Volunteering in Islam: Social and Religious Duty!

A Moment with Our Prophet, Muhammad (S)

By Imam Zijad Delic

Day 232

Abu Huraira (r) narrated that the Prophet (S): “Allah continues to fulfill the needs of the servant as long as he/she fulfills the needs of his/her brother/sister.”

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى عَنْهُ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لا يَزَالُ اللَّهُ فِي حَاجَةِ الْعَبْدِ مَا دَامَ فِي حَاجَةِ أَخِيهِ

Source: At Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabir

Transliteration: “La Yazalullahu Fi Hajati ‘Abdi Ma Dama Fi Hajati Akhihi.”

It was once said that “Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”

Al Hamdulillah, we live in a country where volunteerism is highly regarded as a noble act!

It is known fact that Canadians are the people who volunteer the most, per capita, in the world!

The evidence on the ground suggests that before the COVID-19, in 2018, for example, almost 12.7 million Canadians volunteered for charities, non-profits and community organizations – accounting for 41% of Canadians aged 15 and older.

I am almost certain that during the COVID-19 era, this number is even higher since people cared more than before…even though the conditions were difficult to interact due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

These volunteers devoted approximately 1.7 billion hours to their formal volunteer activities, a volume of work equivalent to more than 863,000 full-time year-round jobs!

What is volunteerism?

Volunteerism, in its conceptual form, includes the individual or collective efforts of willing individuals, known as volunteers, to act in ways which work toward the betterment of the individuals, the whole society and the world.

Volunteerism is thus the most fundamental act of citizenship in our society as well as special expression of one’s faith.

The meaning of volunteerism in Islam is the offer of time, energy, efforts, skills, talent and knowledge of your own will for the sake of gaining God’s pleasure and helping the common good.

What motivates volunteering?

There are many motives behind volunteering.

Some have chosen to become involved so they can provide a needed service, solve a problem, or advance a worthy cause; others look for personal development.

Many volunteer for both altruistic and personal reasons.

Here are a few these reasons: Personal Satisfaction; Being Active; Learning New Skills; Social Contact; Helping People in Broader Community/Canadian society; Gaining Work Experience; Helping People in Own Muslim Community; Doing Something Worthwhile; Spiritual Benefits, etc.

Indeed, volunteers polish up the rough spots in our communities… and their lives, too!

What Islam says about volunteering?

Faith based-motivated reasons for volunteering of Muslims – that is, a desire to carry out voluntary work based on faith beliefs – have been a source of volunteering of many individuals of Muslim faith.

The Almighty Says: “Help you one another in righteousness and piety, but help you not one another in sin and rancor…” (5:2)

وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ

He also says: “…and do good; that ye may prosper…” (22:77)

وَافْعَلُوا الْخَيْرَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

What are some of the benefits of Volunteerism in Islam?

It is clear that the spirit of volunteerism and helping one another or the community that works for others should be part of our contributions as Muslims.

This is not just our social responsibility but a religious one as well!

I am certain we are all convinced of merits of volunteerism. As a reminder, let us look at three main benefits of volunteerism in Islam:

First: The act of volunteerism will reinforce the noble virtue of sincerity (Ikhlas) in us.

When we do something sincerely for God, we will do it more seriously, and we will not be affected by what others say and do.

Instead, we will be focused on the good act, because we only seek God’s blessings and pleasure.

Second: Volunteerism will enhance the compassion and ihsan (goodness) among individuals in the community.

When we help others, we actually translate the value of compassion in us, because we do not want difficulties for others, as much as we do not want difficulties for ourselves.

Abu Huraira (r) narrated that the Prophet (S): “Allah continues to fulfill the needs of the servant as long as he/she fulfills the needs of his/her brother/sister.” (At Tabarani)

Third: Volunteerism will bring about calmness in us and satisfaction to our souls.

This is because we do things out of our own will and not because we are forced to!

Fourth: When our youth volunteer their time for good causes, it will look good on their resume, bring social issues close to their hearts (soften the hearts), make them realize how much they are blessed with what they have and prevent them from engaging in any destructive activities that could be the source of much of anxiety and thus more stress and new problems.

Simply put, when we help others, we will be more grateful to God for the blessings that we have received from Him!

And when we acknowledge the blessings that we have and use these blessings to help others, we actually are helping ourselves the most!

That is the reason why the Prophet (S) – our role-model – reminded us of the virtue of contributing to others and benefiting them (being the best of people) when he (S) said, as narrated by Jabir (r): “The best of people are those who are most beneficial to people.” (At Tabarani, Al Mu’jamul Awsat)

عَنْ جَابِرٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَخَيْرُ النَّاسِ أَنْفَعُهُمْ لِلنَّاسِ

Let me conclude this post by inviting all of you who would like to volunteer with Sadaqa Food Bank in Ottawa since they are in a dire need of volunteers during this challenging time.

Please connect with them if you have some time and would like to use it constructively, help others and gain many short-term and long-term benefits!

Their hours of operation of the Nepean Location: 9am – 12:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday

The Phone # of Sadaqa Food Bank Phone Number is 613-225-0909

The address is: 174 Colonnade Road Unit 34, Ottawa, ON, K2E 7J5

And their email is:

Ya Rabb! Help us realize that when we assist others in their needs that You will assist us in our needs…and help us realize that when we help others, we are actually helping ourselves!

Allahumma Amin!