Assessing our self-worth…


By: Masood Malikyar

It was not a very long time ago when we experienced a large scale calamity on our own shores.  Hurricane Katrina proved to be disastrous in so many ways resulting in huge losses of life and property.  One year earlier, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami killed over 230,000 people in no fewer than 14 countries and caused severe devastations.   In October of 2005, more than 76,000 people were killed in Kashmir as as result of another earthquake.

Cyclone Nargis was the most damaging cyclone ever recorded in Burma killing 146,000 people.  The toll was perhaps even higher since political agenda were used to stop the count.  2008 also saw the massive and deadly Sichuan earthquake raising the human toll in that region to 68,000.

We all remember too well the Haiti earthquake of last year. Over three million people were affected by the quake.  According to the Haitian government,  an estimated 316,000 people died, 300,000 were injured and 1,000,000 were left homeless.  And, these are just some of the natural disasters of the last decade.

Now, we see the Japanese struggling to cope with the aftermath of the largest natural disaster of Japan’s recent memory.  Thousands are dead and missing, and the damage is estimated at hundreds of billions of Dollars – and rising.

So, what is our role who are so far removed from these cataclysmic events?

I would like to use this opportunity to remind us all of an important Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (SAW).  He said:

"The best people are those who benefit people most."

We can be reasonably sure he didn’t mean that the best of people are those who benefit people most only in the aftermath of a disaster.  But, we have every reason to believe that assisting people in need in general does qualify us as the better of two groups:  one that benefits people and one that does not.

As we ponder on this important Hadith and begin to contemplate,  I challenge us to  assign a value to our perceived self-worth…perhaps on a scale from 1 to 10, or in order to stay true to the spirit of this Hadith, from least beneficial to most (I hope not from most harmful to least).

Where do we stand?  Are people benefiting from our knowledge, experience, council, work, wealth, or progeny?  Or, is it that all of our focus and energy is spent in benefiting only ourselves?

It is never too late to start…this is the perfect time, better than any time past or any time if yet to come…to strive to be better…with the aim to become the best….little by little, within our means – no matter how meager – by benefiting people.

Let us pray for the people of Japan and all others in need of assistance.  Let us assist people in their hour of need.   Our very humanity demands it.  And, our self-worth depends on it.  

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