Altruism is defined as selfless acts done for another's benefit, despite of what suffering maybe inflicted on oneself. Such generosity is praised by nearly all societies, but if we look towards Holy Quran and our Prophet (peace be upon him) we can find several examples of such altruistic acts.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has himself said: "None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." (Sahih Al Bukhari). With that statement, he has made altruism a core value necessary in having true faith in Allah. By inducing feelings of altruism, several evils of society can be banished. If a Muslim who has enough wealth to live comfortably by and to share as well, and takes it upon himself to help feed the less fortunate, the standard of society can be raised greatly.
In Ramadan, the feeling of altruism grows even greater among Muslims. However, just as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, do not just give away clothes and goods that you yourself would not wear or use. Giving the poor clothes that have been worn thin, or have holes and tears in them, does not equal to charitable giving. Treating them like second-class citizens is not what Ramadan and the altruistic values of Islam are about. Give them clothes and goods that you yourself would wear if given to you.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has also said: "The best charity is that given when one is in need and struggling" (Ibn Katheer). When you give away money, clothing or food even when you are in need as well, Allah makes sure that blessings are rained down upon you.
"…And they give others preference over themselves even though they were themselves in need..." (Quran, 59:9).
Islam is a religion wherein its followers are taught to think others as much as they think of themselves, so as to achieve equality and peace within society. Altruism was one of the great values of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and because of this he was also shown great generosity and compassion by others. It is only when you are able to open up your wallets and belongings to the less fortunate, you can open up your heart to Allah.
"By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you spend of that which you love..." (Quran, 3:92)
Written by Lubna Sohraab - Special to Times of Oman