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Answered  by Selma Cook


Questions and Answers – Why Volunteer?Question One:



I understand that volunteering is a good training place for practicing the soft skills and self-development, but what about come to situation where students need to learn how to earn money as a practice of self-reliance as well?



Salam alaikum, many thanks for sending in your question. I think this is a very important one. Volunteering v earning a living…..


It is very easy for terms like ‘volunteering’ to become cliché. When we talk about it, certain images come to mind and if we are not careful, we may limit its meaning.


We can look at the subject of volunteering from many perspectives. Yes, it does help the person develop many soft skills, and it does help him/her to grow in self-esteem. But really, we have to ask, is that why we do it?


There is also the issue that we have to earn money to live and this is an important responsibility that should not be ignored. But I don’t see that we have to separate the two.


‘Volunteering’, or we could say, ‘giving back to the world’, is a way of life: it is the way we approach our life. It is a general attitude of giving, caring and thinking beyond our own selves. I have met many amazing people and one thing they all have in common is that they managed to combine earning their living with work that benefits others in real terms. I guess that is the peak of the ‘volunteer lifestyle’.


So, volunteering is an attitude of giving and thoughtfulness. It’s about empathy and selflessness. It is the true and essential spirit of Islam and once adopted, it spills over onto all aspects of the person’s life and enriches his/her life and those around him. 

Many people are caught up in the cycle of gaining money and this can be a frustrating process especially in the context of the worldwide recession. In this way, the volunteer attitude gets thrown to the back and overlooked – for now. The truth is though, that the more we give, the more we receive. The more we help our fellow-man the more barakah (blessings and increase) we will find in our own lives.




Question Two:


How to balance between volunteer work and my studies? 




Salam alaikum, many thanks for your question. It is always a challenge to create balance in our lives, but if we can do that, we will be able to achieve many things.


First of all, it is important to remember that we limit ourselves more than our circumstances limit us. If we want to have more time, more barakah (blessings and increase), achieve more, and do more we have to think in a positive way.  


Our thinking paves the way for our words and actions and the direction of our life. So if a person wants to study well plus be involved in volunteer work he has to think in a positive way; not conjure up all the negative ideas associated with it.


Next, we should remember that volunteer work is a state of mind; it is a committed desire to give to others, to care about people and issues, and to be the one who reaches out, stands up and does something about it (in whatever way we can). The sky is the limit! But the first step is to adjust our thinking and flood ourselves with positive thoughts, while developing a positive attitude and approach to people and life in general.


It is not necessary that the person actually registers in an organization (although this is very helpful). If you are busy studying, working or are engaged in any other important pursuit, you can keep the ‘volunteer’ spirit alive by doing good and reaching out to the people around you everyday. If you manage to do this, when your circumstances change (as they inevitably do), you will instantly get involved in bigger and better projects because this spirit is alive in your heart.



Question Three:


How can participating in volunteer work enrich my personality? 




Salam alaikum, many thanks for your question. We are making impacts on our personality all the time. We are either developing ourselves or declining – there is never a state of stagnation. If we really understand this, we will do all that it takes to grow, and to better ourselves.


When we do volunteer work, ideally, we are doing something for someone else without any thought of self. If we can reach this level of giving, we will develop the most important qualities that form a good character. What are some of those qualities? A generous heart, kindness, empathy, thoughtfulness, selflessness, and much more.


In doing good to others, you will also draw circles of love around yourself and others. People will love and respect you because human nature (in its pure form) appreciates such qualities. Indeed, one of the best ways to develop yourself is to do things for others with a spirit of love and generosity. Such efforts are never wasted and even if there are people who may not appreciate your efforts, the Creator certainly does and it is Him after all, that gives you your rizk (livelihood and resources in life).


Also, giving to others softens the heart and eliminates negativity and any feelings of grudge, bitterness or pain. In fact, it is hard to say who actually benefits more: the one who gives, or the one who receives.



Question Four:


What are the volunteering fields, that can help me to enrich my character? 




Salam alaikum, many thanks for your question.

We enrich our character by any good thing we do with a good intention. One of the best ways is to give back to the world and help others who need our help. There are levels of this. There are huge organizations that travel the world helping those in need like, Doctors without Borders, and Islamic Relief. Then there are local charities and organizations that work in areas like the environment, helping displaced people, or the needy in our area.


But we shouldn’t limit volunteer work to organizations, as ‘giving back’ can be done at school, university, in the work place or even in the home. People often place more value on volunteer work that is done for people who live far from us, but this is not right, because the people who most deserve our good treatment are our families and neighbors.


Even if a person is himself poor or in difficult circumstances, he can still be a part of ‘volunteer work’ by helping those around him, having a positive attitude, a smile and a kind word. Making such things part of our everyday life, keeps the spirit of volunteer work alive and so when our situation changes or improves, we will automatically move on to bigger and better ways of giving.  



Question Five:


salam alakom, there is not much volunteer work going on where i live. what are some of the projects you know about? Is it possible to get involved? 




Salam alaikum, many thanks for your question. There is a lot of great work going on but of course, there could always be more.

One of the best projects I’ve heard about is being done by Aisha Wangari in Kenya. She is working with IDP (internally displaced people) and she and a very small team are changing the lives of many miserable people.


Right now, there are no other Muslim organizations working with these people. So as you can see, there is much to do. You can contact Aisha on this email aishakam@hotmail.com


Also, in the UK there is Natural Health, Nature’s Finest and they are leading the way in giving people the chance to volunteer and spread the message of giving back to the world.


The UK is actually very active in volunteer work and there are also a lot of people in need there. In Ramadan, 2009, an organization called ‘IF’ made an international event to feed people during the last ten days of Ramadan, including homeless people in London.


So, the work is going on and will continue to do so, the question is whether or not we will be part of it!



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