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retread| Question of the Day: Altruism 15 September 2007

Posted by EDITOR in Economics, Psychology, SA'ILA, Spirituality.
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Retreads are quality posts from yesterweeks that are given a second run on Saturdays. This is a SAI’LA post from 29 Nov 2006.

Economists mostly believe that whenever one engages in any action, one is doing it for one’s own gain (think Economics 101). Do we, as human beings, ever do anything that is not for our own gain, comfort or benefit?

Even as Muslims, when we give charity, how often are we doing it for the sake of the person we’re helping? Do many Muslims not do it to gain reward from Allah (swt)? And thus are not necessarily doing it for others but more to feel good about themselves?

Are not human beings, at the end of the day, just plain selfish?

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1. talib - 16 September 2007

that this is not the case is proven by the existence of rahmah (mercy) and love in the world. why do parents care for their children and suffer because of them? why does the husband love his wife, and she him, far into old age? these are relationships of mercy, as Allah Most High has described in His Book, and not of worldy OR other-worldy self-service.

we are often taught the importance of “loving for the sake of Allah” and sometimes this is taken too far. should we love *only* for the sake of Allah? should our hearts be attached to anything of this world? i think yes. and the sunnah of the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam clearly indicates this. for example, it is clear that the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam loved Khadijah and Aisha rn very much beyond just a love for the sake of Allah. he would very openly admit to this love without the addendum of “for the sake of Allah.”

more poignantly is the example of Ibrahim, the son of the Prophet peace upon him who passed away when he was two years old. when he passed, “the eyes of the Prophet (peace upon him) started shedding tears. ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf said, “O Allah’s Apostle, even you are weeping!” He said, “O Ibn ‘Auf, this is mercy.” Then he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”


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