Shahid Athar: “Taking care of less fortunate is a core value of all faiths”
From the Indianapolis Star, Sunday June 28 2015.
While it is so sad to see the tragedies caused by natural disasters Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, or the earthquake in Nepal, it is heart warming to see how in these calamities people came together in helping fellow humans irrespective of the faith of the victims.
Spirituality is the awareness of the presence of God within our spirit. When we recognize this and then express it in our positive actions through our prayer or social work, we become instruments of God.
We then see through his eyes, hear through his ears, work with his hands and feel his love. When we take one step toward him, he takes giant leaps toward us. When we walk toward him, he runs toward us to the extent that the children of God in his image merge in his cause.
We go to the house of worship, be it a mosque, church, or temple, not just to get the attention of its owner, but also to pray to him that he will have mercy on us and guide us through our journey on this planet. In return, he expects us to carry his message to the whole of mankind. We should not confine God to a house of worship but allow him to enter our heart and our homes.
Thus taking care of fellow human beings and all other creations of God becomes our individual and collective responsibility. The suffering of human beings, whether through calamity, homelessness or poverty, is a test from him of how we patiently persevere and how we do our best to relieve those who are suffering. The social obligation of believers includes taking care of those who are suffering, and in need of our help. There are 50 million Americans below the poverty level. There are about 5,000 homeless people in Indianapolis.
The responsibility of the people of faith includes the establishment of shelters, halfway houses for runaway teenagers, rehabilitation programs for drug addicts, efforts to combat violence on the streets, and opposition to discrimination and racism. We cannot leave this only to the city, state or federal government. All concerns of society are our concerns as well.
The responsibility of those who leave houses of worship after their prayer is to go out onto the street and promote peace and love within families, within neighborhoods, within the community and among the religions.
We should minimize our differences and give gifts of love to our fellow human beings out of our love for our common God.
Volunteerism is giving back to our community and nation, which gave us so much. God bless America and God bless the world.
✭ Dr. Shahid Athar, a physician, is the past president of Interfaith Alliance of Indianapolis and one of the recipients of 2015 Golden Hoosier Award for volunteerism by State of Indiana. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.