In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Altruism and selfishness:

Dear brothers, this is lesson No. 36 of the series, Children Upbringing in Islam and we are discussing the social education. Today's topic is new, and it is about the noble trait altruism. What marks the believer is that he gives preference to his Muslim brother over himself in everything, whereas the non-believer is usually selfish. We are talking about two terms: altruism and selfishness, so when you choose for yourself the best of things, you are considered selfish, and when you give the best of things to your brothers in Islam, you are considered selfless. 

You will see wonders when you raise your children to be selfless, for they will compete to give preference to one another over themselves in the best things, the best of food and the big pieces of fruits. On the other hand, if you raise your children to be selfish, they will fight over the bed which is next to the window, over the big pieces of fruits and over the tasty food. Hence, it is either selfishness or altruism that prevails in your household, and the best of households are the ones whose members tend to be selfless.

The household where altruism  prevails is a piece of Paradise:

Dear brothers, in one way or another, the  Ayah which is the foundation of this topic is the following:

﴾ And those who, before them, had homes (in Al-Madinah) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given (from the booty of Bani An-Nadir), and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that.﴿ 

[Al-Hashr, 9]

By Allah, a brother of mine whom I admire a lot used to own a house, and his older brother was in need of getting married, so he gave him the house. This is one of the manifestations of altruism. When altruism prevails amongst the members of the household, it turns into Paradise, but when selfishness prevails, it will turn into Hell. Even the bite you put in your wife's mouth is considered Sadaqah, and you will see it on the Day of Resurrection as high (morally and materialistically) as the mountain of Uhud. If one piece of meat is left and you give it to your wife this will be altruism, but if you eat it regardless of what she feels, then this is selfishness. Hence, your character will reflect  its selfishness or selflessness starting with the piece of meat and ending with the best room in the house. 

Children usually fight over the best room which is bigger than the others or which has a better view or more sun, and one of them may want it for himself, this is but selfishness. On the other hand when the brother gives the best thing to his brother, so does his brother, the house will turn into Paradise. I am  not exaggerating if I say that selflessness is one of the main reasons which turn the house into Paradise, whereas selfishness is the main reason which turns it into Hell. 

Brotherhood in faith is priceless, so we should be keen on it:

Dear brothers, if you read the biography of the companions, you will notice how selfless they were. The society of the believers is outstanding, and I swear by Allah, no one on earth will bring about happiness to you more than your brother in faith, for he will give you preference over himself in everything besides being humble, loyal, honest and trustworthy, and he is a sincere adviser. Thus, if you have a brother in faith, never lose him, because having a brother for the Sake of Allah is the best earning you may have in this worldly life, as brotherhood in faith is precious, and it is a very crucial part of life. 

Our strength lies in altruism not in selfishness:

Let me tell you something, but before that bear in mind that the bitter truth is much better than the comfortable delusion. Today we, as Muslims, have everything which the companions lacked in the past; we have Masajid that are provided with air conditioning, carpets, elegance, wide space and comfort, and all these things were not available in the Prophetic era, for the floor of the Masjid was made of pebbles, so there was no carpet, and  the ceiling used to be covered with fronds.

At present, Muslims have Masajid, Islamic institutes, Islamic books, Islamic conferences, Islamic slogans and Islamic appearances, but they lack love, and  there are disputes, mutual accusations and blood shedding amongst Muslims. A war between two Islamic countries (Iraq and Iran) lasts for 8 years, destroying  everything in the two countries. It is worth mentioning that the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, threatened the Prime Minister of England, Margaret Thatcher in a disagreement between them to stop the war between Iraq and Iran which lasted for 8 years. On the other hand the war with the Zionists lasted only 6 hours.

We should know that our power lies in our unity as Muslims and in being selfless not in being selfish, and if we adopt altruism in the Islamic world and in our households, our homes will turn into Paradise. Try always to give the best to your brothers, such as giving him the bed next to the window, because he is selfless like you, and he will persistently ask you to  sleep on that bed. The house whose members compete to be selfless is like Paradise, whereas the house whose members compete to be selfish is like Hell. I repeat again the Ayah which is the foundation of this topic; Allah the Almighty says: 

﴾ And give them (emigrants) preference over themselves,﴿ 

﴾ And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful.﴿ 

[Al-Hashr, 9]

The companions of the Prophet were selfless towards one another;

The remarkable, well known and familiar noble trait of the companions is altruism. When the companions of the Prophet PBUH immigrated to Madinah,  the Ansari (the people of Madinah) used to say to his Muhajir brother (the people of Makkah), "I have two houses so choose one of them to dwell in", "I have two stores so choose one of them", "I have two gardens so choose one of them". It is an outstanding manner to be selfless like this. However, the Prophetic biography had never reported even one incident in which Al-Muhajir took anything from Al-Ansari, but rather one of them would say when his Ansari brother offered him what he owned, "Guide me to the market, may Allah bless you."

There are services that offered for free especially for the poor in some facilities, but unfortunately, rich people make use of these services. This is what happens in some hospitals where poor people are offered low rates for treatment, but rich people try to make use of that, which is a big problem. If you read the biography of the companions, you will see how selfless they were towards one another. 

Altruism  is good but should not be  in offering good deeds:

I would like to draw your attention to a very crucial point: altruism has to be practised in materialistic matters, but there is no altruism in performing good deeds.  For example, man cannot say, "I will not serve my mother in order to let my brother have the reward of this exalted deed", because this is unacceptable in Islam. They used to say, "Altruism  is all about goodness, but there is no altruism in goodness". 

Accordingly, you cannot be selfless in offering good deeds in order to give the reward to your brother, because it is unacceptable, and let me repeat again, "Altruism is all about goodness, but there is no altruism in goodness". In other cases, you cannot say, "I will not offer night prayers, so that people around me will not feel that they fall behind in this act of worship." Although this is rejected, believe me there are people who say that. You cannot say, "I will not give my mother this gift in order to allow my brother to do so."  There is no altruism in goodness, but goodness is within altruism. Had altruism in offering good deeds been accepted, offering good deeds would have ceased to exist, because every person would have refrained from performing good deed to give the chance to his brother to do so. -, and at the end no one would have  offered any good deed. 

If a group of people are asked to offer a good deed and each one of them assume that the other will do it, practically this group with do nothing. Actually, it is a deadly mistake to think that there is altruism in offering good deeds, and I keep repeating, there is no altruism in goodness, but goodness is within altruism. 

Altruism spreads love while selfishness spreads hatred:

Usually, when you give preference to your brother over yourself, he will do the same, and you both will compete in altruism not in selfishness. How great it is to have that thing in our societies, so accustom your little  child that when there is a tasty food, when there is a big piece of fruit or when there is an apple which is half yellow and half red (given the color may differ from one apple to anther but after all they are all apples with the same taste) to give it to the older brother, to his mother or to his father. 

When all members of the family adopt this selfless behavior this means that the children are observing altruism in their mother's actions who favors her husband over herself on daily basis or may be around the clock, such as giving the best seat in the car to her husband and the best food to him. When parents raise their kids to be selfless, their house will turn into Paradise. On the other hand, when children are raised to be selfish, the household will be in continuous disputes, fights and badmouthing, and all of which are for meaningless reasons. 

Assume that there is boiled eggs on breakfast, and one of them is bigger than the others, how much heavier will it be than the others? Believe me not more than few grams, so it is less than one bite. However, when one of the brothers takes it, he will start a fight with his siblings over it. How about doing the opposite?  You can  give this big egg to his older brother, and sooner the older brother will give it back to him. Believe me every home can be Paradise when its members are selfless. Some said, "Wherever altruism spreads, affection prevails, and wherever selfishness spreads, hatred prevails, and people may be fighting over trivial things." 

Raises children to be selfless causes success:

Dear brothers, the Ayah which is the foundation of this topic is the following:

﴾ And those who, before them, had homes (in Al-Madinah) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given (from the booty of Bani An-Nadir), and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that.﴿ 

[Al-Hashr, 9]

These are the characteristics of the believers. In some cases, when the father dies, his children end up in courts due to  fighting over a house, over a share and over the heritage, or because the oldest brother takes the biggest house, so his brothers will not accept that, and they will start fighting with him, competing to take the heritage for themselves and badmouthing one another, and they wind up in court.

I used to follow up on some families after the death of the father, and I am deeply hurt, when I am told that  they are fighting until they end up in court though they are brothers from the same parents. On the other hand, there are families who  stay in the same condition after the father's death, for affection and love continue among its members, and this means that the deceased father raised them to be selfless.

A man said to me that his father used to give religious sessions in his house in which he called people to Allah, and after his death, this son maintained this habit for 20 years. Throughout the following  20 years the sessions were  held in his house every Wednesday morning. This is amazing. 

I know a friend who used to be religious, he died in an accident, and though 30 years passed after his death, his wife, sons and daughters maintain the same affection and love they used to have when he was alive. It is a nice thing when man leaves this world knowing that his family will stay coherent and cooperative, and its members will always love one another. This kind of behavior is based on justice, so beware of oppressing any of your family members.

Whoever wrongs his heirs in his will shall enter Hell:

Pay attention to the following Hadith, please: 

((It was narrated that Nu'man bin Bashir said that his father took him to the Prophet (PBUH) and said: Bear witness that I have given Nu'man such and such from my wealth." He said: "Have you given all your children something like that which you have given to Nu'man?" He said, "No." He said: "Then let someone other than me bear witness to that." And he said, "Would you not like all your children to honor you equally?" He said, "Of course." He said, "Then do not do this."))

[Agreed upon, on the authority of Nu'man bin Bashir]

Where should we start concerning oppression? We start from home, for when the father oppresses and treats his children unfairly, he will spread hatred and hostility among them. Six months ago, an oppressive father gave one of his children everything, and deprived  his brothers of everything, creating by that enmity among them, so the brothers resorted to some powerful people to take revenge from their brother. As a result, he hanged himself at home. Who do you think should be blamed for this tragic end? The  father should be due to his oppression.

A young man told me that his father left one billion before he died, and he gave him 800 million, leaving nothing to the other  poor brother who used to work on a small truck, and who owned  nothing in this world, but what did the young man do? He gave back the money his father gave him to his brothers and distributed the wealth according to Shari'ah rulings. This man is a hero.

((Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet (PBUH) said: "A man or a woman acts in obedience to Allah for sixty years, then when they are about to die they cause injury by their will, so they must go to Hell."))

[Mentioned in the relic]

These are the words of the Master of all Prophets and Messengers, peace be upon them, and who is described by Allah as:

﴾ Nor does he speak of (his own) desire.﴿ 


((Narrated Abu Hura'rah: The Prophet (PBUH) said: "A man or a woman acts in obedience to Allah for sixty years, then when they are about to die they cause injury by their will, so they must go to Hell."))

[Mentioned in the relic]

Treating children equally wards off hostility and hatred among them: 

I would like to refer to an important issue in our topic today; it is the reason behind hatred and hostility among children. Why do think these bad feelings exist among children? The first reason is having an unfair parent (whether the father or the mother). What causes enmity among daughters? It is the mother as she  prefers one of the daughters to her sisters, just because her husband is rich, and she neglects the one whose husband is poor; this behavior creates problems, malevolence and irritation among the sisters.

I hope that every mother treats her daughters fairly, for her sons in law may differ from one another. Is it the fault of the daughter if her husband is poor? The mother should keep in mind that such a daughter is her own,  so all her daughters should be treated fairly, respectfully and affectionately,  and the mother should visit them all and welcome them all the same way.

I was told a story of a man who has two wives. One day his daughter from the first wife visited him on Eid in his luxurious house in the suburb, and his new wife was with him with her daughters. That man gave his daughter's children money as Eid's allowance, and the amounts were very trivial, but he gave the daughters of the new wife much  money, and then he asked his own daughter to leave with her children from his luxurious resort while the new wife and her daughters were enjoying the barbeque and the expensive food. This man dismissed his daughter and her children on Eid in order to please his new wife. Do you know why women hate polygamy? It is because of the non-Islamic and unfair examples of the polygamists they see, for the majority of polygamists transgress rights when they have more than one wife.

That  daughter swore to Allah that she kept crying for an entire year because of that incident. Why hostility amongst siblings prevails? This is because of the injustice from the side of the parents. I hope that each one of you is very keen on being just and on treating his children equally regarding the smile, the visit, the warm welcome, the hug children and the kisses. The fairer you are the more loved you will be by your children. Let alone,  the parent will create affection among them due to his just behavior towards them.

Affection and love among members of society or family:

We reached a very sensitive issue: How do we establish altruism in a house? If the father is fair, altruism  will be established, but if he oppresses his children, the members of the family will lack it. The oppressing father is like the one ( I have mentioned in the previous example) who gave 800 million Liras to the rich son and left the poor one with nothing, but because that rich son is a true believer, he gave the money back to the heirs, and then they distributed them according to Shari'ah rulings. Do not forget this important Hadith: 

((Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet (PBUH) said: A man or a woman acts in obedience to Allah for sixty years, then when they are about to die they cause injury by their will, so they must go to Hell.))

[Mentioned in the relic]

A father once said to me, "I deprived my undutiful son of the wealth in my will", so I said to him, "You will make him more undutiful, but if you give him fairly, he will love you, and maybe he will become dutiful to you." The society of the believers is just like Paradise due to the prevalence of altruism among the believers. Accustom yourself to favor your brother over yourself regarding the more beautiful place,  the bigger piece of fruit and so on, and you will see how he will treat you the same way, which will create affection between you two.

Salat and Sawm are not enough to prove man's solid faith:  

I have something to tell you: beware of assuming that the believer is the one who offers Salah, but rather what confirms the believer's true faith is his kind treatment to others and his humbleness and selflessness. I was told that a man married a second wife, and he did not want to hurt the feelings of his first one, so he did not tell her. However, the first wife was very clever and she found out what her husband did, but because of her exalted traits she did not want to embarrass him, so she kept the news to herself. After the death of the husband, the old wife sent to the new one her share of the heritage, but the new wife sent back the money and said to her, "By Allah, he divorced me four days before he died, so I do not have the right to take any Lira." Justice is a very exalted manner, and as you can notice in this example, the first wife was very pious and righteous to such an extent that she sent to the second wife her share of the heritage, and the second wife was also very pious and righteous to such an extent that she confessed that he divorced her, and so she has no right in the money.

This is how the society of believers should be, and in such societies love, altruism and honesty prevail. By Allah, people may own buildings and luxurious houses, yet the grudge makes these properties like Hell, whereas the believer's home is like Paradise even if it is very small, and it is on the top of the mountain. Therefore, happiness in households does not come from money and expensive furniture, but rather it is derived from exalted traits and true faith.

Inspiring stories of companions:

Dear brothers, there are great examples from the stories of the companions who are the best of mankind. Scholars reported that Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with both of them, said, "One of the Prophet's companion was given  a sheep as a gift, but he said, 'Such and such person needs it more than me',  so he sent it to him, but the latter said the same and sent it to another companion, until that head reached the first companion again."

The companions of the Prophet were once on travel, and they became hungry, so they stopped by a tent whose owners had  little bread,  so the head of the owners of the tent  deemed it appropriate that bread had to be cut into small pieces and had to  be put in front of the companions to eat. It was dark, and they ate and ate and ate, but when they lit the cressets, they find out that the bread was still the same, because each one of them assumed that his brother was more hungry than him, and so he pretended to eat, but they all did the same, so no one ate anything.

At present, 200 pilgrims might be at the airport, and though there are 200 seats waiting for them in the plane with the number of each one's seat written in their tickets, and the plane will not take off before all of them board it,  you can s see them pushing one another while trying to reach the seats.  Why is that? Why are you competing and pushing one another since everyone has the ticket where the number of his seat is written in?

Zainab Al-Asadiyah, the Mother of Believers, used to be called "The mother of the poor" because of her selflessness and kindness. It was reported in Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd that Barzah Bint Bate' said: "When Umar Ibn Al-Khattab sent to Zainab her share of Ata'a (bestowment) money, the messenger came in with the money but she said, "May Allah forgive Umar, other sisters are in more need than I am of that money", so she sent them to another sister, and the latter sent them to another sister until the money came back to her. How incredible their behavior was; every one of them favored the other over herself. 

Comparing the society of the companions with the western society:

There is a story we used to study in literature in the tenth grade about a ship which sank in sea water, and its 200 passengers left the sinking ship to a big lifeboat. The water they had was very little, so the commander of the boat gave every person one teaspoon of water only, so that the water would suffice them all. Do you know how many people  made it to the shore? Only 4 reached the land, for whoever fell asleep was thrown by the others in the sea in order to save his teaspoon of water. This is how the members of the western society behave, and this is a story in literature that is based on a true story. When there was a black out for one night in America, 200.000 thefts were reported, and the losses were close to 30 billion Dollars. Allah the Almighty says:

﴾ And give them (emigrants) preference over themselves,﴿ 

As you all know, the wounded person usually needs water just like each one of us needs air. Al-Adawi reported, "Abu Jahm bin Huzaifah narrates that in the battle of Yarmuk, I went out looking for my cousin, who was in the fight. I took with me, some water. I found him in the last throes of death. I approached him with the water I had. Beside him came a groan from a wounded soldier. My cousin looked at him and beckoned me to take the water to the soldier. The person turned out to be Hishaam bin Al-Aas. I had hardly reached him when another person groaned and Hishaam too motioned me in the other person's direction. Before I got to him he had passed away. Then I went back to Hishaam and he had also joined the other two." This is the Islamic society in the Prophetic era.

Whoever helps the weak shall be supported by Allah: 

Dear brothers, the companions received a sophisticated education in Islam. What is the value of our faith if it is not manifested in altruism? When do we gain the love of Allah? Listen to the following Hadith:

((Narrated Mus'ab bin Sa'd: Once Sa'd (bin Abi Waqqas) thought that he was superior to those who were below him in rank. On that the Prophet (PBUH) said, "You gain no victory or livelihood except through (the blessings and invocations of) the poor amongst you."))

[Al-Bukhari and An-Nasa'i, on the authority of Sa'd]

If you have a powerful enemy, and if there are weak people, it is easy for you to neglect them, forget all about them and even crush them simply because they are weak (but this is not the conducts of the believer). If a poor patient is admitted to a public hospital, no one will reckon the employees if they do not take care of him, and if they do not do the needed x-rays until he died out of negligence because he is weak, and no one will say a word about it! As a believer, you should take care of him and feed him if he is hungry instead of neglecting or crushing him. 

You may be a powerful person, but there are someone who is more powerful than you, and someone else who is weaker than you, so you should if you are kind to the weak person, you feed him when he is hungry, you clothe him when he does not have anything to wear, you give him shelter if he is homeless, you teach him if he is ignorant and you treat him fairly if he is oppressed, Allah will reward you for your good deeds by granting you triumph over the person who is more powerful than you. Actually this is our path to victory, and in the Islamic society we should look after the poor, the sick people, and those who need education, and only then Allah will grant us victory. 

The value of Ummah is derived from its educated people:

Two weeks ago I met a charitable person; do you know the kind of good deeds he offers? He calls schools and asks for the poor top students contacts, and then he sponsors them financially until they get the PHD. This is a valuable  deed. Those students might be very poor, and their poverty will make them work earlier than expected, and so they will not be able to acquire any scientific degree.

In advanced countries, the student who aces the exams is given loans without interests in order to acquire his PHD. I for one suggested once in an Islamic county that instead of giving 2 million as an award for whoever memorizes the Noble Quran, let him be sponsored to get his PHD, and let this Quran Hafiz become an important scientist. Blessed is the deed of this charitable person who sponsors the top students and pays all their expenses for the universities' tuitions, for travelling and for residence from his own pocket. The Ummah (Islamic nation) derives its power from having more scientists, and this is a crucial issue.

﴾And give them (emigrants) preference over themselves,﴿ 

((Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "When your leaders are the best of you, the richest are the most generous among you, and your affairs are consulted among you, then the surface of the earth is better for you than its belly. And when your leaders are the worst of you, the richest are the stingiest among you, and your affairs are referred to your women, then the belly of the earth is better for you than its surface."))

[At-Tirmizi, on the authority of Abi Hurairah]

In order to be exalted in the Sight of Allah, man should think of others:

Dear brothers, remember the following Hadith every morning:

((Anas bin Malik narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "Whoever makes the Hereafter his goal, Allah makes his heart rich, and organizes his affairs, and the world comes to him whether it wants to or not. And whoever makes the world his goal, Allah puts his poverty right before his eyes, and disorganizes his affairs, and the world does not come to him, except what has been decreed for him."))

[At-Tirmizi and Ibn Majah, on the authority of Anas]

When we care for the weak in our societies, we will be granted victory over the powerful enemies. This is our path to victory; when we lift any oppression, poverty and sickness, and when we help in establishing enterprises which serve the society in health, housing and job opportunities, our society will become stronger and more coherent, and we will be granted victory, and as I see it, this is our path to victory and wealth. 

(("You gain no victory or livelihood except through (the blessings and invocations of) the poor amongst you."))

[As-Suyooti, on the authority of Sa'd]

Be selfless and think about the others, because when you do so, you will be exalted in the Sight of Allah, so think about the one who cannot find food,  the one who is unable to find drinkable water and the one who is homeless, and stay away from Tabzeer (spending money in ways which do not please Allah).

﴾ Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils), and the Shaitan (Devil - Satan) is ever ungrateful to his Lord. ﴿ 

[Al-Isra', 27]


Praise be to Allah, the Lord of Creations