· What damage does selfishness and egotism do to society?
· How can selfish and egotistical societies escape this spiritual sickness?
Omniscient Allah has created the human soul with a predisposition to selfishness as a test. Unless he lives by the moral values of the Qur’an and tames his earthly desires, this feeling will come to dominate his whole moral framework. Such a person generally thinks of himself alone, rather than everyone else. He always wants the best, finest and most perfect of everything for himself. He wants to have possessions and children and for his own family merely to be comfortable. Whenever he encounters any difficulties he will expect the people around him to undergo all kinds of risks and troubles for him and to support him, even at the cost of their own interests. He seeks to protect his own whims and interests and to ensure his own ease and comfort. When the situation is different he can forgo many things he values, for the sake of protecting his own interests and preventing any harm coming to him. Allah has revealed this passionate selfish feeling in human earthly desires as follows in the Qur’an:
"Truly man was created headstrong –
desperate when bad things happen,
begrudging when good things come –.” (Surat al-Ma’arij, 19–21)
Selfishness and Egotism Are a Major Threat to Modern Societies
The materialist, Darwinist thinking that is widespread in modern societies that do not live by religious moral values reinforces the selfish and egotistical spirit in human nature and disseminates a “me-first” philosophy. Indeed, the idea of “So long as I’m all right, who cares what happens to anyone else?” or“Looking out for number one” generally dominates such societies. But selfishness and egotism are a major threat to society because ideas like truth, justice and law vanish in such a society. Feelings such as beauty, love, affection, compassion and respect become regarded as unnecessary. Thus, people who are oppressed and slaughtered, innocent babies, people who lack the money for proper hospital treatment, or who have to wait for hours or even days in hospital queues, despite being old or weak, people who are forced out of their homes or lands because of their faiths and tiny, defenseless children thrown out onto the streets to survive as best they can are of no interest to such people. This structure generally leads to a troubled and unhappy air in society.
This structure among people and societies who are selfish, loveless, aggressive, who protect their own interests and violate everyone else’s, who wear a harsh mask and who have no love or fear of Allah, can only be eliminated through people living by the moral values of the Qur’an, as Islam and cultivating love of Allah is the only way to acquire such instances of good conscience as compassion and helpfulness, features at the root of Qur’anic moral values, and to escape selfishness and egotism. Our Lord reveals how the Qur’an leads people from the darkness to the light as follows:
“…A Light has come to you from Allah and a Clear Book.
By it, Allah guides those who follow what pleases Him to the ways of Peace. He will bring them from the darkness to the light by His permission, and guide them to a straight path.” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 15-16)
People Can Only Protect and Watch over One Another with Love and Fear of Allah
Fear and love of Allah enables people to submit themselves to Him, to see the best in everything and to have compassion. In the verses Allah reveals how the only interest of concern to believers is His approval:
“They fulfill their vows and fear a Day whose evil will spread far and wide.
They give food, despite their love for it,to the poor and orphans and captives:
‘We feed you only out of desire for the Face of Allah. We do not want any repayment from you or any thanks.
Truly We fear from our Lord a glowering, calamitous Day.’
So Allah has safeguarded them from the evil of that Day and has made them meet with radiance and pure joy.” (Surat al-Insan, 7-11)
Our Prophet’s (saas) words that “He who goes to bed full when his neighbor is hungry is not one of us”is an important warning that believers desire to earn Allah’s approval. Therefore, anyone aiming to earn Allah’s approval will not just settle for a solution to his own problems;he will also assume responsibility for resolving the problems of others around him in need. This may of course require people to give up things they love or to sacrifice their own comfort. The way that Muslims look to protect and watch over the poor by giving alms, help people in need by canceling their debts and spend their possessions on Allah’s path, rather than accumulating and hoarding them, are moral virtues bestowed by the ethical values of the Qur’an.
Responding to people’s needs and treating them kindly are forms of behavior that prevent atrophocation of the conscience. Empathizing with others, treating the needy with affection and showing respect and love make it possible to eliminate cruelty and selfishness. Verses reveal that the reward for good behavior comes in the Presence of Allah:
“Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him. Be good to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to neighbors who are related to you and neighbors who are not related to you, and to companions and travelers and your slaves. Allah does not love anyone vain or boastful.”(Surat an-Nisa’, 36)
In modern, Darwinist societies one frequently encounters people who look gloomy, keep their eyes fixed on the ground, walking around never greeting or speaking to anyone. But because of the climate of peace and security that Islam provides in those model societies in which Islamic moral values prevail, everyone will trust and love everyone else, greet people, and be their friends.
Faith perfects people’s behavior, as it does so many other traits. A believer who constantly heeds his conscience as required by religious moral values will always behave in the best, most considerate, trust-inspiring and tolerant manner. Someone possessed of these moral attributes has earned merit for his own life in the hereafter. At the same time, he is instrumental in freeing the world from its self-interested and selfish nature, and making it a place of the delights of Islam.
The Moral Values of the Qur’an Bestow Altruism, Love and Kindness on People
Someone aware that his purpose in this world is to earn the approval, mercy and ultimately the paradise of Allah can never remain unmoved by and insensitive to what goes on around him. He knows that everything is an opportunity to gain the approval of Allah and always acts out of that awareness. The flaws or oppression he sees around him will trouble his conscience. For example, he will feel himself responsible for a child with no family forced to live out on the streets. As Allah reveals in the verses, "So as for orphans, do not oppress them, and as for beggars, do not berate them.” (Surat ad-Duha, 9-10), andhe will treat them well. He will strive to help them out of their predicament. However, he knows that the child in question cannot be saved solely through him and those around him behaving well. He will therefore strive to ensure that everyone lives by the moral values of the Qur’an. This is a major responsibility incumbent on all Muslims. Allah promises a fine outcome for those who assume a great and honorable responsibility:
“Allah has promised those of you who have faith and do right actions that He will make them successors in the land as He made those before them successors, and will firmly establish for them their religion with which He is pleased and give them, in place of their fear, security. ‘They worship Me, not associating anything with Me.’ Any who are unbeliever after that, such people are deviators.”(Surat an-Nur, 55)
“[There are men who are] not distracted by trade or commerce from the remembrance of Allah and the establishment of prayer and the payment of alms ; fearing a day when all hearts and eyes will be in turmoil –“ (Surat an-Nur, 37)
The goods and children in the verses are blessings created by Allah. Of course one may strive to secure a good profession, to have a family or to have a business that will bring in a good income. But these must never become one’s fundamental reason for living, and they must never cause one to forget to remember Allah, to strive for the hereafter and to seek Allah’s approval. On the contrary, they must all be means whereby one lives more by the moral values of the Qur’an and can earn the approval of Allah. Otherwise, as revealed in the words of the above verses, they will inflict disappointment on themselves, and they may turn into things that cause a person to suffer loss in this world and the hereafter and suffer great afflictions.
One of the reasons underlying the ability to find a permanent solution to the myriad problems of modern society is moral flaws such as selfishness, self-interest, greed and apathy. The only way of eliminating these flaws is to tell people of the ethics and morals represented by the Qur’an, and remind people that the price for disregarding good conscience will have to be paid in the hereafter.
Mr. Adnan Oktar Describes How a Genuine Turkish-Islamic Union Can Only Be Established through Eliminating Selfishness:
ADNAN OKTAR:Now look, unification will come through faith and love of Allah. The human soul has a predisposition to selfishness. I mean, people adopt a selfish state of mind. The logic of I want a car, I want my own children and family to do all right, and care for my own comfort. A great many people are like that. The way out of selfishness and egotism is Islam and love of Allah. Otherwise, why should anyone want to unite with a foreign country? “It will only lead to trouble for us” they will say. Look how selfish Europe is. What does the EU say? “If Turkey joins, our monetary stability will be harmed, and that is why we don’t want it.” Or they say, “It will mean hard work for us.” Most wars and problems between countries stem from selfishness. What is national egotism? Fascism. A great many people are like that. How can we desire to join with the Turkic states? You must be full of a joyous love of Allah and love of other people, and you must want to love even more people. You must want to speak with more people and be their friends and be close to them, as fine servants of Allah. Otherwise it cannot happen. There has long been talk about the Turkic states uniting, and people have said, “Turkey must grow and develop into a pan-Turkish territory.” They have tried many times, but they just drew further away and became even less keen on such initiatives because the people involved in the initiative approached matters out of selfishness and self-interest. They immediately began wondering what they could get out of it. Those people saw this was not based on love, but on self-interest, and they disliked it. The people there, our brothers, were not happy because it is very unsettling to approach someone out of pure self-interest. You are there expecting love and friendship, with the best of intentions, thinking about love for Allah’s approval, but the other person is solely out for what he can get. That is no good. Members of the alleged terror organization Ergenekon were involved in such initiatives at the time, and that put them off even more and made them really hate the idea. Go and ask the Turkic state, and they will say, “Don’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.” That is how they respond to that selfish mindset. But if there is love, and no selfishness and egotism... Look, I asked my lovely friend if she would come to Turkey the following month. She said she would. She said that in response to my affection. Otherwise, why go where one is not loved? One would not want to go. But if there are people one loves there, if there is love there, then one will go in order to experience that love and excitement. Even a cat will purr and wriggle around if you show it affection. They will do all kinds of things if they know they are loved. But if you kick it, the animal will run away in a state of panic. Love is a great and holy blessing from Allah that rules the world. So if you approach people in a cold way, with an icy demeanor and say, “Let us join together,” they will want nothing to do with it. But if you embrace them with love and tell them you love and want them, and cannot do without them, then they will go where they are loved. A person will not go where he is not loved. ( October 6th, 2011, A9TV)