When I was in my teens and early twenties, I felt invincible. Even though there were challenges and hardships in my life, as there are in every person’s life, I knew I had my youthfulness to my advantage. It gave me an innocent perspective on life, and a confident spring in my step.
But that time flew by at the speed of light, and things have changed. I’m not an adolescent anymore. There are now other things taking up my time, like marriage, work, and chores.
The time that I used to spend hanging out with friends and binge watching TV shows, I now spend cooking and running errands. I still have free time, of course, but it’s rarer and more precious.
In this more mature, responsibility-filled stage of my life, I sometimes look back on my younger days and think about the things I wish I had done differently.
I had time at my disposal, a priceless commodity, but I didn’t realize its worth until I ended up with less of it. Time is something so valuable, so irreplaceable, that most people don’t give it up unless they are getting something in return (such as money or fame).
However, in Islam, there is a special virtue in giving our time up to serve others without expecting anything in return (in this life). There are countless ayahs and hadiths on the importance of serving others for the sake of Allah.
While many people volunteer to build their resume, as Muslims, we know that the reward in the Afterlife is worth infinitely more than a few lines on a piece of paper. So even if we don’t have a need to volunteer at a particular time in life, it is a noble act and should still be done if possible.
There are many productive ways to volunteer, such as teaching at the local Sunday school, serving the sick or elderly, or offering one’s time to a local non-profit agency. There is also great reward in helping orphans, which is something that families can do by fostering or adopting an orphan.
Take Advantage of Your Youth
It is true for most people, though, that their free time gets more limited as they get older. By the time they are elderly and free of responsibilities again, they are usually in need of assistance themselves. This is why it’s important not to wait.
Ibn Abbas reported: The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death. (Authenticated by Al-Albani)
As the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, we should take advantage of our youth before we get old. And youth truly is any age before old age, while one still has the energy to serve others.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also mentioned health, wealth, and free time. All of these things make it possible for us to volunteer. They are also great reminders of why we should volunteer in the first place.
Youthfulness, health, and wealth are all blessings from Allah that we should be immensely grateful for—and what better way to show gratitude than by using them to serve His creation?
Serve to Be Served
Volunteering is a way to become more grateful and reflective, as well as to please Allah. But that’s not all; volunteer work also encourages introspection and self-development. It can test our patience with others, commitment to our word, and devotion to a cause. These are all traits that every Muslim should aspire to have.
Serving others shows us more clearly where we have room for improvement in developing our character, as well as what our strengths are.
Let’s not waste the opportunity to serve others today, because a day comes in every person’s life when they are in need. Today we may be the volunteers, while tomorrow it might be someone else helping us. It is our responsibility as Muslims and as human beings to help one another while and when we can.
May Allah make us all of those who serve others for His sake, and with the purest of intentions.