Volunteerism – An Islamic Perspective
Allah has made us social beings that are naturally prone to engage and interact with each other. We are interdependent social beings who rely on and draw enormous strength from each other. This interdependence fosters harmony, peace and appreciation. Not only does it contribute to peaceful social co-existence it also promotes self-fulfilment and individual happiness. The importance and virtue of assisting our fellow brothers and sisters can be better understood from the following hadith: “Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter. Whoever alleviates [the situation of] one in dire straits who cannot repay his debt, Allah will alleviate his lot in both this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever conceals [the faults of] a Muslim, Allah will conceal [his faults] in this life and the Hereafter.” (Muslim)
Our ability to give of our time, resources or skills without expecting anything in return is a unique hallmark of a Muslim. Our idea of worship and prayer goes beyond ritual worship. The Prophet (saw) has said: “The most beloved of people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to others, and the most beloved of deeds to Allah is happiness that you bring to a fellow Muslim, or relieve him of distress, or pay off his debt, or expel from him hunger. For me to walk with my Muslim brother in his time of need is dearer to me than secluding myself in worship within the mosque for a month. Whoever holds back his anger, Allah will cover his faults, and whoever suppresses his fury while being able to execute it, Allah will fill his heart with satisfaction on the Day of Standing. Whoever walks with his Muslim brother in need until he fulfils his need for him, Allah will establish his feet firmly on the day when all feet shall slip. Indeed, bad character ruins deeds just as vinegar ruins honey.” (Tabrani)
The first step is to identify your strengths and talents. Every individual is blessed with certain strengths and skills through which he or she may benefit others. Use these Allah given blessings to uplift and make a difference in your community. It could be by feeding the poor, educating learners, empowering the needy, consoling the bereaved, visiting the sick, assisting in traffic control for funerals or assisting in Ghusl of the deceased, etc.
Females have the opportunity to providing frail care, seeing to those who are physically challenged or comforting the distressed. There are so many opportunities open to anyone willing to assist and provide services to the community. In this era of smart technology there is huge scope and potential for women to volunteer their skills and talents from the comfort of their homes.
Covid-19 has led to massive unemployment, poverty and need. It has had an economic, social, and mental impact. The time is now to display our community spirit. We have a responsibility to rally to the call of the distressed.
Those wanting to do community service should avoid creating new structures. It is in the interest of the community to assist existing organizations in our area. These organizations have the infrastructure. Joining these organizations will also avoid duplication of aid. Networking among sister organizations is also a key aspect to community work. The need to streamline our activities is equally critical. We require the meeting of hearts and minds and unity of purpose to adequately meet the challenges we confront.