Haqooq ul Allah (Rights of Allah) includes salah, fasting, zakaath, haj etc. Haqooq ul Ibaad is the duty we owe to our fellow human beings. Haqooq ul Ibaad is also an important requirement in the life of Muslims. Haqooq ul Ibaad includes rights of orphans, rights of neighbours, rights of husband on wife, rights of wife on husband, rights of children on parents, rights of parents on children, rights of inheritors, rights of students on teachers, rights of teachers on students, rights of relatives, right of guest over the host, right of host over guest, right of animals on us, rights of employees over the employer, rights of the employer over employee, rights of friends on us, rights of customer over business owner, right of the environment on us and so on. Ulema tells us that on the Day of Judgement, our failings of haqooq ul Ibaad will not be forgiven until and unless that person forgives us whose rights we violated.
Quite often we repeat the famous saying “Service to humanity is service to God”, but fail to adopt it in our own lives, barring exceptions of course. A lyricist Javed Anwar has very well ventilated these thoughts thus:
Apne liye jiye to kya jiye,
Tu ji aye dil zamane ke liye.
You do social service and then watch the results. You can bring smiles to the faces of those whom you have helped, joy in their hearts, and regard for you. More than anything, this gives you that inner satisfaction that nothing else can give. Don’t we feel that feeding a starving person gives greater happiness than eating the food ourselves? Men and women are measured by what they do, not by what they possess.
Social Work and Social Service
Social work is done as a profession by a social worker who possesses an academic degree in the field of social work and aims to improve the quality of life and the well-being of people, especially those who are in distress. Social service means the social welfare activity done individually or collectively by governments or organizations without the purpose of making a profit. Islam teaches us that we should strive to relieve the pain and suffering of mankind and serve the people which is termed “Khidmat e Khalq”.
The essential feature of Social Service is that one should help others without expecting any reward or benefit. Quite often we notice that people do small things and are eager to post the same on social media. My grandmother used to tell: “Neki kar, dariya mein daal”. Now it is: “Neki kar, WhatsApp mein daal”. Getting garlanded in a function and having a photograph published in the next day’s newspaper has become an obsession for many. Taking mileage from such good works may deprive us of the benefits of Aaqira. Of course, a little bit of publicity may be necessary for the institutions to make people aware of what the organization is doing and make others join them in the beneficial works and also for taking the projects forward.
What to Do? How to Do?
Many responsible young men and women approach me saying that they want to do social service but do not know what to do. Many of them are young professionals who have succeeded in their careers and have a passion to serve the community and society. What could be more tragic than this is that the community is not able to utilize their youthful energy, their enthusiasm, and their professional expertise. The Waqf institutions are dominated by a group of persons who know the art of holding on to power for years together shut the doors on anyone outside their coterie. Many of the Trusts and Societies formed by the community are full of aged and retired persons. After the death of the visionary founder members, the organization shows signs of regression. This happens because there is no blend of elders and youngsters in most of our institutions. There is a need to infuse young blood in our organizations at frequent intervals, while at the same time retaining the old guard to fulfill the objectives of the institution.
Social Service by Individuals
Youngsters who wish to do community service may join a good NGO or an Association and give a helping hand in furthering the goals of the organization. Organizations are best suited to work on major projects and bigger objectives since they will get inputs from their members and the tasks are executed with a collective effort. But there is much that can be done individually too. There are people with a burning desire to do something for the community but are hesitant to work in an organization. The reason could be lack of time, family or professional compulsions, health reasons, a distant place of residence, or an introverted nature. There is no need for such men and women to be disheartened since they can do a lot by themselves. Here are a few suggestions which are by no means exhaustive:
You can finance the education of a bright student from a poor family. The assistance should not just be restricted to the fees, but should also include expenses on books, uniforms, etc. This kind of assistance is far superior in contrast to organizations distributing Rs.2,000 to hundreds of students, which is just a token of help.
One of my friends in Mysore has an unofficial understanding with a hospital. Whenever the hospital comes across a destitute patient who is not able to pay the hospital’s in-patient bill, they give the information to him. Our good Samaritan arranges funds and clears the bill. They also inform him about unclaimed bodies, and he promptly arranges for their decent burial.
Another friend of mine goes to the jail on the two Eid days, conducts Eid namaz for the jail inmates, and distributes fruits. This he has been doing for almost two decades. An autorickshaw driver gives a free lift to patients and pregnant ladies who must be rushed to the hospital.
The educational expenses of a maidservant’s child could be taken care of, thus saving the child from becoming a dropout. Help a poor family to meet the marriage expenses of their daughter. Reach out to a poor sick person who must undergo an operation and contribute your mite. Contribute liberally to Baitul Maal, Orphanage, Old age home, and such other organizations. There are umpteen ways in which you can help the poor and needy at the individual level. Not being a member of a social service organization should not deter you from community service and from being a useful member of society.
Islam laid the foundation of social service by creating the system of payment of zakat which makes it obligatory on every Muslim who has the means to contribute a fixed amount from his savings to the poor and downtrodden. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) institutionalized the concept of zakat by channelizing it through the Baitul Maal established by him. But the spirit behind all these endeavors is exemplified by the saying of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that “Even a kind word to a beggar is also an act of charity”.