Were someone to tell you to be selfish, you would probably respond with a gawk or a gasp, if not an outright, “Wha?” We are told to be selfless, especially in a society that puts individualism on a pedestal. Nevertheless, there is one instance in which we should exercise selfishness, by completely focusing on our own selves.
Many a times, we tend to find faults in other people. The camera zooms in on any little skew we can spot on another person. Someone may say to a practicing Muslim who is deemed as pious in most people’s eyes,
“How come you go to all these Islamic classes, yet you eat standing up?”
one may look at a less practicing Muslim and pass a quick judgment,
“She doesn’t even observe hijab, and her clothes are too tight,”
thus deeming oneself as being more pious and more deserving of Jannah.
Sahih International: Say, “You will not be asked about what we committed, and we will not be asked about what you do.” [Surah Saba, 34:25]
We should worry more about our ownselves than pass judgments on other people, though Islam also requires that we enjoin the good and forbid the evil. However, if one does not practice what one preaches, it may not bode too well on the one enjoining the good. To each his deeds, and where we spend our times scrutinizing and criticizing people (even if inwardly) we should spend our time zooming the camera inside ourselves.
So, be selfish, please, and focus on the self.
When we see pious people, we should look inside ourselves and notice our weaknesses and strive to follow their example, their good example. When we see people who are less practicing, we should also within ourselves and see if we are doing the same thing. If thoughts of pride creep in, we need to sweep those away and ask Allah to purify our hearts, maybe by making du’a for the less practicing person to be guided, and this, with sincere care and concern. At night, when all is quiet and you are about to enter the world of the semi dead, do a self accounting, a muhaasabah, and rewind the day. Think back to all that you did for that day. What did you do wrong? What did you do right? How can you avoid the wrong the next time? What more good can you add to the right?
This is not a time to be selfless and focus on others, so feel free to be selfish. Please do, for your own sake.