Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Doing service for humanity is one of the greatest ways we can show our devotion to Allah. All of the revealed scriptures place great emphasis on helping others. In Islam, helping others and solving their problems is not only an important virtue, it is also a profound act of worship. It is a means of righteousness that promotes peace on Earth and allows us to earn Allah's eternal reward in the Hereafter.
Allah likes it so much when we help others that He forgives us our sins for something as simple as moving some thorns out of the path where people walk.
Abû Hurayrah quotes the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: “A man was going on his way when he saw brambles in the path. He moved these out of the way. Allah so esteemed his virtuous act that He granted him forgiveness." [Sahih Muslim]
In another narration of the same hadîth, Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet said he saw a man strolling in Paradise. The deed that he had performed was to cut down and removed a tree from the path that was causing trouble to passers by.
In his commentary on this hadîth, al-Nawawi says that there is reward for any virtuous deed that provides help to others.
Scholars explain that the main lesson to draw from this hadîth is the inherent virtue of easing the distress of others in any way: “The prayers and other ritual acts of worship that we perform are fruitless unless we engage in the service of humanity.”
Allah grants His forgiveness to those who sacrifice of themselves to help the victims of misfortune. Allah does not only grant forgiveness for those who engage in such virtuous deeds, but in His infinite mercy, he makes their account easy on the Day of Judgment.
Abû Hurayrah relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever removes one of the hardships of a believing soul, Allah will remove from him one of the distresses on the Hereafter. Whoever solves someone else's problem, Allah will make things easy for him in this world and the Hereafter… Allah is ever assisting His servant as long as that servant is helping his brother.” [Sahîh Muslim (4867)]
This hadîth shows us that the greatest form of devotion, the best way to please Allah, is to provide service to humanity. Today our world is thirsting for peace. Though there are many programs and efforts being carried out, we are falling short. Yet the solution is clear - it lies in providing service to humanity.
Before the coming of Allah’s final Messenger, the people of Mecca lived in ignorance. Their society was harsh, far removed from the values of human dignity, fraternity, love, and affection. When those same people were brought under the guidance of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), their conduct alone was enough to communicate their newly realized social conscience. Islamic teachings, like those mentioned above, formed the basis of a new social reality for the Muslims.
We can see these values in the way all of the prophets conducted their lives. Through the example that Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and the other Messengers set, Allah guided the rest of humanity. Therefore, we should follow their righteous mode of conduct and live our lives accordingly. We need to study, especially, how the prophets maintained a state of peace in a prevailing atmosphere of gloom.
When Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) arrived in Madinah, he created bonds of brotherhood between the local inhabitants and the emigrants from Mecca. In this way, he encouraged them to render assistance to one another and live together in harmony. The Prophet, in his wisdom, brought two different peoples together into one combined society, who became the best generation humanity has ever witnessed. When the Jews of Madinah saw the conduct of this combined society of the emigrants and the local people, they were greatly impressed. Some of them embraced Islam after seeing the reality of the faith in practice.
Solving other peoples’ problems is a way to soften hearts and establish harmony. Sometimes a cruel man's hardness melts away when he sees some gentle soul, out of sheer kindness, help him out of his difficulties. There are abundant examples of this in our daily lives and in the life of the Prophet, but unfortunately many of us do not take heed. This is one of the reasons why there is so much sorrow in the world.
The value of helping others is a universal truth, because Allah does not ignore the person who makes sacrifices in the service of fulfilling people's needs. We as Muslims should try to cultivate the habit of giving service to humanity, seeking only Allah's pleasure and His reward in the Hereafter.
Tariq Sohrab Ghazipuri