The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Whosoever removes a difficulty from a believer, Allah will remove from him a difficulty on the Day of Judgment. Whosoever comforts a destitute person, Allah will comfort him in this world and the next. Whoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in this world and the next. Allah will aid a servant (of His) so long as the servant aids his brother.”[Muslim]
And he also said:
“The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind.”[Daraqutni, Hasan]
These are just two examples of the hundreds of ahadith that directly cite the virtues of community service. Allah (swt) promises the Muslim Ummah that if we follow the teachings of Islam, we will reap the rewards in this life and the next. Public service is one of the essential ways that Islam accomplishes this goal. When we do good in our communities, we receive rewards in the next life, but we also directly improve the lives of our brothers and sisters by Allah’s will. That is why IOU, in the spirit of “changing the nation through education,” is now implementing a community service requirement.
While this requirement will, by Allah’s leave, result in major blessings for the IOU family, we can’t ignore that some students are displeased with the recent policy change. Here at IOU, we want you to know that we are here to help you every step of the way to make this a rewarding, enjoyable experience.
First, let’s talk about some of the immediate benefits of volunteer work. Your time will be spent more productively, your money will have more barakah in it, and you will feel good about yourself when you see the smiles on the faces of people you help. Just a few hours of your time can change the life of someone in need.
Seeing the positive impact of your work softens the heart, improving the quality of our ‘ibadah. We get the reward for helping a Muslim and we get the increased reward for better worship! When we do community service in person, we get even more reward because we smile at people and make them feel good, and “a smile is a sadaqah” [tirmidhi]
Whether you plan on using your degree to get a job in the Muslim community, become a da’ee, or simply for personal benefit, community service is a priceless component of your education. If you plan on using your degree for employment, community service will build your network so that when you need a job, you will easily find one, in sha’ Allah. If you plan on becoming a da’ee, by the time you finish, you will already be a da’ee. If you just want the degree for your own personal benefit, community service will protect you from ‘ilmun la yinfa’ (knowledge with no benefit, or knowledge that isn’t put to use. The reason that the children of Israel incurred the wrath of Allah!)
For those who are unfamiliar with community service and are having trouble figuring out where to start, here are some great ways to make your hours:
1 Call your local masjid and find out what projects already exist.
2 Call the local Islamic school and ask if they need regular volunteers to work as teacher aids, librarians, etc. (they do)
3 Visit sick Muslims in their homes and the hospital.
4 Give da’wah in hospitals, hospices, and prisons.
5 Find names of the elderly in the community that don’t have family and visit them, making sure they’re taken care of.
6 Start a charity drive to collect any need in your community (school supplies, food, household items, etc).
7 Start a class, or halaqah, using the knowledge you gain at IOU.
8 Teach quran using your tajweed skills to educate your brothers and sisters in proper pronunciation of the quran.
9 Invite new Muslims to your home and teach them to pray, wear hijab, and recite small surahs.
10 For banking, psychology, and business minors, offer counseling services to the community. Leave your number on the community bulletin board (be sure to add the word “free”) or tell your khateeb to announce your services after the jumu’ah prayer.
11 If you live on Mars and none of these options are open to you, IOU always has volunteer work that needs doing both online and on the ground.
However you manage to complete your hours, make sure to say bismillah before you start and ask Allah (swt) to keep your intentions pure. May Allah make this task easy on all of you and compensate us all for the work done for His sake on a scale beyond our imaginations!