Nafsi, Nafsi: The One Time Your Ego Serves You Well!
‘Assalatu khairum minan nawm‘. I snoozed the alarm and I was about to put it on snooze again when I happened to catch a glimpse of what time it was.
“Allahu akbar, three minutes only!” I screamed and popped out of bed like a headless chicken to do my wudhu. I thought for a second about my younger brother, as I usually give him a ring. What about his salah?
While stereotypical egotistical behaviour is never a good thing, there is one moment when your ego serves you well: it’s when you let it do what it does best… make you think of yourself first.
“Nafsi, nafsi,” whispered my soul, “myself, myself!”
I’m sure you’ve heard that ego is a bad thing. Most of us have been raised to think that we should always put others first. However, if you fail to care for your own deeds first, you can end up at the bottom levels of Jannah, so to speak. By prioritizing yourself in matters of your deen, you can take care of your own needs quite quickly and then tend to others’ needs.
This reminds me of what flight attendants alway say during the safety instructions on an airplane: “Persons travelling with children or persons requiring assistance should put on their own mask first before helping the others.”
Have you ever thought as to why this is followed as a standard protocol? It is because if oxygen levels are dropping, there may only be time to put one mask on before you pass out. If you put your child’s mask on first, while he/she will have oxygen flowing, he/she may not be old enough or know how to put yours on you. You have to put your own mask on first in order to save both. Is that being selfish?
No – it’s being smart!
On the Day of Judgment, even Prophet Isa(as) who has no father but only a mother will be saying, “Nafsi nafsi – today I am concerned for only myself.”
Even in this ayah we learn that we need to save ourselves first and our loved ones come second.
You should focus on your own needs by standing up for yourself – maybe even to yourself – especially if it means compromising something for the sake of your Lord. You will always be presented with opportunities in life where you can practice selflessness and ignore the ego. You will have chances to put someone else first in terms of extending help and sacrificing for others; but don’t let anyone else overshadow you when it comes to your deen.
Put your own mask on first.