Ramadan, Volunteering, and Spirituality

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured Topics: Fasting (Sawm), Ramadan Values: Charity, Integrity, Spirituality Views: 7055

The first thing to do when we are fasting is to be nice to others.

Among so many aspects of Ramadan that are noteworthy, perhaps one particular aspect always poses a challenge, especially when you are young and trying to get accustomed to fasting: achieving spiritual concentration.

In this article, there are some practical ways to achieve spiritual concentration during Ramadan, through being charitable with your time, energy, skills, talents, and perhaps also money if you have some to your name.

I know you must be thinking to yourself, isn't charity about giving to others and so after giving up food and drink, how much more am I supposed to sacrifice? Well, not much more, but enough so that the focus of your fasting shifts from you, yourself and you, to someone else.

If the focus of the fast remains on you, let's face it, there will be several times in a day when you might think about eating and drinking, knowing full well that you are not supposed to be doing either.

You might also be counting down the hours until you can break your fast. You might be trying to stay as still as possible throughout the day, afraid to lose a single calorie and end up feeling hungry or thirsty.

Worse yet, you might turn to sleeping through most of the day and waking up exactly in time to break your fast. Once you shift the focus of your fasting from you to others, you will achieve a spiritual transformation that not only eases the burden of your fasting, but also allows you to draw closer to Almighty Allah through service to others.

Understand the Impact

This Ramadan, choose to spend your time wisely, and most of all, try as much as possible to engage in the remembrance of Almighty Allah even in the midst of volunteering your time, energy, skills, and wealth.

Among the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is the emphasis he has placed on giving charity and on being charitable in general. Most people minimize their charitable efforts by saying that it really is not much or that they are not sure their efforts will really make a difference.

Almighty Allah has enjoined upon us to be charitable and promises every single person who gives charity and who engages in charitable conduct a great reward. Indeed, an atom's weight is actually mentioned in the Qur'an to signify that there is nothing of a person's deed that goes unnoticed.


Indeed, our very existence on this earth is in itself a test given to us by Almighty Allah to gauge which of us is best in conduct and consistent in doing good deeds. We read in the Qur'an, (That which is on earth We [Allah] have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them, as to which of them are best in conduct) (Al-Kahf 18:7).

From this conduct, Islamic teachings emphasize the importance of being charitable. There is a tremendous reward for those who give charity and are themselves charitable as stated in the Qur'an, (The parable of those who spend their substance in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: It grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He pleases. And Allah cares for all and He knows all things) (Al-Baqarah 2:261).

Practice Makes Perfect

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged us to begin training ourselves for Ramadan by observing fasts, by praying more voluntary prayers, and by increasing the amount of charity we give.

Essentially, it is possible to practice being charitable in Sha`ban, just as one can practice fasting in Sha1ban. 

`A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that, "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) did not observe fast in any month of the year more than in the month of Sha`ban, and he used to say, 'Do as many deeds as you are capable of doing, for Allah will not become weary (of giving you reward), but you would be tired (of doing good deeds)'; and he also said, 'The deed liked most by Allah is one to which the doer adheres constantly even if it is small'" (Muslim).

What charitable deed is most convenient for you to perform regularly? Do you already volunteer your time? What types of volunteer activities do you prefer?

Explore opportunities to be charitable with your time and energy during Sha`ban so that when Ramadan comes around (next time, that is), you will have already established a routine and can efficiently set your plans into motion.

Charitable, Not Irritable

The first thing to do when we are fasting is to be nice to others.

There is actually no gain for the one who engages in charitable activities but is constantly complaining or showing a sense of impatience and frustration. Instead of focusing on trying to keep the volunteering opportunity clear of any impurity of intention or conduct, we sometimes become vulnerable to praising ourselves and other times in following charitable acts with injury.

The Qur'an explicitly warns us against this type of behavior, and Almighty Allah addresses the believers:

O you who believe, cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury, as those who spend their substance to be seen of people but believe neither in Allah nor in the Last Day. They are in parable like a hard, barren rock, on which is a little soil: On it falls heavy rain, which leaves it (just) a bare stone. They will be able to do nothing with aught they have earned. And Allah guides not those who reject faith. (Al-Baqarah 2:264).

Stated in such plain terms, the importance of being charitable without being irritable is impossible not to be comprehended. 

Refine Your Spirituality

The absence of spiritual concentration is sometimes idle talk, useless debates, and worse, gossiping and backbiting.

In Ramadan, there is absolutely no excuse for anyone to strive for anything less than almost perfect spiritual concentration.

As we mentioned above, focusing on increasing charitable activities with sincere intentions is a means of purifying actions and thereby having a clearer understanding of why we are fasting, praying, and trying so hard to please Almighty Allah .

This Ramadan, choose to spend your time wisely, and most of all, try as much as possible to engage in the remembrance of Almighty Allah even in the midst of volunteering your time, energy, skills, and wealth.

Final Thoughts

As young people, you are blessed with what seems like an endless source of energy and strength. Use those blessings wisely and do your best to be sources of comfort and assistance to those in need. You already know much about the zakah (Arabic for: obligatory alms) associated with Ramadan, Zakat Al-Fitr.

We close with a beautiful reminder from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). The beloved Companion of the Prophet , Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), "The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made Zakat Al-Fitr compulsory so that those who fasted may be purified of their idle deeds and shameful talk (that committed during Ramadan) and so that the poor may be fed.

Whoever gives it before the Feast's prayer will have it accepted as zakah, while those who give it after the prayer have given merely a charity, not Zakat Al-Fitr. Therefore, mind when you give out this obligatory alms.

This Ramadan, let's strive to be charitable as a means of attaining spiritual concentration.

Source: OnIslam - Altaf Husain served as a former two term president of the national Muslim Students Association. He is a Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and Assistant Professor of Social Work at Howard University in Washington, DC.

  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured
  Topics: Fasting (Sawm), Ramadan  Values: Charity, Integrity, Spirituality
Views: 7055

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
Make it a habit in the Blessed Month of Ramadan whenever you visit your local Mosque for Salah pay in something in the box as Charity 1 or $1 or whatever currency and by the end of the Month you may have or would have sent so much as Sadaqah to your permanent aboard which you will enjoy after death in the Hereafter. May Allah give us the taufiq to volunteer to doo good deeds when we are hail and healthy.

I have completely forgotten about the Channel 4 Azan's intended Programme broadcast every Morning in Ramadan which started on Tuesday. Today on Thursday a Non Muslim Lady colleague curiously asked me today what she saw on Channel 4 really shocked her. At the same time she was curious thrilled also amazed seeing Channel 4 stopping the Movie film she was curiously interestingly watching. Suddenly they stopped and made announcement saying it is Ramadan therefore they are going do something to complement the spirit of the Month and then started relaying the Azan on the esteemed Channel for almost 3 minutes to herald the end of Sahur and commencement of fasting about 3 A.M. This is why she was asking me what song was shown on Channel Four which unfortunately I did not watch. Then I remembered answering her saying Oh yes the Channel Four has promised to relay the Azan which she politely asked me to explain the meaning or the gist of what was said. She asked me curiously if I could translate what was being relayed or said. Alhamdu Lillahi I explained to her the meaning to which she suggested that it would be good if they have the English Sub-Title when the Azan was being relayed. I asked her what was her reaction when shown? She said Shocked but no choice or alternative other then to continue watching patiently. Masha Allah this is Daawa which Channel Four is doing despite the hue and cry against it they will continue to do it up to the end of Ramadan here in U.K.