Friday Nasiha: On Feeding The Needy, Good Behaviour, And Service

Friday Nasiha - Weekly Reminders for Successful Life
This week's Friday Nasiha shows why a heart void of faith does not have compassion, how piety is connected to better character, and why we encourage community service for teenagers (khidmat).

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Living the Quran
Encourage Feeding the Needy
Al Haqqah, The Inevitable Truth (Qur'an, 69:33-34)


"He did not believe in God Almighty, and he never encouraged feeding the needy." (Qur'an, 69:33-34)

This is a person whose heart is devoid of faith and compassion. Thus, the only place fit for him is the fire. With a heart that has no trace of faith, he is ruined, like a barren land engulfed in darkness. He is below the level of animals, and indeed below the level of inanimate objects. Everything in the universe believes in God and glorifies Him, and as such they maintain their bond with their source of existence. This person, on the other hand, severed his ties with God, and therefore has no tie with the universe.

Likewise, his heart is devoid of compassion. A needy person is one who desperately needs compassion, but this one does not feel for his fellow humans in need. He does not encourage feeding them, which is a step further than simply providing the needy with food. It is a step that suggests a social duty that requires believers to encourage one another to undertake. It is closely related to faith, mentioned here after faith and given its value in God's measure.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 17, 228


Understanding the Prophet's Life
Good Behaviour

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) said,
"Be conscious (Taqwah) of Allah wherever you are. And follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will wipe it out. And behave towards the people with a good behaviour." (Tirmidhi)

Ibn Rajab states in his commentary of this hadith: "Having good character is a characteristic of taqwa. Taqwah cannot be complete without it. It was mentioned here by itself due to the need for explicitly explaining that point. Many people think that taqwa implies fulfilling the "rights of Allah" without fulfilling the rights of humans. Therefore, the Prophet ﷺ explicitly stated that he must deal with people in a kind manner. Many of those who take advantage of fulfilling the rights of Allah, and are attached to love for Him, fear of Him and obedience to Him, neglect the rights on the humans, either completely or partially. There are very few people who combine together the fulfilling of the rights of Allah and of His servants. The only ones who have the strength to do that are those who are complete in their taqwa from among the prophets and the sincere ones." (Jaami, vol 1, p. 454)

In this hadith, the Prophet ﷺ advised the person to have a certain behaviour. This demonstrates that a person can change and determine his behaviour. He can do those acts that are of good behaviour and character to the point that he grows accustomed to them. He can grow so accustomed to them that they do become his nature and character. Hence, a person can change his character, and, if he is of bad character, then, following this advice of the Prophet, he must work to change his character.

When talking about the purpose for which he had been sent, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ stated, "I have been sent for the purpose of perfecting good morals." (Al-Hakim) That is, he was to show the manners and behaviour consistent with the belief in Allah.

In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, "I am a guarantor of a house in the highest part of Paradise for the one who makes his behaviour good." (Abu Dawud)

In yet another hadith, the Prophet ﷺ described piety itself as being good character. Hence, it is an essential part of being pious. The Prophet said, "Piety and righteousness is being of good character." (Muslim)

How pleasing good character is to Allah can be seen by the weight that Allah will give it on the scales on the Day of Judgment. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, "There is nothing heavier in the scales than good character." (Ahmad, Abu Dawud) In another hadith that gives a similar impression, the Prophet ﷺ said, "A believer reaches, due to his good character, the level of the one who fasts and performs the night prayer." (Abu Dawud)

The way to improve one's character is to look at the example of the Prophet ﷺ. One should try to emulate his behaviour in as many different circumstances as possible. If a person does that, then he will be moving toward the noblest character.

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 720-723


Blindspot!
Service

Through service we make the world a better place. Prophet Jesus served in many ways. Most faiths are dedicated to service, in fact. Charity, or zakat, is a fundamental pillar of Islam: Muslims give a percentage (2.5%) of their belongings to the poor and make regular donations to those in need. The Mishna, which contains Jewish oral law, also underlines the importance of helping. The Torah mandates responding to the needs of the poor and the sick, be they Jews, strangers or enemies. Everyone is obliged to do tzedakah, or righteous deeds, to help repair the world.

It's one thing to encourage service, it's another thing to actually serve. What good are scriptures and hymns if we neglect to live their messages? There are compelling reasons for religious leaders to encourage youth to get out in their communities. A landmark study in 2007 found that the best way to deepen a teen's faith is by presenting them with opportunities to help people in need. Teens reported that service infused their lives with purpose and meaning, which in turn influenced their faith. Hands-on work was revealed to be far more influential than filling pews, reading scripture or participating in church retreats.

The deepest connections are established when youth meet and work with the people they're helping. The degree of influence such experiences have on shaping faith increases with involvement. Level 1 might be to pitch in with adult mentors on a fence-painting project. Level 2 could be to help at a shelter or soup kitchen. Level 3 would involve ongoing connections - Meals on Wheels, for example - in which the volunteer establishes a relationship with the person her or she is assisting.

Compiled From:
"The World Needs Your Kid" - Craig Kielburger, Marc Kielburger and Shelley Page, pp. 273, 274


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