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.” (ZAARIAT 51 : 56)
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: Worship to Allah and Service to mankind.
That is, Huqooqullah – Duty towards Allah; Huqooqulibad – Duty towards mankind.
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, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion of your side, the wayfarer (Ye meet) And what your right hand trosses, for God loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious.” (AL NISA 4 : 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 Muhammad (PBUH), it is crystal clear that service of the people in need is a matter of priority to a God-fearing man.
Allah 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 supplant the view that conditions, traditions and practices that germinate ills are completely forbidden:
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. (AL BAQARAH 2: 177).
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.
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 Eeman (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 (Rali) 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 Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) said:
“Humility and Courtesy are acts of piety. Modesty and chastity are the parts 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 gives and the left hand does not know about it.”
How to achieve these objectives of Islamic social services?
The Qur’an 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.
Sayings of Prophet Muhammad: What actions are most excellent?
To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the wrongs of the injured.
He who tries to remove the want of his brother, whether he is successful or not, God will forgive his sins.
As narrated by No'man bin Bashir, the prophet (PBUH) said:
“Mutual love, tenderness, and compassion among the believers work like a human body. When one part becomes sick the whole body gets weak due to sleeplessness and fever.” (Bukhari & Muslim).
As discussed in most introductory social work texts, Relationship Building is fundamental for successful social work. Here comes our Public Relation (PR) activities.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to receive people warmly, welcome them, and let them be comfortably seated. After he shakes hands, the Prophet never used to draw away his hand from the other person’s hand till the latter drew away his hand.
Most of the time, the Prophet used to face completely the person whom he was talking. This behaviour would show the person he was interacting with involvement, interest, and attentive listening.
He never used to turn away his face from the person till the latter turned away his face. The Prophet was calm, approachable, and an attentive listener. Any person used to hold the Prophet’s hand and take him wherever he wanted.
In the meetings, he was never seen squatting in such a way that his knees protruded further than others. The Prophet’s seating behaviour conveyed humility and respect for others. He used to smile almost always in the face of others.
The Prophet’s companions loved him more than they loved their children.
Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) above-mentioned attending behaviours are highly congruent with non-verbal behaviours, which are among the major ingredients of social work practice skills.
"And say (to people) : Act; so God will see your actions and (so will) His Messenger and the believers; and you shall be brought back to the Knower of the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did." (AT THOWBA 9:105)
Essentially, social service is the beginning of an end to social problems which are the product of social living.
A man prefers to live in groups due to socio-economic and psychological reasons. So long as mutual understanding, co-operation, love and respect among fellow beings persist, the collective living results in the formation of an ideal society.
But as soon as ulterior motives, vicious designs, and cut-throat competition thwart the positive thinking and action, then the society gets engulfed with vices, ills and evils. The reign of ills and evils becomes a matter of social concern particularly to the conscious group of the society. The concern converts into action, i.e., social action.
Social service or social work is thus a natural outcome of the awareness on the part of the people that a particular social situation is a threat and that the existing situation can be altered only by collective action.
According to Coller’s encyclopedia, “social work is defined as a professional service which uses social scientific techniques to alleviate economic, social and emotional distresses among individual, group and communities.”
The scope and dimension of the modern social work are multi-faceted and wide.
On the one hand, assistance in cash or kind to the needy to rid him from his immediate problems and worries is treated as social service. And on the other hand, assistance to the people for restoration of their self-sufficiency is included in the sphere of social services.
Over and above, efforts physical or mental directed to remove such conditions and factors which create or are likely to create ills are treated as the most desired type of social activity. That is how the modern literature of social service classifies social work:
a) Firstly, Palliative social work which is directed towards alleviation of already existing economic stresses which includes various measures like assistance in cash or kind.
b) Secondly, Protective or Rehabilitative social work which aims at restoring self-sufficiency by removing dependency upon others, and
c) Finally, Preventive or Curative social activity which is directed towards the elimination of those factors in the environment or personality that prevent achieving maximum desirable standard of social and economic well-being.
And charity is not only to the near and dear ones, but whosoever requires it.
To persuade people to undertake social activities, several traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are reported in the Books of traditions. Imam Bukhari reports in Kitabul Adab that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Those striving for help to widows and poor people are like those striving in the way of Allah.”
“Recommend for help (to needy) you will get the reward from Allah.”
In Kitabul Ata’ama, Imam Bukhari reports that the Prophet ordered the people to feed hungry, take care of sick and free the slaves.
“The one who visits the sick is in fact like one who is in the fruit garden of Paradise as long as he does not return.” (Muslim Kithabul Birr)
“Allah shows not mercy to them who are not merciful to the people.” (Sahih Muslim)
Concern of the Creator about the needy and indigents can be understood from the following Hadith-e-Qudusi :
“O son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me. He would say: O my Lord, how could I visit You whereas You are the Lord of worlds? Thereupon He would say: Did not you know that such and such servant of Mine was sick but you did not visit him and were you not aware of this that if you had visited him, you would have found Me by him? O son of Adam, I asked food from you but you did not feed Me? He would say: My Lord how I could feed You whereas You are the Lord of the worlds? He would say: Didn’t you know that such and such servant of Mine asked food from you but you didn’t feed him and were you not aware that if you had fed him you would have found him by My side? O son of Adam, I asked drink from you but you didn’t provide Me. He would Say: My Lord how could I provide You whereas You are the Lord of the worlds? Thereupon, He would say: Such and such servant of Mine asked you for a drink but you didn’t provide him. And had you provided him drink you would have found him near Me?” (Sahih Muslim)
Regarding the close relations of the believers, the Prophet is reported to have said that:
“Muslims are like one body of person. If the eye is sore, whole body aches and if the head aches, the whole body aches.”
“Believers are like one person. If his head aches, the whole body aches with fever and sleeplessness.” (Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim)
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.