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Is Volunteering with Non-Muslims Permissible?

19 August, 2019
Q Dear scholar, as-salamu `alaykum. Is it OK for me as a Muslim living in the West to participate in volunteer projects with non-Muslims? Jazakum Allah khayran.


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

1- Islam is a religion that cares for the welfare of all humans and calls for participating in volunteer activities and services for people without awaiting any reward from them but only from Allah.

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2- Volunteering is deeply-rooted in Islamic teachings and practices. In Islam, doing voluntary acts is not restricted to a certain race or religion but it encompasses all human beings and even all creatures.

3- Every voluntary act by a Muslim to bring about a material benefit or happiness for a human being is regarded as an act of worship.

In his response to the question in point Dr. Sano Koutoub Moustapha, Professor of Jurisprudence and Its Principles at the International Islamic University, Malaysia, states:

Volunteering refers to doing an activity of one’s own will and without being paid for it or without expecting any material reward for it.

As for Muslims, they are strongly recommended to do many volunteer acts and they should do so for the sake of Allah and with hope of getting His rewards in the Hereafter.

Several Hadiths of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) designated several forms of social services as kinds of charity: removing a harmful thing from the road or street, enjoining what is good, forbidding what is evil, reconciling two people, receiving a Muslim brother with a smile, a good word, and so on.

Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) made helping others a human and social duty upon every Muslim, saying:

“There is a (compulsory) sadaqah(charity) to be given for every joint of the human body (as a sign of gratitude to Allah) every day the sun rises. To judge justly between two persons is regarded as sadaqah; and to help a man concerning his riding animal, by helping him to mount it or by lifting his luggage on to it, is also regarded as sadaqah; and (saying) a good word is also sadaqah; and every step taken on one’s way to offer the compulsory prayer (in the mosque) is also sadaqah; and to remove a harmful thing from the way is also sadaqah.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

In fact, there is no harm for Muslims living in the West to undertake volunteer activities with non-Muslims. Furthermore, they are strongly recommended to do so in order for them to introduce Islam to non-Muslims during these activities in a very kind and peaceful manner.

Muslims have to mix with non-Muslims as much as they can in order for them to call them to Islam and introduce to them the beauty and greatness of the wonderful religion, Islam.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), said, “The believer who mixes with the people and has patience and tolerance with them is better than the believer who doesn’t mix with the people.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Dawah (calling others to Islam) should not be limited and focused on Muslims only, it has to move around and look for opportunities and seize the chances.

Indeed, there are many verses in the Qur’an which call upon Muslims to interact with non-Muslims.

Almighty Allah says: “Allah forbids you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that you should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo ! Allah loveth the just dealers.” (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)

He also says:

“And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection (O Muhammad) , then protect him so that he may hear the word of Allah; and afterward convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who know not.” (At-Tawbah 9:6)

There are also other verses which were revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) urging him to call the People of the Book to Islam and its teachings.

Furthermore, the biography of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is full of occasions that he benefited from and used for the interest of dawah.

It was reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) visited a young Jewish boy who fell sick. At the end of his visit, the Prophet called him to Islam and the father of the boy advised him to obey the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). The boy converted to Islam.

There are many practical examples which urge the Muslim to seize various opportunities to serve the cause of Islam. May Allah guide all of us on the right path!

All in all, Islam recommends your kind participation in volunteer activities with Muslims as well as with non-Muslims.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.