ISLAM: - The Godly Ordained Religion, preserved in pristine purity, is imbued with instruction to the service of mankind. In fact it is a complete code of life full of guidance for spiritual as well as material requirement of man, society and the state. Hence any effort in regard to thinking, planning and execution of service to mankind in individual or collective capacities cannot afford to ignore Islamic Teachings related to social relations. The purpose of the creation of man is to worship Allah, the Almighty. Allah Says: “I have only created Jinns and Men that they may serve Me.”( Zariat-56)
The teaching of Islam seek to protect people from harm and mischief- and serve their interest through the effective use of God –given resources. These objectives must be achieved with in the framework of Justice and Benevolence. The teaching of Islam provide a philosophy and a plan for people to live by.
It is the Islamic Shari’ah which formed the Muslim society, not the Muslim Society formed the Islamic Shari’ah.
Thus the Shari’ah is like a fence that permits the factors of development and progress to have their effect on the Muslim Society, but within the limits of that fences which protects the authentic, unique and distinct nature of that society and prevent it from being assimilated or lost.
The fourth pillar is fasting, from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan that celebrates the revelation of the Holly Qur’an to Muhammad.
The fifth pillar is the pilgrimage to Mecca, which should be done at least once in a lifetime to those who are able.
( These pillars of practice assist the person in striving toward self-improvement and community welfare in all aspects of life.)
The Fundamentals of Islamic Methodology and Thought
Islamic methodology and thought are distinguished by certain fundamental principles. These principles represent basic assumptions which guide the Muslim mind in its creative and intellectual movement towards an understanding of life and the universe, and how to interact with these in a progressive manner.
These fundamentals are unicity, vicegerency, and responsibility ; three principles which form the basic outline of the Muslim mind, define its direction, and clarify its alms. Anything not based on these principles will never motivate or vitalize the Muslim consciousness. In what follows, we shall examine each of these three principles.
The third principle upon which Islamic thought and methodology is predicated is that of moral responsibility.
Khilafah, the purpose behind it, and its requisite qualifications ( free will, the ability to reason, and the potential for more learning ) carry with them man's moral responsibility for his role, and for the decisions he makes in undertaking it.
The essence of the service of Allah, Almighty is firstly to worship Him and Him alone and secondly to render service to His creatures. These are the two parts of the duties of man. We have been told that Allah Almighty may shower His Mercy and forgive the sins of His Servants (Except of course the sin of making partner to his Lordship) related to Huqooqullah (i.e. duty towards Allah) but will not forgive the sins related to Huqooqulibad ( i.e. duty towards mankind ) unless otherwise the people concerned forgive him. This highlights the importance of duties and responsibilities of a man in religio-social context.
“ Serve God and join not any partners with Him; And do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion of your side, the wayfarer (Ye meet) And what your right hand trosses, for God loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious.” (AL ANAM-36)
“ And they feed, for love of God, the indigent, the orphan and the captives.” (AL-DAHR-8)
With the above verses and traditions of the Prophet it is crystal clear that service of the people in need is a matter of priority to a GOD fearing man. He not only commands His servants to do social work and remove immediate worries but He also strongly warns His servants to refrain from doing such acts which may in turn create social vices. The following quotations supplants the view that conditions, traditions and practices that germinate ills are completely forbidden:
ALLAH ALMIGHTY SAYS "It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask; and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayers and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God fearing"(Quran 2: 177). Social Work according to the Quran
The above verse is the concept of social work in Islam. It is however more than a philosophical concept but a practical draft that outlines the why, whom, and who of service delivery.
We believe form of worship incomplete without helping deeds
Analysis of the Quranic concept of Social Work
The question of why we should establish formal social services in our communities is explained in this verse.
Allah is advising us that our worship is incomplete without helping deeds. So after having believed in Allah, the angels, the Prophets, the Books and the Last Day we must translate our Iman (faith) our beliefs into actions of service to humankind.
In fact it is incumbent on believers to fulfill this duty of service to those who need their help. Each and every Muslim is to contribute to the welfare of society. Therefore by establishing social services within Muslim communities, every Muslim can indirectly participate through financial and moral support.
One Hadith states that Abu Hurairah related: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Whosoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the grieves on the Day of Judgment. Whosoever alleviates [the] lot of a destitute person, Allah will alleviate his lot in this world and the next. Whosoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in this world and the next. Allah will aid a servant (of His) so long as the servant aids his brother."
The question of who is best qualified to carry out the duty of serving the community in the area of social services, is again outlined in this verse as one who believes in the Unity of Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, Books and Messengers of Allah. In other words, the verse emphasizes the significance of Iman and Mufassil as the defining characteristic of a Muslim — one who having believed totally completely and with understanding is then compelled by his belief to act upon them through service to humanity thus completing their faith.
Humility and Courtesy are acts of piety. Modesty and chastity repasts of faith. Verily those who are patient in adversity and forgive wrongs are the doers of excellence. The best of alms is that which the right hand giveth and the left hand knoweth not.
1. Kin: This would be anyone related either by blood or marriage. This would be more of an individual responsibility. If however a person was unable to adequately meet the needs of his kin he could on their behalf seek help from the community-based social services.
2. Orphans: Technically this would apply to children whose fathers have died. In an Islamic society the orphans then become the responsibility of the state. New Muslims who lose their families because of conversion must also be included in this category. Orphans could also apply to children of dysfunctional families that are taken away be CFS . For all facts and purposes they are orphans. The spirit of Islamic charity would therefore dictate that we provide for these orphans by providing foster care, housing and material and spiritual needs consistently, professionally and compassionately.
3. Needy: This is a broad term and should be interpreted to mean any need. Therefore a family needing counseling to resolve a conflict or a couple in a marital crisis or an abused spouse should be included in the category as well as those who are in need of financial assistance. The situation could be of a temporary nature or long term. The Muslim community should be equipped with services that can address the needs of these people.
4. Wayfarer: the term usually used for a traveler or a transient, could also apply in present day to foreign students or workers who come to our communities on a temporary basis. Islamic social services should be prepared to serve this particular segment of our community.
6. Ransom of Slaves: Many could say that Islam eradicated slavery therefore this is a moot point. However if we were to look around us many of our Muslim brothers and sisters could qualify to apply for this category to be freed .
When we are asked how are we to achieve these objectives of Islamic social services. The Quran once again gives us assistance by laying out the principle on which we not only base our social services but through which we achieve our goals. In short, these principles define a Muslim social worker and also empower and enable them to better serve their clients.
1. Steadfast in prayer: The one best equipped to help others is one who is steadfast in prayer. "Thee alone we worship, Thee alone we ask for help". In a Muslim community persons nominated for social work must posses this fundamental trait of a Muslim. If they are to be effective and productive it is also a reminder to those of us working in the field that we must be steadfast in prayer.
2. Regular Charity: This of course fosters a personality that is giving and develops a character that is empathetic to the needs of others. Communities where members give regular charity of all kinds both compulsory and voluntary benefit each other and feel responsible for each other.
3. Fulfill Contract: Muslims working in the field of social services must be trustworthy, honest, and conscientious of their duty to their clients. Services delivered cannot be haphazard or half-hearted. When we make a pledge we honor it when we make a promise we keep it and when we set ourselves up as helpers we fulfill that task to the best of our ability.
4. Patience in pain, suffering, adversity and panic: These are characteristics that are essential for Muslim social workers, counselors, Imams, and leaders. When people depend on us for support and rely on our counsel we cannot be hasty, impatient, or panic at first sign of difficulty. The task for Muslim workers in the area of social services is soul wrenching and requires a personality that is blessed with Taqwa (God consciousness) and Sabr (patience).
5. Truth: As the Prophet Muhammad stated: " A Muslim can not be a liar". Truth and honesty is the cornerstone of any public service. Lies stand in the way of trust without which a Muslim social worker or counselor is not viable. We must be honest in our dealings with our target and not use any underhanded ways. Truth is also a virtue that is admired universally and inspires respect, trust, and reliability.
6. God Fearing: One, who fears Allah and is always conscious of her duty to her Creator, will never harm or put in harms way those who are under their care. Sense of accountability and responsibility to Allah must be the core trait of a Muslim community worker. This keeps in check our egos and focuses on the objective that our service must gain the pleasure of Allah not the pleasure of making a name for us.
Since the person and community be wholly oriented toward the will of Allah, there is no separation between religion and secular sphere of life. Individual fulfillment, family life, and community well-being are all related to following the precepts of Islamic Laws (Shari’ah)
People should be persistent in their efforts towards self-improvement, not only in action but also in inner feelings.
Ideally, there should be a reciprocal relationship between individual freedom and community obligations and responsibilities.
Since Islam is predicted on the idea that all of life should be oriented towards Allah, social work practice with Muslim clients should respectfully incorporate the clients’ beliefs and practices. In theses cases familiarity with relevant passages in the Qur’an, as well as family and ethnic customs, would be helpful.
Islamic view of social services emphasizes a complementary relation between individual well-being and social welfare. The helping process itself is seen as a spiritually significant action and relationship, and only between workers and clients, but also with the divine. (ALLAHU TAALA)