The religion of Islam speaks to the notion of self-sacrifice and giving of one’s self to others. Often, we find ourselves looking to accumulate more as opposed to being content. In reality, we should see the need to come to the support of others, especially those who are underprivileged. We should not only help our loved ones, but also support anyone who needs some sort of assistance. Whether it is through using our time, wealth, or by other means, service and self-sacrifice are beloved in the eyes of God if the intention is pure. God states in the Holy Quran, “Righteousness is not determined by facing East or West during prayer. Righteousness consists of the belief in God, the Day of Judgment, the angels, the Books of God, His Prophets; to give money for the love of God to relatives, orphans, the destitute, and those who are on a journey and in urgent need of money.”1

Lending a Helping Hand

Without question service to humanity is a calling within Islamic tradition that brings us closer to God. Upon reflection on the lives of the Prophet and his immaculate family (pbut), we see numerous traditions which speak to their care for the poor, the orphans, and the widows. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p) states, “Whoever satiates a hungry believer so [that] he is satisfied fully, neither of God’s creatures [including human beings] nor a near-stationed angel, nor a divine Messenger, knows how great his reward is in the Hereafter except God, the Lord of the Worlds.”2  For instance, when we take a look at our communities and the cities in which we live, we see rampant poverty and homelessness. According to a recent report by the Center for Poverty Research at the University of California, Davis, over 12% of the population in the United States, or close to 40 million people live in poverty.3 It was the custom of the Prophet and his family (pbut) to be a support for those who needed it, regardless of who they were. As followers of the best of creation (the Holy Prophet and his progeny), we should reflect on what steps we should be taking to relieve the trials of so many people.

Aiding the Oppressed

Unfortunately, we live in a world where millions of people are bound by the chains of oppression in a variety of facets—economic disparity, tyranny, and racism, to name a few. How many men, women, and children exist in the world whose struggles remain hidden from the public eye? Others have been stripped away from their rights by their own family members, such as young orphaned children in many parts of the world. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p) states, “The act of a believer who helps an oppressed believer is better than fasting for a month, and spending nights in worship in Masjid al-Haram. And every believer who helps his brother while has the the power to help him, God will help him in this world and the hereafter.”4 Every day, we should spend some time to reflect on our privileges and bounties and see what mechanisms we can employ to being a voice and an aid for those who are so desperate to receive it.

Bits of Advice

1. Supporting the homeless: The numbers, as mentioned earlier, of those who are homeless are incredibly staggering. Imam al-Sadiq (p) narrates, “Whoever feeds a believer, God will feed him from the food of Paradise. He who dresses him, God will give him clothing of brocade and silk. He who quenches the thirst of a believer, God will give him a drink from the [drinks of Paradise], and he who helps him or removes his grief, God will protect him under the shade of His throne on the Day of Reckoning when there is no shade except for His shade.”5 As the winter weather is approaching, we should think about ways to help the homeless stay warm. For example, we can participate in blanket and clothing drives to either donate or distribute them to the homeless so that they are able to stay warm. As noted in this beautiful tradition, putting forth an effort to help those in need by offering them clothing, food, or drink gives us immense blessings and rewards in the world beyond this one.

2. Giving to others what we love most: 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.”6 For example, some people love wealth and some love their time. Giving a portion of what we love the most to assist others will not only make us feel spiritually uplifted, but also allow us to break away from worldly attachments.

3. Offering prayers and supplications: We may sometimes think that we are unable to give anything tangible to help those in need, but giving does not only mean offering material things. We forget that one thing we can do is to send a prayer their way. We can pray to God to help ease their pain and somehow provide them with their needs, for He is “the One who answers the prayers of the distressed ones, removes their hardship.”7 Another Quranic verse states, “Your Lord has said, ‘Pray to Me for I shall answer your prayers.’”8 At the very least, keeping those who are underprivileged and going through trials and tribulations in our prayers and supplications to the Almighty has the potential to go a long way.

1. The Holy Quran 2:177. Quotes from the Quran in this blog are from the Muhammad Sarwar translation.
2. Al-kafi, vol. 2, p. 201.
3. “What Is the Current Poverty Rate in the United States?” UC Davis Center for Poverty Research,
4. Shaykh al-Saduq, Thawab al-amal, p. 147.
5. Shaykh al-Saduq, Al-amali, p. 357.
6. The Holy Quran 3:92.
7. The Holy Quran 27:62.
8. The Holy Quran 40:60.

1. لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ
2. عن امام الصادق (عليه السلام) قال: من أطعم مؤمنا حتى يشبعه لم يدر أحد من خلق الله ما له من الاجر في الآخرة، لا ملك مقرب ولا نبي مرسل إلا الله رب العالمين، ثم قال: من موجبات المغفرة إطعام المسلم السغبان
4. عن امام الصادق (عليه السلام) قال: ما من مؤمن يعين مؤمنا مظلوما إلا كان أفضل من صيام شهر واعتكافه في المسجد الحرام، وما من مؤمن ينصر أخاه وهو يقدر على نصرته إلا ونصره الله في الدنيا والآخرة
5. عن امام الصادق (عليه السلام) قال: من أطعم مؤمنا من جوع أطعمه الله من ثمار الجنة، ومن كساه من عري كساه الله من إستبرق وحرير، ومن سقاه شربة على عطش سقاه الله من الرحيق المختوم، ومن أعانه أو كشف كربته أظله الله في ظل عرشه يوم لا ظل إلا ظله
6. لَن تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ  وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِن شَيْءٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ
7. أَمَّن يُجِيبُ الْمُضْطَرَّ إِذَا دَعَاهُ وَيَكْشِفُ السُّوءَ وَيَجْعَلُكُمْ خُلَفَاءَ الْأَرْضِ أَإِلَـٰهٌ  ۚ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ مَّعَ اللَّـهِ
8. وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ  إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ



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