The following are some excerpts from the transcript of a closed-door session between Shaykh Muhammad Mendes and Sout Ilaahi Volunteers.
Peace be upon you, and may the grace of Allah be upon you. It’s an honour to be here. I’m not saying that just to be nice. Allah tells us in the Qur’an to rush to goodness. Imam al Ghazali says that there are 3 kinds of charitable acts
1. Time is the greatest charity of all
The greatest charity someone can give is to give their time. It’s more valuable than giving money, because once you spend your time, it can’t be replaced, whereas money, you can always replace.So giving time is more cherished than money, and this is what most of you have been doing for the past few days. All the hours, months, and days that you spend your time sacrificing, don’t let it be lost on you, that if you did it in consciousness of Allah, and if you did it with a joyful heart, all of it is ibadah.
2. Find a way to contribute according to what you know
After giving your time, Imam al Ghazali says the most important thing you can give in charity is your knowledge. I’m sure most of you, whether it is in scheduling, marketing, designing, doing things on social media, videography, whatever knowledge that you’ve shared and expended in this cause is charity, is sadaqah, it’s worship, it’s khayr, it’s meditation, and it’s a means for you to draw closer to Allah. And then he places money. So money’s at the bottom.The volunteer, the person who serves as a volunteer gives the most precious things. You’ve got donors and investors, who give a lot of money, and they get a lot of attention for it. You have people like me who come, who teach. Then you have to people like yourselves who work behind the scenes, who are the foremost, the leaders, those who’re giving up your time. Don’t belittle this, because it’s very important
3. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Sometimes when you’re volunteering you don’t get to attend everything. Sometimes you’re running around, like you have to go and park the car, you have to run errands, you have to watch the children, or whatever it is. Don’t ever think that you’re losing by missing the program.Have you heard of Ustadh Usama Canon? I remember Ustadh Usama, 15 or 20 years ago, a lot of the times when the shuyukh were teaching, Usama was doing khidmah. He was making tea. Everyone else was sitting with the shaykh, listening, and he’s in the kitchen making tea, can’t hear the shaykh. This was Usama. Everyone else is in the Arabic class with Shaykh Hamza, and he’s somewhere else, behind the scenes, doing khidmah. And you know, today, the people who were sitting with the shaykh, Usama’s teaching them. Why? Because it’s not your physical proximity to the scholar that is the secret to your success. It is your spiritual proximity to the shaykh and their teachings that matters.There’s some people that are always with the Shaykh. They’re opening the door for the shaykh, they’re carrying the shoes for the shaykh, they drive the shaykh everywhere, they’re at every class, but inwardly, they don’t want what the Shaykh wants. Their heart is in another place from where the shaykh is. They love the shaykh; the Shaykh’s hand is up like this, they’re admiring the Shaykh’s hand, they’re admiring his fingers, his rings, but they don’t see that the shaykh is pointing them to Allah. The Shaykh loves Allah, the Shaykh loves God, but they love the Shaykh. They spend 20 years focused on the shaykh but not focused on what the shaykh is focused on. And the closer your heart resembles the heart of your teacher, the more you’ll benefit.So when you’re volunteering, be in the consciousness, be on the heart of the person or the people you’re serving, and you’ll benefit from them. Yes, I hope that if you do happen to miss out on the lectures, that you get free recordings and you get the notes and all these things from the organizers, but don’t think that you’re not receiving
4. Don’t overextend yourself.
Choose 1, 2, no more than 3 organizations that really represent what you’re passionate about, and focus on helping those organizations becoming successful, focus on giving your all to those organizations and getting them on solid footing so that those who are coming after you will be able to benefit.So being focused is really important. Time management is super important for a volunteer, especially if you’re helping more than one organization.
5. Have a strong support network.
Having a support network—sometimes people get burnt out because they’re overextending themselves and because they don’t have friends around them that they can share with, to help pick up the slack, to remind them and to push them when they’re getting tired to get to the finish line.Make sure you have a strong support network. It doesn’t have to be 10 people, it can just be 3 or 4 people, but you have to have them while you’re volunteering and after it’s over, they’re there to share with you in the experience, to share the success. They’re your social support group. You laugh together, you cry together. It builds bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood unlike any other.The sense of accomplishment and the friendships you build, not just by entertainment—a lot of people have friends, they’re just friends because they go work at the same place or they go to the same club. But the friends that you have not because you have the same job, but because you’re committed to the same cause, there’s nothing like them.
6. Take care of yourself.
Shaykh Mendes’ Recommended Daily Routine:
– Get the right amount of sleep
– Read; be a person of knowledge
– Have some daily spiritual practices
May Allah ta’ala bless all of you. May Allah ta’ala give you every person who benefited for the past few days, and any other program that you’ve had in the past and in the future, may every second of benefit that any person experienced, may that be a mountain of Light and a mountain of good deeds on your scale, inshaAllah. May Allah ta’ala give you the knowledge that those who have benefited have received during these programs, May Allah ta’ala give you the patience to deal with many people, even those who complain, those who cannot be pleased no matter what you do. May Allah ta’ala forgive you for any of your shortcomings and faults and forgive us, and forgive me for any of my shortcomings and my faults. We ask that Allah SWT unite our hearts together, and that he bind us at the level of the spirit of the soul, so that we are as one. May Allah ta’ala give us manifest success and make us conduits for guidance and beacons of Light, and that we be bridges for people across religions and across cultures. Alhamdulillahi rabbil ‘alamin.
Alhamdulillah, Shaykh Muhammad Mendes (USA) will be coming to Singapore on 1st and 2nd April 2017 for a series of spiritually invigorating, enlightening and soul-replenishing lectures and workshops.
Delve into the depths of your inner being, seek and find the Light of the Divine within yourself, and heal the brokenness inside through witnessing the Majesty and Beauty of Muhammadan Love with Shaykh Muhammad Mendes.
1 APRIL 2017, 9AM – 1PM, MASJID MYDIN AUDITORIUM
Prophetic Parenting: Raising God-Conscious Children in the 21st Century
Workshop Ticket Price: $28
Purchase here: http://propheticparenting.eventbrite.sg
1 APRIL 2017, 8PM – 10PM, MASJID SULTAN AUDITORIUM
Spiritual Awakening: Cultivating Positivity in Life
Lecture Ticket Price: $15
Purchase here: http://cultivatingpositivity.eventbrite.sg
2 APRIL 2017, 9AM – 1PM, MASJID SULTAN AUDITORIUM
The Way of Love: Joys and Realities of Marriage
Workshop Ticket Price: $28
Purchase here: http://wayoflove.eventbrite.sg
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Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes embraced Islam at 17 years old and went to obtain a B.A. in Arabic Studies. Subsequently, he embarked on the study of traditional Islamic sciences for more than 20 years in Mauritania, Syria, and Nigeria, under the tutelage of scholars like Shaykh Murabit al Hajj, Shaykh Muhammad al Yaqoubi, Shaykh Muhammad an Ninowy, Shaykh Khalil Abdur Rashid, and Shaykh Mustafa Turkmani. He holds ijazaat in Islamic Jurisprudence, Islamic Spirituality, Theology, Prophetic Narrations, Qur’anic Exegesis, Logic, and Grammar.
Currently, aside from serving as the Founding Director of SacredService for Human Liberation, he also serves as the Imam of the Atlanta Masjid of al-Islam, and is a researcher and Lead Qur’anic Arabic Instructor at Fawakih Institute Atlanta.
He is a teacher, father, husband, servant of the community, and lifetime student of knowledge who devotes much of his time and energy to inviting people to live lives of spiritual and material significance, unite based on their shared humanity and appreciate their God-given diversity.