A MUSLIM’S SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO HELP PEOPLE LOCALLY
There is no doubt in the fact that Islam guides in all phases and facets of a human’s life because Islam is a comprehensive religion. This is why Allah, the Almighty, mentions in the Holy Qur’ān:
“Today, I have perfected your religion for you.” (5:3)
This bears witness to the fact that Islam is a global religion, a religion in which the rulings and judgments are enough for the guidance of humanity until the day of resurrection; whether the rulings relate to acts of worship and beliefs or social dealings and business transactions or trade and industry or government and politics or any other field.
When we look at social dealings, social etiquettes, social welfare and the quality of humanity, Islam advises us in abundance.
For example, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) says:
“…The best of people are those who are the most beneficial to people.” (al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ)
He also mentions:
“All created beings are Allah’s dependents, and the most beloved of people to Allah are the ones who are good to His (Allah’s) dependents.” (al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ)
The above narrations are sufficient to highlight the virtue and importance Islam places on helping everyone and everything around us, to such an extent that it is from amongst the principal values of Islam.
Islam also makes particular mention of a Muslim’s social responsibility to help people locally. In this regard, Allah, the Almighty, mentions in the Qur’ān:
“And worship Allah and do not associate with him anything and be good to parents and to kinsmen and orphans and the needy and the close neighbour and the distant neighbour and the companion at your side and the wayfarer and those owned by you. Surely Allah does not like those that are arrogant and proud. (4:36)
Commentating on the above verse, the exegetes of the Qur’ān state that a “close neighbour” is one who lives next to your house and a “distant neighbour” is one who lives at some distance from it.
The above verse of the Qur’ān draws our attention to the fact that a neighbour, close or distant, has the essential right to be helped and cared for to the best of one’s ability. This is direct guidance to us, as Muslims, on our social responsibility to help people locally.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) states:
“The Upper hand is better than the lower hand (the giving hand is better than the receiving hand) and begin charity with those who are under your care…” (Bukhārī)
The above narration brings to the fore that we ought to be charitable and helpful to those that are under our care. This can without doubt encompass everyone in the world. However, this narration informs us of the degree of preference to be charitable and helpful to those that are close and local to us; family, friends, local neighbours, colleagues etc., as these are the people we owe a specific duty of care to, due to our closeness to them and coming in contact with them regularly.
It is clear from the above that Islam underlines the virtue and importance of being beneficial and helpful to all of creation. Stemming from this, Islam also focuses our attention on the social responsibility upon us to help those that are local to us. As the famous saying states, “charity begins at home”.