Let’s start with the literal definition. According to Dictionary.com, volunteerism is “the policy or practice of volunteering one's time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one's community”. This can include simply volunteering at a food bank or being part of an organization.
Either way, volunteering in itself is tremendously worthwhile. The main reason is because it’s actually part of Islam, as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged these actions. “The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘What actions are most excellent? To gladden the hearts, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured’” (Bukhari).
There are many opportunities in volunteerism to accomplish these goals. For example, volunteering at a homeless shelter or a retirement home can bring smiles to these individuals. It also brings the aspect of feeding the hungry and removing sufferings. There are many Muslim and non-Muslim organizations that support the cause of feeding children, including Islamic Relief, Muslim Family Services, and the Food Bank.
Another way to volunteer and accomplish these goals is to join youth related organizations such as local youth groups or the Muslim American Society Youth, which has chapters nationwide. Alhamdulilah, we have so many opportunities to fulfill these great actions, and connecting with the youth is a bonus. Becoming, for example, a youth leader, no matter what age range, and being able to positively influence your fellow brothers and sisters in Islam is a blessing.
As an experienced youth worker in various organizations, I realized all these actions can be accomplished by volunteerism. With the help of Allah, I was blessed to volunteer and still volunteer with organizations like the Muslim Students Association, Muslim American Society Youth, Islamic Relief, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Muslim Legal Fund of America, Student Nutrition Organization, Muslimahs In Search of Knowledge, and many more.
From all my involvement and years of experience, I would recommend every individual to give it a chance and stay consistent with volunteering because it is worth the experience. It doesn’t matter what skill you have, volunteerism can utilize a variety of tasks, so anyone and everyone can be qualified.
There are many different chances in society to reach out and give back to the community. So whether showing up at an event or being part of planning, taking time out of the day to help people for the sake of Allah is always worth the effort. In addition, we would all be following that which is considered to be the best of actions.
There is always community service hours that are offered, but the hours spent are also recorded with Allah SWT, so if asked on the Day of Judgment, “What have you done for your people?” you will have a resume of volunteering on its own. So volunteer and give back to your community, so you can “gladden the hearts, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured.”