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Service Begins At Home

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Serving the creations of God should be made a compulsory subject in every school and college and students must have practical sessions on this.

There is an opportunity to serve, every day, everywhere!

By Haris F. Farooqui
There is a famous saying in Urdu, which says Ibaadat sey jannat milti hai, khidmat sey Khuda milta hai. It translates as ‘Through worship one obtains Paradise. Through service one obtains God.’ I tried searching the Internet to find out the source of this phrase but could not find it. But I did find a lot of writings about serving. The person who serves others with the right intention is also considered by God to be in a state of worship.
Serving the creations of God does not only mean serving through parting with money. There are so many things that you can give other than money in order to serve others. Every day, people around us, and society as a whole, face a lot of problems. You can serve them by addressing some of those problems. Service to humanity has many different forms. Each individual has their style of thinking and their own perspectives, based on which they can serve and help others.
Even so-called small acts of kindness directed towards others can be service. To give your seat in a bus, to an old person is service. To help a visually-challenged person cross the road is service. To remove an obstruction from a road is service. To educate the uneducated is service. To help people get clarity about an important issue is service. To truthfully advise those who ask for your advice is service; To help people with directions when they are in a new place is a service. To teach a useful skill to someone is a service. To feed animals and birds is a service. To feed a hungry person is a service. To water a thirsty plant is a service. To smile at and speak to someone when they are depressed is a service.
When I was at school, I noticed a general atmosphere of each student being pushed to try to be ‘Number 1’. If somebody came out as ‘Number 2’ the only question he/she would be asked by both parents and teachers would be: “Who is No. 1? What did he/she do to become Number 1? Don’t say sorry, try harder next time!”
Back then, my teachers used to call this ‘healthy competition’, but now the people around me call it cut-throat competition! I actually see the same competition going around me all the time. We are always focused on competing with each other and trying to become ‘Number 1’, and not Number 2. We seem to think that only one person can be Number 1 and that two or more people can never share the same position. One’s success or failure is measured in comparison with a neighbour’s success or failure. We have lost our humanity, and our only context has become to compete with each other. Things have fallen to such depths that, sometimes, winning is seen as making sure others fail!
Once the context of service is lost, we become animals, fiercely competing with each other. And when that happens we lose complete sight of the purpose of human life, the purpose God created us for.
Serving the creations of God should be made a compulsory subject in every school and college. Students must have practical sessions on these, just like they have practical sessions for their science classes. Serving also does not have to be done only by an NGO. Rather, each person, in their individual capacity, can and should serve others.
It is common to have to face challenges while serving others. God will definitely test us if we are true in our claims of belief. The crux here is to not drop out. We must be tolerant of other people’s mistakes and take precautions for not just ours but other’s mistakes as well. Conflicts may arise while we serve people. There will be misunderstandings, miscommunication and difficult situations, but a believer is always patient and persistent in his quest to please God.
As the old saying goes, ‘Charity begins at home’. I believe the same about service. Service begins at home. It starts right with our parents, our siblings, our home-help, our cousins, our extended family, our spouses, children, our neighbors, the religious places that we pray in, the roads we take to our workplaces, the places where we work, our offices, shops, markets and all the people we meet. There is an opportunity to serve, every day, everywhere!
(Haris Farooqi is a Bangalore based freelance writer and can be reached at [email protected])