There is no doubt in the fact that Islam guides in all phases and facets of a human’s life because Islam is a comprehensive religion. This is why Allah, the Almighty, mentions in the Qur’ān:
“Today, I have perfected your religion for you.”Quran Surah Al-Ma’idah Verse 3
This bears witness to the fact that Islam is a global religion, a religion in which the rulings and judgments are enough for the guidance of humanity until the day of resurrection; whether the rulings relate to acts of worship and beliefs, or social dealings and business transactions, or trade and industry, or government and politics, or any other field.
When we look at social dealings, social etiquettes, social welfare and the quality of humanity, Islam advises us in abundance. For example, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) says:
“…The best of people are those who are the most beneficial to people.”al-Mu’jam al-Awsat
He also mentions:
“All created beings are Allah’s dependents, and the most beloved of people to Allah are the ones who are good to His (Allah’s) dependents.”al-Mu’jam al-Awsat
The above narrations are sufficient to highlight the virtue and importance Islam places on helping everyone and everything around us, to such an extent that it is from amongst the principal values of Islam.
Islam also makes particular mention of a Muslim’s social responsibility to help people locally. In this regard, Allah, the Almighty, mentions in the Qur’ān:
“And worship Allah and do not associate with him anything and be good to parents and to kinsmen and orphans and the needy and the close neighbour and the distant neighbour and the companion at your side and the wayfarer and those owned by you. Surely Allah does not like those that are arrogant and proud.Qur’an Surah An-Nisa Verse 36
Commentating on the above verse, the exegetes of the Qur’ān state that a “close neighbour” is one who lives next to your house and a “distant neighbour” is one who lives at some distance from it.
The above verse of the Qur’ān draws our attention to the fact that a neighbour, close or distant, has the essential right to be helped and cared for to the best of one’s ability. This is direct guidance to us, as Muslims, on our social responsibility to help people locally.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) states:
“The Upper hand is better than the lower hand (the giving hand is better than the receiving hand) and begin charity with those who are under your care…”Bukhari
The above narration brings to the fore that we ought to be charitable and helpful to those that are under our care. This can without doubt encompass everyone in the world. However, this narration informs us of the degree of preference to be charitable and helpful to those that are close and local to us; family, friends, local neighbours, colleagues etc., as these are the people we owe a specific duty of care to, due to our closeness to them and coming in contact with them regularly.
It is clear from the above that Islam underlines the virtue and importance of being beneficial and helpful to all of creation. Stemming from this, Islam also focuses our attention on the social responsibility upon us to help those that are local to us. As the famous saying states, “charity begins at home”.
There are many ways to help those that are local to us. Liverpool Muslim Outreach Society (LMOS) is an impressive practical example in this regard, demonstrating through their various methods how this social duty of ours should be discharged by helping the people in our localities. I have had the honour of working with LMOS for a considerable amount of time. Hereunder are some of the ways they assist locally:
- Homeless Feed: LMOS volunteers regularly complete a three-mile walk around Liverpool city centre handing out hot food and much-needed items.
- Litter-picking: LMOS volunteers regularly work with various local groups to litter-pick and keep the city tidy.
- Clothes Donations: LMOS volunteers collect good quality used clothes and donate them to worthy causes around the city.
- Food bank Donation: LMOS volunteers make regular donations to help and support the city food banks.
- Inter-Faith Dialogue: LMOS volunteers participate in multi-faith platforms and support local mosques on open days.
- Refugee Aid: LMOS volunteers visit different dedicated refugee sites in Liverpool every week and they deliver aid to a substantial number of refugees. From amongst the aid that is delivered, some of the items are; food (chicken, vegetables, fruit, crisps and chocolates) clothes, shoes/trainers, toys for children, and household items.