Starting With One’s Own Self
Fatwa No: 377497

Question

Salam AlaikumThis question is a little complex.Is it bad that i want to focus on myself and my life more than others? I'm not saying I think I'm better than anyone, what I'm saying is I like to concentrate on my personality and my life first before anyone else. I give myself much more time and effort more than everyone else. Is that a wrong mentality to have?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The meaning of the question is not very clear, but in general, we say that it is acceptable for a Muslim to look after his own interests and favor them over the interests of others.

Jaber  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Start with your own self and spend on yourself, and if anything is left, it should be spent on your family, and if anything is left after that, then spend on your relatives …” [Muslim]

However, it should be borne in mind that if someone does something to benefit others, then he is consequently and undoubtedly benefiting his own interest. In fact, the jurists mentioned that the actions that surpass oneself to benefit others are better and greater in reward than actions that are limited to the benefit of the person himself.

They quoted as evidence the Hadeeth narrated by At-Tabaraani from Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “If I were to go with my brother to fulfill his need, it is more beloved to me than performing I’tikaaf in this mosque of mine [i.e. Prophet’s mosque in Al-Madeenah] for one entire month ...

Moreover, Ibn Abu Ad-Dunya and Al-Bayhaqi, reported from Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was asked: “Which are the best deeds?” The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) replied: "Happiness which you bring to a Muslim, to pay off his debt, or to feed him with bread …

Al-Manawawi said in his book Faydh Al-Qadeer when commenting on this Hadeeth: “The best deeds: means the best deeds after the obligatory ones, as mentioned in another narration, i.e. the acts that the believer does for his fellow Muslim brothers. To bring happiness to the heart of a brother, meaning, his brother in faith even if he is not his blood brother. Bringing happiness by making him happy whether it is regarding his the religion and a worldly matter. To pay off a debt for him, a debt that he is obliged to repay, because it results in relieving him from distress and removing humiliation from him. To feed him even as little as bread and more, like meat. He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) specifically mentioned bread because it is easily available, so that there would be no justification for a person not to be kind to his brothers. However, it is better to feed him with something that he likes.” [End of quote]

What we mentioned above is related to the material aspect. However, if the questioner means focusing on himself and working towards correcting and reviewing his own self and purifying it with acts of obedience and faith, and not being concerned about others or preoccupied by them, then this is something Islamically required.

Allah Says (what means): {O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.} [Quran 66:6]

Allah knows best.

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