The Best of You
We live in a world where the narrative is increasingly focused on the self and our egocentricity is only further fuelled by our ability to fulfill almost any desire. Compared to any other point in human history, we have more than they had in every regard from a material perspective, yet does any of this truly leave us fulfilled? I’d argue that we’re probably more miserable than ever and I believe that this will only continue as long as we continue to focus on the self.
Imam Al Ghazali stated: “Love whatsoever you will for you shall surely leave it, when man understands this concept, we move from the temporary to the permanent.” The nature of attachment to impermanent is a fallacy and our focus should therefore be on the permanent i.e. Allah and in turn the steps we can take to please him. Core to this is being at the service of others, the Prophet told us that “The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people.”
One of the stories we all would’ve heard growing up is the story of the prostitute and the dog, when we consider that paradise was given as a reward simply for relieving the difficulties of a dog then what is the reward for helping a person in need? Even stepping back and considering this from a secular point of view, research shows that helping others correlates to an increase in our own happiness.
Having said all of the above, we should also remember the opposite is also just as true, if the best of people are those that are altruistic, then by definition some of the worst of people are those that are selfish in their aims, disregarding the needs of others and always putting themselves first. In whatever positions we find ourselves in our day-to-day lives, we have a choice of using that situation to either uplift people or ignore their plight and risk Allah’s displeasure.
For those that are already in a position to help, take a moment to praise God for allowing you to be able to help and fulfill the needs of others, this in itself is a blessing. Being in a position to offer aid to others is a means of attaining the assistance of Allah himself.
All of the above extends beyond purely financial assistance, at different points in our lives we have different things we may be able to offer people. This could be a simple as giving a few hours a week of your spare time to volunteer in the community and offer your experience, often this can be far more beneficial than solely a monetary donation.
Let’s make the most of this month, many of us will have lost family in the events of the last year, so now more than ever we should reflect and ask ourselves what is it that we can do to make the world a better place.
Junaid Shah graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2019 and works at Big 4 Firm in Birmingham. He is now a qualified Chartered Accountant and very involved with the Islamic Society on a national level as well as other Diversity and Inclusion initiatives within the firm.