I start with the small case study which prompted me to write an article on small acts of kindness. Recently I was waiting for the public transport at Habak Crossing. It was evening time and raining heavily. On my side was an old lady in seventies, she waived the passing cars with her trembling hands to stop but no one bothered to offer her a lift. For almost twenty minutes she was there drenched in rain. I was keenly looking at her but was helpless. Suddenly a car stopped and offered me a lift. He was the father of one of my students. There was only one seat available. I requested the man to drop this old lady at Nowhatta, I shall manage. The old lady boarded the car with a prayer.
While walking towards my home different questions propped up in my mind. The man in car noticed me and offered lift while ignoring the old lady. Why we have become statistical thinkers. After reaching home I offered prayers and read chapter 107 of the Quran; Surah Al-Maun and got answers to my questions. This surah is concerned with two of the core teachings of Islam, how one prays and how one gives. The Surah discusses the character of those who claim to be Muslims but are unmindful of the hereafter. These people rob the orphans of their rights, are heedless to the dues of the deprived, and pray without holding Allah in remembrance, forgetting the objective behind prayer. Their visible charitable acts are a display of their false piety, since they do not give for the love of Allah. They do big deeds just for being noticed and refuse small acts of kindness.
The Surah has been so designated after the word Al-Maun occurring at the end of the last verse which means small acts of kindness or fulfilling the small neighborly needs without visibility. This Surah has a great implication on our contemporary stressful lives; if its message is implemented it will liberate us from the cocoon of self-centeredness and bondage of materialistic dust. There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. Generosity here means giving of what you have without strings or expectations attached. In this cold new world overtaken by selfishness and greed is a desperate need for those little acts of care. Just a helping hand or a quick show of compassion can turn another person’s day completely around. Acts of kindness don’t have to be grandiose or extravagant. Give a homeless person some food or money. Help an old neighbor carry their groceries. Hold the door open for someone. Offer words of encouragement to a stranger. Serve a guest with smile on your face.
I shall share a case study of a student Adil. His retired teacher was living alone after the death of his wife. Children were married and settled abroad. One day the retired teacher met an accident and was admitted in a hospital for two months. Adil along with his wife and teenage son served the retired teacher diligently till he was discharged from the hospital. All these small acts can add up to something bigger and more meaningful. As we look around the world, it’s easy to see bitterness and division. I know of multiple cases where neighbors of decades of association turn enemies overnight. They can go to any extent to destroy each other. While scanning the FIR reports these neighbors level serious allegations to defame each other. They move to courts to disgrace each other which finally culminates into a big disaster. Till that time other immediate neighbors do not intervene for reconciliation but when any unfortunate incident happens in the fit of rage they come before the media to show false sympathy. However each one of us - through small acts of generosity – can change our society and change our world.
In the context of Surah Al Maun I share the following list of small acts of kinds with the audience for self–introspection, the list can stretch on and on. It’s important that what thoughts you are feeding into your mind because your thoughts create your belief and experiences. Nurture your mind with positive thoughts: kindness, empathy, compassion, peace, love, joy, humility, generosity, etc. The more you feed your mind with positive thoughts, the more you can attract great things into your life. The list shall have a snowball effect.
To conclude, get out there and set an excellent example by getting involved in some acts of charity of your own. Place your unpunctuated faith in Allah, the reward you get will be much more valuable than anything you could possibly give away.
Dr Showkat Rashid Wani, Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.