Islam is all about giving. Modern research is proving that the people who are the most happy are those who give. The act of giving is more rewarding than merely receiving.
Imam Abdool Rahman Khan, speaks about volunteerism as the practice of giving one’s time, talents or resources for charitable, educational and other worthwhile activities. It is the commitment to pledge one’s cause to do good to others. A commitment to work for the benefit of others.
This is exactly what Islam is all about. Muslims need to volunteer not just within their communities but outside as well to help humanity. There are so many places to volunteer, schools, senior homes, hospitals, etc. This will have lasting long-term effects as well in spreading the true teachings of Islam so as to break stereotypes and build bridges.
Stories of Altruism from the Past
Among the best examples of altruism from the past is the example of the Ansar towards the Muhajirun. When the Muhajirun (Muslims of Makkah) emigrated to Madinah, they took along no belongings. The Ansar (Muslims of Madinah) showed unprecedented nobleness and altruism in sharing their belongings with their sisters and brothers in Islam.
They would share their accommodation with their brethren, with all that it included such as food, clothing, etc. with no financial form of benefit; simply they were helping their brothers and sisters in distress, seeking the pleasure and reward only from Allah.
Allah Almighty commands their acts in the Noble Quran:
And [also for] those who were settled in al-Madinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their chests of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful. (Quran 59:9)
Modern Stories on Altruism
The first story is a personal one. I had a full American breakfast the other day with my husband at a busy diner in our area. The cheque was expected to be as full as the meal. Despite that, when it was time to pay my waitress said: “Your cheque has been taken care of but I can’t tell you by who.”
This was new to me. In a world filled by consumerism, most people want to have rather than give. Apparently, someone had payed the cheque for us in a true act of altruism. I am still curious though to see who wanted to pay for a Muslim Family in a predominantly Christian country. That is what I call ultimate altruism:)
Fethullah Üzümcüoğlu and his bride Esra Polat behaved as true believers when they took their savings for their wedding and put it towards feeding their neighbors in Turkey’s Kilis Province earlier this month. And who were their neighbors? They just so happened to be thousands of Syrian refugees. (The Lost Art of Altruism)
What if altruism involves risking one’s life?
This is the story of “The Muslim Spiderman.” A Muslim Malian migrant who courageously rescued a small boy dangling from a balcony in Paris, France. This act of great bravery exemplifies the values which help unite our national community, such as courage, selflessness, altruism and taking care of the most vulnerable,” said an official decree granting the French citizenship to Mamoudou Gassama.
The brave African Muslims, who had been in France illegally, received international acclaim for his heroic act when he scaled four floors with his bare hands to save the four year old, who was left unsupervised.
The French President Emmanuel Macron personally thanked him and said he would be offered a role in the fire service. He also signed a contract for an internship with the Paris fire service and was given a medal by the city.
Reap the Rewards
So, next time you feel unsure about giving whether your time, talents or resources, know that you are really not giving only, but rather receiving endless happiness and fulfillment.
What better to illustrate this than this beautiful hadith:
Abu Maisarah narrated from ‘Aisha that they had slaughtered a sheep, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
What remains of it?
“Nothing remains of it except its shoulder.”
All of it remains except its shoulder. (At-Tirmidhi)