“While a man was on the way, he found a thorny branch of a tree on the way and removed it. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Hadith No. 652)
That’s all it takes. You’re walking down College Avenue, heading toward class. The wind blows, and a plastic bag tumbles in your direction. Do you let it blow past you? Or do you grab it and throw it out? Most of us, myself included, would do the former.
The wind won’t always relieve us from having to care by blowing the world’s problems behind us. How about we change our habits and not turn a blind eye to the problems of the world? One day, a disastrous hardship might knock at our doorsteps, signed, sealed, delivered, and then what? Would you then ask for people’s help and gape at the lack of response? Well, one day, that plastic bag might just hit us in the face, and then what? Would you think, “damn, someone should’ve thrown that out before it hit me in the face”? Help others for the sake of Allah and you will be helped when calamities strike you.
Allah isn’t asking you to take the first flight to Sudan and deliver food and water to everyone within your reach. Allah has put reward and sadaqah (charity) in the most miniscule of good deeds such as picking up trash as seen in the aforementioned hadith and this next one:
After Aisha (ra), gave half a grape to a beggar, someone asked her whether there was any good in her action, and Aisha (ra) said, “Are you amazed? How many atoms’ weights do you see in this grape?” She (ra) was referring to the ayah in the Qur’an: “Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good see it!” (Surah Al-Zilzal, 99:7).
No good deed is too small to be rewarded. Count how many times you could’ve done something as easy as picking up a piece of trash from the sidewalk in any given day. So often, we only avoid doing bad deeds, when in fact doing good deeds is what will add to the blank pages of our books on the final day.
In his first khutbah, the Prophet (saw) said, ‘O people, spread salam, feed the hungry, and pray at night when others are sleeping – you’ll enter Jannah in peace’” (narrated by Ibn Majah). Something worth noting is that 2/3 of that list is about spreading peace and giving charity!
Aside from the reward, we should perform good deeds because our call of duty comes from Allah, and there is no higher standard than that. “You are the best people ever raised for the good of mankind because you have been raised to serve others; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in Allah.” (3:111). These are our obligations as Muslims, but realize, this ayah says we must enjoin in what is good, and then forbid evil. We have to be living at the highest standards of moral observance, and if we don’t do that, we can’t call anyone else up to that standard. Walk the walk before you talk the talk, in other words.
So what will be your excuse on the last day? There weren’t enough opportunities? Just remember we live in New Brunswick and outside the college town, it’s a fairly impoverished place. There are too many places we can volunteer: homeless shelters and soup kitchens, hospitals like RWJ and St Peters. We really have no excuses. Anyone reading this is most probably part of the MSA, and currently, there is a food drive for Smile, but the boxes in the student centers are looking a little… empty.
It is important to note that with or without our help, the deen will be successful; a great question to ask yourself is: in times that are difficult and easy, will you strive to be part of its success? Helping others even while facing your own troubles is one of the most beautiful things a person can do because “verily with every hardship comes ease” [94:6]. Once you’ve done good in the face of hardship, continue doing good without rest. Anyone who suffers hardships and stands upright against the winds of sorrows with patience will taste the sweetness of its fruits. On this day, voices of wrongdoers fade, the roads of success are paved, and following the path of Allah will be made easy.