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  • Altruism (i’thar), preferring others to oneself when doing a good deed, is, according to the moralists, giving precedence to the common interests of the community over one’s own interests; according to Sufis, it is devoting oneself to the lives of others in complete forgetfulness of all concerns of one’s own, it is self-annihilation in the interests of others.”1)
  • “They prefer others over themselves, even though poverty be their own lot.” (Hashr 59:9).
  • “The original term ‘i’thar’ means preferring others over oneself and is one of the most important values we lost. What lies under today’s interpersonal and inter-societal tumults, disagreements and disunities, and people’s inability to accept and tolerate is dying of the spirit of altruism. And the reason for the death of this spirit is the deterioration of the values of the heart. When the heart degenerates, all of the human values, along with the codes and stamps that let human have the best pattern of creation will be obliterated, and Satan will play his game upon the person’s world of thought more comfortably.”2)
  • “This spirit and thought was in a very developed level at the Age of Happiness. For example, the Messenger of God wished to feed a hungry guest in his blessed home, but upon learning that they had nothing but water, he sent the guest to another Companion. As they only had food to suffice only for one person, they put their children to sleep, turned off the light, and pretended to be eating from their empty dishes together with the guest so that he did not refuse to eat. Thus, they remained hungry but the guest was able to satisfy his hunger.”3)
  • “Mehmed Akif depicts this sublime spirit of ithar in a context of the Battle of Yarmouk. In that battle, Companions as Harith ibn Hisham, Ikrima ibn Abi Jahl, and Ayyash ibn Abi Rabia had received deadly wounds. While their martyrdom was expected, the respected Harith asked for water and another Companion run to him with a water flask. Right at the moment he was taking the flask to his lips, he heard that Ikrimah was asking for water and beckoned the water to be taken to him. The Companion took the water to him but similarly Ayyash asked for water while he was just about to drink. Ikrimah beckoned the water to be taken to him. The Companion took the water flask to our master Ayyash but saw that he became a martyr. When he went back to the others to give them water at least, he understood that they had been martyred as well.”4)
  • “Today, we need so much the spirit of altruism, which is very closely related to faith, religious life of the heart, being close to God, compassion, and the feeling of making others live. Yes, today we need brave people who can push the world with the back of their hands with those who look at heva and enthusiasm, and who will live only to keep it alive. Because, those who always say ‘I’ and index everything to their egotism have always caused people to clash, they provoked feelings as envy, jealousy, intolerance, and rivalry, and consequently brought the society to a state in which one would not like to live. If only there had been a little bit of trust in God. If only those who talked about the Companions and the Prophets would decide to walk their talk a little bit. If only they took a step back when necessary and also give responsibility to those eligible for a certain task. So if there is an elixir to bring together anew a disintegrated society, it is this very spirit of altruism to be rekindled in hearts.”5)

See Also

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M. Fethullah Gülen, Emerald Hills of the Heart: Key Concepts in the Practice of Sufism (vol. 2), New Jersey: Tughra Books, 2011, p. 10.
M. Fethullah Gülen, “Spirit of Altruism”
Ibid.; Sahih al-Bukhari, Menaqib, 69; Sahih al-Muslim, Ashriba, 172–173.
Ibid.; Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 3/270; Ibn Abdilbarr, Al-Istiab, 3/1084.
altruism.txt · Last modified: 2023/01/05 11:13 by Editor