Altruism or kindness refers to an action in which an individual move forward to help someone in trouble, someone in need and behaves as a source of comfort for him/her.
It is a prosocial behavior in which an individual or a group of individuals is treated kindly by an altruistic person.
Human beings have this very urge to gain help, support and guidance from some people in their lives. We can observe this each and every day that people are bound to seek blessings of old, senior and experienced people, suggestions from friends and peers help (in certain aspects of life) from near and dear ones and from ones who are not even in a blood or marriage relationship with them. The people of lower ranks are dependent upon the ones in higher ranks for the fulfilment of certain basic needs and for achieving certain commodities.
Even human beings are somehow dependent upon animals for the purpose of attaining food, hunting, travelling, leather etc. Similarly, animals are also dependent upon human beings in certain aspects of life.
All the living beings (even the plants and herbs) are instinctively interconnected with each other. So it shows that this bondage demands more strength and action from the influential and high calibre people in the word.
Altruism or kindness in the light of the Holy Quran
In Quran ALLAH (Rabbul Izzat) says “Be compassionate towards the creatures of the earth. I will show sympathy towards you”.
Our religion Islam also, directly and indirectly, advocates the concept of altruism or kindness. In several places in Quran Allah Paak has stressed upon a humane and positive attitude.
In Sura-e-Duhaa (verse 9) ALLAH states “Don’t treat the orphans with harshness”. In verse 10 of the same Surah, GOD says “Don’t bash the person who demands something from you”. In another Surah Al-Munafiqoon (Ayat no 10) “It is said spend in the way of Allah from the blessings that we have provided you before your death”
In Sura-e- Al Baqarah verse (261) It is stated that “The charity of those who spend their possession in the way of Allah may be likened to a grain of corn which gives rise to seven ears and each ear produces a hundred grains. In this way, Allah increases manifold the charity of anyone He likes for He is all-embracing, all-wise”
Peace of mind lies in being productive and helpful to others. You can do practical in this regard. Take out time in your busy schedule and just move out from your comfort zone. Look around in your surroundings, there must be some people in your vicinity who are in dire need of your help. The help might not necessarily be of a larger scale, it could be a minor help (requiring as much strength on your part as you have in your muscles). You can provide food to a deprived child and beggar. You can provide help to a person who is in need of money or someone who is deprived of the basic facility or necessities of life. After doing this you will feel a surge of contentment and joy in your heart.
In Surah Al Baqarah verse 274, it is stated “those who spend in charity secretly and publicly by night and day shall have a reward with their lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
In Surah Al Baqarah verse 110 it is stated that “And be steadfast in prayers and regular in charity and whatever virtue you send forward for your soul, you will find it with Allah, for Allah see well all that you do”.
In one of the Hadith it is said: “Allah the glorious and mighty says spend on charity, O son of Adam, and I shall spend on you”.
Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith 14.739 narrated by Adi bin Hatim, I heard the messenger of Allah Muhammad (PBUH) saying “Save yourself from the (Hell) fire even with half a date (to be given in charity) and if you do not find half a date, then with a good pleasant word”.
So, the Quran also puts great emphasis on prosocial behavior. It has a huge significance in our lives.
Altruism needs to be incorporated in minds because in most of the situation a society needs this approach. Without interconnected ways of help and cooperation a nation can’t prosper, a society can not rehabilitate itself. If Altruism is appropriately inculcated in a community, it will enhance lives and our health and mind will experience beneficial affects.
Ways in which Altruism could be utilized
There are several ways in which prosocial behavior could be displayed for the help of people or for the benefit of common people.
In the field of education:
Certain educated individuals can provide tuition to students (who are not wealthy enough to acquire education by their own expense or students who need extra attention and are deprived of the necessary intellectual energy or skill to learn a particular subject).
In the field of health:
Certain trained individuals (not only doctors and Physicians) can come forward and treat the ailing community by providing free emotional and physical care.
Animal protection and care:
Islam has not only ordained the sustenance of the rights of human beings but the rights of animals as well. Animals shouldn’t be abused physically and emotionally, according to Islamic principles. Animals should be taken care of. Care should be provided to them wherever they are seen neglected or in a bad state. On the day of resurrection, Allah will take retribution of each and every being including animals. Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) said “Allah will gather all the creation on the day of judgement, the beasts, the birds, the humans etc. Then they will get the justice of Allah on that day, even between the hornless sheep and the horned sheep (source Tafsir, Al Tabari 6:38)
Altruistic behaviour with beggars:
We often see so many beggars and poor people around us in shopping malls, on roads, markets etc. Some are professionally trained to grab money from our pockets. Some are physically fit but don’t work to make an honest living. Such people should be discouraged to beg. They should be taught to work hard and make an honest living. On the contrary, there are certainly miserable baggers who are old, physically sick or extremely helpless. They should be sympathized with.
They should be helped as much as possible. they are in need of sympathy, love and care. They should be consoled and fed. It is difficult to help all the beggars in a locality (since the number of beggers has increased) but we can provide help to at least two or three miserable beggers at a time. This practice of charity is highly appreciated by GOD. This shouldn’t be done in the service of humanity but it should also be suggested to other people who are unaware of altruistic behavior. This practice inculcates solace and peace of mind in an individual. A selfish man can never attain blessings in life and hereafter. Human beings should devote some of their energies in the path of prosocial behavior and altruism.
With widows, divorced, poor and sick people:
Not only miserable beggers but socially and domestically deprived people are also in dire need of safety and care. There are various people in our localities and families who are physically or mentally sick. Some of them have access to certain facilities but most of them are helpless in the attainment of certain needs and goals. they should be provided with things of their need. We can not only give them material help but emotional and psychological help too.
Social work is important for human life because without a strong social bond and compassionate approach a society will be disdained from stability, nurturance and welfare. Widow, divorces are the kind of women who are stigmatized in society. Most of them are not only financially weak but also suffer psychological and emotional troubles. They should be encouraged and provided with means and resources to fight their battles.
Quran e Paak has also explicitly described the rights of orphans. They are supposed to be treated amicably and genuinely. It is strongly forbidden to treat orphans harshly. Special rewards have been announced in the hereafter for the people who nurture orphans. They can turn out to be very antisocial in future because of the lack of support and care available to them. But if they are provided with sustenance and moral and financial support, they can be transformed into highly commendable beings of society.
11 Advantages of Altruism on a person life and health:
- It is very soliciting for a man who engages himself in altruistic activities. It gives him relief from day to day psychiatric disorders by diverting his mind to something fruitful and psychologically comforting.
- This approach of altruism will have a positive impact on an individual’s overall health (psychological and physical). The reason is that in this manner he will concentrate his mind and energies towards something productive and appreciative and hence, in the long run, it will put a very positive affect on individual life and health.
- The altruistic approach will divert an individuals mind from negative energies (that can harm him) to something very positive and hence it will put a positive impact on a person’s psychological health.
- Weak people / dependent people are not grossly abandoned by a society when they seek or receive help and support of altruistic people. In this way, they become emotionally strong and are not discouraged.
- When a person publicly conducts acts of altruism towards a person or a community, he in a way sets an example for the rest of the people in a community. He indirectly impresses upon the minds of people in society that we should not be ignorant of the suffering and troubled members of a community.
- Eternity is being rewarded for a person who engages in acts of mercy and social work. Special blessings are showered by GOD and angels upon the person who shows sympathy and love for the ailing and neglected members/beings of society.
- A society/community moves towards progress and welfare if altruistic people show enthusiasm and commitment towards the fraction of a community which is helpless and has a lack of resources for its sustenance and development.
- The higher authorities for the care and monitoring of miserable people will be having less burden upon its shoulders since certain affluent members of society through prosocial behavior will share its burden.
- If troubled individuals and financially deprived people are helped by being provided with education and resources of life, the crime rate in a society will be minimum, because, through sincere support system and nurturance and encouragement of socially deprived people, their approach towards life will become positive and productive.
- When an individual gets benefits through prosocial behavior, he will become apt to adopt the code of conduct of his/her benefactor (who provide him with help and support in the hour of need). In this manner, in future, he/she may prove to be of great help and support to people who re in need of help, love and guidance.
- Prosocial behavior has the potential towards the establishment (and construction) of organizations that aim at the eradication of poverty, disease, discrimination, lack of justice, personal, domestic and national problems, unemployment, violence, ignorance and various other kinds of problems and issues of life.
Impact of Altruistic behavior
- This tendency of love and care towards the suffering members of a community can have a lot of positive and energetic effect on an environment. Altruistic behavior will inculcate hope, love, struggle in the hearts and minds of people in a community.
- The person engaged in altruism will have a strong sense of power and authority and the person who receives altruistic favors will have a strong sense of support, hope and joy.
We should not only be engaged in altruistic behavior but we should also be suggestive of its need and importance to other people around us.