Allah, Exalted is He, commends His servants, who volunteer, saying (which means):
“And whoever volunteers good – then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing.” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 158].
By His grace Allah has placed in some of His servants’ hands keys to good. He bestows upon them abundant bounties, which they seize to engage in acts of obedience and kindness. They are also gifted with good health, which they use in beneficial work, not to mention to pray to Allah and compete with each other in doing charity. The Almighty says (which means), “It is those who hasten to good deeds, and they outstrip [others] therein.” (Al-Quran, Surah Al-Mu’minun, verse 61].
Allah has created Man, granted him succession upon the earth and ordered him to be kind to each other. Adhering to this principle is considered as the best thing one can do in order to come closer to his Creator and succeed in this life and the next. On this matter Allah says (which means), “O you who have believed, bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and do good – that you may succeed.” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Haj, verse 77]. Scholars said that this verse refers to acts of good like comforting and sympathizing with the poor, spending, speaking goodly words, only to mention a few.
Voluntary work may involve any actions aiming at helping people meeting their needs or relieving their distress, whether this is physical or moral. Allah says, “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah . We wish not from you reward or gratitude.” [Al-Quran, Surah An-nas, verse 9].
This verse told the story of a group of generous people who gave food and offered help to others out of a desire to please Allah alone. So the Almighty knew of their intention and praised them accordingly.
Voluntary work is in essence a humanitarian action destined to all. For this reason the best people are those who are beneficial to each other. It is no wonder then that it is part and parcel of the Prophets’ and the pious’ characteristics. In this regard, let us consider our Guide Muhammad as an example, who once returned to his wife Khadija after he had received revelation in Hira‘ cave and said, “I fear that something may happen to me.” Khadija replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.”
The Hadith shows to what extent our Prophet was generous and supportive to the needy.
The Prophet Musa volunteered to water the flock of the Prophet Shuaib’s daughters when he noticed they were not able to do so. This incident was narrated in the following verses: “and when he came to the well of Madyan, he found there a crowd of people watering [their flocks], and he found aside from them two women driving back [their flocks]. He said, “What is your circumstance?” They said, “We do not water until the shepherds dispatch [their flocks]; and our father is an old man. So he watered [their flocks] for them.” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Qasas, verse 23-24].
Another example was of Dhul-Qarnayn who offered to set up a dam between two mountains for the sake of people who sought his assistance. Allah says, “they said, “O Dhul-Qarnayn, indeed Gog and Magog are [great] corrupter in the land. So may we assign for you an expenditure that you might make between us and them a barrier?” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 94].
He turned down their proposal and built the structure voluntarily instead, saying, “that in which my Lord has established me is better [than what you offer], but assist me with strength; I will make between you and them a dam.” (Al Kahf: 95). He only asked them to offer some labor and materials.
For their part, the Prophet’s Companions realized the merits of voluntary work and were engaged actively in every related act. For their sincere work, they were amply rewarded. Abu Bakr used to give some of his dear time to help others.
Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger said, “Who among you is fasting today? Abu Bakr said, “I am.” He (again) said, “who among you followed a funeral procession today? Abu Bakr said, “I did.” He (the Prophet) again said, “who among you served food to the needy?” Abu Bakr said “I did.” He (again) said, “who among you has today visited the sick?” Abu Bakr said, “I did.” thereupon Allah’s Messenger said, “anyone in whom (these good deeds) are combined will certainly enter paradise.”
Islam has taught us that there are many avenues for voluntary work, as our Prophet said, “every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Prophet! If someone has nothing to give, what will he do?” He said, “he should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).”
“The people further asked, “if he cannot find even that?” He replied, “he should help the needy who appeal for help.” Then the people asked, “if he cannot do that?” He replied, “then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds.”
Indeed, anyone who undertakes good actions Allah will reward him accordingly and raise his status. The Almighty says, “and it is not your wealth or your children that bring you nearer to Us in position, but it is [by being] one who has believed and done righteousness. For them there will be the double reward for what they did, and they will be in the upper chambers [of Paradise], safe [and secure].” [Al-Quran, Surah Sabaa’, verse 37].
Strengthens The Community
Please be aware that voluntary work strengthens the cement of the community and brings its members together to live in even further harmony. Our Prophet Muhammad said, “the similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.”
And the more such people, like the poor, the orphans and the widows, feel they are living in a cohesive society where volunteering and solidarity are valued the more they admire their fellow members of community. Abu Dharr said, the Messenger of Allah was asked: “Tell us about a person who does some good deed and people praise him, will this be considered as showing off?” He replied, “this is the glad tidings which a believer receives (in this life).”
Please also know that voluntary work is further confirmed in cases of emergency and sudden calamities. At such critical times, this aspect of good deeds is highly valuable as it brings hope, mercy and relief to those who are in distress. Likewise, those who offer to help will feel happy and proud.
In this regard, the Prophet said, “If anyone relieves a Muslim believer from one of the hardships of this worldly life, Allah will relieve him of one of the hardships of the Day of Resurrection. If anyone makes it easy for the one who is indebted to him (while finding it difficult to repay), Allah will make it easy for him in this worldly life and in the Hereafter, and if anyone conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah helps His slave as long as he helps his brother.”
With this in mind, may Allah help us to do good and make it easy for us. May Allah bestow upon us further favors for You are the most Generous and help us also to obey You, Your Messenger Muhammad and those You have decreed on us to obey. May Allah direct us all to the blessings of the Glorious Quran and benefit us all in whatever is in it of the verse and the Wise Dhikr.