Monday, June 21, 2010

A Call to Action.....

Many times we take for granted the beautiful way of life we call Islam. Even further we neglect the teachings of Islam we learn about in Islamic Saturday or Sunday schools or from our parents. We limit the teachings of Islam to the five pillars of Islam whenever someone asks us about what Islam is. Rather we need to stress and explain to others when asked about Islam the noble virtues, morals, ethics, and standards Islam challenges us to reach. Most of us have pretty much established at least a minimum out of the 5 pillars of Islam…so one must ask, what’s next?

Let’s look into one particular concept that Muslims today neglect: feeding the needy, taking care of the orphans and the poor. This is constantly mentioned in the Quran---for us to feed the hungry, aid the poor, etc. Yet rarely do we see our own communities fulfilling this commandment. Most Christian organizations and others are superseding Muslims in this completely. Have we forgotten our own commandments from our own holy book?

Alhamdullilah we have generous brothers and sisters who donate to causes, organizations, masaajid, etc. and there reward is certainly with Allah and we also have many college MSAers and others doing alot community service wise. However, what is needed even more by the Muslim community is action to change the condition of those around them. We need to go beyond just writing a check or giving a few dollars in the sadaqah box and feel satisfied that we have fulfilled some right. We need to stress the need for community service in our communities...we need to emphasize action. We must proactively seek to help those in need. Living in DC for four years taught me that as rich and powerful a nation as the US is poverty still exists in the very heart of the nation’s capital and very much so in our communities we live in. Unfortunately what I've seen is a lack of emphasis on community service and this has to change.

We often complain about the condition of Muslims in Palestine, Kashmir, Pakistan, etc. We get heated over atrocities, saddened over devastating natural disasters, and discouraged by the divisions of the Muslims. Yet are we truly doing anything to rectify our situation? Is it really truly enough to just go to the masjid, go home, eat and sleep? Have we become a people with no feelings for our own brothers and sisters---for those who are suffering? Have we become a people complacent with the world the way it is? Have we become comfortable in our houses and say “Oh that’s not us as long as we have our fridges stocked with food, cars, and homes, we’re fine”? Let us not be of those mentioned in Surah al-Maun:

1.Have you seen him who denies the Recompense? 2. That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly), 3. And urges not the feeding of AlMiskin (the poor)…
(Surah al-Maun: 1-3)

While we may not be able to reach out to our brothers and sisters overseas and comfort them and help them, we certainly have so many opportunities within our communities to benefit society. The concept we must follow is “think globally, act locally.” I used to tell friends of mine in DC that on the Day of Judgment it certainly would be scary to be short a few good deeds despite having so many right in front of our faces….literally the streets of downtown Washington, DC are full of homeless, hungry and poor individuals. Each homeless individual is a good deed waiting to be collected by a Muslim—if only we reached out and collected that good deed. Not only does this benefit you, but your act of kindness is an act of dawah in itself. Let us not limit our charitable deeds to not only Muslims, but everyone, because ultimately our reward is with Allah and we do not discriminate in our charitable deeds:

“We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.” (Al-Insan 76:9)

Imagine if we as Muslims were to go out in numbers we can only imagine and eradicate poverty, hunger, and other social ailments within our communities. Imagine the impact that could have on the image of Islam and Muslims in the world. We complain about how people perceive us, so let’s change it! Establish a Project Downtown (make sandwiches and bag lunches and go feed the homeless in your community), visit a homeless shelter, visit an assisted living home,support local refugee communities--- serve your community! And let us not make this a one-time done deal thing, do it consistently to really have an impact on the community around you.

This is not an unachievable goal, rather you need not look far, but Muslim communities are making large impacts in their communities around the US. Check out the UMMA Clinic in California a free healthcare clinic that serves 95% non-Muslims in the South LA area. Think of the impact of that act of kindness does for the image of Islam and Muslims. So let us not limit Islam to the five pillars of Islam---Islam is so much more and we are meant to be so much more and do much more than we are now.

Below are a few links to the projects/organizations I mentioned and a few others:

1) Summer Community Service Campaign (United We Serve: Muslim Americans Answer the Call---over 3,000 community service projects nationwide by Muslim organizations):

2) UMMA Clinic in LA:

3) Project Downtown: Orlando 090609,0,4707264.story

4) Project Hope: Atlanta (initiative to help refugees in Atlanta area):

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