Volunteering: Our Faith in Action, Imam Dr Zijad Delic, Imam SNMC, Ottawa
Volunteering is the lifeblood of any community. It is because of volunteers that communities are able to run organizations, social services, conferences, playgroups, drop-in centers, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, open libraries, run schools, set up blood banks, and the list goes on. Paid employees only make up a small part of the social services network; without volunteers such endeavors would come to a standstill.
Volunteering is not a foreign concept to Islam. In Islam there is a strong ethic of volunteerism. This does not simply extend to running study circles or cleaning the masjid. As Muslims, we see our role as world citizens. The idea of working for a better society or community shouldn’t be limited to the Muslim community but should extend to the broader society as well – our own country.
As a religious group, Canadian Muslims need to cultivate a culture of volunteerism even more so during these testing times. They have to realize that caring Muslims are those who engage and involve themselves. We need to shift our perception and come out and volunteer and thus remove some of the misconceptions about Islam and Muslims from the minds of some. We also have to realize that it is because of volunteers that so many of the services we need are available at the SNMC community as well as the larger Canadian society. Just take our activities and events, including fundraising trips/dinners. If we would not have so many volunteers, it will be very hard to succeed in implementation of all plans we have and have an institution that many are proud of.
Actually, many mosques have been built through the efforts of volunteers, conferences are run by volunteers, Eid prayers are organized by volunteers, and schools are run, in large part, by volunteers, Muslim newspapers and magazines are written for and published by volunteers, and so on. Similarly, there are many humanitarian organizations that are developed and run by volunteers.
As Muslims, our role isn’t just to get engage in ‘Ibadat (worship aspect of Islam). We are encouraged to take on a broader role by working to improve the communities we live in: visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, teaching people to read, helping people who have no one to turn to. It is by translating our love of God into good actions so that we strengthen our faith. Islam is a faith of action and we need to demonstrate our faith by working to make the world a better, safe and more enjoyable place for all.