Humanity in Islam: Service to Mankind is Service to God

We cannot despair of humanity, since we ourselves are human beings. – Albert Einstein

Man is born with a heart of compassion which reacts in accordance to the feelings of fellow humans. Compassion, love, affection and care are the innate qualities which make a human. These qualities define man. The development or suppression of these qualities entirely depends on man himself. From time to time, philosophers and religious scholars have tried to encourage people to increase these innate qualities in themselves. Humanity is one such aspect which has been stressed upon in all parts of the world. “Service to Mankind is service to God” is the proverb highly prevalent all over the world. Serving and treating fellow human beings with courtesy and kindness is an essential part of a good moral conduct. All world religions share and support this concept.

Humanity is what you say to someone when you think no one’s watching. It’s what you do when you are all by yourself. Humanity is what you feel when you watch another person suffering and decide to either do nothing or do something. Humanity is the ability to reach out and hug someone. Humanity is being grateful for your family, your friends, and your ability to do something in this world to your society.

Humanity is the ability to trust, the ability to connect, the ability to touch. To be human means we can move, create, love, share and laugh. One example to inculcate the ability to serve mankind in humans is about the “Good Samaritan” who has helped a sick man and did not even care to reveal his identity to the people.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. – Dalai Lama

Islam has put much emphasis on serving humans, but providing merely food and shelter to fellow humans cannot be considered as a service to Allah (SWT) on the whole. It is inappropriate to think that we are serving mankind as a whole by simply spending a huge amount in charity.

Every human being is a problem in search of a solution. – Ashley Montagu

Service to Allah (SWT) is being obedient to Him in a way that He expects humans to be. The first stage of this obedience is our acceptance of Tawhid. Once we give our acceptance of the oneness of Allah (SWT), we are expected to obey Him in a way that He has prescribed to us. This is the stage where man fulfills all the mandatory acts like prayers, charity, pilgrimage etc. It is the stage where man develops the bondage between himself and Allah (SWT) directly.

The third stage is serving the family and relations: fulfilling the rights of his dependents and of people closely related to him. Here again, man attains further closeness to Allah (SWT) through his family, by pleasing them.

No matter what you’ve done for yourself or for humanity, if you can’t look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished? – Lee Iacocca

Then comes the fourth stage, which is about service to human beings. Man attains closeness to Allah (SWT) by serving his fellow beings.

But the main question is, in what way should the fellow beings be served, so that the service could be termed as service to Allah (SWT) as a whole? Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari in his book, The Perfect Man, says: “Serving people is fine and we should serve them. But if we provide them with food and clothes alone, we would be treating them like animals, especially if we suppose no higher values exist for them. If service is confined to this, what would be the difference between Abu Dhar and Mu’awiya?” Definitely, mere provision of food and shelter does not fulfill the purpose. There has to be an additional form of service. Every Muslim is expected to render his duties towards the society in which he lives. The actual service to human beings lies in treating them as humans first. We need to help our fellow human beings in nurturing and growing their innate qualities which define them as humans. Man is different from all the creatures of both the worlds and so are his duties and responsibilities towards his Creator. Surely, service to this special creature has to be by helping him understand and render his responsibilities towards his Creator.

Man is born with the innate ability of learning and understanding. He is capable of multiplying his knowledge through understanding and analyzing what he has learnt. Man is not pre-programmed to obey and pray to Allah (SWT). He does so by his own free will. This makes him different from the rest of creatures, and therefore heaven and hell are made to reward and punish him accordingly. The method of serving man is by grooming and molding him in accordance to the tenets of Islam. This helps man to distinguish himself and highlight his superiority towards other creatures. Education and awareness are the two methods that can be implemented to help man understand himself.

We find in Islamic history the best examples of love and compassion for fellow human beings. Sometimes we find the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his progeny) serving the needy and weak; sometimes we see Imam Ali (peace be upon him) sitting with the sick and the poor, attending to their needs affectionately; and sometimes we see other members from our holy Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) giving the same service to needy ones. Islam has laid great stress on helping the poor and needy ones. But we know that man’s needs are not confined to just material aspects of life; rather, he seeks to fulfill higher needs as well, like guidance and seeking knowledge. Hence we find that along with material needs, the Holy Prophet and Ahlul Bayt have quenched humanity’s spiritual thirst as well. Man is a creature who always longs for company, love and compassion.

If Islam had given the world nothing but this one simple clarion message, “Read!” (Noble Qur’an, 96:1) – and that too at the dawn of the Seventh Century – the entire world would still be in its debt forever. But the tragedy is that Non-Muslims don’t know and Muslims won’t tell.” – Dr. Pasha

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) served mankind by educating the people, he had more than 6,000 students studying under him from all over the world. They did not just learn about Islam, but were taught various subjects including mathematics, astronomy and science. This eventually terminated the Dark Age in Europe.

We can fulfill our responsibility of serving mankind by educating the people, laying more emphasis on Islamic education, arranging educational and awareness campaigns about Islam, helping the people – especially the youth – understand the true meaning behind the message brought by Holy Prophet and protected by Ahlul Bayt, even at the cost of their lives. We must encourage them to spread this knowledge among fellow beings.

A Muslim’s responsibility does not end just here. It is our duty to act as true representatives of Islam and behave in accordance to the Islamic tenets. We are expected to treat our fellow beings with love and honesty, to respect them and always be available to them whenever they are in need, whatever may be the kind of their need.

Some uninformed people object that, “If Islam is a true religion of God, then why doesn’t it help mankind and promote peace and love?” Islam states that service to humanity is a part of faith. Muslims should be actively engaged in social welfare and educational needs, not only for fellow Muslims, but also for all the communities where they reside.

You are the best community that has been raised for mankind. You enjoin good and forbid evil and you believe in Allah. [Aal-e-Imran, 3:110]

In this verse, Muslims have been enjoined by Allah (SWT) to serve mankind and promote goodness. If they fail to achieve this, then they can not state that they are the “best community”. After all, a faith which is insensitive to the suffering of other human beings and is not inclined to serve the cause of humanity cannot be described as a good faith. But Islam teaches that Muslims must be always ready to serve mankind and have love and kindness for all of God’s creation.

And serve Allah and do not associate any thing with Him and be good to the parents and to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the neighbor of (your) kin and the alien neighbor, and the companion in a journey and the wayfarer and those whom your right hands possess; surely Allah does not love him who is proud, boastful; [An-Nisa, 4:36]

In this verse, Allah (SWT) very beautifully guides the Muslims to discharge their duties towards all sections of society. We should display kindness to everyone whether they are kind to us or not. In this way by following this teaching we can create peace, love and harmony in the society.

Noble Qur’an expressly declares that the human race is one family. All of us are the children of Adam and Eve, whether our skin is white or black. At various places it says: “All human beings are a single nation” (2:213). “All human beings are naught but a single nation and yet they disagree” (10:19). “And verily this your nation (human beings) is a single nation” (21:92) and (23:52).

Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, emphasized love, sympathy and kindness towards all mankind, he said “Whosoever is not thankful to the people, then he is not thankful to Allah.” (At-Tirmidhi) In another beautiful saying, Holy Prophet has said: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Bukhari)

Furthermore, Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, emphasized love and kindness for all of God’s creation, he said “A Muslim who plants a tree or sows a field, from which man, birds and animals can eat, is committing an act of charity.” (Muslim)

Kind treatment to Allah’s creatures is very much liked by Allah (SWT). Even animals and birds are included in this category. Kind treatment with them makes a person eligible to the Mercy of Allah (SWT). When asked by the Muslims to curse the infidels (as reported in Sahih Muslim), Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, replied: “I have not been sent to curse people, but as a mercy to all mankind.”

The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice. – Mohandas K. Gandhi

Related Posts