Allah SWT said in the Quran,
"Behold, the Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said: "Will You place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- while we do celebrate Your praises and glorify Your holy (name)?" He said: "I know what you know not.""
Among all of Allah’s other creations, He had chosen human beings to be His vicegerent in this world (Khalifah Fi Al-Ard). Human beings were created by Allah to play a very special role that He had chosen for us. He had bestowed human beings with dignity, rights and responsibilities. One of the fundamental principles of the Prophetic Tradition (Sunnah) is to provide humanitarian assistance and charity. The word “humanitarian” here means “a person devoted to promoting the welfare of humanity, especially through the elimination of pain and suffering.”
Rasulullah, may peace and blessings be upon him, was the best example and the greatest leader who came to promote human welfare. Allah said in the Quran that he was sent to this world as a “mercy to the worlds”. He once reminded his companions, “None of you will have faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
Many people have the misconception that the strengthening of one’s faith can only be achieved by submitting one’s self to Allah through individual worship. But the Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him, said that everyone is called to serve Allah by serving others and by helping those who are in need of assistance. He taught us that we should live among others like flowers, and not like thorns. Therefore, how are we acting as Muslims if we choose to ignore the suffering of others and have no concern for their pain and struggles?
There is a beautiful story of how the Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him, helped even those who hated him so very much. One day, while the Prophet was walking along the streets of Makkah, he saw an old woman carrying a heavy load, and she was struggling to bring it with her. The Prophet asked if he could help her with her load, and she immediately agreed.
Something amazing happened while they were walking. The old woman had a request that they could talk about anything and everything, except about a man that went by the name of Muhammad. Hearing this, the Prophet just smiled and remained silent, allowing the old woman to speak throughout the entire journey. During the entire journey, the old woman spoke ill of and cursed the Prophet, without realising that the man that she was criticising was beside her all the way, helping her with her heavy load.
Upon reaching their destination, the Prophet helped the old woman put down her belongings, and just as he was about to leave, the old woman, filled with so much gratitude for the Prophet’s kindness, thanked him and asked him for his name. When the Prophet eventually revealed himself, the old woman got shocked and ashamed at the same time. Despite her criticism of him, the Prophet still displayed his beautiful character and generosity throughout the entire journey, never showing her his displeasure or showing any form of anger or revenge towards her. Due to this, she repented and immediately embraced Islam there and then.
Allah SWT reminded us in the Quran,
"They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: 'Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travellers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'"
As a follower of the Prophet s.a.w., let us extend our mercy to everyone regardless of one’s denominators. As a Muslim, we serve our God through serving His creations. Therefore, let us not let our spirituality be limited to our personal relationship with God, but also playing our part and responsibilities to help others. Let us extend our hands and serve others.