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Muslims and Social Welfare – Have we lost the plot ?

Below is a letter received from a university medical student. It is reproduced with permission as it makes for thoughtful reading and Insha-Allah those thoughts may later transform into action. Names have been removed.
I pray that you are well Moulana, I hoped to merely discuss something I’ve noticed. I may not be wholly correct and I am open to correction but I did really wish to talk to a Moulana about what I’ve experienced. I am studying in the University of …, as you may know, and I am in a class made almost entirely of Christian students. Most of them white and most of the student population here are privileged. I had to learn to become tolerant of their constant preaching and patronizing tone, albeit sincere, when they post messages of their prayer circles, fellowships and multitude of Christian orientated activities on social media groups meant to be for ‘secular’ work. They are quite suffocating in a place where they have a majority claim and therefore have free reign when it comes to their marketing initiatives.
Thankfully, Shukr, Alhamdulillah, it has only served to strengthen my resolve as a Muslim, I wish them no ill and get along fine but I can’t help feeling them always force-feeding their faith throughout every facet of University life. I’ve seen it at award days I’ve attended and even some lecturers take the odd moment to preach a little much to the delight of many of my colleagues. I dare not make a complaint- I have been able to wear my Topi and kurta during classes and in the hospital, make Wudhu in the restrooms and read Salaah in some odd places without issue- so I avoid confrontation.
My point, however, is with regard to social work. Christians always advocate their ‘peace’ and ‘love’ rhetoric which provides a sharp contrast to the acidic way Muslims are portrayed basically everywhere. I am no Aalim but I know enough about Islam to know that love, kindness and philanthropy are some of the most important aspects of our a’amaals. However, I must admit that many Muslims don’t get involved directly in charity work and here I am referring especially to young boys. We have amazing organisations and  programs – the Jamiat, Gift of the Givers, etc but I have never felt, as a young Muslim boy at a Muslim school, that I had to physically do any kind of social work- that was for the sisters. In … School we did have hamper packing and at one stage we would hand out food parcels in …. Street. Donating to charity and giving out Sadaqah, Zakat and Lillah were things I knew from home but actually going out to help people, witnessing their hardships and physically assisting communities were rare opportunities. There was a time students visited …. to assist but that too was mostly girls.
Was not Nabi Muhamad (sallah hu alayhi wasalam) known for helping people himself? The story comes to mind of the time he helped a woman leaving the Mubarak city because of his work of Deen which she said tore apart families. When he had helped her most of the way she realized he was the one she was bad-mouthing resulting in her becoming Muslim. Was it not Hadhrat Umar (radiallahu anhu) that, while he was the Khalif, went out of his way to assist and serve the people himself despite his lofty post?
My issue is that most young boys I’ve spoken to would rather discuss their plans to make money or improve themselves in a more military field than even consider helping out the poor and needy that surround us. My concern is that we already have been marketed as an angry, bloodthirsty and destructive people yet Muslim, ourselves, make light of the way we behave. I get frustrated when I hear a Muslim make a joke about terrorism as I find it stupid and careless. I have been involved in a lot of community work since coming to … and I have to admit that helping people has a Sukoon and power of its own. I find that Muslims rarely consider how any career can be a form of Da’wah and a means to serve the community even if one is not an Aalim there is still great Islamic influence to be had in all fields. Christians constantly repeat how their work brings them closer to God and helps them re-affirm their faith or serve Him yet I seem to hear so little of this kind of sentiment when talking to many Muslims who are studying. Many admit, apathetically, they are just doing it for the money – how can they say that? How can a Muslim say that an exhausting endeavour like studying for a career is only for material gain? How can a person who believes in Allah and the hereafter be that nonchalant about something that will take up so much time? No! It’s not for money, it should be utilized as a means to show people what Islam is really about!
I am quite annoyed at this for many reasons but mostly because I feel that Christians have been effortless in the way they fuse religion with their academics yet Muslims still refuse to do so. We should definitely ignore those things that contradict Islam and stay firm on our Imaan but I see no reason to separate Islam from your work and in your dealings especially when it comes to attributing the Barakah of Allah to your success and conduct.

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