FIFTH MEANS: BENEVOLENCE AND SERVICE TO HUMANITY
According to Islamic doctrine, God’s worship and nearness can neither be summarized by the performance of prayers, fasting, Hajj, invocations and supplications nor is limited to presence in mosques, temples and tombs. Instead, doing social responsibilities, compassion, goodness and serving God’s servants, if done with the intention of God’s nearness, are superior acts of worship and means for self‑building, self‑puriflication and God’s Nearness.
In Islam, devotion and undertaking spiritual journey towards Almighty God do not necessarily require living in seclusion; rather they can be done together with acceptance of social responsibilities as well as living a perfectly normal social life. Cooperation in righteous deeds and benevolence, goodness, endeavors in fulfilling the needs of believers and making them happier; defense of the oppressed and the deprived, taking care of Muslim affairs, solving their problems and extending a helping hand towards God’s servants are great acts of worship whose reward is ten times higher than the performance of Hajj. Hundreds of traditions have emphasized this fact. Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) narrated that Almighty God says:
الخَلْقُ عِيالِي، فَأحَبُّهُمْ إلَيَّ ألْطَفُهُم بِهِم وَأسْعاهُمْ إلَى حَوائِجِهِم.
“My servants are my children; therefore, the most beloved to Me are the kindest to them and those who best settle their needs.” (al-Kafi, vol. 2, pp. 199)
Imam al‑Baqir (a.s) said:
تَبَسُّمُ الرَّجُلِ فِي وَجْهِ أخِيهِ حَسَنَةٌ، وَصَرْفُ القَذى عَنهُ حَسَنةٌ، وَما عُبِدَ اللهُ بِشَيءٍ أحَبَّ إلى اللهِ مِن إدْخالِ السُّرورِ عَلى المُؤمِنِ.
“To smile in the face of a friend is a righteous deed, and to solve his problems is a righteous deed. There is no worship more beloved to Almighty God than making a believer joyful.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 2p‑188)
Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) said:
مَن سَرَّ مُؤمِناً فَقَد سَرَّني، ومَن سَرَّني فَقَد سَرَّ رَسولَ اللهِ، وَمَن سَرَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ فَقَد سَرَّ اللهَ، وَمَن سَرَّ اللهَ أدْخَلَهُ الجَنَّةَ.
“Whoever makes a believer happy has made me happy; whoever makes me happy has made the Holy Prophet (a.s) happy; whoever makes the Holy Prophet (a.s) happy has made Almighty God happy; and whoever makes Almighty God happy will enter into Paradise.” (Bihar al-Anwar vol. 74, pp. 413)
قضاء حاجة المؤمن أفضل مِن ألف حجّةٍ متقبّلةٍ بمناسكها، وعتق ألف رقبةٍ لوجه الله، وحملان ألف فرسٍ في سبيل الله بسرجها ولجمها.
“Providing for the needs of a believer is better than one thousand fully-accepted pilgrimages, freeing a thousand slaves for God's sake, and donating one thousand fully-equipped horses in the way of God.” (Mishkat al-Anwar, pp. 198)
مَشيُ المُؤمِنِ في حاجَةِ أخِيهِ المُسلِمِ خَيرٌ مِن سَبعينَ طَوافاً بِالبَيتِ الحَرامِ.
“To strive for fulfilling a Muslim’s need is better than circumambulating the Holy Ka`bah for seventy times.” (Bihar al-Anwar vol. 74, pp. 311)
إنّ للهِ عِباداً مِن خَلقهِ يَفزَعُ العبادُ إلَيهِم فِي حَوائِجِهِم. أولئِكَ هُم الآمِنونَ يَومَ القِيامَةِ.
“Almighty God has created some of His servants that at the time of their needs, people take shelter in them. These will be saved on the Judgment Day.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, pp. 318)
Benevolence, goodness, helping God’s servants and solving their problems are great acts of worship that, if done with the intention of God’s pleasure, are means for self-nourishment, self-perfection, spiritual migration and ascension towards God’s Nearness. Unfortunately, majority of people lack the proper understanding of true Islam and, therefore, have been deprived of benefits of such a large and important part of Islamic worship. In their opinion, worshipping and undertaking spiritual journey towards Almighty God is not possible except through prayer, fasting, Hajj, supplication, invocation and incantations.