الإيثارُ أحْسَنُ الإحْسانِ وأعْلى مَراتِبِ الإيمانِ۔

Self-sacrifice is the best [form of] benevolence and the highest stage of faith.



Self-sacrifice is the best [form of] benevolence and the highest stage of...

— Imam Ali a.s.
(Ghurar al-Hikam: Self-Sacrifice)

Personal Reflection

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.

The Arabic Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states,

الإيثارُ أحْسَنُ الإحْسانِ وأعْلى مَراتِبِ الإيمانِ۔

This can be translated as,

Self-sacrifice is the best [form of] benevolence and the highest stage of faith.

Let us delve into the meaning of the important words in this Hadith. "الإيثارُ" refers to self-sacrifice or preferring others over oneself. It is an act of giving and helping others without expecting anything in return. "أحْسَنُ" means the best or the most excellent. "الإحْسانِ" refers to benevolence, which encompasses acts of kindness, charity, and goodness towards others. "أعْلى" means the highest or the most elevated. And "مَراتِبِ" refers to stages or levels. Finally, "الإيمانِ" signifies faith, belief, and trust in Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ).

To understand the significance of this Hadith, we can turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Hashr (59:9),

And [also for] those who were settled in the Home [i.e., Al-Madinah] and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul - it is those who will be the successful.

This verse highlights the virtue of self-sacrifice and preferring others over oneself. The early Muslims in Madinah welcomed and supported the emigrants from Makkah, even though they themselves were in need. They did not let their own desires and needs overshadow their commitment to helping others. This act of selflessness is a manifestation of true faith and a demonstration of the highest level of faith.

Another verse that supports the concept of self-sacrifice is found in Surah Al-Insan (76:8-9), where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) describes the righteous believers, saying,

And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [Saying], 'We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.'

These verses emphasize the importance of self-sacrifice and giving to those in need purely for the sake of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ). The believers mentioned in these verses do not seek any worldly gain or recognition for their acts of benevolence. Their motivation is solely to please Allah and seek His pleasure. This selflessness and sincerity in giving is a reflection of the highest level of faith.

Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), known for his profound knowledge and wisdom, highlights in this Hadith that self-sacrifice is not only an act of benevolence but also the pinnacle of faith. When we prioritize the needs and well-being of others above our own, we demonstrate a deep trust in Allah's provision and a genuine concern for the welfare of our fellow human beings.

Self-sacrifice is not limited to material possessions; it extends to our time, efforts, and even our own desires. It requires us to overcome our ego and put the needs of others before our own. By doing so, we strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood within the Muslim community and fulfill the teachings of Islam.

The consequences of practicing self-sacrifice are far-reaching. It fosters unity, compassion, and empathy among Muslims, creating a harmonious society where everyone looks out for one another. It also purifies our hearts from selfishness and greed, allowing us to develop a deeper connection with Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and attain spiritual growth.

Reflecting on this Hadith, we should strive to embody the spirit of self-sacrifice in our daily lives. Whether it is through acts of charity, supporting those in need, or simply being there for our fellow Muslims, let us remember that self-sacrifice is not only a virtuous act but also a means to attain the highest level of faith. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the ability to practice selflessness and strengthen our faith through acts of benevolence.

. : . (Readers are advised to verify the sources mentioned above, and to independently research for an accurate understanding of Hadith. Remember, personal research and seeking guidance from scholars are essential in gaining a better insight. Please, do contact us if you find any wrong citations or explanations.)

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