There are many essential parts of good moral conduct that Islam requires of all Muslims. Being kind, generous, charitable, humble, and caring for the fellow humans beings are essential qualities for all true believers. These characteristics are sought in a person who loves Allah and follows his teachings because it is easy to love creation if you love the Creator.
Serving humanity should ideally start at home with care of parents, followed by relatives. Compassion for orphans, poor and neighbors should be the natural progression. Serving the need of our parents is of the highest priority in Islam and earns the highest reward.
Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) was sent as a mercy to all mankind, not just for Muslims. In one of sayings or Hadith he explained that if you are not merciful to people, Allah will not be merciful to you. Islam teaches us to open our hearts and minds to help the needy and the destitute without any distinction of color, creed, race or religion. One has to rise above these biases and prejudices in order to serve humanity.
There are some verses in Holy Quran which can be used to highlight that Islam’s mission includes serving of all mankind, not just Muslims. For example, in Chapter 2, verse 272, Allah says “Whatever wealth you spend in charity, it is to your own advantage; provided you give to seek the pleasure of Allah. Whatever wealth you spend for the sake of Allah, will be paid back to you in full, and you will not be wronged.”
Ibn Abi Hatim (may God be happy with him-RA) reports on the authority of Ibn Abbas (RA) that until this verse was revealed, the Prophet (pbuh) used to instruct the Muslims to give in charity only to fellow Muslims, but then he ordered that charity should be extended to all who need it, regardless of their religion.
Some scholar of Islam have translated the Chapter 3 (Surah Al-Imran), verse 111 which directly emphasizes the point about service to humanity as “O people of Islam, You are the best people ever raised for the good of mankind because you have been raised to serve others; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in Allah.”
Serving and helping others is like serving Allah in the sight of Islam. This is illustrated by a saying or Hadith narrated by Abu Hureyrah (RA), Prophet (SAW) said:
“Verily, Allah the Exalted and Glorious will say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘O son of Adam, I was indisposed but you did not visit Me.’ He would say: ‘O my Lord, how could I visit you as you are the Lord of the world?’ Thereupon Allah would say: ‘Did you not know that such and such slave of mine was ill but you did not visit him? Did you not realize that if you had visited him, you would have found [its reward] with me? O son of Adam, I asked food from you but you did not feed Me.’ He would submit: ‘My Lord, how could I feed you as you are the Lord of the worlds?’ Allah would say: ‘Did you not know that such and such a slave of mine asked you for food but you did not feed him? Did you not realize that if you had fed him, you would have found [its reward] with me? O son of Adam, I asked for water from you but you did not give it to Me.’ He would say: ‘My Lord, how could I give you (water) as you are the Lord of worlds.’ There upon Allah (SWT) would say: ‘Such and such a slave of mine asked you for water to drink but you did not give it to him. Did you not realize that if you had given him the drink you would have found (its reward) with Me.” [Muslim]
Muslim Ummah (Community worldwide) will remain the best as long as it is service-minded and promotes the good and welfare of society. If we fail to do this, we will no longer have a right to boast of the superiority of the Muslim Ummah. A Society which is insensitive to the suffering of other human being and not always inclined to serve the cause of humanity can not be described as an Islamic society, no matter how much it adhered to other aspects of Islamic teachings.
Nationally, there are many exemplary works done by Muslim that has not been highlighted by the media. During the recent Haitian Earth Quake Muslims collaborated with Church groups to send goods worth millions for relief work. Large number of Muslim doctors volunteered their services for weeks at a time. Islamic relief and Helping Hand relief and development worked tirelessly to relieve the suffering of the Haitian people and much of this work is still ongoing.
Another example is UMMA (University Muslims Medical Association) community clinic in South Los Angeles. This medical clinic was opened and operated by Muslim for indigent people who may be poor and homeless to meet their medical needs. It was founded in 1996, serves 170 patients weekly. Their patient population has grown to 15,000 who have logged over 25,000 visits. These clinic doctors are the only family doctor for these patients over 95% of who are non-Muslims and the same percent lack medical insurance.
The last example comes from different type and place. Imam Siraj Wahaj of Masjid Taqwa has worked hard to rid the streets of Brooklyn from crime, drug abuse and violence for many years benefiting everyone in the community. He was presented with community service award by Islamic Society of North America at their annual convention. He was recognized for this exemplary work by Brooklyn Police Department as well. He has dedicated his whole life to clear the street and bring peace and tranquility to this Brooklyn neighborhood.
Locally and on smaller scale, Muslims continue to work in their respective communities for peace and prosperity. In my home town of Clinton, Muslims marched on September 21, with their fellow Clinton resident on annual day of “Peace” to raise awareness about peace and stopping hate everywhere. In a neighboring town Muslims participated in CROP (Community Responding to Overcome Poverty) walk on October 3 to raise money for feeding hungry and distribution to poor.
According to the news reports, there are 60 million Muslims in India that are living in poverty. While in US, according to census bureau 43.6 million people (14.3% of population) are poor. Eids like Eid Ul Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) and the upcoming Thanksgiving (on Nov.25 in US) are great opportunities for all of us to reach out to this segment of the population, at times when it matters the most. Let us also learn from the example of our Prophet (pbuh), and strive to exercise the teaching of Holy Quran. Only then mission of serving humanity will be accomplished.
----Dr Anis Ansari, a practicing Nephrologist and president of Clinton Islamic Center in Clinton, USA, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org