Finding a Way
By Zohra Waza
“Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death”
(Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim)
The above hadith is extremely well known and contains a great number of lessons. The essence of this hadith refers to the concept of seizing every opportunity possible to please Allah (SWT) so that we may reap the rewards in the hereafter, Insha’Allah. The idea of doing as much good as possible is also echoed in many traditions and can be seen to be implemented through the lives of many scholars and distinguished Islamic personalities. For many people, this hadith is taken as a reminder to do more ibadah, by means of praying extra nawaafil salaahs, seeking knowledge and reading Qur’aan. But we sometimes fail to remember that Islam is a great religion, one where even the smallest act can count as ibadah. In this great religion, giving half a date in charity could save a person from eternal hellfire, and even a simple smile is sadaqah. The amount of good we could do and the rewards we could reap are infinite.
Here in the UK, we are lucky to be blessed with the above five things in abundance. Yet we seem to only think about ourselves when utilising these things. We study hard while we are young seeking to earn more wealth, and spend our time in pointless pursuits such as gaming and watching TV. We like to have as much fun as we can, thinking that life is short. You see, for so many of us, we use these things only to our own advantage and for the sake of self-gratification. We are extremely lucky, and for this we should give thanks. And what better way to give thanks than to utilise the gifts Allah (SWT) has given us to help those who are less fortunate?
Our youth: While we are young, we are strong and active, we have fewer commitments. We should all try to volunteer to help the needy. Everyone has skill sets and particular areas and if a person searches hard enough, they will always find a way to use their skills for the sake of Allah.
Our health: We are in good health compared to those in many other countries and we should thank Allah (SWT) for this ni’mat by helping those who are weak.
Our time: There is no end to after-school and weekend initiatives where people can get involved to make a difference to their community.
Your wealth: When one gives their wealth in the path of Allah, their wealth does not decrease. Rather, the so called investment is returned a million times over in ways that only Allah (SWT) can perceive. This is the kindness of our Lord. Also, it is important to remember that even if a person has a small amount of money and does not exactly conform to the modern definition of “wealthy”, it is sincerity that Allah (SWT) sees over and above all other things. So give even if it a little but with sincerity.
Your life: We live, and we die. This is certain. On the Day of Judgment, when we are all standing before Allah (SWT), we will have to account for the above four things. We are all sinful slaves, nobody is perfect. But we should hope for the mercy of Allah (SWT), and at the same time, seek to do what good we can with the gifts we have been given. This life is the only chance we have, and so we should use it wisely.
“None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” (Related by Bukhari and Muslim)
While we live comfortable lives, reclining in the lap of luxury, it is unfair that so many of our fellow ummatis suffer and live in poverty. However, our sense of duty in helping people should not only be restricted to Muslim people and strictly Muslim charities. Being grateful for the favours we have been given by our Creator is an extremely important part of being a Muslim, and we should count ourselves lucky that we are surrounded by secular charities who can also help us. I know of Muslims who have been afflicted with cancer and have been helped immensely by charities such as Cancer Research and Macmillan. We should support all charities but the likes of Cancer Research and Macmillan should also be supported as there is no equivalent Muslim organisation.
Always remember that Allah (SWT) looks at our deeds, but in Islam our intention is what takes precedence. Therefore the end result is of less significance. Yes, to help a fellow Muslim may earn you their du’aas and sadaqah jaariah, but in the end what matters is your sincerity. There are charities that do all sorts of things, from helping the elderly learn to use iPads, to volunteering on hospital wards. For many of us, these are the only opportunities we will get to fulfil the rights of Allah’s creation by looking after the sick, old and the poor.
Arguably, doing charity work (within halal boundaries of activity) is even more valuable, as it presents an opportunity for da’wah. With so much negativity surrounding our faith, we should be willing to show the non-Muslims a whole new side to our deen. This is the side that our beloved Nabi (SAW) displayed at every moment of his life, the compassionate side. Think of the incident where Nabi (SAW) offered to help an old lady carry her bags home. She spent the whole journey warning him of the bad man called Muhammad who was breaking up families and turning people away from the religion of her forefathers. Our Nabi (SAW) simply listened and at the end of the journey the lady asked his name, as he had been so polite and kind. When he said “Muhammad”, the lady embraced Islam on the spot. So in the same way, we can aspire to assist others, so when a non-Muslim hears a negative view on Islam, they may instead think about the kindness of that one Muslim man or woman who supported them at their time of need.
With Ramadan coming up, and the long fasts ahead of us, our preoccupation tends to be to pass time. So why not “pass time” by volunteering. Our day will go by quicker, and while it does, we will be earning 70 times the reward! There are no losers here at all.
It is sad that so many people need our help. A simple look at the news on any given day will give us a new list of people who are suffering, be it from poverty, natural disasters or violence. But the good news is that we can do things for them. Even if it is not through volunteering, we should always remember that Allah has given us a way in every situation. So the least we can do is make du’aa for our brothers and sisters and pray a simple two rakaat nafl. On the Day of Judgement, everything we do will be accounted for, every minute will be scrutinised. So we should certainly make sure that we have some good answers to give, Insha’Allah.