Maha Khan, London
As soon as the term ‘competition’ is articulated, one is instantly reminded of the inferiority and superiority of those around us. We are quick to start digging around in search for our competition in every aspect of our lives, whether it be deemed healthy or not. It is fair to say that the human-race has come this far due to the existence and practice of competition. Competition is deeply rooted within our biological framework, it could even be said to be a great part of our evolutionary heritage. Many social scientists would come to agree that competition is one of the most basic functions of nature. We compete for social status, we compete for recourses and general livelihood, and we compete against one another and even against our own selves.
Islam, a religion founded 1400 years ago acknowledges this very fundamental human need and advocates it in a manner where we can practice healthy competition. Allah the Exalted has said, “…vie, then, with one another in good works…’’ (2.149). Meaning Allah recognises the way humans operate in terms of competitiveness and instructs His people to utilise it for the greater good. A pristine example of this is painted in the Hadith collection of Bokhari. It is mentioned that Utbah Ibn Harith joined the afternoon Prayers led by the Holy Prophet in Medina. After concluding the service, the Holy Prophet stood up rapidly and continued to one of the chambers stepping across the shoulders of the worshippers. The worshippers were stunned by the swiftness of the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him). When he came back he acknowledged that people were questioning what called him away so urgently. So, he said: ‘I recalled that there was a piece of silver left with me and this disturbed me. I have now arranged for its distribution.’ This is a great example for the rest of mankind in terms of vying with one another in good works. We should look up to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) and strive to become the best possible versions of ourselves, compete against ourselves and one another in ways which help better our souls and society.
His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V, worldwide spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community reminded of the Quranic injunction a few weeks ago in his Friday sermon. He said: ‘’Allah the Exalted states to the believers that “Your goal must always be fastabiqul khairaat!” It means that you must always endeavour to lead others in good works. Furthermore, Allah the Almighty has also referred to those, who perform righteous deeds and do good works as “best of creatures”…’ (Friday Sermon, 27 Oct 2017)
Islam deems moral degradation as the worst form of disease a human could attain as it has long term and devastating consequences, thus vying with one another in good work is vital to keep our society free of moral decay. It is known that moral degradation starts when people start to make poor and naïve choices that may seem harmless momentarily but slowly become the reason for moral destruction within society. The rippling effects of one’s action is evident to the way society operates hence it is necessary for one to make well thought out and purposeful decisions that are not driven by desire for worldly riches but driven by the desire of achieving closeness to Allah. This way, the domino effect of one’s actions will only be good and do good for society and prevent further moral degradation.
We should show kindness and love to those around us, especially our parents; as Allah commands in the Qur’an, “…Worship none but Him, and show kindness to parents…” (17:24). It is not possible to repay God’s favours, however in terms of one’s parents, we can try and return their love and kindness. May Allah guide us and help us follow the footsteps of our Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) and make use of the time we have on earth in the service of one another and spend our time doing tasks that are good and compete in a healthy way so that we could please our Allah.