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Contemporary Challenges through the Lens of Surah Al-Maun

True change happens when we start caring about others
12:00 AM Apr 21, 2024 IST | Dr. Showkat Rashid Wani
contemporary challenges through the lens of surah al maun
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In a world where people often rush past each other without a second glance, he had chosen to stop, to listen, and to extend a helping hand to someone in need.

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Surah Al-Maun teaches us to perform small acts of kindness, especially those that go unnoticed. This idea should guide how we behave. Recently, a shocking incident occurred in Rafiabad Sopore where a drug-addicted son killed his elderly mother. The husband of the deceased tried to get help from his neighbors, but they ignored his knocks and cries for help.

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There's something called the "Bystander Effect" in sociology. It describes how people may see someone else in trouble but do nothing to help. They watch and stay silent, even when something terrible happens. After the incident, they might appear to care, but it’s only superficial. This is very different from what Surah Al-Maun teaches, which is to actively show kindness to our neighbors.

We're growing into a culture where people are becoming more selfish. We're so focused on ourselves that we ignore others' suffering. We hear about terrible things happening but don’t really feel moved to help. This lack of sensitivity is becoming a problem. We need to reset how we act and reconnect with our ability to feel for others. Being sensitive and caring about others' pain is a big part of being generous.

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Often, people only care about their own family and ignore what's happening outside that circle. True change happens when we start caring about others as much as we care about our own. Helping should come without conditions.

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I've noticed that in many local disputes, the neighbourhood or mosque committees often don't get involved enough to solve the issues. They tend to focus only on mosque development or organising mourning for neighbours who are committee members, ignoring those who are less fortunate.

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There are teachings in Sahih Bukhari that emphasise the importance of caring for our neighbours. For example, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) emphasised that one is not a true believer if their neighbour is afraid of them. He also taught that when you make a soup, you should make enough to share with your neighbour, and that it’s not right for a person to eat well while their neighbour goes hungry.

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However, there are also hopeful stories that show the good that people can do. Here's one: My friend Zubair was at the Nowgam railway station when he saw an elderly woman in distress because she had lost her wallet. Zubair didn't just pass by; he stopped, comforted her, and gave her some money to help her get home. He even stayed with her until she was able to buy a ticket and safely begin her journey home. This act of kindness didn’t just help the woman; it also enriched Zubair’s own life.

There are many reasons why people might not help their neighbours. In cities, people often don't form strong bonds with neighbours due to the busy, changing nature of life. People are busy with work and personal lives, and there's a strong focus on individual needs rather than community needs. Technology connects us but can also make us less likely to have face-to-face interactions.

Despite these challenges, it’s important for neighbors to look out for each other. Ignoring problems or not helping those in need goes against the values of compassion and empathy that strengthen communities. Small acts of kindness, like a smile, listening, or helping with simple tasks, can make a big difference. They show care and can significantly improve someone's day, building a safer and more supportive community for everyone.

Dr Showkat Rashid Wani, Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir

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