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Live for Whom?

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In the rush of discovering the sweet spot in time and space, one is getting entangled deeper into the self-destructive whirlpool of chaos. Whether in education, relations, or even charity, one is keen to get an upfront confirmation on “what is in it for me”

Man is a social animal, just like many other social animals, he also lives in the community. But what makes human beings different from others is that they share their emotions and experiences in the communities that they live in. They extend compassion to fellow beings and extend moral and physical support whenever and wherever needed by others. But other animals though they live in groups still do not share intense compassion and empathy with their fellow members. Perhaps that is the difference that puts humans in a totally different spot.

The other day a friend of mine forwarded a message on social media. The essence of which was to educate on spending time, effort, and resources on self rather than on others, the aptassertive title was ‘live for you’. In times where every person is connected in the virtual world, but still lives disconnected in the real world sometimes even living under the same roof. Every person seems to be in the rat race without any clue about the destination each one is heading towards. Infants struggle for the attention of their parents, adolescents have no time to dine with their families, grandparents are reduced to caretakers, and adults struggle to see either the sunshine hours at home or enjoy the moonlight under the open sky.

Everyone seems to be on a constant voyage of searching for peace and happiness.Unfortunately, it is very much available under everybody’s feet but everyone struggles to look beneath. In the rush of discovering the sweet spot in time and space, one is getting entangled deeper into the self-destructive whirlpool of chaos. Whether in education, relations, or even charity, one is keen to get an up front confirmation on “what is in it for me” (WIIIFM). This self-indulgent and self-centered approach of ‘me’-‘I’-‘myself’ has trivialized every act of kindness. Unless one is satisfied by getting an ego massage, one prefers to keep the hands off the circumstances. A comparison between the past and present is rightly said as “nekikarsamundar me daal” (do good and dump into the ocean) in the past, but now it is tweaked to “nekikar social media meindaal” (do good and broadcast on the social media). In simple terms, the bygone generation served others as an obligation seeking no compensation except rewards from God and their inner conscience.

Quran in its profound declaration states that the purpose of the creation of humans is:“And I (Allâh) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship (serve) Me”. (Surah51-V-56). In its all-encompassing explanation, worshipis not restricted to the five important principles, but all those acts that please Almighty Allah. In another ayah of the holy Quran, it is said:“By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness), unless you spend (in Allâh’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allâh knows it well”. (Surah3 -V-92).

The self-indulging mindset has an immense impact on how one looks at self and the others around. We have started looking at everybody around us as a threat to ourselves and as a competitor to the available limited resources. Every person tries to be self-sufficient,but most go overboard. Amassing resources unethically that goes against the saying ‘there is enough for everyone’s need but definitely not for everyone’s greed’.The past two years of a pandemic have broken all the myths of denial. Everything has come into the common parlance of discussion as to how some have turned a blind eye even when the closest of the family members were in dire need.

When wrong priorities become the norm and the same is passed on to the next generations, the results can be nothing but horrifying and disastrous. The most advanced nation on the planet has approximately 36 million men and women now living alone, representing a record high of 28 percent of all U.S. households (www.thehill.com). The exact picture in India is not available as we do not have official data substantiating the situation. In one study,3.4% of those above the age of 45 years live alone, and about 5.7 percent of the country’s senior citizens (age 60 and above) live on their own without the support of family or friends as per a report published on January 6, 2021.(www.downtoearth.org).About 58% of the families in India are nuclear, it is not very long ago when joint families and community living were a widespread practice. The generation that lived in joint families still exists and continues missing their nostalgic past.

Today we have ‘Gated Communities’, but hardly represent the community concepts of the past. Residents are unaware of the members living next door or on next floor. There is hardly any emotional bonding except an inquisitive silent inquiry in physical spaces like elevators, parking lots or resident association meetings.

Islam teaches us to live for the welfare of society and collective interest takes prominence as against the interest of the individuals. The best example of compassion was displayed by the companions of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). The Ansars offered everything that they possessed to the immigrant Muhajirs. “And the foremost to embrace Islâm of the Muhâjirûn (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansâr (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhâjirûn) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). “Allâh is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success”. (Surah9–V-100)”

As said in the Quran: “And those who before them, had homes (in Madina) and had adopted the Faith show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves even though poverty was their (own lot). And those saved from the covetousness of their souls, are the ones that achieve prosperity. (Surah59 – V-9)”

Prophet Muhammad under his leadership, groomed and developed companions who were par excellence and became role models for others to imitate. They were very much clear on the pressing question of ‘live for whom’ in their hearts. It guided them to be immortal exemplars for the whole of humanity at all times.

It is not too late to realign our priorities and direct all our efforts to focus on others. Because together we survive, bloom and excel in the purpose of our very existence. All the other self-centered attempts have only complicated lives and living. We can return to the global community of humanity rather than be a disintegrated population of individuals.

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