Mutual Self-Help: A Social Obligation in Islam

Jul 31, 2012

Mutual Self-Help: A Social Obligation in Islam

Dr. Pasha

(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur'an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)

People Need People

Human beings cannot do everything by themselves. They need help and advice from other human beings.

They need reminders about what is good and beneficial for them. Thus all the time in their life, people need people.

Islam, therefore, is a divine system of Mutual Self-Help – to coin an expression. That means Islam is a system based on everyone helping themselves by trying to help everyone else.

As a result, offering good advice and providing timely reminders to others is a key social obligation in Islam.

Wa Dhakkir, says the Qur’an

Wa dhakkir, says the Qur’an, addressing the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. Paraphrase: “And offer a reminder!”

Meaning: tell them; warn them; offer them advice and good counsel; continually show them what is right and what is wrong – lest they forget.

Even though the direct address here is to the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, the circle of those included in this address is wider – without limits.

It includes everyone, everywhere. That means everyone in every time and place.

And that means you and me included – such as we are.

Being a Citizen Participant

The Qur’an continues with an explanation of why it is a good idea to offer good advice to others and to remind them of their duties and responsibilities – and to tell them in a timely and wonderful manner of all the great and nice things they should be doing.

In Islam, to do that does not make you, socially speaking, a pest or a nuisance, but it makes you a good person. It makes you a responsible, useful and productive member of society.

It marks you as a concerned and caring citizen. It makes you a Citizen Participant.

So, it is a lesson in universal good citizenship that the Qur’an is offering here.

The Qur’an says, by way of explanation: Fa-innadhdhikraw tanfa’ul mu’mineen.

Paraphrase: “Reminders and good advice surely have a way of benefitting the believers.”

Benefitting the Believers

One implication of the way the Qur’an talks here may be, yes, indeed there may always be those who may not take your advice in the right spirit, and who may not react to it the right way, in the sense they may be annoyed or irritated by it.

But then the good news is that the believers are going to be on your side. The believers are going to take advantage of your reminders and they are going to benefit from them.

So, it is in this spirit – in the spirit of the noble Aayat, Wa dhakkir fa-innadhdhikraw tanfa’ul mu’mineen – that I dare to put forward a reminder and a piece of good advice, first and foremost to myself, for, no one is in greater need of reminders and good advice than me, and then to everyone else.

To the Extent You Can

I offer two ideas for all of us to follow – starting out with myself – to the extent we can. For, Islam is all about doing things to the extent you can.

The way it works is like this: you make the intention (Niyyat) with the purest and cleanest heart, and then set out on the journey of achieving your project.

Thereafter, Allah’s help takes over and steers you along the path.

Of course, it is altogether a different matter that you will have no clue about any of this if Allah’s help were not there all along, right from the beginning, guiding you, nudging you forward and helping you.

The Sweetest of All Equations

Hard to understand? It may be! But that is the equation. And what a sweet equation it is.

Try and figure it out how best you can.

At one level it is all you. It is all your job and it is all your responsibility – from beginning to end.

At the same time, at any and every level, it is all him – God Almighty.

Qur’an: Wa maa tashaa-oona illaa anyyashaa-Allahu rabbul 'aalameen!

Paraphrase: “You won’t even have a clue if Allah, Rabbul 'Aalameen, was not first and foremost pleased to will and make it happen that way!”

Still having trouble figuring out? It may help if you realize that he is God, the Almighty, and you are nothing but his slave.

And a slave is happiest when he can master the technique of saying “Yes Master!” and “No Master!” to everything the master says.

What a sweet equation!

Reminder One: Wudu

So, keeping all that in mind, here are a couple of reminders and pieces of good advice to me and to all of those among you who may care.

The first reminder (Dhikraw) is about Wudu.

Did you ever consider being with Wudu all the time? Not just for Swalah or for the purposes of handling and reading the Qur’an from the Muswhaf – but all the time.

Of course, to the extent it is possible and convenient for you and to the extent you can make it happen. That means every time the Wudu breaks, you make new Wudu right away – if you can do it.

That way, you remain plugged into God’s mercy directly and the blessings and Anwaar and Tajalliyyaat (divine radiations) from above flow and shine into your soul uninterrupted.

Reminder Two: Dhikr

The next reminder and advice to me and to you is about not letting a moment pass without being engaged in the Dhikr of Allah.

Of course, to the extent you can, and in the form and fashion that most suits you in every time, place and situation. For, that is how Islam works – it works according to the needs and situations and limitations that people face.

That was the advice Rasulullah, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, offered a Sahabi. If I recall right, the words of the noble Hadith were: Laa yazaalu lisaanuka ratban bidhikrillah.

Paraphrase: “Let your tongue drip nonstop with the Dhikr of Allah.”

So, in this noble and most glorious month of Ramadaan 1433, I wanted to offer this reminder to myself and to everyone:

a) First, to the extent we can, let us try and be with Wudu all the time.

b) Next, to the extent we can, let us never let a moment pass without doing the Dhikr of Allah.

Dhikr Is Broader than You Think

If you find this challenge a bit daunting, you can draw comfort from the fact that the meaning of Dhikr in Islam is quite broad and comprehensive.

In fact, once the proper understanding is there and once the proper Niyyat (intention) is in place, everything a believer says – and does – turns into Dhikr of Allah.

So, it is really not as hard or daunting as you may think it is. In fact, nothing is easier – or simpler or more doable.

So, Wudu forever and Dhikr nonstop anyone?


 © 2012 Syed Husain Pasha

Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional 
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at] 
AOL [dot] com or

image_printView All

Comments are closed.