We've got your Lockdown covered
Home / Featured / Being at the service of others
Arthimedes / Shutterstock.com

Being at the service of others

For the majority of us, the weeks, months, and years of our lives pass us by with our main concerns surrounding questions regarding our futures, our career prospects, our vacations, and our health and well-being. In short, the majority of our concerns are self-centered. As one poet selfishly said:

إذا مِتّ ظَمْآناً فَلا نَزَل القَطْرُ

“If I die thirsty, then may the rain never come down again.”

For such people, both their presence and absence are the same. Life or death has little effect on those around them. Rather, some of those who are six feet under are of more benefit to others than those who are above the soil. How many of our predecessors who died hundreds of years ago are still remembered to this day and are spoken of in praise and admiration? How many have we continued to benefit from in what they put forward to this Ummah? The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

أحَبُّ الناسِ إلى اللهِ أنْفعُهُمْ ، وأَحَبُّ الأعمالِ إلى اللهِ عزَّ وجلَّ سُرُورٌ تُدخِلُهُ على مُسلِمٍ ، أو تَكشِفُ عنهُ كُربةً ، أو تَقضِيَ عنهُ دَيْنًا ، أو تَطرُدَ عنهُ جُوعًا ، ولَأَنْ أمْشِيَ مع أخِي المسلمِ في حاجةٍ أحَبُّ إليَّ من أنْ أعتكِفَ في المسجدِ شهْرًا ، ومَنْ كفَّ غضَبَهُ ، سَتَرَ اللهُ عوْرَتَهُ ، ومَنْ كظَمَ غيْظًا ، ولوْ شاءَ أنْ يُمضِيَهُ أمْضاهُ ، مَلأَ اللهُ قلْبَهُ رضِىَ يومَ القيامةِ ، ومَنْ مَشَى مع أخيهِ المسلمِ في حاجَتِه حتى يُثْبِتَها لهُ ، أثْبتَ اللهُ تعالَى قدَمِه يومَ تَزِلُّ الأقْدامُ ، وإنَّ سُوءَ الخُلُقِ لَيُفسِدُ العملَ ، كَما يُفسِدُ الخَلُّ العَسَلَ

“The most beloved of people to Allāh are those who are most beneficial to others, and the most beloved of deeds to Allāh is happiness that you bring to a fellow Muslim, or relieve him of distress, or pay off his debt, or expel from him hunger. For me to walk with my Muslim brother in his time of need is dearer to me than secluding myself in worship within the mosque for a month. Whoever holds back his anger, Allāh will cover his faults, and whoever suppresses his fury while being able to execute it, Allāh will fill his heart with satisfaction on the Day of Standing. Whoever walks with his Muslim brother in need until he fulfills his need for him, Allāh will establish his feet firmly on the day when all feet shall slip. Indeed, bad character ruins deeds just as vinegar ruins honey.” [1]

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would raise his companions to be at the service of others, nurturing within them a burning desire to be at their aid, and to consider it as a mighty form of ‘Ibādah, just as Salāh, Zakāh, and Siyām. In fact, people would approach him requesting assistance with a certain matter and he would, at times, withhold from assisting him, hoping that another companion would come forward so that he may earn the reward of doing so. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

إنَّ الرَّجلَ ليسألُني الشَّيءَ فأمنعُه ، حتَّى تَشفَعوا فيه فتؤجَروا

“At times, a person may ask me for a favour to which I do not respond, so that one of you could intercede and thus earn reward.” [2]

His vision in life was not about building stone buildings, but rather building godly men and women who establish their and others’ Dunya and Ākhira. Even before he was given prophethood, he was at the service of others.

After our Prophet’s first experience with revelation, he rushed back to his home gripped by horror, having feared for his life. The words which his wife Khadija chose to comfort him with were very telling. She said to him:

كَلَّا وَاللَّهِ مَا يُخْزِيكَ اللَّهُ أَبَدًا، إِنَّكَ لَتَصِلُ الرَّحِمَ، وَتَحْمِلُ الكَلَّ، وَتَكْسِبُ المَعْدُومَ، وَتَقْرِي الضَّيْفَ، وَتُعِينُ عَلَى نَوَائِبِ الحَقِّ

“Never! By Allāh, Allāh will never disgrace you, for you keep good relations with your family, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously, and assist the deserving people who have been afflicted with calamity.” [3]

Pay special attention to the qualities which she identified as being reasons why Allāh will not let the Prophet down or harm him. Each and every trait she listed was directly related to his conduct with people, thus reminding him that a person of such qualities will be aided, assisted, supported, protected, and provided for in the Dunya and Ākhira. Thus, even before prophethood, this is the type of person whom the Prophet Muhammad was: a man for the people and their needs.

What is even more remarkable are the words which Abu Bakr was described with, for they were exactly the same as those which Khadija described her husband. When Abu Bakr was leaving Mecca due to the Muslim persecution there, a man by the name of Zaid Ibn Al-Daghinna said to him, ‘Where are you going?’ Abu Bakr expressed his desire to find another place on earth where he could worship Allāh freely. Zaid responded:

فإنَّ مثلَك – يا أبا بكرٍ – لا يخرجُ ، ولا يخرجُ ، أنت تَكسِبُ المُعدَمَ ، وتَصِلُ الرَّحِمَ ، وتَحمِلُ الكَلَّ ، وتُقرِي الضَّيفَ ، وتُعينُ على نوائبِ الحقِّ

“A man like you, O Abu Bakr, must not leave nor should he ever be made to leave, for you keep good relations with your family, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously, and assist the deserving people who have been afflicted with calamity.”[4]

Subhān Allāh! The exact same words! This is who Abu Bakr was: an imitator of the Sunnah, and this is whom the companions of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) were nurtured to be; helpers of Allāh’s creation.

As for ‘Umar, he would personally attend to the needs of widowed women, delivering water to their homes in the evening. Talha once saw him entering the home of a lady. The next day, Talha sought permission from her to enter and it was an old, handicapped lady. He asked her, ‘What does this man do at your house?’ She said, ‘For so many years, he has been looking after me, bringing me what I need and removing the waste from my house.’ Talha then said to himself:

 ثكلتك أمك يا طلحة، أعورات عمر تتبع؟

‘May your mother lose you O Talha! Are you looking for the faults of ‘Umar?!’ [5]

As for the companion Ibn ‘Umar, Mujāhid would say:

 صحبت ابن عمر في السفر لأخدمه ، فكان يخدمني

“I accompanied the companion Ibn ‘Umar on a journey so that I may serve him, but he was serving me!” [6]

Al-Hassan Al-Basri said:

قضاء حاجة أخ مسلم، أحب إلي من اعتكاف شهرين

‘Attending to the need of another Muslim is more beloved to me than secluding myself in worship within the Masjid for two months.’

This really is a form of precise understanding of Islam that has become so rare in our time and age.

Abu ‘Uthman, the Sheikh of Imam Al-Bukhari, said:

 ما سألني أحد حاجة إلا قمت له بنفسي، فإن تم وإلا قمت له بمالي، فإن تم وإلا استعنا له بالإخوان، فإن تم وإلا استعنت له بالسلطان

‘There is nobody who ever asked a favour from me except that I would personally endeavor to fulfill it for him. If his need remains unfulfilled, I resort to my wealth. If his need still remains unfulfilled, I resort to the assistance of the brothers. If his need remains still unfulfilled, I resort to the authorities for help.’

Every Muslim thus should crave with the fullness of their hearts to join this blessed bandwagon of assistants to people. But how do we nurture such a craving within us, particularly at a time when doing so is becoming increasingly more difficult as the polar opposite is being promoted through Facebook, Facetime, and iPhone? A culture of individualism is being bred at unprecedented rates. We find ourselves adapting to this, gradually becoming advocates of iHealth, iWelfare, iImportance, and iTime.

With the above said, how do we create within ourselves this Islamic quality of wanting to be of service amidst such challenging settings? Below are a few key considerations:

1. To bear in mind the tremendous offerings of Allāh to those who offer their assistance to others, including the assistance of Allāh Himself.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

واللهُ في عونِ العبدِ ما كان العبدُ في عونِ أخيه

“Allāh will be at the assistance of His slave so long as such a person is at the assistance of his brother.” [7]

If only we would start remedying our personal problems using this model which the Hadith above has laid down – by attending to the needs of others. Try applying it with certainty in Allāh’s promise. At the peak of your ordeal, whether it is a financial crisis, a marital breakdown, troubles with health, an unjust smear campaign by the media, or fear keeping you up at night, seek to deal with these issues by actively searching for others who need assistance and being at their aid. By doing so, you realise that you are no longer left alone to cater for your worries, but that Allāh the Almighty will now involve His Divine Self.

Despite them having enough on their own plate to deal with during their calamity, these conscious Muslims deal with their issues in a remarkably unique way by searching for others who need help. This could be a person who needs a loan, a woman who is the subject of an abusive relationship, or a person who requires advice. By helping these people, they hope that Allāh will attend to their needs.

For this reason, Ibn Abbas would say:

صاحب المعروف لا يقع فإن وقع وجد متكئاً

“The one who does good to others will not fall, but should he fall, he will always find something to lean on.”[8]

Having said this, the opposite is just as true. Should you hide away the good which Allāh has given you from the needs of people, Allāh will hide away His assistance from your needs.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

من ولَّاه اللهُ عزَّ وجلَّ شيئًا من أمرِ المسلمينَ فاحتجَب دون حاجتِهم وخَلَّتِهم وفقرِهم احتجب اللهُ عنه دون حاجتِه وخَلَّتِه وفقرِه

“Whoever is given authority by Allāh over any of the affairs of the Muslims but then hides away from their needs and poverty, Allāh will hide away His assistance towards his needs and poverty.”[9]

Whether this pertains to your position within your household or workplace, or within the Masjid, community, or university Islamic society, remember that you are there for the people.

2. To bear in mind that assisting other people with what you have been given is an active means of its preservation.

Thus, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

 إنَّ للهِ أقوامًا يختصُّهُم بالنعمِ لمنافعِ العبادِ و يُقِرُّهُم فيها ما بذلوها ، فإذا منعُوها نزعَها منهم ، فحوَّلها إلى غيرِهم

“There are certain people whom Allāh chooses from amongst the masses to give them blessings so that they can be at the assistance of others. Allāh will keep such blessings with them so long as they continue using them to assist others. If they stop doing so, however, it is taken away from them and given to somebody else.” [10]

What has Allāh given you that people require? Is it money? Respect in the community? Good judgement? Knowledge? Free time? Experience? Each and every one of these matters are prone to disappear should they be hidden away from the needs of people. Preserve them by spending them in the avenues of goodness.

3. To bear in mind that those who are for the people have been specially selected by Allāh from amongst the masses to be keys to goodness.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would say:

عند اللهِ خزائنُ الخيرِ والشرِّ ، مفاتيحُها الرجالُ ، فطُوبى لمن جعله اللهُ مِفتاحًا للخيرِ ، مِغلاقًا للشرِّ ، وويلٌ لمن جعله اللهُ مِفتاحًا للشرِّ مِغلاقًا للخيرِ

“With Allāh are the stores of good and evil, and the keys to such stores are people. Thus, Paradise is for he whom Allāh makes him a key to goodness and a lock to evil, and woe to he whom Allāh makes him a key to evil and a lock for goodness.” [11]

4. To bear in mind that being at the assistance of people is a means of safety on a day when the majority of humanity will be afraid.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is narrated to have said:

إنَّ للهِ عز وجل خلْقًا خلقَهم لحوائجِ الناسِ، يفزعُ الناسُ إليهمْ في حوائجِهم، أولئكَ الآمنونَ من عذابِ اللهِ

“There are certain people whom Allāh has created to be at the service of others – people whom others flee to for their needs. Such people will be safe on the Day of Judgement.”[12]

Our advice for today is most certainly not exclusive to those of wealth, for financial assistance is merely one of countless forms of service. Instead, spending from your time, attention, authority, sympathy, experience, and your position in the community is, on many occasions, far more beneficial than offering money.

If the greatest of people are those who go out of their ways to serve others and ease their affairs, we can say that those who do the opposite of this – hating to see good heading towards people and wanting their matters to become difficult – are in fact the worst of people. Thus, realise that your door was only knocked for help after you had been identified as an individual of prophetic characteristics. Thank Allāh that you have been chosen for the needs of people, for it may be that Allāh is preparing for you a rank in Paradise which you would never have been able to attain if it was not for this individual who came knocking at your door.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Narrated by Al-Tabarāni, on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar

[2] Narrated by Al-Nasā’i, on the authority of Mu’āwiya Ibn Abi Sufyān

[3] Narrated by Al-Bukhari, on the authority of ‘Aisha

[4] Narrated by Al-Bukhari, on the authority of ‘Aisha

[5] Jāmi’ Al-‘Ulūm wa al-Hikam

[6] Narrated by Abu Nu’aym in his Hilya

[7] Narrated by Muslim, on the authority of Abu Huraira

[8] ‘Uyūn al-Akhbār

[9] Narrated by Abu Dāwūd, on the authority of Abu Maryam Al-Azdi

[10] Narrated by Al-Tabarāni, on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar

[11] Narrated by Abu Nu’aim in his Hilyatul Awliyā, on the authority of Sahl Ibn Sa’d

[12] Narrated by Al-Haythami, on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar with a weak chain of narration as was stated by Al-Albāni

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

  • Sent every few days to 20,000+ people
  • Receive our unique Islamic perspective on current affairs.
  • Ready for trustworthy, relevant & transformational articles, videos & podcasts?
 
By proceeding, you agree to receive our free email newsletter and accept our privacy policy.

About Ustādh Ali Hammuda

Ustādh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is a UK national of Palestinian origin. He gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari'ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Ustādh Ali is the author of several books including 'The Daily Revivals' and 'The Ten Lanterns", and continues to deliver sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Donate / Subscribe
Send this to a friend