Serving the Creation

serving humanityAn Urdu term Khidmat-e-Khalq is widely understood in English as social service, social work or service to humanity. Ustadh Khurram Murad, may Allah grant him Jannat-ul-Firdaws, in a pamphlet titled “Khidmat-e-Khalq”, elaborates on the purpose of Islam and the wide-ranging meaning of serving Allah’s creation.

We usually ascribe meaning to a term in accordance with our experiences, observations and imitations of the way it has been implemented. Hence, when we say “Khidmat-e-Khalq” or “service of humanity”, we are overwhelmed by  images of ambulances, camps, NGOs, medicine and funeral rites aid, charity functions, orphanages, institutes for the education of poor and disabled and all forms of aids. In the real sense of the word, service has an intensive meaning according to Quran and Sunnah. What we in the modern times understand as social welfare, social service or service to humanity is a limited interpretation of “Khidmat-e-Khalq”.

welfare of the creations does not necessarily have to be a profession or an association to it rather, it is a lifestyle.

Khalq involves all the creations of Allah (swt), including animals, birds, plants and human beings. Rasoolullah (sa) demonstrated the perfect attitude we need to have while serving all types of creation.  If we analyze, after Iman, Allah (swt) always talks about some form of service to the creation in the Holy Quran when He Az Wajjal orders us to spend for His pleasure from our favorite worldly possessions. Serving the creation, in one form or the other, always comes second in the preference list of a Mumin.

“Whose hearts are filled with fear when Allah is mentioned; who patiently bear whatever may befall them (of calamities); and who perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and who spend (in Allah’s Cause) out of what We have provided them.” (Al-Hajj 22:35)

At many other places in the Quran, Allah (swt) guides people to feed the need or the ways to feed them. In Surah Baqarah, Allah (swt) asks his slaves to spend from their Rizq (provisions). Each and everything that Allah (swt) has provided us with is Rizq. Our money, food, wealth, property, time, health, age, heart, mind and body, all of these are part of our Rizq. Allah (swt) is Ar-Razzaaq, the Supreme Provider! It is mentioned in the Holy Quran: “Say: “Truly, my Lord enlarges the provision for whom He wills of His slaves, and (also) restricts (it) for him, and whatsoever you spend of anything (in Allah’s Cause), He will replace it. And He is the Best of providers.”” (Saba 34:39)

Hence, serving the creation of Allah, Al-Wadud, the Most Loving, is in the basic tenets of Islam. When this perfect religion was in its initial stages, the basic teachings that were given to the non-Muslims were based on this concept of service. One has to see how Hazrat Ja’far ibn Abi Talib (rta) explained the basics of Islam to king Negus.

He said, “O King! We were ignorant people and we lived like wild animals. The strong among us lived by preying upon the weak. We obeyed no law and we acknowledged no authority save that of brute force. We worshipped idols made of stone or wood, and we knew nothing of human dignity. And then God, in His Mercy, sent to us His Messenger who was himself one of us. We knew about his truthfulness and his integrity. His character was exemplary, and he was the most well-born of the Arabs. He invited us toward the worship of One God, and he forbade us to worship idols. He exhorted us to tell the truth, and to protect the weak, the poor, the humble, the widows and the orphans. He ordered us to show respect to women, and never to slander them. We obeyed him and followed his teachings…..”

We have to see the awe-inspiring way Islam has been introduced at the international level. Would it be wrong to say that service of Allah’s creation (Khidmat-e-Khalq) is thus, the main aim of Islam? If we keep Akhirah in our permanent perspective, we will understand that the best and foremost way to serve the creation means to save the creation from the fire of Jahanum, the wrath and the displeasure of Allah (swt).

the best and foremost way to serve the creation means to save the creation from the fire of Jahanum, the wrath and the displeasure of Allah (swt).

As Surah Al-Maun and Surah Mudassir teach us, welfare of the creations does not necessarily have to be a profession or an association to it rather, it is a lifestyle. Our lifestyle should depict it; serving the all the creation of Allah Az Wajjal, with our body, mind and soul.

If Islam means being Allah’s (swt) slave 24/7, which it does undoubtedly, then 90 to 95 percent of our life period revolves around humanity, animals, plants and every other marvelous creation.  The most primary but excellent form of service one can render to the creation is saving it from being hurt by one’s actions.

Abu Musa said, “I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, whose Islam is best?’ He said, ‘The one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe.'” (Agreed upon : Riyadh-us-Saaliheen)

Adapted by Mariam Saeed from Khurram Murad’s “Khidmat-e-Khalq”

[Hadeeth Commentary] Avoid Harming Yourself and Others

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Related on the authority of Abu Sa’id Sa’d bin Malik bin Sinan al-Khudri that the Prophet (sa) said: “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.” (An excellent Hadeeth which Ibn Majah, Al-Daraqutni and others related as of sound Isnad, but which Malik related in his Muwatta’ as of broken Isnad, from ‘Amr bin Yahya, from his father, from the Prophet (sa), but dropping (the name of) Abu Sa’id. This Hadeeth has lines of transmission, which strengthens one another (so that it may be regarded as of sound Isnad.)

A pithy Hadeeth, which reflects Islam’s mission statement; preventing harm and being useful/beneficial to others. This Hadeeth is all about the attitude of a believer. Remember, even before you harm Allah’s (swt) creations, you actually harm yourself. This concept is a trait that every Muslim must have if he wants to implement this Hadeeth in his life.

pic2This Hadeeth becomes the basis for the rules of behaviour in Islam. Some of them according to the commentary in 40 Hadeeth of an-Nawawi are:

  1. Harm is to be prevented as much as possible.
  2. Harm is to be eradicated.
  3. Harm is not to be removed by a similar harm.
  4. A greater harm can be removed by a lesser harm.
  5. Based on rule number 4, if one has to choose between two harms, precedence is given to a lower harm, in order to avoid the greater harm.
  6. Preventing harm takes precedence over gaining or attaining benefits.
  7. If there is a conflict between factors permitting something and others prohibiting something, the prohibition takes precedence; that is, it is going to be given the priority.
  8. Something harmful is not given precedence just because it was pre-existing. In other words, the pre-existence of something does not allow it to continue to exist and be the cause of harm.To demonstrate rule number eight, let’s step into Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). There was a Masjid built in a neighbourhood. Many years later, that area became densely populated – houses were built around the Masjid. As per custom, when the Muadh-dhin (caller to prayer) wanted to make the call for prayer (Adhan), he climbed the minaret. The jurists decided that the Muadh-dhin must cease the use of the minaret, so that no harm was caused to the people in the houses below (as from the top of the minaret, he could see into other people’s homes and thus invaded their privacy).

Two words in this Hadeeth are similar. The root word is Dādrārā – to harm – ‘do not harm’ / ‘no harming’. ‘Do not harm’ encompasses not harming yourself and not harming anyone around you whether intentionally or unintentionally. If it is unintentional, then as soon as you realize your mistake, you must correct it. Sometimes you are not even aware of the fact that you are harming yourself – but as soon as you recognize it, you must stop. This is caused by the negative thought patterns or a feeling of superiority; “I am better than…” The application of this Hadeeth in our lives thoroughly depends upon two factors: our thoughts and our attitude. Even though it is a simple concept, it is the hardest Hadeeth to apply upon ourselves. All our actions are the result of our thoughts, so we must control our thoughts from causing harm to ourselves and others.

“O You who believe! Make not unlawful the Taiyibât (all that is good as regards foods, things, deeds, beliefs, persons, etc.) which Allâh has made lawful to you, and transgress not. Verily, Allâh does not like the transgressors.” (AlMaidah 5:87)

So remember, we cannot transgress against ourselves, others, animals and even plants or trees.
 

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Is there ever a justifiable reason to cause harm?
 
Ibn Rajab says that the Prophet (sa) said: “If the main objective is to actually cause the harm then this is totally prohibited.” Any act that causes harm to others, whether individually or as a community, and whether it is beneficial or not beneficial to the one who causes it, is prohibited in Islam. It should not exist in the first place and if it does, then a deliberate effort should be made to remove or minimize it.