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Newsletter for February 2012
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Service to humanity, according to the Qur'an and the Sunnah
A Friday Sermon by Owais Jafrey, Seattle, WA
Every dimension of our beloved Prophet SAW’s personality and every moment of his life mirror his passion for service to the humanity. Prophet SAW taught us that service to fellow human beings is directly related with the worship and obedience of Allah SWT. And such a service is a means to seek Allah’s pleasure. The Holy Qur’an mentions piety and the fulfillment of rights, which we owe to others as Allah’s worship. It means that the strength of our relationship with Allah SWT runs parallel with the strength of our relationship with fellow human beings and the rest of His creation. The lack of concern and relationship with humanity weakens our relationship with Allah SWT as a consequence. To be able to serve others, one has to inculcate in him the values of humility, morality, ethics, love, care, tolerance, patience, sacrifice, forgiveness and selflessness. Prophet SAW has set examples of his compassion toward the orphans, widows, weak, needy, poor, and the under-privileged. Not to speak of the pre-Islamic Arab society, but in the rest of the world too, the values of sympathy, cooperation, brotherhood were almost non-existent. Corruption, exploitation, oppression, slavery, and insensitivity toward the pain and sufferings of others were the order of the day. Verse 47 of Surah Yaasin mentions the attitude of unbelievers in these words:
“…and when [the disbelievers] are told, ‘Give to others out of what Allah has provided for you, ‘the disbelievers say to the believers, ‘why should we feed those whom Allah could feed if He wanted?”
Verse 17-20 of Surah Al-Fajr also throws light on the moral degradation of the then Arab society. These verses also apply to those who share the same characteristics with them. The verses read: “…You people do not honor orphans, you do not urge one another to feed the poor, you consume inheritance greedily, and you love wealth with a passion.”
Religious leaders of the then prevailing Faiths had made religion a means to maintain their power and authority, and to fulfill their greed for wealth. They had been misusing and abusing religion for selfish ends. Verse 34 of Surah Tawbah reads:
“Believers, many rabbis and monks wrongfully consume people’s possessions and turn people away from Allah’s path. [Prophet], tell those who hoard gold and silver instead of giving in Allah’s cause that they will have a grievous punishment. ”
The Holy Qur’an also mentions the promise taken from the people of the Book which asserts that the worship of Allah SWT goes hand in hand with the service to humanity. Verse 83 of Surah Baqarah says:
“Remember when We took a pledge from the Children of Israel: “Worship none but Allah; be good to your parents and kinsfolk, to orphans and the poor; speak good words to all people; keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms. The all but a few of you turned away and paid no heed.”
As mentioned in Sahi Bukhari, Prophet SAW while inviting people to worship One Allah, also preached to spend in the path of Allah by extending a helping hand towards the destitute and less fortunate. He taught us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, deal fairly with the prisoners, emancipate the slaves, and attend and look after the sick. He SAW laid emphasis on the equality of all members of the society irrespective of tribal consideration, social status based on material wealth and cast or creed. Prophet SAW’s teachings are comprehensive in nature and encompass all aspects of individual, social, spiritual and physical life. Success and happiness in life can be achieved through following the guidelines provided by him. Islam regards service to humanity as equal to worshipping Allah SWT. Verse 177 of Surah Al-Baqarah reads:
“Goodness does not consist in turning your face towards East of West. The truly good are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, in the angels, the Scripture, and the prophets; who give away some of their wealth, however much they cherish it, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travelers, and beggars, and to liberate those in bondage; those who keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms; who keep pledges whenever they make them; who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity, and times of danger. These are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of Allah.”
Prophet SAW has advised us to thank Allah SWT for His blessings. Whatever we have is given by Allah. More often we take these blessings for granted. We should know that our health, strong limbs, gifts of eyes to see, ears to listen, tongue to taste, power to speak, brain to think and plan, and material resources to lead a comfortable life, are not the result of our own doing and choice. Did we do something to deserve these gifts? Absolutely not! These gifts are from Allah SWT for free. That is why we should be grateful to Allah SWT for these irreplaceable bounties. There are two ways to be grateful and both constitute a part of our Faith. One is to submit to His commands, bow down and prostrate before Him in all humility to express our gratitude. The other way is to do good and be kind to those, who are not as fortunate and resourceful as we are. If we are insensitive to their suffering and deprivation, then Allah SWT mentions such a condition thus in verses 8-20 in Surah Al-Balad:
“Did We not give him eyes, a tongue, lips, and point out to him the two ways of [good and evil]? Yet he has not attempted the steep path. What will explain to you what the steep path is? It is to free the slave, to feed at a time of hunger an orphaned relative, or a poor person in distress, and to be one of those who believe and urge one another to steadfastness and compassion. Those who do this will be on the right side, but those who disbelieve in Our revelations will be on the left-hand side, and the Fire will close in on them.”
According to our beloved Prophet SAW, love to mankind leads to Allah’s love. Prophet SAW has cited the importance of kindness to fellow human beings in the following tradition tradition reported in Bukhari and Muslim. The Prophet SAW said that on the Day of Resurrection, Allah SWT will address the people in these words:
“O son of Adam, I fell sick and you did not visit Me. The man will reply: “O Lord, how should I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds? Allah will say: “Did you not know that My so-and so servant was sick and you did not visit him? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him?” O son of Adam, “I was hungry and you did not feed Me.” The man will submit: “O Lord, how should I have fed You when You are the Lord of the worlds? Allah will say: “Did you not know that My so-and-so servant was hungry and you didn’t feed him? Did you not know that if you had fed him, you would surely have found that (the reward for doing so) with Me?” O son of Adam, “I was thirsty and you did not give Me a drink. The man will submit: “O Lord, how should I have given You to drink when You are the Lord of the worlds? Allah will say: My so-and-so servant was thirsty; you did not quench his thirst. Had you given him a drink, you would have surely found the reward with Me.
This tradition makes it clear that the secret of seeking Allah SWT’s pleasure is through pleasing fellow human beings. Their pleasure can be achieved by providing them relief, assistance and help and serving them in their hour of need. May Allah SWT enable us to be proactive in the service of our families, relatives, neighbors, communities and the humanity at large!
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