A DOCTOR who worked in his clinic was in a hurry to catch a flight to reach his family but all of a sudden a patient with severe stomach ache entered his clinic. The doctor became perplexed whether to attend to the patient or catch the flight. In the end he decided to cancel his travel plans to attend to the patient. This act of service filled him with inner happiness.
Similarly, at a mosque in a remote village where people were offering post-sunset prayers, the electricity went off. They had difficulty leaving the mosque in darkness; therefore, a person came forward with a torch in his hand to illuminate the area. This act of service brought him inner happiness.
Nature provides a variety of opportunities to all of us to serve humanity. The spirit of service — as illustrated in the examples above — makes people come forward and help others in dire need. All saintly people through their works, words and character have set examples of helping humanity. Actualising the spirit of service is a message common to all world religions.
It is incumbent upon Muslims to help others in distress.
However, an overwhelming sense of materialism and the rat race to acquire material wealth has dimmed the sense of service in today’s society. This needs to be curbed with the help of religious teachings so that we may avoid the repercussions of materialism.
Islam is all about mutual kindness, service and liberality. Allah says “… And do not forget Liberality between yourselves. For Allah sees well all that ye do (2:237)”. Serving others paves the way of society’s holistic development. Weaker people, with the help of others, develop themselves materially, socially, ethically and spiritually.
In society we are connected socially and spiritually with each other and serving one another is the best way of self-improvement. There is a natural law which says that one cannot do a kind act or a loving service for another without it bringing rich returns to his own life.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) in one of his ahadith has reportedly said that you should be kind to the people on earth and Allah will be kind to you.
All human beings are socially equal, though economically not so; therefore, states and societies have to ensure that their poorer members get at least two square meals a day and their children get food, clothing, health and education facilities. In case the poor are left with no way out, many may rebel against society. This is proved from recorded histories of many nations. The French Revolution can be cited as an example. It was a period of social and political unrest in France. The citizens revolted against the rich nobility and changed the course of history.
The Quran directs us to be helpful and do good as Allah has been good to you (28:77). Human life is prone to a variety of circumstances. Imagine the extent of a government’s responsibility in the light of Hazrat Umar’s reported saying that even if a dog dies hungry on the bank of the Euphrates, he (the caliph) will be responsible for dereliction of duty.
Allah says in the Quran “O ye who believe! Be ye helpers of Allah. ...” (61:14). One who helps people in difficulty, ‘helps’ Allah and this act is regarded as ibadat (worship). All professionals who work with honesty, sincerity and integrity are serving the masses.
It is incumbent upon Muslims to play an active role in helping others in distress. The objective is not to achieve status, wealth and power but to contribute to society’s overall development. This implies a moral responsibility to help weaker, less fortunate and less privileged people.
The success story of the Holy Prophet’s mission owes much to service. His kindness, love, magnanimity and caring attitude for others paved the way for his success.
Therefore, Islam encourages its followers to serve humanity. Service to weaker members of the family, society and even to the animal kingdom is considered to be a key to earn Allah’s happiness. Service does not only mean helping others physically and materially, it also means giving time, sharing resources, providing professional advice and encouragement to others in undertaking tasks that they may not normally be used to doing. This should be part of the school curriculum.
Everyone should possess a noble urge to come to the assistance of others as serving others is the best way of improving oneself. It is also a way of winning hearts and minds, creating mutual love, affinity and bringing harmony in society. This way a person earns respect, dignity and honour. It provides spiritual happiness and above all it paves the way to peaceful coexistence.
The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.
Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2017