Do yourself a favour(DW#750 )

If you do good, you do good for your own souls, and if you do evil, it is for them [the souls]Sura Israa [Holy Quran 17:7]

In verse 7 of Chapter 17 [Sura Bani Israel/Isra], Allah lays out a foundational principle of the way He has created the universe. Whether we do good or evil, the effect of our actions impact us more than they impact anyone else. This is true on this plane of existence as well as the hereafter.

Firstly, this verse acknowledges freedom of choice for human beings. While we have been guided, internally and externally, the choice of action remains ours. We choose, every moment of our lives, whether to take the path towards our wellbeing and His pleasure, or against ourselves and away from His pleasure. (can you see how both are connected?)

So, even when we think we are doing others a favour by doing an act of kindness for them, or harming someone by criticizing them, being mean spirited, gossiping, betraying them, lying to them or any other act, this verse is reminding us that we are in essence benefitting ourselves or hurting ourselves through our actions.

How so?

1)    We have been programmed with a conscience which is at peace when we do good and in distress when we do things other than good. Do good, feel good.

2)    When we do good in the world, we get manifold blessings in terms of good will from others, our relationships are positive and strong, and we are loved by others.

3)    The law of Karma: as we do, so shall we reap. If we put out goodness, it will echo back to us and similarly with evil.

4)    Good deeds earn us His Pleasure in a much greater proportion than they are worth. And the reward of this comes back to us.

5)    It is now backed by research that doing acts of kindness, showing generosity, feeling compassion for others, all these positive and prosocial emotions create positive neurological and biological changes in our bodies including releasing immune building hormones. In other words, our biology is programmed to respond positively to goodness and negatively to evil. Subhanallah.

6)   Good and evil both have feedback loops. Once you get a cycle going, you are likely to see more of that. Here is an example of a virtuous cycle: When we are feeling good, we are much more likely to 'do good', that is behave in ways which take our day in a positive direction. The more 'good' we do, the better we feel and so the virtuous cycle perpetuates.

So the next time we are tempted to remind someone of the favour we did them, let us remember this verse and feel good about the favour that we did for ourselves.

Love this reminder from Imam Ali (as): A good deed that you do to any one, you have only ennobled yourself through it, and beautified your disposition, so do not expect gratitude from others for what you have done for yourself.

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