charity

A little effort goes a long way

I was in a bit of a low mood at the weekend so when Monday came round, I was determined to make it a good week. A good Monday for me is one where I rise early and I did. Battling against thoughts to hit the snooze button, I crawled out of bed and somehow made it out the door. Now that I was out, I was hopeful of a day full of productivity. However, what is the point of getting up early to get stuff done, if you then miss your train that would have got you to the place where you could get stuff done. My train was at the platform and I was not there. Running to get past the gates, and still in a sensitive mood from the weekend,  I was already contemplating how annoyed and upset I would be if I was to miss the train. As the train doors were about to close, a man held the doors open for me. I managed to run in and the doors promptly closed behind me. It was no big deal one might say to hold the door open (although this may be at the dismay of the other passengers on the train), but I was really grateful for his effort. Not only did he help me catch my train, but he also stopped me from having what really would have felt like a bad start to the day.

Another time, I had needed to get home and was struggling to catch a bus that was about to leave. A kind stranger stopped the bus, proceeded to get on, stalled at the door, then once I ran and reached the stop, got off and waited back at the bus stop for their own bus. They had no reason to go out of their way and do that, but they did simply due to their generosity of spirit.

In the Islamic tradition, it is said that when a person dies and is lying in their grave, a beautiful form will appear to them. This form will reflect all the happiness that was felt by others through one’s good work.

Small efforts like this feel like nothing, but to the person on the other end, it might make all the difference. One upside of taking public transport is witnessing all the sweet things that happen between people. A while back, I remember seeing a man in a high vis jacket resting against a pole and falling in and out of sleep after what looked like a really hard and tasking day. A man in front of him, gently touched his shoulder and told him to take his seat, which he did. Within seconds, the man in the high vis jacket was fast asleep. At a time when it was needed most, a stranger provided another with some relief, ease and comfort.

There is a hadith that putting in effort (however small) to help another is a form of charity: ‘Charity is owed on every limb that people have. Every day on which the sun rises in which someone establishes justice between two people is charity. To help a man with his animal and help him onto it is charity. Or to lift his goods onto it is charity. A good word is charity. Every step you take to the prayer is charity. Removing an obstacle from the road is charity’.

There are so many opportunities to ease another’s load, and often with little effort required. That little effort you make however, might just be the relief needed for the person you help- it might spark some joy or a smile, it might remind them of the kindness that still exists, or it might just very well turn a bad day into a good one.

 

 

 

 

 

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Consistency in good actions

It is true that wherever you place your priorities at a particular point in time, that becomes your life- whether its children or career or travelling or service (Khidma) or all at the same time, the key is priority.

The same can be said with action. Whatever actions you consistently engage in become habits, these habits portray your values, your priorities, your character and ultimately your life.

I share this story because I was really struck by the beauty of the individual’s consistency in action as I had witnessed them react in the same way in a number of different situations, time periods and countries.  It wasn’t so much what they did (which was generous in itself) but more the manner and consistency in which they did it.

I definitely don’t mention this story to imply someone’s sincerity of actions or that this type of effort is rare. My witness to these good actions (just by chance!) and recalling them here is to hopefully instil a sense of inspiration to whoever reads this and encourage one to be better.  I purposely have kept details vague on the off-chance that the individual concerned stumbles upon this post and to protect their good deed!

The first occasion involved a young homeless woman who was asking for help. The individual immediately went over to the ATM machine and returned with assistance and spent a short while listening to her about her troubles. This wasn’t completely unusual, but often in a busy, bustling city, it can be all too easy to politely apologise that you have no cash on you and continue with your day. After all, you haven’t necessarily withheld your help, you simply don’t have anything on you.

The second occasion has really stayed with me. The situation involved a group of people who were visiting another country, and as part of the schedule, a city tour was organised. While a really interesting talk was taking place at one of the sites and all were in concentration, this individual was approached by an old man selling tissues. It was as though the individual’s hand went straight to their pocket on auto pilot to support the man with the purchase of a tissue pack. Almost immediately as the old man disappeared, an elderly woman appeared asking for help, and once again the individual didn’t hesitate to give in charity.

The Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him (pbuh) tells us that ‘charity does not decrease wealth’ but what I want to highlight beyond the virtue of generosity and charity is the consistency in good works. The Prophet (pbuh) said that ‘the most beloved of deeds to God are those that are most consistent, even if it is small’.

When we undertake a good action, deed or habit, no matter the size or effort and increase it in regularity, it begins to encapsulate who we become. If we engage in learning more, we become more knowledgeable, if we give charity regularly, we increase in generosity, if we are consistent in reciting supplications in the morning and evening, we begin to incorporate a greater sense of remembrance and consciousness of God .

This individual really made me reflect on the consistency of my own actions, and not necessarily forms of worship, but also my attitude and treatment towards others and the activities I occupy myself with.

If there is one thing to hopefully be taken from this reflection, is that intentions are renewed with a commitment to make one good action (small or big) a consistent one. A couple of examples to perhaps help:

  • 5 verses of the Quran to be recited daily
  • Some or all voluntary/ nafl prayers (2 rakaats before Fajr, 4 rakaats before Duhr and 2 after it, 2 rakaats after maghrib, 2 rakaats after Isha)
  • fasting on Mondays and Thursdays or fasting 3 days a month (13th, 14th and 15th of each lunar month)
  • Morning and Evening supplications (adkaar)
  • Reciting Ayat ul Kursi after each prayer
  • Consciously smiling at each person you meet
  • When one is speaking to you, turning all the way around to face them directly
  • Watering a plant

May we consciously implement good actions into our lives that we begin to embody the values we strive towards attaining. Ameen.

 

 

Iftar kitchen with Moroccan Youth UK

One person who has been breaking his fast with Moroccan Youth UK since the beginning of Ramadan is this wonderful man below. Every evening he leaves by praying that God rewards all those who have supported the Iftar kitchen and hopes that they find their reward on the day when it matters most. This project has only been made possible due to people’s support and care for one another. I have seen countless people donate their money, food, time and effort towards the service of others. Young people have volunteered every single night of this month to prepare and serve food, choosing to celebrate wonderful occasions like passing their A-levels volunteering than at home with friends and family. Women sit for 5 hours cooking food for the night- hunched over bowls of soup and kneading dough. Young children put chairs away and clean for up to 2 hours after iftar to get the centre ready for the next day. People knock on the door and leave behind food.

There is a Hadith whereby the Prophet’s wife Aisha once gave items to charity and she told the Prophet she gave away everything but left one date for their household. At this point the Prophet corrected her, saying that in actual fact she had kept everything, and only gave away the one date. The meaning behind this is that all your good work, your charity, your service towards others- it matters. It matters both in helping those in need in this life and it matters in helping you in the hereafter.

Thank you all for your support.

To find out more about the charity, visit http://www.moroccan-youth.co.uk

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