Did you grow up wishing for that ‘dream job’? How close are you to achieving it?
If I wish to achieve something, but progress no further than wishing, I can only look to myself for blame when nothing develops. So, rather than simply wishing, I consult with Allah SWT and His servants, and make decisions and take action to achieve my goals. My ultimate hope of reward is with Allah SWT. After I have ensured sufficient income for my responsibilities, does it matter whether I undertake paid or voluntary employment to work towards my aims?
Looking at my CV today, voluntary work constitutes the experience on which I am striving to build my chosen career path as a writer. At the times I took those voluntary positions, I had no idea that they would map a possible route to a particular career path. I didn’t imagine that they would uncover my deep-seated desire for a specific career.
I started volunteering as a teenager, and became more active as a university student. The Volunteers Officer offered a huge diversity of local jobs, and I felt compelled to respond to certain voluntary roles and the needs they addressed. Soon, not only did my time fill up, but so did my CV. I was even able to use some of my voluntary work for my final year research project. Allah SWT made my voluntary work relevant and valuable at the time, and has continued to do so since.
Now, as an unemployed mother of young children, voluntary work protects my CV from uncomfortably large gaps in employment. And, alhamdulillah, even though I returned to volunteering as a mother in response to others’ needs in the community, the work is proving to be intrinsic to my growing prospects of developing my chosen career.
I now know what I want to be doing, insha’Allah, and have remembered that I always wanted it. I wished for it as a child, and as a teenager and as a young adult, but I buried the desire over and over again. Compared to other people, I felt I already had too little experience practising my skills to sufficiently develop the talent I hoped I possessed. So I opted to refrain from even entering the competition. It was easier for me to focus my work on supporting other people in their achievements.
Alhamdulillah, it seems that through volunteering to meet others’ needs, I began feeling connected to the vocational purpose that I continue to feel Allah I demands of me.
Looking ahead at how much work I have to do, insha’Allah, I am usually inspired and motivated by the challenges. There are, however, despondent moments when I look around at others who already have the accomplishments on their CVs that I long for on mine. At those times, (after asking Allah SWT to bless and protect those people from the evil eye) I find it useful to look at how far I have come. If I removed my volunteering experience from the pages of my CV, I would still have so far to go. So far that I may not even have unearthed my childhood dream to be a writer, and may still be wondering what I “should” be doing.
Sometimes action does start with a wish. Our childhood hopes and dreams are not always fickle fantasies influenced by the attractions surrounding us, or by our desires to please our peers and guardians. Sometimes our childhood wishes may be Allah-given inspiration of the kind of work He has planned for us. In spite of us burying them, these wishes re-emerge when we are busy focusing on trying to please Allah SWT. Following them demands dedication, hard work, and working with and for the benefit of others. But every turn of the process offers occasions to thank Allah SWT and incites wonderful feelings of satisfaction.
When we are raised from our graves for the Day of Judgement, we will have to answer for the ways we used our talents, our time and our opportunities. I work in the hope of gaining satisfaction, in the next life as well as this, for acting voluntarily to make good wishes come true.
If you are interested in volunteering for a particular community or local voluntary organisation or charity, why not make polite enquiries directly by email, telephone, and in person?
Readers in the UK who are interested in volunteering may like to visit http://www.do-it.org.uk/ and to search opportunities on their local council websites.
And if any strive (with might and main), they do so for their own souls: for Allah is free of all needs from all creation.
The Qur’an, Surah Al-’Ankaboot (Chapter of the spider) 29:6
Umm Hamza is a pen name Maria Limehouse uses for non-fiction articles. She has volunteered for various organisations over many years. She aspires to use inspirational metaphors in her non-fiction writing and she sometimes writes for SISTERS Magazine where this article was first published.