In Islam, social service is of immense significance.
Whatever services a person renders for the welfare of humankind, and through these deeds, hopes for the blessings of Allah will be regarded as righteous deeds. These deeds if done solely for seeking the pleasure of Allah (and not for recognition or show) will be considered Karze Hasana and will surely be rewarded by Allah.
Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an :
” Whoever comes (at Judgement) with a good deed will have better than it, and they, from the terror of that day, will be safe.” (Surah An-Naml, 27:89)
“He that does good shall have ten times as much to his credit ” (Surah Al An’am, 6:160)
“Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good see it!” (Surah Al-Zilzal, 99:7)
Allah repeatedly instructs as in the Glorious Qur’an to behave kindly, to give charity, to serve the poor, the orphans, and the needy. While the qur’an condemns hoarders and misers, it also prohibits ill-treating and threatening the poor and the needy.
In all these verses of the Qur’an, Allah has not instructed the Muslims to work only for the welfare of the Muslims. There is no such restraints. All these instructions are general in their scope and hence include both, the Muslims as well as the non-Muslims. The Prophet (pbuh) too has made it clear that striving of a Muslim for the welfare of any of the human beings or living creatures is an act of charity.
Narrated Anas bin Malik (RA) Allah’s Messenger said :
“There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Hadith No. 513)
In Islam, removing a harmful thing from way is also Sadaqa (charity). (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 4, Hadith No. 232)
Narrated Abu Huraira (RA) Allah’s Apostle said,
“While a man was on the way, he found a thorny branch of a tree on the way and removed it. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Hadith No. 652)
Islam ordains us to treat all the living creatures well and with kindness.Social service that is done by a Muslim for any human being, irrespective whether the beneficiary is a Muslim or a non-Muslim, and which gets this beneficiary closer to his Creator Allah and makes him/her understand Islam better, then the reward for the performer of such service will be further multiplied. First, for the social service and second, for getting the other person closer to his Creator. These acts of social service include Islaah if the recipient is a Muslim and Daw’ah if the recipient is a non-Muslim.
Narrated Urwa bin Az-Zubair (RA):
Hakim bin Hizam said, “O Allah’s Apostle! I used to do good deeds in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance, e.g., keeping good relations with my kith and kin, manumitting slaves (releasing and freeing slaves after paying for them) and giving alms. Shall I receive a reward for all that?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “You embraced Islam with all the good deeds which you did in the past.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Hadith No. 423 & Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, Hadith No. 223)
Narrated Abu Huraira (RA):
Allah’s Apostle said, “While a man was walking he felt thirsty and went down a well and drank water from it. On coming out of it, he saw a dog panting and eating mud because of excessive thirst. The man said, ‘This (dog) is suffering from the same problem as that of mine. So he (went down the well), filled his shoe with water, caught hold of it with his teeth and climbed up and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for his (good) deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving (the) animals?” He replied, “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Hadith No. 551)
Thus, social service in Islam carries great significance and it is to be done to all in general, regardless of the religion. And Allah knows best.The system of Zakaat in Islam, however is a religious duty and obligation upon the Muslims and the beneficiaries of Zakaat are only Muslims.The Qur’an provides details about needy Muslims that are entitled to Zakaat :
“Zakaat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (Zakaah) and for bringing hearts together (for Islam) and for freeing captives (or slaves) and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the (stranded) traveller – an obligation (imposed) by Allah. And Allah is knowing and wise.” (Surah Tauba, 9:60).