you will insha’Allah find them.

Though the selfless are misunderstood and abused in society and are very rare, their status, rank, value and honour are elevated and make the best of people. It is like the more rare a diamond is, the higher its value.

The Qur'anic example (which is obviously real) that we should follow on selflessness is " and give them preference over themselves even though they were in need of that" (59:9)

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