To Give is To Receive

A message which can never be overstated.

Despite the financial struggles many of us are facing, the principle of giving should always continue….and before anyone secretly, or openly, thinks I must have lost my mind at a time when we are all thinking of protecting the self, I would like to qualify my statement.

You see, there is the myth that ‘giving’ is always in a financial form. Whilst spending money to help others is perhaps the most obvious form of giving, we know too well there are many other ways to benefit others which would not hurt our purse but would weigh heavy in our balance of good deeds. Examples are smiling at someone or clearing the path of debris for the next passerby – great prophetic practices in Islam or sunnah. They cost us very little effort but the potential reward is exponential. And the Islamic belief is that the reward may never be seen in this world; it may be only revealed to us in the Hereafter but who would deny that is a far superior place to be rewarded? So, the results of a good action aren’t always tangible in this world. However, that does not make their pursuit not worth our while. On the contrary, it should make us even more invigorated to do good.

No matter how difficult our personal circumstances may seem, it’s important to be a blessing to someone else’s life in however big or small a way. The purpose of life is not just to take from it what we can for ourselves but to reciprocate -and to do so on an even bigger scale – so that our lives have meaning and especially where our own selfish desires are removed from the centre of all our concerns.

In my own experience, I’ve never failed to discover that helping someone up is a way of keeping myself grounded. It is a check on the reality of life. Just today, I was out helping to feed the homeless in a city outside of my hometown. Looking at every individual’s face, I wondered at how these people had ended up in the situation they were currently in. Some had trauma and sadness etched into their faces deeper than others. Yet all of them share pain and have a story to tell. If circumstances were different, I’d have loved to have listened to some of them narrate their personal stories. A few were well-spoken, all were polite and I know all the echelons of society were represented in that queue of forlorn people waiting patiently in the cold and dark to collect food and clothes.

These such encounters are so necessary to keep oneself focussed and humble. Whilst my own problems will not dissipate just by serving others in whatever way I can, at least my perspective on life will be recalibrated. That’s the most important lesson. Being in control of a situation and not letting it overtake you is a goal worth aiming for. In the bid to keep mental health in a positive state, I would argue that it is worth visiting a place or people who are less fortunate than ourselves. Nobody can come away without being moved in some way and without reassessing their own issues which may thereafter seem insignificant – or at least surmountable – compared to others.

In the last few weeks alone, I have met a vast array of people. Some have been children, some with cancer, some homeless, some disabled, , some depressed and some in financial ruin…but all have been encounters to help remind me of my own insignificance and especially the temporary nature of this life. The largest assignment I have been given in life is to make it to the other side winning the favour of Allah. I hope the trials and tribulations I have faced and continue to face will only serve to help me look forward to that Day with confidence, inshaAllah.

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