Concept of service in Islam—II
By Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi
Islam consists of three elements: System of beliefs, worship and social relations. To some extent Muslims take care of belief system though there is much to be done in order to educate people on the niceties of belief. There is much to be done to correct the aberrations about Tawhid, the status of the Prophethood vis-a-vis Tawhid as some innovative elements have crept in to it which tend to dilute the pure concept of Tawhid, as had also happened with the earlier nations endowed with scriptures like Jews and Christians.
As far as worship is concerned there is some understanding which has been disseminated among the people about it, but at times there is exaggeration about voluntary prayers and these have been extolled at the cost of obligatory ones sometimes. But the most neglected aspect of Islam is about worldly affairs like social relations. We have miserably failed in this regard and have not discussed this dimension of Islam in an elaborative manner. We are negligent of the worldly affairs of Muslims what to say about caring for affairs of other communities. The fact of the matter is that in present day conflicting and volatile situations mostly Muslims are affected much more than any other community worldwide. But how many Muslim NGOs or International organisations are working for the redressal of the miseries of Muslims. Rather we depend on other world organisations for assistance during these crises.
The case of Kashmir is in point. In Kashmir, we have more than two lakh orphans and about 30 thousand widows, but we do not have any arrangement for their proper rehabilitation as we do not have Bait-ul- mal (Revenue and financial institutions of Muslim community) at our villages and cities in sufficient numbers. The pathetic conditions of our widows and orphans invite us to revisit the prophetic legacy in social service. We need to understand how the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) changed the social fabric of the society and brought a revolution in the moribund conditions of marginalised sections of society.
When we are facing this uncomfortable question: Does Islam only create problems without any solutions? Here too the life of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) provides the best answer. The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was a perfect model of social service.
We present Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) before the world as a devoted person so far as worship of Allah is concerned, but we hardly care to show the status of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) as one of the pioneering personalities to initiate the philanthropic culture not only in Arab context but in the world context. He was a social reformer though but being a prophet was his real status. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) being a great social reformer is such a dimension of his character that was glaringly present in him even before declaration of his Prophethood. He was one of the important pioneers Half-i-Fuzul organization, which supported by the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) in Mecca, which consisted of young people, Muslim as well as others, to help the poor and the needy.
This shows that Muslims, who regard the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) as their perfect model, must help the poor and the suffering people all over world and that for this they can cooperate with people of goodwill from other communities.
The first revelation on Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was such an experience for him in the cave of Hira in Mecca when he was face to face with Hazrat Jibrail (AS). Bukhari mentions about this episode in following words: “Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the inspiration and his heart beating was severe. Then he went to Khadijah (RA) and said: “Cover me. Cover me. She covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that happened and said: I fear that something may happen to me”. Khadijah (RA) responded by saying: “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity afflicted ones,” (Bukhari). This hadith shows us that the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was a perfect example of social service before even he was adorned with prophethood, none else than Khadijah (RA), the wife of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) stands witness to this episode.
This hadith defines all the contours of social service and also indicates that a person who serves people never gets doomed. My mentor used to say that why the west and European countries, despite their immorality and aggrandizement and oppression do not vanish is because they help the poor and destitute and assist people afflicted by worst natural calamities and affected by the atrocities perpetuated by men. But in the life and prophetic career of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) we find the best examples of care he took of the deprived. The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) has encouraged Muslims to help their brethren who are in distress.
The orphans are to be taken care of at any cost and the rewards of this pious activity are tremendous. Abu Hurairah (RA) reported: Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “He who takes care of an orphan, whether he is his relative or a stranger, will be in Jannah with me like these two.” The narrator, Malik bin Anas raised his forefinger and middle finger for illustration, (Muslim).
In the same way the poor and widows need to be protected by Muslims and this effort has been elevated, and equated to struggle in the way of Allah. Abu Hurairah (May Allah Be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (SAW) said, “One who strives to help the widows and the poor is like the one who fights in the way of Allah.” The narrator said: I think that he (SAW) added also: “I shall regard him as the one who stands up (for prayer) without rest and as the one who observes fasts continuously,” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Finally the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) has laid much emphasis on the duties and responsibilities of the Muslims towards women and orphans in this very instructive hadith: Abu Shuraih Khuwailid bin `Amr Al-Khuza`i (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (SAW) said, “O Allah, I declare inviolable the rights of two weak ones: the orphans and women,” (An-Nasa'i).
Thus Islam is for the solution of the problems and is not the part of the problem. The best example of this solution oriented approach of Islam can be envisaged in the Quranic injections which came after the Battle of Ahud wherein about 70 companions of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) were martyred. Since Muslims of our period have become oblivious of these pristine social teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and his precepts our situation is best depicted by this saying of the most renowned Sufi Junaid Baghdadi (RA) because we are always waiting that people should serve us rather if we cultivate the tendency to help others we can find many avenues.
A man in Junaid presence said, “In these days brothers in the faith have become few and far to find.” Juniad responded by saying, “If you are looking for someone to bear your burden, such men are indeed few and far to find. But if you are seeking to carry somebody's load, such brothers are to be found in plenty with me.”
Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi is Former Director of Shah-i-Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Kashmir and can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org