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Education and Altruism

Altruism is a gentle feature that elevates man and contributes in perfecting the personality, sobriety, and self-sacrifice for the sake of the right and good. Islam has tended to this quality and praised its people. The holy Quran praised a group of Muslims who preferred their brothers to themselves. Exegesists report that seven Muslim warriors who had been wounded in the battle of Uhud were harshly thirsty. A Muslim fetched them some water that was sufficient for one person only. The first man, to whom the water was offered, refused to drink since he suggested offering it to the other. The other preferred the third, and so on. As the man reached the last one, he found him dead. He returned the other and found him dead and so on, until all of the wounded were dead.

Islam has supplied Muslims with such a magnificent spirit, and copied the high traits in their souls and made such a notable human perfection all over history.

The ever most expressive, genuine, and influential picture of the Islamic altruism was that of the Prophet’s household. A whole sura was revealed for expressing this altruism. It is the sura of Insan –or Addahr-. Unanimously, the exegesists –of the holy Quran- related that the Prophet (s), with some of his companions, visited al-Hassan and al-Hussein, who were sick. They suggested that Imam Ali, their father, should vow a three-day fasting if they would recover their health. The Imam, as well as their mother Fatima the veracious and Fudda their bondwoman implemented that suggestion. When al-Hassan and al-Hussein were healed, the group fasted. The Imam had no food at that time; therefore, he had to borrow three measures of barley. In the first day, Fatima the veracious milled and baked one of these measures. In the very time* of breaking the fast, a poor man knocked their door for a meal. The imam gave him his share. The other entirely pursued the imam and gave their shares. They passed that night without eating any thing. On the second day of their fasting, Fatima the veracious milled and backed the second measure to make some bread. An orphan complaining hunger knocked their door in the time of breaking the fast. They entirely offered their shares of bread and passed the second night without eating anything. On the third day, Fatima the mistress milled and backed the last measure and made some loaves of bread. In the very time of breaking the fast, a prisoner complaining hunger knocked their door asking for some food. They all offered him their shares before having anything of it. In the fourth day, the Prophet (s) visited them and noticed the paleness of their faces. He was highly influenced when he shouted, “Is there a helper? Mohammed’s household is starving.” Before he completed his words, the angel Gabriel descended with the sura of Insan. The sura comprises the ultimate adulation and the best wording.

God thanked their unparalleled efforts of altruism and promised of a great reward and compensation in the Hereafter when they will be enjoying the everlasting bliss of the Paradise. He also immortalized their mentioning in this world and made them the imams and leaders of Muslims.

Adapted from the book: "The Educational System in Islam" by: "Baqir Sharif Al-Qireshi"

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