In helping others you may end up losing yourself

Family and friends gather after dinner, Islam © Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime.com

In all things, Allah (SWT) teaches us to be caring towards each other, helping our brethren and those in need. Indeed, in every act of kindness there is an act of charity. Our Prophet (SAW) stated that “he who is deprived of kindness is deprived of goodness.” Sahih Muslim 2592.

As Muslims, we should always aim towards gentleness in regards to others, though in certain aspects, an excess of kindness may appear to be harmful to the one who gives.

In effect, we cannot all permit ourselves to be kind to others in the same way. A poor man cannot help rebuild a mosque, unless he is a construction worker by trade, yet he can show kindness in directing a lost traveller to his destination. Similarly, a preacher may help a poor man out with a dirham yet, on his own, won’t be able to do much kindness by donating to charity.

Giving to others is a most gratifying experience, both in the eyes of Allah and to your personal sense of self-worth. Sometimes however, certain people may fall into a vicious loop within these acts of charity, opaque to the eye on first inspection.

Recently, I read about a woman who sent all of her money to China in order to save dogs from being eaten at the annual dog-eating festival -seemingly, a noble cause. Yet this woman was in a relatively humble financial position, her child poorly taken care of, her own outfit tacky and dirty.

In the same way, a man who is full of kindness might prioritise solving the problems of his friends before his own, which may appear easier to fix than the laborious task of tending to one’s own metaphorical garden.

In the first scenario, surely in the woman’s position it is unwise to fanatically attempt to save dogs with her limited resources, whilst her own child is in such a vulnerable condition. It would have been more prudent to raise public awareness and attract the attention of those who can actually contribute substantially to the cause.

Indeed, in these two situations, it so happens that charity and kindness are an honourable form of escapism from a certain reality which the person in question fears to face.

Kindness in this form without a doubt is still helpful to others, but as a result, distances the individual from their own path and eventually deprives them of the ability to deal with the troubles of their existence.

Many are such cases and it is important to learn to distinguish between what you can and cannot give, in terms of time, moral health, money etc.

Once you have sorted your own life, only then will it be beneficial for you and more so even for the others you are willing to help. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t come to aid a friend who is facing a difficult situation while you are having a difficult time yourself. Maybe you can draw from each problem and come to a reasonable conclusion with common effort.

It is most important to remember not to get carried away with selfless acts of kindness, actions that can only result in losing your inner compass as consequence.