Among the most important themes within Islamic tradition is the emphasis on service, to give of one’s self by means of wealth, time, or knowledge. Within Islamic history, there are specific personalities who have exemplified the meaning of service in impeccable ways, and they also serve role models for our own behavior. One of those individuals is Lady Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (p), a woman who personified the meaning of service and selflessly giving for the cause of her beloved husband, the messenger of God, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp). Lady Khadijah (p) was known for her generosity in giving of her wealth for her religion. God says to the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) in the Holy Quran, “And did He not find you [in need] and make you rich?”1 This verse refers to Lady Kadijah (p), but it is important to note that her giving transcended her financial value, as she served the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) and her religion with her consolation, her words, and her support.

Service and Generosity in Islam

The religion of Islam emphasizes giving in whatever capacity we can. God states, “You can never have extended virtue and righteousness unless you spend part of what you dearly love for the cause of God. God knows very well whatever you spend for His cause.”2 In other words, the highest level of virtue and righteousness cannot be attained unless we give from that which is most valuable to us.

It is important to note that generosity and charity can come in different forms. Some of us may think that generosity only means giving from our wealth. However, it can extend to our time, our knowledge, and ourselves including our presence, our attention, and our listening. For example, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p) says, “The charity of knowledge is that you teach it to those who do not know.”3 Sharing information and disseminating knowledge is a means of receiving divine blessings and rewards in addition to supporting the progress of our communities.

Service, generosity, and charity are all important practices within Islamic tradition that help us to progress individually and communally. It is vital that we hold these values dear because it helps us to grow as a Muslim community, walking in the footsteps of the Prophet and his family (pbut).

The Service and Generosity of Lady Khadijah

In Islamic history, only a few individuals have personified the meaning of service and generosity in the same way as Lady Khadijah (p). A famous saying states, “Islam would not have spread if it was not for the wealth of Khadijah.”4 Her selflessness is an example for every single one of us, for she truly dedicated herself to the infallible message of the Quran and the Messenger. As mentioned earlier, Lady Khadijah (p) did not give only her wealth to support the way of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp). Her care, support, love, and dedication to the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) during his time of need were just as valuable as her tangible giving. The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) said, “Who is like Khadijah? She believed in me [as the messenger of God] when people rejected me, and she supported me [in establishing] the religion of God by contributing her wealth.”5

Bits of Advice

1. Smile and speak good words:  Every small effort we put forth in the way of God is a manifestation of service and charity. The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) stated, “Smiling at your brother [in faith] is charity.”6 In another tradition, the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) said, “A good word is charity.”7 Offering something as simple as a smile, or a positive word to a family member, friend, or colleague can potentially make a huge difference in their day.

2. Volunteer: As noted earlier, we often have much time during our days, and thus it is important to give out of it wisely in service to our local communities. Imam Musa al-Kadhim (p) said in a tradition, “Your assistance to the weak is amongst the best forms of charity.”8 If we can be of service to someone who needs our help, we should certainly do so. But more importantly, we should make time out of our days, weeks, or even months to volunteer and partner  with organizations that are doing impactful work.

3- Recognize your talent to serve your faith: Deep within ourselves, we have a lot of potential to use our talents to make communal differences. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) said, “Everything good [that one does] is a form of charity.”9 We should spend time to reflect upon how we can make a difference with our writing, speaking, wealth, service, and help to cause the progress of our communities.

1.     The Holy Quran 93:8. Quranic quotes in this blog use the Muhammad Sarwar translation.
2.     The Holy Quran 3:92.
3.     Mizan al-hikmah, vol. 3, p. 2074.
4.     Al-hayri, Sharajat tubah, vol. 2, p. 233.
5.     Bihar al-anwar, vol. 43, p. 131.
6.     Mizan al-hikmah, vol. 2, p. 1597.
7.     Mizan al-hikmah, vol. 2, p. 1597.
8.     Mizan al-hikmah, vol. 2, p. 1599.
9.     Mizan al-hikmah, vol. 2, p. 1597.

1-     قال تعالى في كتابه المجيد ((وَوَجَدَكَ عَائِلًا فَأَغْنَىٰ))
2-     قال تعالى في كتابه المجيد ((لَن تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِن شَيْءٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ))
3-     روي عن الإمام الصادق (ع) أنه قال “إن لكل شيء زكاة، وزكاة العلم أن يعلمه أهله”
4-     روي عن النبي (ص) أنه قال “ما قام ولا استقام ديني إلا بشيئين: مال خديجة وسيف علي بن أبي طالب”
5-     روي عن النبي (ص) أنه قال “خديجة وأين مثل خديجة، صدقتني حين كذبني الناس وآزرتني على دين الله وأعانتني عليه بمالها”
6-     روي عن النبي (ص) أنه قال “تبسمك في وجه أخيك صدقة”
7-     روي عن النبي (ص) أنه قال “الكلمة الطيبة صدقة”
8-     روي عن الإمام الكاظم (ع) أنه قال “عونك للضعيف من أفضل الصدقة”
9-     روي عن النبي ص أنه قال “كل معروف صدقة”

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