Building blocks to utopia:
Integration is often thought to be a way of conforming to the general norms of society. Perhaps a better way to consider true integration is when a minority group gives back or contributes, to make up part of the whole. Peace arguably means far more than the opposite of war, debatably, to ensure effective integration, it requires more than mere tolerance of one another. It is accepting that we all form part of the collective.
The Prophet (pbuh) said that
“The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches”
Although the narration mentions the love between believers, it can be attributed as a philosophy to all functioning societies. The differences between each limb make the collective altogether more beautiful. The differences should be celebrated as long as each unit works together to make a functioning whole.
The idea of charity is not only to give back as a sign of thanks, but also to give selflessly even when there is nothing to give thanks for. Indeed as the Quran poignantly reminds us “And they are those who give food – in spite of their own need, to the needy, and the orphan, and the captive, [saying in their hearts] We only feed you for the sake of God, and we desire nothing in return from you, not even a word of thanks” [76:8-9]. The aim should be the betterment of all creations of God. The Blood Donation campaign embodies that form of giving. When you donate blood you do it altruistically, unaware of the benefiting recipient. Moreover it is a way of harnessing that built up yearning to ‘do good’ during the year that is often difficult to place.
We finds act of charity exist in multiple corners of the world. On Monday the 8th of June, a conference in the House of Lords under the name of Lady Fatima Al-Zahra took place. Its principle aim was to remember this Lady that lived 1,400 years ago and her altruistic example that still resonates today.
The conference included a refreshingly eclectic mix of faiths and ages. Young children gathered at the back to hear Lord Nazir Ahmed open the conference with a recitation of the Holy Quran. Followed by prayers from the Christian, Jewish and Hindu faiths greeting and blessing the attendees.
As each respected speaker gave their account of the struggles of women and their crucial roles in society, it was clear that the reverence of Lady Fatima Al-Zahra is a light so bright that it shines today. Through her example, a universal message to empower women.
One quote however that perhaps resonated above all was from a student, Emma from Oxford University. She said that although we see “plenty of examples of people who can be inspired by religion, it is rare to find individuals who act as inspiration for religion”. Quoting Mother Teresa, who, much like Lady Fatima is revered by members of all faiths and non-theists alike, Emma reinforced that they have moved to become an inspiration for their given religion.
The conference celebrated the differences between the faiths that gathered and those who seek to do well by society in the name of the greater good. The blood donation campaign was recognised by the International Imam Hussain Council and awarded for its outstanding achievement, a testament to the hard work of its volunteers. The IHBDC endeavours to embody the spirit of Islam in doing good unto others at every level of society. In a time where Muslims are criticised for not making enough noise to revoke misconceptions, this effort and endeavour to give back and give blood is a source of inspiration for all.