The importance of youth being agents of change is deeply acknowledged in Islam. Therefore it is important to groom and equip the young generation with strong morals and values in line with Islamic teachings.
One of these teachings is volunteering. As Muslims, we are encouraged to extend a helping hand to the communities we live in through volunteerism. This is expressed clearly in a number of verses in the Qur’an and hadith of Prophet Muhammad SAW. For example, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, teaching people to read, helping people who have no one to turn to, and so on.
Being young and energetic, Islam encourages youth to fully utilise their capabilities and potential, and volunteering and community work are some of the best ways to benefit the community.
As narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, the Rasulullah SAW said:
“Every Muslim should give charity.” He was later asked, what if one cannot? The Prophet replied, “Then he should go find work and help himself and others.” He was again asked, what if one cannot? “Then he should help someone in need,” replied Rasulullah SAW. Asked again, what if one cannot, “Then he should command what is right or good.” Asked for one last time, what if one cannot, Prophet Muhammad SAW said, “Then at least he should refrain from evil, and that would be charity for him.”
So why youth should volunteer and be involved in community work?
1. Acquire and develop interpersonal skills
Being actively involved in volunteering will expose youth to new knowledge and valuable life skills. For example, leadership, communication and team work.
As youth are energetic and full of new ideas, it is crucial to groom them with effective leadership skills to be the future leaders and managers of the nation. This way, they will learn to plan, meet deadlines, public diplomacy and other skills needed to enhance their intellectual, moral and spiritual growth.
2. Instil empathy, humility and spiritual closeness to God
Volunteering is when a person commits to a noble cause and for the good of others. Communicating and interacting with those in need will help develop empathy and humility amongst the community.
As human beings, it is natural for us to be ego-driven, therefore having empathy and humility teaches us to walk in another’s shoes. It is only once we achieve mutual understanding and solidarity that our community will thrive and cooperate in all aspects.
At the same time, volunteering encourages self-awareness and reflection, which are crucial for personal growth. It has also been shown to increase happiness, because participants find themselves involved in something meaningful. When one volunteers for the sake of Allah SWT and regards it as part of their ibadah (worship), he will surely attain spiritual satisfaction.
Qur’an (22:77): “O you who have believed, bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and do good – that you may succeed.”
3. Inspire your peers and others
Volunteering is not just for the sake of your CV, but is also a powerful experience that can help inspire other youth. Often, we forgot to see the impact of volunteering – when other people receive, they will be inspired to give the next time they have the opportunity. This positive cycle provides the social support needed by the underprivileged in our community.
Being a productive Muslim is also to encourage a productive ummah (community), and this is what should be nurtured by our youth. They should start volunteering as early as possible. It must not be perceived as unimportant or as free labour, but one should focus on the effort and spiritual reward (pahala) from Allah SWT as what matters the most.