A Muslim student has received the Greenville Rotary Club’s eighth “Service Above Self” scholarship in recognition of her volunteer work to help colleagues, neighbors, and family.
“(Service) is something that, you know, growing up I depended on a lot of people in the community to help me and my family, help get us started,” award recipient Lana AbuNijem told Greenville News.
Lana moved with family from Jordan to the US when she was only eight months old. Seeing life in the US as giving her many opportunities, she always extended help to those who needed it.
“It was a different lifestyle here in America than my parents were used to, a different language. We depended on the service of our community,” added Lana, the first Muslim student to be selected for the scholarship in the eight years since its creation.
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It was Jean Shew, the advisor for the Students in Action club in the Greenville Technical College Charter High school, who first noticed her.
“She caught my attention because, at the end of (the event), there she was cleaning up. And she’s been sensational ever since,” Jean said.
Along with getting CPR-certified in the school’s Students in Action club, she advocated work for mental health issues, volunteering with her mosque’s youth group.
As a senior student, Lana interned with Mental Health America and was trained to work the crisis phone line, which serves people who may be considering suicide.
“Making those connections with people at such a low point in their lives, it was definitely something I really enjoyed having the opportunity to do,” Lana said.
For Lana, her Muslim faith shapes much of her service.
“My religion has always taught me to help all the people in the world that need it, you know, to do service for the community and for the world, so that really impacted my service and made me want to go do more service,” said Lana.
Islam lays a great emphasis on the virtue of neighborliness, stressing on Muslims’ individual duty to be good to their neighbors.
…And do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbor who is near (of kin), the neighbor who is a stranger… (Quran 4:36)
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
If anyone is pleased to love Allah and His Messenger, or rather to have Allah and His Messenger love him, he should speak the truth when he tells anything, fulfill his trust when he is put in a position of trust, and be a good neighbor.