Why helping others is important
In Islam, the concept of helping others holds profound significance, reflecting a core principle of the faith rooted in compassion, community and social responsibility. The teachings of Islam emphasise the importance of reaching out to those in need, fostering a sense of unity and striving for a just and harmonious society. This commitment to helping others transcends cultural and geographical boundaries, manifesting through various acts of charity, kindness and support.
Central to the Islamic ethos is the idea of brotherhood and sisterhood among believers. The Quran, the holy book of Islam, highlights the significance of empathy and assistance in numerous verses. One of the central teachings is found in the Quran, Al-Baqarah, chapter 2 – verses 267-273, which encourages believers to give in charity and to aid those in need, asserting that acts of kindness are rewarded and multiplied by Allah. The Hadith, sayings and actions of Blessed Messenger Muhammad, further emphasise the importance of helping others, revealing his own compassionate nature and concern for the welfare of all.
Zakat, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, exemplifies the principle of helping others in a structured and systematic manner. Muslims are required to give a portion of their wealth to those less fortunate, ensuring the equitable distribution of resources within the community. This act of mandatory charity underscores the Islamic belief in wealth as a trust from Allah, compelling individuals to share their blessings and alleviate the suffering of the marginalised. By participating in Zakat, Muslims not only fulfil their religious obligations but also contribute to the broader welfare of society.
Beyond obligatory acts of charity, Islam encourages believers to engage in voluntary acts of kindness, known as Sadaqah. This includes helping neighbours, the elderly, orphans and those in distress. The Blessed Messenger Muhammad emphasised the significance of smiling as an act of charity and the rewards of helping someone in their time of need. Such actions not only strengthen the bonds within the community but also exemplify the character traits that a Muslim should embody.
Islamic history is replete with instances of benevolent acts and selfless service. During times of scarcity, the Blessed Messenger Muhammad, emphasised the importance of sharing one’s food with others, irrespective of the amount. He also encouraged the release of captives and the provision of shelter for the homeless. The legacy of these teachings is reflected in the countless charitable organisations, relief efforts and community initiatives established by Muslims worldwide.
The concept of helping others extends beyond individuals to encompass entire societies. Islam underscores the importance of justice and equity in social structures. The Quran advocates for the establishment of a just economic system that minimises disparities between the rich and the poor. The Islamic financial system promotes ethical and responsible banking, discouraging usury (interest) and exploitative practices. By adhering to these principles, Muslims contribute to the creation of a more equitable and compassionate society.
Islam also emphasises the value of empathy and compassion in interpersonal relationships. The Blessed Messenger Muhammad spoke of the believers as a single body, where if one part is afflicted, the whole body feels the pain. This metaphor underscores the interconnectedness of humanity and the shared responsibility to alleviate suffering. It encourages Muslims to actively seek out ways to provide support and comfort to those facing challenges.
Furthermore, Islam places great emphasis on the duty of parents to care for their children and for children to honour and support their parents, particularly in old age. This filial responsibility extends to other family members as well. Acts of kindness, visiting the sick, providing for the elderly and supporting those with disabilities are all integral to Islamic teachings.
In conclusion, the concept of helping others in Islam is deeply rooted in the faith’s core principles of compassion, justice and community. The Quran, Hadith and historical examples highlight the importance of assisting those in need, both through mandatory acts of charity like Zakat and voluntary acts of kindness. By embodying these teachings, Muslims contribute to the creation of a just and harmonious society, fostering empathy, unity and mutual support. Through individual and collective efforts, Islam shapes a world where helping others is not just a choice, but a cherished responsibility that transcends borders and brings people together in the spirit of shared humanity.