How can I serve my faith in the course of my daily life? What contribution can I make as I go about my normal business? This is a question that many of us ask ourselves and it is a very good question. The Prophet (peace be upon him said): “Every person goes forth in the morning trading in his own self. He either earns its freedom or consigns it to perdition.”
Therefore, we ask ourselves: Should I focus on enjoining people to what is right? Should I forbid them from what is wrong? Is it best for me to gather together the children and help them to commit the Qur’ân to memory? Should I rather get involved in some charity work?
The ways that we as Muslims can serve our faith are too numerous to count. If each one of us only tries to count that ways that he or she can personally serve Islam, the possibilities will still be endless.
Each of us must take into account his individual abilities as well as his inclinations and his personality in deciding what he should do. Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines that apply to everyone and some contributions that we can all start making immediately.
To begin with, we can try to set a good example for others. We can do this in our worship, in our dealings with others, and in our moral conduct. We can strive to always be considerate and just. We can give priority to the rights of others even if it means doing so at the expense of our own. This is the starting point of all of our service and indeed it is the most critical.
The next level of activity concerns our dealings with our family and with those who are close to us. We must nurture our good relationships with our relatives by honoring them doing good for them. It is our duty to call our family to Islam and to encourage them to do what is right. This duty starts with our parents and children, then with our siblings and spouses, and extends outwards.
Allah says, addressing the Prophet (peace be upon him): “And admonish your nearest kinsmen.” [Sûrah al-Shu`arâ’: 214]
After this verse was revealed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gathered his kinfolk together and said: “O assembly of Quraysh! Purchase your own souls, for I can avail you naught with Allah. O Banû `Abd Manâf! I can avail you naught with Allah! O Safiyyah, aunt of Allah’s Messenger! I can avail you naught with Allah! O Fâtimah, daughter of Muhammad! I can avail you naught with Allah. Ask me of my wealth what you wish, but I can avail you naught with Allah!”
We must then turn our attentions to our colleagues and our classmates. We should always be willing to lend them our assistance. By letting them know that they can count on us, we win their friendship and their trust. In turn, we can reach out to them and even get them involved with us in our good works. They will be more responsive to us when we offer them literature or a cassette or ask them to go with us to a lecture.
We must also attend to our neighbors and the communities in which we live. Our neighbors have rights over us simply by virtue of their being our neighbors. We must honor those rights. We should cultivate goodwill between ourselves and those who live in our neighborhood. This makes it easier for us to reach out to them in matters of faith.
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should honor his neighbor.”
He also said: “By Allah, he does not believe. By Allah, he does not believe.” When someone asked him whom he was talking about, he replied: “He whose neighbor is not safe from his abuse.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) took great pains in defining the neighbor’s rights. He said: “If he falls ill, visit him. If he has good fortune, congratulate him. If ill fortune befalls him, console him. Do not build your building in a way that would keep the breeze from reaching his dwelling except with his permission. Do not annoy him with the aroma of your cooking pot unless you serve him some of your food. If you buy some fruit, them give him a gift from it, and if you do not do so, then bring it into your home discreetly, and do not let your child take it outside to taunt his child with it.”
Concern for our neighborhood also means involvement in our local mosque. We should, of course, be regular in our prayers. We should also spend some time in the mosques. We should make sure to attend mosque activities, if only occasionally.
It is then important for us to broaden our perspectives and look at the broader issues facing the Muslim world. Each one of us can at get actively involved in at least one of these concerns. This might mean working to draw media attention to some matter of importance to the Muslims or to garner sympathy for the suffering of Muslims in some part of the world. It can mean encouraging those who have been blessed with wealth and prosperity to spend on those in need. It can mean helping to get some useful Islamic literature published and disseminated.
May Allah bless us to serve him in all aspects of our lives.