Whenever someone was in need, Imam Hassan would give them whatever he had before they even voiced their concerns. He was so generous towards others that during his lifetime he gave away half of his possessions and wealth at least three times, and he gave it all away at least twice. When he had nothing left to give, he then worked for others, not considering manual labor to be beneath him.
In this age of information, we cannot deny our knowledge of what is going on in the local and global communities. After watching a news report about orphans in war-torn countries or reading about a local fundraiser for the less fortunate, what do we do? Rather than just praying for the reappearance of the final Imam (peace be upon him) and then not giving the issue another thought, let us pray whilst also striving to make the effort to help the people around us.
Our Imams (peace be upon them) serve as infallible examples of caring for the creations of Allah, and we must strive to be like them. Whenever an Imam passed away, the next one would continue the tradition of carrying a weighty package of food for the less fortunate, concealed in the dark of the night. We may not be able to imitate their actions in every aspect, but the point of their tradition was to help others and to do so without making a show of it.
As with all our actions, there are two components to helping someone: the help itself, and the helper’s intention. The best way is to help someone secretly, thereby closing the doors of arrogance upon Shaytan. If there is no audience to cheer us on for helping someone in need, we are much less likely to have selfish intentions and more likely to be doing it purely for the sake of Allah.
As for the help itself, there is so much that we can do! Donating food, clothing, money and basic living necessities, making visits, offering our services and raising awareness are just a few of the many ways in which we can assist. In the likeness of his grandfather, Imam Hassan Al-Mujtaba (peace be upon him), the 2nd holy Imam, wonderfully showed us how to help others in whichever way possible. After a Syrian man disrespected the Imam, the Imam gave a response that evoked a great change in the person: “I suppose that you are a stranger in this city and something has led you in error. If you have a request from me, ask us to provide it. If you ask for guidance from us, we will guide and advise you; if you are hungry, we will feed you; if you are bare, we will clothe you; if you are in need, we will fulfill your need; if you have been driven away from elsewhere, we will shelter you; if you want anything, say so we make it available for you. If you bring your luggage to our house and remain as our guest till the time you are in this city, this will be better for you.” (Muntaha al-Amal)
Whenever someone was in need, Imam Hassan would give them whatever he had before they even voiced their concerns. He was so generous towards others that during his lifetime he gave away half of his possessions and wealth at least three times, and he gave it all away at least twice. When he had nothing left to give, he then worked for others, not considering manual labor to be beneath him. His humbleness and grace is what we must remember when we help in cleaning the mosque, taking care of a disabled elderly who has no relatives or when cooking Iftar for a family barely surviving on welfare.
The Imam advised us to not wait to be asked for help as this may humiliate the individual in need, and about our behavior when we endeavor to help others. Kindness is of utmost importance because nothing is accomplished if we volunteer our services in a condescending manner. Indeed Imam Hassan has said, “As for him whom you give after the request, you give him after he has lost face. He may spend his night restless and sleepless. He rocks between despair and hope. He does not know whether he will face a sad answer or a glad success. He comes to you while he shakes all over and his heart is afraid (of you). Then if you met his need through losing face, that (losing face) would be greater [in humiliation] than what he has obtained from your favor.” (Sulh al-Hassan)
Let’s take the initiative and help others to the best of our abilities – locally and internationally – before they have to request it. There are always local food banks and shelters requiring help. There are campaigns which work to help in areas hit by pandemics or natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti and the current floods in Pakistan. As well, there are many organizations that run all year long, constantly working to provide food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care for the less fortunate around the world. We cannot use the feeble excuse of not knowing who in particular is in need of help.
When someone is in need, don’t sit back and think, “There are so many people who could help them – why should I bother?” It may just be that Almighty Allah has chosen you as the channel to deliver His blessings to the one in need. Concisely and powerfully, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) said, “Whosoever wakes up in the morning and is indifferent of the affairs of Muslims is not among them [the Muslims], and whosoever hears a man call, ‘O Muslims [come to my rescue!],’ but does not respond to him is not a Muslim.” (al-Kafi)
Surely we want to be counted as Muslims?
Suggested List of Charities