Be Fair with Yourself

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the twenty-sixth in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

Being fair with yourself is about having a just balance. While giving to others, give yourself your rights. Giving yourself your rights does not mean that you become self-centered. It is to know who you are. You are a servant of Allah. You have a purpose. Your success is in fulfilling that purpose. 

There are certain obligatory responsibilities towards Allah and there are certain obligatory responsibilities towards Allah’s creation. The responsibilities before Allah are a fulfillment of your purpose in life. 

Seek Your Good

You have a right to seek your good. These rights are firstly religious. You have a right to know your Lord. You have a right to worship your Lord. You have a right to pursue your religious good. You also have a right to pursue your worldly good. 

For example, even if there are pressures concerning marriage, no Muslim, male or female, has to succumb to family or societal pressure to marry anybody. This is because you have a right to pursue your worldly good. Strive to do your best to pursue it according to the standards of the religion.

The good that you try to safeguard for yourself is that you fulfill both your personal and public responsibilities in good ways. 

Part of being fair with yourself is that you do not only have personal rights and responsibilities, you have social rights and responsibilities also. Your parents have rights over you, your spouse has rights over you, your children have rights over you and your friends have rights over you. 

As well as the above, you have rights over yourself as well. Strike a balance between safeguarding your rights in good and the rights of others in a manner that is ultimately for your good.

Two Parts Of Being Fair

To be fair with yourself has two parts.  One is in being giving to others, do not neglect yourself. But also, be honest with yourself. Often we have fears, insecurities, and laziness which may result in not wanting to deal with life. However, we have to strike the right balance.

Know what it means to take care of yourself.  You have to take care of both your spiritual health, social health, physical health, and emotional health.

Two of the elements that help balance the self are taking care of yourself spiritually, and taking care of your social well-being. For example, a lot of mindless eating happens when people eat alone. When people eat with others they tend to eat less in normal circumstances unless it is a gluttony issue.

To be fair with yourself arises from knowing yourself.

Social Aspects of Relations

Relationships give more fulfillment. Some people may feel they need a break by binging on a TV series, even if they have already seen it. However, these people neglect the social aspect of relationships which would be good for them.  

Be giving with your wealth without neglecting yourself. Think about what other people need as well as yourself. Our master Jafar ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (one of the descendants of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said, “The most noble of actions is the remembrance of Allah, and for the believer to be fair and honest with themselves, and to share one’s wealth with their brother (or their sister).”

For example, if you got yourself a nice reading light and someone mentioned they have eye strain, just get them the same thing. Then trim other things later on. 

Giving breaks self-centeredness. Take care of yourself, but not in a self-centered manner. 

Excess and Neglect

Again related to the theme of balance. Do not overdo it. Do not become a burden on the other person socially, religiously, or financially. Do not fall into oversharing such as saying, “I went, I bought a bagel, now I am eating the bagel, now I am…” 

At the same time, do not be neglectful by not staying in touch sufficiently and by not fulfilling the rights that they have. The rights of a believer on another are five. From amongst them are if they are sick you visit them, and if in their difficulty, you assist them, etc. 

A sign that you are not in contact sufficiently is that you do not find out if they are sick. It is so important to stay in contact with the people that we care about. And that includes all your friendships.

Visits Increase Love

There is a beautiful hadith of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that has to do with visiting, but the same thing applies to staying in contact as well. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said, “Visit from time to time, and you will increase in love.”

Visit from time to time, with consistency, but without overdoing it. This is a virtue in the Sunna related to many things. For example, brushing hair from time to time means having a good consistent pattern, but not to overdo it.

If you take ten minutes to fix your hair every time you perform ablution, that is overdoing it. 

There is another aspect to this excessiveness. Do not become excessively attached to anybody. This is part of our spiritual vista that we are servants of Allah. We love for the sake of Allah. but we are not attached to other than Allah. So, we are not surprised at the worldly unfolding as the worldly unfolds.

Lowly Dunya

This world is called dunya because it is lowly. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said, “Love the one you love with some restraint, for one day they might be someone you hate, and hate the one you hate with some restraint, for one day they may be beloved to you.“

Relations have ups and downs, whether family or friends. Have a sensible balance. Sometimes, what makes strained relationships difficult to repair is those excessive blows. 

Abu Sufyan was one of the leaders of Quraysh and one of the foremost of those who led the opposition to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). He eventually entered Islam before the opening of Mecca. He made good his Islam as well. He died as a companion of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). 

It is said that he was asked, “How did you achieve such rank and status in society?” And he replied, “I never got into an argument with anyone except that I kept in mind that one day I may have to mend relations with them and I never established relationships with anyone except that I kept in mind that one day we may have to part.” 

Do not get too attached, but also do not become too confrontational.