by Lena Tleib
All world religions share and support the concept that serving humanity is an essential part of good moral behavior. Going back to the lessons extracted from the life of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), we see how he (pbuh) dealt with his family and friends, with the poor and needy, with the orphans and widows, with the traveler, and even those who took him as an enemy and mistreated him. Muhammad (pbuh) was sent as a mercy to mankind. Demonstrating and teaching us to love, serve, and give mankind from what Allah has given us. Those are the actions we all should implement. Yet, sadly in today’s society we are mostly interested in “serving me” than serving others, but many people on the other hand say, they value volunteering because it’s “the right thing to do,” among other reasons.
A professor of psychology, Allen Omoto says people volunteer usually for five main reasons. Three are “self-focused “and two are “other-focused.” The self-focused are: 1- Understand: the desire to learn new things and acquire knowledge. 2- Esteem enhancement: feeling better about yourself and finding greater stability in life 3- Personal development: acquiring new skills, testing your capabilities, and stretching yourself. The other-focused are: 4- A sense of community: making the world or your piece of it better. 5- Humanitarian values: serving and helping others, often with a strong religious component.
In Islam, the Quran emphasizes two essential principles to live by after charting the course of life according to the fundamental Islamic beliefs. Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran,
Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him and do good to your parents, relatives, the orphans and the needy, the nearby and further away neighbor, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are proud and boastful.[4:36]
First we have to work on strengthening our relationship with Allah (swt) and fulfilling those rights which He has upon us. We are required to have full submission and worship Allah (swt) alone. Secondly, we must be kind and helpful to others. This entails fulfilling obligations and duties we owe to our parents, relatives, neighbors, orphans, widows, the poor, the sick and the needy. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind.” We should never underestimate our ability to make someone else’s life better.
Albert Einstein once said, “Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.” There are many benefits in helping ours. We will benefit in this world and the next. Allah, the Most Compassionate, is compassionate towards the one who shows compassion to mankind. In the Holy Quran, Allah (swt) says,
As for those who strive in Our way, We will certainly take them onto Our paths, and indeed Allah is with those who are good in deeds.
This verse means that whenever any of us makes a sincere effort to become righteous and obedient to Allah (swt), He, the Most Gracious, helps us reach the right path. By helping others with their needs, Allah (swt) will reward us and help us when we need a helping hand. We all need to do what we can in serving humanity and leave the rest to Allah (swt). Let us be a part of the cure, not part of the disease.
Lastly, let us make serving humanity and volunteering a part of our social life and embed it in our social networks. Our mission should be to serve and be a source of comfort to others, not a cause of hardship or discomfort. As each day leaves us, we will never get it back; so encourage, aid, and fulfill the needs of someone today. May Allah (swt) guide us and grant us the ability to serve others with the purest of intentions. Allahuma Ameen.