Muslims and Charity
Zakat: What is your definition of the third Pillar of Islam? We might often assume it means money alone, but it is important to note that charity can take multiple forms.
Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari: The Prophet said, ‘On every Muslim there is enjoined (a compulsory) sadaqa (alms).’ They (the people) said, ‘If one has nothing?’ He said, ‘He should work with his hands so that he may benefit himself and give in charity.’ They said, ‘If he cannot work or does not work?’ He said, ‘Then he should help the oppressed unhappy person (by word or action or both).’ They said, ‘If he does not do it?’ He said, ‘Then he should enjoin what is good (or said what is reasonable).’ They said, ‘If he does not do that?’ He said, ‘Then he should refrain from doing evil, for that will be considered for Him as a Sadaqa (charity)’ (Sahih al Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 73, Hadith 51).
It is clear from this hadith that volunteering can form a large part of our charity. So, instead of throwing money at any given cause, why not throw yourself into it? Give charity the Productive Muslim way!
I’m Too Busy
There are so many distractions in our lives nowadays – TV, internet, video games – all of which, in the long run, are of no benefit to us. Now, take a look at how you spend your time during the week, and I am pretty sure you’ll find some time you could use for volunteering.
Two considerations to make are:
1. In Person or Online: decide which is likely to fit in better with your lifestyle.
2. Short-term or Long-term: from days to months to years – YOU decide!
3 Reasons Why You Should be Volunteering
- Invest in your Deen
Rather than something that takes seconds like donating money, invest your time. Remember: you get out of it what you put in.
- Be the change you wish to see
What are you waiting for? Rather than wondering where your money went after you clicked the Donate button, the results are in front of you.
- Social Productivity
Get out there and prove by example what being a Productive Muslim is about. (See Productive Muslim Newsletter for more on Social Productivity).
How to Get Started
Now you know why you should be volunteering you’re probably wondering how you can get started. Here are some tips to get you started along the right track:
1. Ask yourself: What am I passionate about?
This is perhaps the most important step. Just as you research where your money should go, do the same for your time. Your volunteering is likely to be more productive if you really care about the cause. Organizations are looking for passionate volunteers, not bored ones! If you have children, why not get the family involved and dedicate time to a project together? Not only does it teach by example, it can be your bonding time.
2. What am I good at?
Make a list of where your strengths lie. For your volunteering to be productive, you need to know what skills you can offer.
3. Search for opportunities
Great – now you’ve found your niche, you need to find the perfect match for your skills and availability.
If you want to volunteer locally, your local community is likely to have a volunteer service which can provide information. Ask around at the masjid or do a trusty internet search. Is there is a specific organization you want to volunteer for? Check their website for opportunities.
This can be a very quick way to start volunteering. Again, if there is a specific organization you have in mind then check their website to see if they accept online volunteers. A sure-fire way to get a relevant online volunteer role is by visiting www.onlinevolunteering.org. This is a good portal to match your skills to the needs of organizations. I found my first major volunteer role on this site and haven’t looked back since.
If you have more time to spare and fewer commitments, then this is for you. If you’re already in the country then ask around – hostels and tourist information centres can provide information on local roles.
Alternatively, you can research before you go and arrange what you will be doing once you arrive. Before you go, make sure you and the organization are clear on what is included (or not). Some key questions are: Do you have to pay to volunteer? (I’d personally steer clear of those roles where you do – there are plenty of opportunities out there where giving your time is not a money-driven business). Is accommodation/food provided? Each organization is different so it is important to check these details.
Feel Good Factor
It’s as simple as that. Follow the steps and you’re ready to volunteer. Once you start volunteering, the feeling of giving is greater than donating money alone. After all, the best things in life are free.
Do you channel your productivity into volunteering? Have any tips for productive volunteering? Share your story with other Productive Muslims by commenting below.