By Shabina S. Khatri
Ever held the door open for a coworker? Smiled at a baby? Overtipped a frazzled waiter? If so, good for you! Or…have you ever honked at someone in traffic? Yelled at an employee? Got caught lying/cheating/stealing? Each of these situations involves human interaction, which is dawah in its most basic form.
Contrary to popular belief, dawah isn’t something you do just on weekends. It’s a round-the-clock thing, especially in a country like the U.S., where Muslims are a minority and the probability of coming into contact with people of other faiths is so high. (As an aside, interacting with fellow Muslims is also a form of dawah, but that’s a whole other topic.)
On the flipside, however, don’t think that just because you greeted a neighbor or donated $100 to a local charity that you’ve done your duty as a Muslim. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities that we as a community should get involved in, not just in the name of dawah, but also for the sake of fun, for the chance to bond with our family and friends, and for the opportunity to prove that we are upstanding members of this society.
In short, do something for somebody else by donating your most precious resource: time. I promise you it’ll be well worth the effort. (Note: The following are suggestions for getting involved in secular activities, but are in no way meant to replace or substitute the work we should be doing for our fellow brothers and sisters in need.)
- Sign up to be a “Volunteer Ambassador” for Superbowl XL. That’s right, the Superbowl will be in Detroit next year, and our great city’s welcoming committee is recruiting over 8,000 people to meet and greet the 100,000+ visitors who will be flocking to Southeastern Michigan during Superbowl week (1/29/06-2/506). Volunteers MUST be cheerful, and the committee welcomes participation from faithbased groups and other organizations. This is a perfect chance to not only be a part of the Superbowl, but also represent our town and our faith to thousands of people (and millions of viewers). Bonus: events like these always attract celebrities. Imagine giving dawah to Tom Cruise!
Since this is an activity we can get involved in on a large-scale basis, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re interested in participating. If there’s enough interest, perhaps we can coordinate something with all of the area masjids, iA. More info is at /
- Become a companion to someone with memory loss. Befriend a family whose loved one has Alzheimer’s and give them a break by spending time with their memory-impaired relative. The commitment is eight hours a month, and volunteers will be trained by the Alzheimer’s Association, located in Southfield. More info is available at www.alzgmc.org/
- Field phone calls for a 24-hour crisis line with HAVEN, a non-profit group that offers treatment and prevention services across Oakland County. Sadly, nearly three million women are victims of domestic violence each year. Sign up to offer on-call crisis intervention to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse at Oakland County hospitals, police departments and HAVEN’s START center. This position requires a one-year commitment for a minimum of 24-hours of on-call time per month (don’t worry, they’ll train you first!). For more info, visit www.havenoakland.org.
- Volunteer for a quickie. Even if you don’t have time for a longterm commitment, try setting aside at least one day a month to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, donate blood (every 56 days), sign up to walk for charity, etc. Or forego an hour of TV and tutor a child, plant flowers, or bake cookies for a friend.
For extra motivation, let me close with this beautiful Bukhari hadith, narrated by Ali (R):
While we were in a funeral procession in Baqi Al-Gharqad, Allah’s Apostle came and sat down, and we sat around him. He had a small stick in his hand and he bent his head and started scraping the ground with it.
He then said, “There is none among you, and no created soul but has his place written for him either in Paradise or in the Hell-Fire, and also has his happy or miserable fate (in the Hereafter) written for him.”
A man said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we depend upon what is written for us and give up doing (good) deeds? For whoever among us is destined to be fortunate (in the Hereafter), will join the fortunate peoples and whoever among us is destined to be miserable will do such deeds as are characteristic of the people who are destined to misery.”
The Prophet said, “Those who are destined to be happy (in the Hereafter) will find it easy and pleasant to do the deeds characteristic of those destined to happiness, while those who are to be among the miserable (in the Hereafter), will find it easy to do the deeds characteristic of those destined to misery.” Then he recited: “As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and believes in the Best reward from Allah, We will make smooth for him the path of ease. But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself self sufficient, and gives the lie to the Best reward from Allah, we will make smooth for him the path for evil.” (92.5-10)
So…how “easy and pleasant” do we find it to do good deeds?