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Volunteering: Are We Doing Enough?

Are we part of the larger picture of humanity? With the increasing amount of educated, experienced and skilled Muslims in the world, we must begin to plan, organize and execute humanitarian and volunteer efforts as much as we can. Delegating and trusting our brothers and sisters is an important factor in doing so. We see many of our centers with programs and finance committees, but what are we doing in our communities to be a part of the larger, global picture of humanity?

Are we part of the larger picture of humanity? In recent years we have seen a boom in volunteer efforts in our Islamic communities. Whether they are fundraiser events for natural disaster relief efforts, clothing or food drives or even a street clean-up, the efforts unfortunately seem too seldom and too far apart.

Another thing we notice is that the age of those organizing, planning and participating in these events range from teenagers to around age 30, with exceptions of course. Yet volunteering, especially to promote a positive image of Islam, is important to be done by the community as a whole. I remember doing a community-wide “adopt-a-block”, or street clean-up, in which grandparents, parents, youth and little children were helping. It was a great experience because everyone was working together and getting the job done.

Another extreme we see are events being planned, organized and executed only by elders, involving few youth and younger community members. Unfortunately, this disengages our future leaders from learning the process and what it takes to put together such events, and realizing their importance.

If we look around at surrounding churches, we see a lot of activity that involves all members, such as soup kitchens or homeless shelters. A task for all age groups should be assigned, getting the entire community involved. If it is not feasible to have a permanent one up and running under the names of our centers, perhaps holding a portable soup kitchen once a month is more do-able.

Natural disasters come at their time, but it is not only then that the poor around the world lack clothing, food and shelter. Unfortunately, their conditions will only improve when long-term programs and aide are provided throughout the whole year.

Alhamdulillah, many communities have begun a weekly food distribution program to the poor around their cities – both healthy and Halal food! Along with those meals, a nice pamphlet of information or where to go for help is also given. Although a great effort, it is just one of many things we are very capable of doing. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”

Our centers have fallen behind in humanitarian aid efforts, especially with current situations around the world. It seems we are not able to organize ourselves in order to form a strong, uniform group to aid those being oppressed and living in extreme conditions such as poverty. We find our centers teaming up with Red Cross or other blood donation organizations. It is indeed good to work with others to achieve a positive outcome, but as followers of Islam let’s also bear in mind that in leading the world in both behavior and actions, we should be number one.

With the increasing amount of educated, experienced and skilled Muslims in the world, we must begin to plan, organize and execute humanitarian and volunteer efforts as much as we can. Delegating and trusting our brothers and sisters is an important factor in doing so. We see many of our centers with programs and finance committees, but what are we doing in our communities to be a part of the larger, global picture of humanity?

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One comment

  1. It is easy to get caught up in our personal lives, especially in America because of the fast-paced, busy atmosphere. Mobilizing a community is challenging but with the right leaders, one person can inspire a group of people to get up and take action. We see it in our Islamic history. I suggest finding that ‘one’ person and starting a volunteering community. Also, I believe that giving time is more valuable than giving money (depending on the cause). Instead of reaching in our pockets and simply writing a check, Muslim communities can strengthen their brotherhood and sisterhood by spending quality time together by helping those less fortunate whether it be building a house with Habitat for Humanity or spending time at a homeless shelter. It is with giving back to our communities (for some Muslims in America, a newly adopted community) which will prevent the spread of ‘Islamophobia’. Commitment to giving your time, skills, and knowledge for a selfless cause is priceless.

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