Is there any virtue of selfishness in islam? Well, we do understand that selfishness in some way is a bad deed. But, if we examine it more deeply about the selfishness in certain context, indeed that selfishness have virtues. In Islam, the most important things before we do any kind of act is intention.
What is the intention that generate our action? Why do we commit that deed? What is our aim and goal? In Islam, intention is believed to be an overview and the truth of our action. This will justify our action and deed into a bad one or good one. Thus, even basically selfishness is not a recommended act, but it has some virtues in the view of Islam. Here in this article we will discuss about this matter.
Selfishness in Human’s being
We cannot avoid that human nature always has selfishness in their heart. We want to achieve certain goal, dream, and future for ourselves. But that’s why we called human since human have their own wills and they have though unlike other creatures. In term of self development and our relation to God (Allah SWT), people need selfishness. It may sound strange, but as crazy as it sounds it is true. Here are the explanation of those idea :
1. To Achieve Paradise
In Islam and other religion, we have a concept of paradise and hellfire. Muslims will try so hard to give the best in this world to achieve paradise and avoid the hellfire. If muslims have no selfishness on achieving paradise in the here after, do you think they want to do the teachings of Islam? Don’t they think that they will be 100% entering paradise? You can read also about types of Qadr in Islam that related to these matter.
If people, especially muslims think that way, then Islam will no longer exist. There are no though of Islam anymore since muslims don’t want to improve theirselves, and compete each other in matter getting close to Allah SWT (religion and faith). As mentioned in the following verse :
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat : 56)
2. Self Improvement
Indeed we need selfishness for self-improvement, we need this character to motivate ourselves that we have to be better day to day. Even in Qur’an Allah SWT mentioned the important of self-improvement as the following verse :
“For each one are successive (angels) before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron. (QS. Ar-Ra’d : 11)
From the above verse, we can conclude that we do really need self-improvement if we want to be a better person or gain whatever we want. To improve ourselves, we need to be selfish sometimes. Encouraging ourselves to do better, performing good deed, helping others, performing worship, gaining knowledge and alike. You may want to read also the basic manners in Islam.
If we try to improve ourselves to be a better person, this will also give an impact to our community or society. One’s good character may lead more of good impact in society and develop it into a better place. For example, if an individual helps other, this action may influence other to even do more of helping others.
3. To Strenghten Our Intentions
The virtue of selfishness in Islam also in order to made someone’s intention became strong. If we believe in ourselves and believe that Islam is our religion, we will do the guidance and practice in Islam with all of our might. We will not be easily affected by the views of other, especially if it only makes us into commiting sins and astray. These could be the benefits of selfishness in Islam that muslims should understand. If someone trying to inject you with the opposite understanding from Islam, you would not accept it easily unless you make sure that it was written in Quran and Hadith. This thing is included as the importance of iman in Islam or we can also say as believe both to ourselves or to Allah and His Messenger.
Intention has a significance role in Islam, as mentioned before that what we do, right or wrong, will be justified from our intention. Even if our acts or deeds is good but if our intention is wrong like to impress other people and not because of Allah, then the result will only be vain and sin. The Messenger of Allah SAW said in the hadith below :
“Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended. So the one whose hijrah (migration) was to Allah and His Messenger, then his hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger. And the one whose hijrah was for the world to gain from it, or a woman to marry her, then his hijrah was for what he made hijrah for. (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
4. To Avoid Muslims from Commiting Sins
The Messenger of Allah SAW said,
“It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad, and it is better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent, but silence is better than idle words.” (Al-Bukhari)
It means that being selfish in certain condition is recommended in Islam, moreover if it avoids us from commiting sins. An example is better for one not to indulge in a matter that only brings harm or sins like gossiping or gibah. Even all of our friends doing this and they invite us to join the conversation, it is better for us to reject it and remain silence. There are significance importance of tongue in Islam which can be good and bad at the same time. Because we knew the consequences of talking other people’s ugliness is wrong and equal to eating their carcass.
5. To Earn God’s Forgiveness & Blessing
Another virtue of selfishness in Islam are to earn forgiveness and blessing from Allah SWT alone, and no other than Him. As a good muslims we should only seek for His guidance and His help, do not expect any help from other than Allah SWT. It is okay to be selfish in this matter, that we want to do more and more to gain God’s forgiveness from what we have been done all this time. It is noble for people to perform deed in order to gain the blessing of Allah SWT. Allah loves His people who obey Him, and ask for help to Him. It means that people need Him and believe in Him with all the teaching. While Allah SWT is the best accountant as mentioned in the following verse :
“If you loan Allah a goodly loan. He will multiply it for you and forgive you. And Allah is Most Appreciative and Forbearing.” (QS. At-Taghabun : 17)
Well, that’s the explanation of why selfishness has virtues in Islam. The basic of all action is intention and selfishness if we manage it in the good perspective will be resulting a good act. It is back to our mindset that it is okay to be selfish in a matter self-improvement, but Islam will forbid his people on commiting selfish for good deed like helping other in needs. You may want to read also the importance of aqeedah in Islam.