We need to cultivate a charitable culture in Muslim countries and in our Muslim communities. Our culture should be one where people not only contribute money to the needy and to the public welfare, but where they also volunteer their time and skills to improving the quality of life for everyone. The, Prophet (sallaallahu alayhi wa sallam) was once asked: "What is the best way of expressing Islam?"He replied:
"It is to provide food for those who need it and to greet with peace those whom you know as well as those whom you do not know." (Bukhaari)
There are many ways that volunteering one's time, money, and skills can improve civic life for all. The Prophet (sallaallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
"Greeting your brother with a smiling face is charity Enjoying what: is good and forbidding what is wrong is charity Giving directions to a person who is lost is charity. Giving assistance to a person with weak eyesight is charity Removing boulders and thorns from the road is charity. Pouring water from your vessel into your brother's is charity". (Tirmidhi)
Benefits Of Giving
We may have given generously during the last Ramadan fast, but we need to move beyond the month and cultivate a habit of charity all year round and in all ways. In order to cultivate this consciousness, people need to realize the benefits of giving. These benefits, both worldly and spiritual, have personal and societal dimensions. Here are some practical ways to inculcate these ideas among our communities:
I. Our children should be taught from an early age the skills needed to be able to share things with others and to work well with others. They have to learn how to make accommodations for the sake of working in a team, and be willing to make extra efforts at times.
2. Teenagers, both male and female, should be actively encouraged to engage in volunteer charity work. They should be taught about the value of giving and the value of other charity work and the positive returns for themselves and for society that come of it. This is the job of schools, Islamic centers, and whatever media and social outlets the Muslims have at their disposal.
3. Schools can do their part by getting students involved in extra-curricular activities that contribute to the broader community. They might team up with local charity groups. They can do things as simply as organizing a neighborhood clean-up, tree planting, or other beautification project.
4. Recognition should be given to outstanding volunteer workers. Their efforts must be kept in purview of the Muslim public. Articles should be published about them in the local newspapers. They should be recognized not only for their community service, but their personal and career achievements should be highlighted along with the skills that they have.
5. Courses and seminars should be held to teach people about various relevant and rewarding opportunities for volunteer work and donating to charity to eliminate want in our society. Schools and colleges as well as Muslim organizations are excellent places for such programs.
6. Individuals can play an important role by supporting volunteer and charitable organizations. This helps those organizations carry out their efforts and provide opportunities for people who wish to effectively contribute their skills to the public good.
Be ready to lead the way for charity ... or at least follow a good lead by helping a good cause. Jazakallah khayraan!
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited