Allah commands that kindness, consideration and respect be shown to all human beings.
But amongst human beings are those who are less fortunate than the rest, who need special care and attention.
These include the orphan, the widow, the crippled, the maimed, the mentally retarded, the blind, the deaf and those who are unable to speak.
Caring for the less fortunate is a sign of sincerity and true virtue.
Caring for the less fortunate is a great form of ‘ibadah (worship) that brings the highest reward.
It is a sign of the noblest character and the highest morals.
All the Prophets [a] of Allah showed the greatest concern and respect for the less fortunate.
It is firstly the duty of the families of the less fortunate to take care of them.
Parents, grand parents, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters should care for their own family members who are in need or handicapped.
If they are unable to, then it becomes the duty of other Muslims in the neighbourhood to care for them.
The blessed Prophet Muhammad [s] has taught that the best Muslim home is the one wherein an orphan is cared for in a loving and kind manner, and the worst is that in which an orphan lives in fear and is treated cruelly.
Whoever cares for an orphan, whether it be from his own family or a stranger, he will be rewarded with the highest Jannah and join the company of the Prophet’s [a] (provided he is not guilty of an unpardonable sin, like shirk).
An orphan child must not be made to feel like a stranger in the foster parents home. He should be treated like one of the family. An orphan child should be given the same that is given to the other children in the home.
The Muslim community must also establish orphanages for those orphans who find no homes to take them in.
Orphanages must be pleasant and comfortable, and have a warm and loving atmosphere.
The children in orphanages must never be treated like prisoners or criminals.
They should be loved, educated and entertained.
It is our duty to at least visit the children in the orphanages in our neighbourhood.
If we are able to, we should take one or two of them home over the weekend or on holidays.
The property belonging to an orphan must not be used by the foster parents. It should be kept safely and returned to the child when he attains maturity.
The surname of the orphan child must not be changed. He must retain the surname of his real father.
A Muslim who treats an orphan with respect, love and kindness to please Allah alone will have all his sins forgiven.
Widows, Spinsters and Divorced Women:
Widows, spinsters and divorced women too need to be cared for.
The blessed Prophet Muhammad [s] said, “Whoever strives to take care of the widow, the distressed and the needy, he is as one who fights, sacrificing his life, in the path of Allah.”
In another saying the blessed Prophet Muhammad [s] said, “Whoever cares for the widow is as one who fasts continuously during the days and spends the nights in prayers.”
Caring for the widows, spinsters and divorced women is regarded as a great act of virtue which earns one the pleasure of Allah and paradise.
Widows, spinsters and divorced women do not have husbands to provide for them and protect them from danger.
It is the duty of their families and the Muslim community to provide for their needs and protect them from harm.
Women who have no husbands to care for them and keep them company feel lonely, unloved and sad too.
Like all human beings, widows, spinsters and divorced women need not only food, clothing and homes in which to live, but also warmth, comfort and love.
The best way to care for these women is for Muslim men in the neighbourhood who can afford to take a second wife to marry them.
This was the way in which our beloved Prophet Muhammad [s] and his Companions [r] took care of widows, spinsters and divorced women.
The Muslim community must also establish special homes to shelter those widows, spinsters and divorced women who have no family to support them.
These homes must be comfortable and safe.
It is also the duty of the women of the neighbourhood to visit and befriend the widows, spinsters and divorced women living in shelters in their neighbourhood and support them in their difficulties as sisters do.
A Muslim who treats a widow, spinster or divorced woman with respect and kindness to please Allah alone will have all his sins forgiven.
The disabled include the crippled, the maimed, the mentally retarded, the blind, the deaf and those who are unable to speak. These types of people require very special care and consideration.
It is firstly the duty of their families to take care of them in a loving and warm family environment.
They should not be discarded and simply sent off to homes for the disabled.
They should not be made to feel unwanted, useless, worthless or abnormal.
They should be treated as equals and be made to feel like an important part of the family and society.
Every effort must be made to integrate them into everyday life.
If the family is unable to provide for their very special needs then the Muslim community must provide special homes that cater for them.
Homes for the disabled must be made as pleasant and comfortable as possible.
Like the children in orphanages, the disabled must never be treated like prisoners or criminals.
They too should be loved, nurtured, educated and entertained.
They must be visited regularly and be included in family functions and holidays.
Because of their disability they may sometimes become frustrated and angry.
Those who are mentally retarded may sometimes become violent without meaning to be so.
It is at such times that we must display great patience and understanding, and the reward for true patience is Jannah.
We must never mock at the disabled nor stare, laugh or embarrass them in any way.
We must remember the favours of Allah upon us when we see disabled people and show gratitude to Him for creating us healthy and normal.
We must pray for the well being of the disabled as well as beseech Allah to protect us from such disabilities.
We should volunteer our services to the homes for the disabled as well as charitably contribute whatever money we can spare to them.
A Muslim who treats the disabled with respect and kindness to please Allah alone will have all his sins forgiven.
Whoever cares for the less fortunate , whether it be from his own family or a stranger, he will be rewarded with the highest Jannah and will join the company of the Prophet’s [a], the pious and the martyrs.