A Sharing Session with Dr Raudah Yunus, a Post-Graduate Student and Social Activist
Dr Raudah started the session with a Quranic verse; chapter Ali Imran, verse 133-134
“Be quick (hasten) in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and a garden as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the righteous”
This verse re-directs contemporary society’s priorities and attention to what is more meaningful and substantial – to perform good deeds and acts of righteousness. It also corrects the current trend and tendency among a large section of society who is constantly competing for superficial matters – more followers in the social media, greater number of ‘likes’ for Facebook comments, and more expensive, fashionable clothes (to name a few).
From the Islamic perspective, the real race is in doing good – men should ‘rush’ to do as much good as possible with the aim of pleasing God.
Social activism can be defined as an effort or activity aimed at bringing meaningful (social) changes. A social activist is one who works or fight for a cause based on solid understanding and strong principles.
A social activist often gives more than what he/she receives. The spirit behind social activism should be “giving selflessly, without expecting to get back”. Social activists give because the want to give. They give because that is who they are.
What are the elements needed to become a real social activist?
1. A sincere intention
2. Continuous effort
Who are the vulnerable groups?
1. The poor (those socio-economically disadvantaged)
2. The homeless
5. Abuse victims
6. Single mothers
8. Teens who have been involved in social problems/ crimes and disowned by families
Among the steps of getting involved in social activism:
1. It is always good to do some background reading and acquire a basic understanding about an issue prior to involvement
2. Get involved and get to know them
3. Extend help
4. Spread awareness and educate others
(Program Kebajikan dan Aktiviti Sosial Geng Usrah)
Dr. Raudah then spoke about her experience dealing with Syrian and Rohingya refugees. She mentioned that refugees from different countries may have different socio-demographic characteristics (including level of education), so it is crucial that we know beforehand, who we are dealing with. For instance, a large section of refugees from Syria (who fled to Malaysia) belong to the middle class/ upper middle class – they comprise professionals and highly educated people. But in Malaysia, prolonged unemployment eventually exhaust their savings and plunge them into poverty. Their needs and approach, therefore, might be different. Our duty is to identify their needs and lend our hand; help can be in the forms of providing education, healthcare and employment.
Social activists are not spared from challenges – among them are people’s criticism, misunderstanding, and constraint of resources. All these need to be dealt with patience and perseverance.
In Chapter Baqarah, verse 268 it is mentioned that the devil (Shaitan) whispers into the hearts of man whenever he wants to spend for a good cause – by scaring him and making him believe that giving (or donating) will plunge him into poverty and neediness.
Conversely, God made it clear in other verses that whatever good a man does is like a loan given to God, and God will repay him and reward him with something greater. He guarantees that every good deed will not be unappreciated or go in vain. God also mentions that those who spend in His way (for a good cause) shall have their rewards multiplied.
Dr Raudah concluded her speech with a verse from Chapter Ankabut, verse 6:
“And whoever strives (in a good cause), his effort (the benefit) is due for him…”
It is hoped that this sharing session has been beneficial!