In our busy lives — not the Netflix and chill life but the other one, you know, the work, school, kid’s life — we often forget to check on the ones we love. A quick call or text to just to say “I love you” or ask “How are you?” I get it, life gets crazy and we’re just trying to keep ourselves together.
It’s vital to engage in some good old “me time” to regroup and recharge but it’s just as vital to engage in selfless care. The care that calls your sister, your brother, your mother or your dad to say, “Hey, can I do anything for you?” or, “How was your day today?” The selfless care that reminds us to check on the strongest, most generous person we know and remind them to take care of themselves.
Selfless care is not a medical, psychological term or methodology. I just want to make it clear that this is not a comparison to self-care, which is an aspect of mental illness and vital notion of health promotion.
Selfless care is simply another way of saying be kind to one another or pay it forward. It is the general practice of being a caring human being. I say selfless care but it’s just as well as altruism or generosity.
Why is selfless care important?
In Islam, being kind to others, caring for our neighbors and keeping family ties is very important. We care for others because we love them, but most importantly because it pleases Allah. It is important to note that kindness to others isn’t contingent on how they treat us. It’s contingent on building a relationship with our Lord. So we purify our intentions and do it for Allah (not the vine).
Pleasing Allah makes us consistently kind and caring. Even when others don’t show the same compassion, it doesn’t matter because we’re not doing it solely for them to begin with.
We are kind not only to the people we love but also our neighbors or family members who may not be as close or show the same level of care and kindness. The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said:
“The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them), but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though the latter has severed the ties of kinship with him.” [Al-Bukhari].
Even when others don’t show the same compassion, it doesn’t matter because we’re not doing it solely for them to begin with.
That’s selfless care: when you give but don’t expect anything back! Furthermore, Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Worship Allah and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masakin (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those whom your right hands possess.” (4:36)
Basically, be kind to everyone!
Finding a healthy balance between taking time for your self and making time for others is very important. Neglect is neglect, whether we are doing it to ourselves or others. To be honest, I think caring for others aids our efforts of caring for ourselves by fostering interpersonal relationships that bring sustenance to our lives–they are not mutually exclusive.
I come from a big family and so checking in on people can sometimes feel like a daunting task but it’s important, nonetheless. I won’t get to everyone at once or even in the same month (yea, my family is that big), but God willing I’ll get there eventually. Who knows maybe that kindness will imprint on someone else, a sort of pay-it-forward.
Let’s all try a little experiment: think of three people you don’t talk to regularly but are somehow connected to (a family member, a friend, a neighbor etc.) and send them a kind text or a call and see how they are doing. It doesn’t have to be long or involved, just an “I was thinking about you and hope you are doing well.” It’s an easy way to brighten someone else’s day. One little selfless act goes a long way.