By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com
They say every cloud has a silver lining. Goodness knows, a lot of people these days are laboring under heavy clouds. I am, sometimes. Maybe you are too.
Today, how about being someone else’s silver lining? Relieve someone’s distress, bring ease to someone’s heart, and help someone, as the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,
“Whoever relieves a believer from a distress of this life, Allah will relieve from him a distress on the Day of Judgment. Whosoever brings ease to a believer who is in difficulty, Allah will bring ease to him in both this life and the next. Whosoever conceals the shortcomings of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his shortcomings in this world and the next. Allah will always help a servant as long as that servant helps his brother.”
Many of us are familiar with Allah’s words in the Quran, in Surat al-Balad. It’s a Juz Amma surah, frequently memorized:
“And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass? It is the freeing of a slave, or feeding on a day of severe hunger an orphan of near relationship, or a needy person in misery; and then being among those who believed and advised one another to patience and advised one another to compassion. Those are the companions of the right.”
What if you don’t have the capability at this moment of feeding an orphan, or a needy person? The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has given us examples of extremely simple things each of us can do that still count in Allah’s eyes as sadaqah (charity). He (peace be upon him) said:
“Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many… enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms — all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98
All of these are only examples. Look around you at your community. What needs are not being met? What distress are people in? What simple things can you do to help the people around you?
- Muslims in communities from California to New York, and in other nations as well, have started soup kitchens to feed the poor and homeless.
- Muslims in Baltimore USA and other cities have opened shelters for victims of domestic abuse.
- There are many organizations that allow you to support an orphan anywhere in the world. For a monthly donation that’s probably less than you would spend on a movie or a restaurant dinner, you can make sure that one child is fed, clothed, and educated.
- Volunteer jobs are plentiful. The Prophet (pbuh) mentioned leading the blind. Even today many blind people need assistance from volunteers. You can help with grocery shopping, reading the newspaper, or sending and reading email.
- Many public libraries have adult literacy programs, and always need tutors to help teach people to read and write.
- Campaign online, through Facebook and forums, to raise money for victims of disasters like the recent typhoon in Indonesia, or the floods in Pakistan. Or work with your local masjid to collect clothing, blankets and food supplies from your local community to be sent to disaster areas.
- Volunteers in some inner cities have turned abandoned lots into organic food gardens. The inner city residents all pitch in to help, and the result is healthy food for people who otherwise would not have access to fresh produce, and a new sense of community brotherhood and sisterhood.
There are countless other examples I could give. Even clearing some broken glass out of the road or smiling at someone are counted as sadaqah; they may seem like small things, but the stakes are greater than you or I can imagine.
It’s not about being a goody-two-shoes, impressing your friends, having a story to tell, or earning a merit badge. It’s not about recognition. It’s about changing the world one small step at a time, earning Allah’s pleasure, saving your own soul, and becoming one of the people of Paradise. What could be more important?