Today is International Charity Day; a day which serves to increase social responsibility across the world.

The act of charity is something we are all familiar with. It is an act that is instilled within the core principles of Islam. The act of Sadaqah.  

Sadaqah is a virtuous and rewarding deed, which draws us closer to Allah (swt).  It is a pinnacle part of our faith and there are endless rewards and benefits in giving, both in this world and the hereafter.

The Prophet (saw) said:

“When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him (for the deceased).” (Muslim)

It also helps repel calamity, increases wealth and guards you against the hellfire. These are only a few of the rewards and benefits of giving in Sadaqah. Whilst we are blessed to still be alive, and be in the position where we are still able to give, and reap the rewards of Sadaqah, we should maximise the opportunity and support others who are struggling closest to home, who are often forgotten and overlooked.  Single mothers who spend nights unable to sleep, tossing and turning worrying about how there is enough to go around. Children who are unable to feel joy as they feel the loss of their father, abandoned by their close friends and family which leaves them further isolated.

On the International Day of Charity, you can remind these families that they have not been forgotten.

Beyond the pound and pennies

The Prophet (saw) told us that every day, “Upon every one of your joints in the morning is charity due.” (Abu Dawud). But the act of Sadaqah is not restricted to giving only wealth. Islam considers all good deeds that increase our faith as Sadaqah.

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “To smile in the company of your brother is charity. To command to do good deeds and to prevent others from doing evil is charity. To guide a person in a place where he cannot get astray is charity. To remove troublesome things like thorns and bones from the road is charity. To pour water from your jug into the jug of your brother is charity. To guide a person with defective vision is charity for you.” (Bukhari)

Most of us would regard the act of charity as beneficial to the recipient. However, the act of charity is far more impactful on both parties. It is and equally rewarding for the giver – something we often overlook.  Being a support for someone emotionally, or offering your services and time to help uplift and empower someone is equally as valuable. Often we overlook the weight and impact of offering someone a shoulder to lean on or a few hours of your day to help them.

True happiness comes from serving others

We live in a fast-paced world, where we often go days or weeks without having a meaningful conversation with someone. This can leave us feeling disconnected from our surroundings and loved ones. Although we fill our hours with the latest technology, social media, and outings, we often feel as though we are unfulfilled.

This feeling can often be tackled by doing something which is greater than yourself; by helping someone, by uplifting and empowering someone who is struggling, or simply by engaging in conversation with someone who feels isolated and lonely. Although we may feel as if we are doing them a favour, the reality is that by helping them, you are helping yourself.

Volunteering and giving in charity increases well-being, both emotionally and physically. It can increase self-esteem and self-worth, whilst also allowing you to meet new people from different walks of life.

A great example of helping others to help yourself is Uzma. Uzma describes her own journey of how volunteering brought her happiness and gave her purpose. “I suddenly found myself with nothing to do, and I felt like I didn’t have any focus, so I fell into a state of depression. It became more and more difficult to get out of bed in the mornings. It was my children who suggested I should volunteer for HHUGS. Volunteering gave me a tremendous sense of purpose. In all honesty, I always thought happiness would come from me owning property, or from my children being happily married with their own homes and good incomes. But now that I’m close to my 60s, I’ve realised this isn’t my source of happiness. True happiness comes from serving others.”

Pushing beyond your limits

Although the act of giving in charity in any manner is rewarding, there are moments in life where you are gifted to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. We often strive for greatness in other aspects of our lives, such as academically or professionally. However, we often fail to believe in our own ability to complete a physical challenge, or fundraising challenge to help benefit others. By doing this, not only are you pushing yourself to raise as much funds as you can to help these families, you are aiming for success.

There is great reward when taking part in a challenge; not only are you connecting with others and meeting new people, you are pushing yourself to your limits, to see what you are capable of. Developing this mind-set can have a huge impact on other aspects of your life. In other instances, when you are ready to give up, you will be inspired by your own ability to push through, remain resilient and succeed.

An example of inspiring others, and pushing through is Ahmed’s climb in North Africa.  However, Ahmed’s story is unlike others; he climbed a mountain for HHUGS in 2018, even though he has a heart condition.

“Fifty percent of the muscles in my heart aren’t functioning properly, so I’ve had two small tubes, called stents, inserted into my arteries to make it easier for blood to flow around my body. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I was determined to take part in this trek through Morocco so I could help fundraise for families supported by HHUGS.”

Ahmed held strong belief that Allah (swt) would grant him the strength and resilience to push him. This firm belief and his drive to help others allowed him to progress throughout the climb.

“It can take up to 10 hours to climb up Toubkal, but I managed to do it in just under four. From the top, I could see the valleys we’d passed, the Atlantic coast to the west, and the Sahara Desert to the east.

“I couldn’t believe I’d made it! It had been the biggest challenge of my life, and there were times I’d thought I wouldn’t get to the end – but my determination to support a cause I truly believe in helped me to keep going.”

Have an impact

We desire to have an impact on this world, to leave a legacy where we are remembered. Some may do this by investing time in their education or their business, others may focus on raising their children to leave a legacy through their example. 

By volunteering your time, or by gifting others with your time, support, or financial aid is leaving a legacy and having an impact. Whether it’s by listening to someone discuss their concerns, to volunteering your time to do a task for someone, you can have a profound impact on someone’s life without ever being aware of the extent of it. Your actions, no matter whether you regard them as great or small, can be the lifeline that someone needs to change their life around, to again believe that there are people that care, and that there is good left in this world.

We often overlook the simplicity and beauty in simple kindness. In being respectful, supportive and accommodating to others. In reaching out to people when they need support, and by encouraging others to do so.

Reward for reward

Although we experience great rewards for our charity and volunteering, in terms of our emotional and physical well-being in this world, we, as Muslims, are promised the reward in the next too. The act of charity is a pinnacle of our belief, and it is an act to draw closer to Allah (swt).

“Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter. Whoever alleviates [the situation of] one in dire straits who cannot repay his debt, Allah will alleviate his lot in both this world and in the Hereafter.” (Muslim)

There are many ways to help others, to give or to support. If you unable to support others financially then begin by changing lives with your time and skills. There is something to suit everyone, and the first step is to find it.

On the International Day of Charity, why not start your volunteering journey with HHUGS? Make that first step and have an impact on both your life and the lives of others.