At times we tend to overlook the emphasis that the Islamic faith has on charity and helping those in need, irrespective of their race, gender or religion. Islam is a religion in which one of the fundamental pillars is that of Zakat – giving charity to the needy. Ours is a religion which rewards a person for simply embracing an orphan with love.
"Salam brother! Salam sister! How are you? May Allah bless you!" As part of Islamic culture, we Muslims pretty much consider everyone our family. We have dozens of siblings, not to mention the hundreds if not thousands of uncles and aunties. It's great having Muslim friends when you can pop in around Fajr, borrow some dates in Ramadan, drop by for tea, and not be turned away a single time. Sure, it all seems very nice and perfect, everyone caring for each other, but are we forgetting our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world? Is it true that we are only "caring" if it is to our own mutual convenience? Think about it: when was the last time that you thought about helping others in desperate need, Muslims and non-Muslims alike? Now there are those few brave souls who truly soldier on in the light of helping others, but the truth is that the majority of us are not doing anything as we, the "fortunate ones", are increasingly being consumed by our own busy lives and what is important to us.
With work, education, leisure time, friends, and parties, we are lucky if we can fit in time for the family, let alone the rest of the world. At times we live through days, months, even years without actively doing anything for those billions of people waiting for our help in order to simply survive another day or week. Our fellow brothers and sisters are suffering from malnutrition and do not have the abundance of clean drinking water, a commodity which we often tend to take for granted. Yet we continue to sit back in our comfortable homes either doing nothing or a minimal amount for those who await our much needed assistance. The question is: why?
At times we tend to overlook the emphasis that the Islamic faith has on charity and helping those in need, irrespective of their race, gender or religion. Islam is a religion in which one of the fundamental pillars is that of Zakat – giving charity to the needy. Ours is a religion which rewards a person for simply embracing an orphan with love. It is a faith which has made it compulsory upon its followers to feed the poor and assist the needy. Indeed, our Prophet and Imams (peace be upon them) would go hungry simply to satisfy the hunger of the less fortunate.
Now, being generous doesn't necessarily require you to empty your bank balance out in the name of charity, as we often tend to think. But what we should be doing is at least attempting to create awareness for those brothers and sisters in much need and conduct fundraising and donation collection events within the local community. Volunteering and simply facilitating others getting their donations across to those who need it is a type of charity in itself. But this is usually the stage where we turn our backs and open our minds to thoughts along the lines of "one person isn't going to make a difference," "Somebody else can do it," and "I'm sure they will find someone else." The truth is that while most of us are simply lazy, and our laziness in fact equates to selfishness, which is in effect putting a hold on saving lives.
Feeding the poor may just save someone from starvation, supplying medication may just cure someone from a life-threatening disease, and providing shelter may just give young children an escape from the rough weather conditions experienced in third world nations. As the Qur'an reminds us, "He who saves one soul is as if he has saved all of humanity." (5:32)
The next time it comes to donating, and you think "I would give, but I'm not rich," think about how blessed you are. Statistics show that if you have a refrigerator, closet, bed, and home to live in, you are wealthier than 75 percent of the world. Although we often measure our wealth based on materialistic items, the true richness is that of the heart. If you have ever wanted to strengthen your faith and become a more "religious" person as we often say, don't leave it until you hit the later stages of life. Do it now, and you can do so by giving charity.
It's about time we stop running away from reality, and that reality is that each and every single one of us can make a difference. Rome wasn't built in one day, nor are we expected to display superhero skills and save every displaced individual overnight. But what we can do is try and work together towards a positive global cause. For the sake of humanity and for the sake of Islam, break through those invisible ropes keeping you down and step up and make a difference to the world. Soon you will see the results of your efforts, and Insha'Allah, along with many others, you will continue to soldier on towards saving humanity.