Volunteerism


Work without rewards in sight

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Volunteerism

 

“There is nothing good in most of their whisperings except (in his) who bids charity or goodness or peace among people, and whoever does this seeking the pleasure of God, We shall give him a great recompense”. (Al-Quran 4:114)

 

Volunteerism is known the world over for doing work without the motivation of gaining any financial or material reward. This is known to be a work or system whereby any individual or a group of individuals devote their time, energy and money (to some extent) towards achieving a common goal or service to the community. In return to their service they do not seek any reward and money. We have seen such people who do tremendous work as a free service to humanity. There are big names that have devoted their life and time for volunteer work. Celebrities have devoted portion of their time for such activities. The celebrities by virtue of their name add glamour to the volunteer work. Actors and Actresses, sportsmen and sportswomen are the most active volunteers, may be because they attract attention in whatever they do and look active in this.

There are a number of other successful people who spend a part of their income and time towards the welfare of the people. Over the last few years the concept of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has also become famous within the corporate world. The organizations whose main focus had been profit-making are now, spending a large amount of their income on social work. They volunteer their employees to do social work on their behalf. In this way companies go on to do social work and interestingly employees are paid to do such a work, because all employees use their official/paid time toward volunteer activity or CSR.

This concept has power and drive for organizations. But does this power and drive drain down to its people and how does this help individuals getting to the basic idea of volunteer work and complete the covenant as given by Allah in the verse stated at the start of this article and again as below. Hence a company sponsored social/volunteer work is not supposed to be a feather in your cap. Where is your individuality in this.

“……..and do good deeds, haply you may succeed” (Al-Quran 22:77)

Many may argue about the good deeds, however, let us not waste our time in this argument. Let us go straight to the point of good deeds in terms of work that is done to help, serve and assist others without any desire to be recompensed in kind. If we desire or do not desire it does not matter as Allah promises reward. It is also His prerogative if He provides his reward here or in the life hereafter.

Volunteer work is not all about giving charity: Many people believe that volunteer work is based on giving money only to the poor, feeding them or giving them something in charity. If one does not have money one cannot possibly do the volunteer work. Allah (swt) says in Quran “………..God has given a higher degree to those who strive with their wealth and lives over those who stay behind………” (4:95). This verse adjoins the higher grades in the eyes of Allah (swt) with the higher striving. This higher striving is related to wealth and life. The same verse in the beginning bars only those who are disabled or cannot move out from the house. But for all others there is a greater reward if they do what Allah says. The wealth is not to be confused with money alone. The wealth can be any skill that an individual posses. The skill can be teaching, writing, driving, accounting, drafting, skills related to any other manual work or any other God gifted trait or learned behavior. All these skills are wealth as they can be used to generate income and create material wealth. The second part in this divine message is the striving with lives. Now anyone who is in good health and sound mind must move out to use all the goodly resources to work and strive. Charity, thus is not only giving away of money but a struggle with wealth and life.

Volunteer work has rewards though not instant. Volunteer work may not have quick rewards. Volunteer work has a system of rewards that is known only to the one who does volunteer work. The reward is higher self esteem, becoming a giving hand, greater satisfaction of the time spent and motivation to do more. However, these concepts may seem superficial to those who are yearning to have a paid job. Our experience have suggested that whenever, we have started a volunteer work Allah (swt) has rewarded us from some other means. This volunteer work, though, was a part of our commitment to spread the message of Allah and to become a deputy of Allah on earth.

I was part of a team more than fourteen years ago when we had to market seminars and training programs for our company. This was a very difficult task as the concept was new at the time and there were very few buyers of the unique programs that we had to market. All these programs were meant for people to transform their lives according to the blessings and messages of Allah. At the start of the marketing of each program we usually got around one month. In order to call for paid nominations of over 200 people we had to utilize a number of options. One of these options was to give free lectures in schools, colleges and universities. Although all the programs were not directly related to the students, yet we kept on delivering lectures to them and giving them free advises on different aspects of career and life. We also delivered free lectures in hospitals, charity organizations, public welfare departments and NGOs. We never charged anything from them. For this we went to other cities as well. We asked a number of such organizations who could not pay the fee for our programs to let us deliver our motivational talk free of cost to them. The results of these volunteer activities were many such as 1) confidence to speak in front of the people 2) reaching out to more number of people 3) boosting our self esteem whereby we were able to give something free to people 4) helping spread our name to the people. I remember our paid training programs remained fill most of the time, our consulting work kept on going, our publication work did not suffer and yet we kept on reaching to people by giving our free time to them and helping them change their lives.

I do not have time for volunteer work I better spend this time to search and research for the job: How many hours a normal human being has – 24 hours? How many hours an abnormal human being have same? Yes same hours, but why we have a normal and an abnormal human being. Abnormal are those (although they are made abnormal in the current culture) who believe in working for more hours and wasting less hours in vain talk and activities. If you are searching for a job, you possibly have all the time in the world at your disposal. You might have spent only few hours of the day searching and researching for the job. All evening and late evenings are at your disposal even Saturday’s and Sunday’s. All the time in the world is at your disposal when you are out of job. Be proactive and look out as to when and where you can utilize your time properly. We are sure you can get any place around where you can spend your time productively while learning something and doing a volunteer work. Let us consider this hypothesis. Suppose there are two people. One has experience of 16 years and work 8 hours a day. There is another person who has 8 years of experience but works 16 hours a day. Both will have same experience till now. If both continue on the same path, soon the second person can easily over take the first one. Now if the second one is the person who is looking for a job and has a habit of spending sixteen hours of his day in work he might very well find time to do volunteer work.

Let me share with you an example of a person[1] who spent his time in teaching others in his own time and was rewarded heavily in later years. His immediate reward was the love of his classmates, increase in his knowledge and concepts and the personal satisfaction of adding value to life. During his education he was offering free lectures and study assistance to his class fellows. He would spend hours in making them understand the class lectures and giving them details about the concept. Something that he taught was even more valuable than what teacher gave in short class room paid lectures. Because of this attitude he cemented his concepts of the subject the greatest as compared to his contemporaries. He later went on to complete his Ph.D from Canada on complete scholarship. Later he was head hunted by the Governor of State Bank of Pakistan to become the Director of Monetary Policy for the Bank. He now heads the most important department in state bank and is responsible for key negotiations with IMF. Volunteer work is all about giving the best you have be it wealth of knowledge, wealth of skills or wealth of service attitude. Allah (swt) promises return many folds.

 

Types of Volunteer work

Teaching: This is the simplest and most easy volunteer work. If you have a liking for teaching, just do it. In Pakistan there is a requirement for good teachers. If you are available, you may spend your afternoons or evenings in teaching kids of your locality or neighborhood. You may ask your neighbors, maids or any other needy person who cannot afford the fees to let you teach them. They will be happy to let you do so as long as it is free for them. You will end up having a win/win opportunity. They will save any evening tuition fee and you will get your time well spent with satisfaction to use your wealth and life in striving.

Helping in Groceries: You may look around near your home anyone who has problems in getting to the stores, any old lady, old uncle or a disable person. Or if they want to get some cheap items in bulk but does not have time or resources to search for the whole-sale market. You may offer them to do it for them. In the process you may also ask them for the rent of the bus if you wish to.

Cleaning the street: Though the most satisfying, yet the most difficult thing to do. If you spend one hour daily you can do this. Not the complete street, may be just a 50 to 100 meter apart your house. In order that you want to safe face, do it earliest in the morning or late night. After all this is your street too and you know cleanliness is half the faith.

Standing at a shop parking lot: If you go to a super store in a busy locality, you will observe that there are times when because of the rush the cars block the roads. Those who come for shopping do not find place to park their cars properly and cause a traffic jam. You may stand outside the store and guide people to park their cars properly.

Guiding the traffic: You must have noticed that because of influx of cars and other automobiles the traffic on roads has become terrible. Everyone is in a rush to reach nowhere in no time. You may stand at a busy market, a road side or outside a park to guide the traffic for one or two hours.

Internet: Most of us are good in computers these days. You may start a blog of your own that could provide free help to those who wish to seek guidance on any issue that is of your interest. For example at any point in time you did a good research about international universities. You may provide all the new students who wish to study abroad with tips and techniques to study abroad.

Helping Patients in Hospitals: Patients and their relatives remain in distress whenever they visit any hospital. This is specially true in case of public hospitals in Pakistan. In your available time you can visit the nearest public hospital and help poor patients in the following ways.

1)    Helping them understanding the medicines doctors have prescribed or fetching medicines for them.

2)    Helping emergency patient reach at emergency counter

3)    Assisting families and patients knowing the ways within the hospital.

4)    Helping families of the patients outside the hospital to get items of usual needs

If you stand outside any hospital for one hour, anytime of the day, you will find dozens of other areas where you could help.

Maintaining a locality Store: In your locality you might have a general item store (convenience store). If you have a daily routine of getting some households from the store you may have a good repute with the person. You may ask him to let you clean and organize his store on a daily basis for one hour. You may sell him the benefits such as 1) items will be store on FIFO (first in first out) basis, allowing him to get rid of old items first. 2) a daily chart of sheet will be maintained which can give him idea as to what items are sold most in the last month 3) all items will be delivered to the customer without waiting 4) all items will be clean and dust free all the time 5) he may attract more people to his shop 6) his customer may come to him because of fast service and so on.

If you note all the above ideas do not involve any monetary investment, but of course all demand some time from you. All of these are somehow such ideas that can ultimately develop into a profession as well. This is the gift of Allah to us that he has given us strength, endurance and time. It depends on us as to how we use our time.

Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, ‘On every Muslim there is enjoined (a compulsory) sadaqa (alms).’ They (the people) said, ‘If one has nothing?’ He said, ‘He should work with his hands so that he may benefit himself and give in charity.’ They said, ‘If he cannot work or does not work?’ He said, ‘Then he should help the oppressed unhappy person (by word or action or both).’ They said, ‘If he does not do it?’ He said, ‘Then he should enjoin what is good (or said what is reasonable).’ They said, ‘If he does not do that?’ He said, ‘Then he should refrain from doing evil, for that will be considered for Him as a Sadaqa (charity)’

(Sahih al Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 73, Hadith 51).

Does Volunteering become a career or help in job search: Throughout this book we have not emphasized on the money part of the equation. How much salary you will get, how much perks and benefits you should look for. All these discussions are useless in front of the greater purpose of you getting the desired wealth of life. We all know and deeply understand that “Rizk” is the promise of Allah. He sent us to this world, He will take us out of here. Within the duration when we are here (the duration of this time is of course not known) He promised us sustenance, provided we do what He wants us to do. If we understand that to be true and know that Allah has the power to increase or decrease the wealth than we should not be worried about the small part of the income or a daily sustenance. We should in fact be seeking “ABUNDANCE” from Allah (swt). Now if we seek abundance will we be able to find this in a regular job, will we be able to have time in a job to seek for abundance, maybe not. To seek this abundance which is not ordinary but an extraordinary reward we may need to stretch and do something extraordinary.

“Indeed we have given you abundance, so pray to lord and sacrifice to him” (Al – Quran 108: 1-2)

 

[1] He is Dr. Hamza Ali Malik – at the time of this writing he was serving as Director Monetary Policy for State Bank of Pakistan. He is at this position for last more than seven years, while keeping his foot down in front of many challenges he faced from hostile governments and businessmen.

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