What Islam says about Volunteerism?
Islam considers acts of volunteerism acts of great importance and dear to God Almighty. The pieces of evidence proving this fact are uncountable in the Muslim sources, namely the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Let us mention a few of them here:
God said in the Qur’an: “And they feed, for the love of God, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive…” (76:8)
The Almighty Says: “Help you one another in righteousness and piety, but help you not one another in sin and rancor…” (5:2) He also says: “…and do good; that ye may prosper…”22:77)
Muhammad (S) said: The dearest to God is the one who is most beneficial to people. The dearest deed to God is bringing happiness to a Muslim, or dispelling a grief from him, or settling his debt, or feeding him while he is hungry. It is dearer to me to support my Muslim brother to satisfy need than to make one month I’tikaf in the mosque. Whoever controls his anger God will cover his faults. And whoever goes out with a Muslim till fulfilling his necessity, God will make his feet stable on the Day while feats slip.” (Tabarani)
Muhammad (S) said: “One who guides to something good has a reward similar to that of its doer.” (Muslim)
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 in the SNMC community as well as the larger Canadian society. Just take our activities and events, including fundraising dinner. If we would not have so many volunteers, it will be very hard to succeed in implementation of all plans we have.
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 as well as enewsletters 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 place for all.