تُعِينُ صَانِعًا أَوْ تَصْنَعُ لأَخْرَقَ
Help the skilled laborers and serve the disabled.
Alternate translation: Assist the one who is skilled, and do something for one who is not.
[Bukhārī 2382, Muslim 250][i]
From the Prophetic treasures for human society are these important moral instructions concerning public service. The Prophet instructed his followers to be forever in the service of others. It is a basic ethical value, recognized by all cultures and faith traditions. Yet, the genius of the Prophet of Islam lay not only in the advice, but in his choice of words and in his ability to diagnose and prescribe—in the most precise ways—the most effective solutions for the problems faced by people.
A bedouin asked the people of Baṣrah , “Who is your leader?”
They replied, “Ḥasan al-Baṣrī.”
He asked, “Is he a descendant of slaves?”
They replied, “Yes.”
He asked, “How then did he become their leader?”
They said, “Because they are in need of his knowledge and he is not in need of their dunyā (worldly possessions).”
He replied, “This is real leadership.”
—From Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Bā‘ith al-Ḥathīth. Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah. 1994.
وسأل بعض الأعراب رجلاً من أهل البصرة، فقال: من هو سيِّد هذه البلدة؟ قال: الحسن بن أبي الحسن البصري، قال: أمولىً هو؟ قال: نعم، قال: فَبمَ سادهم؟ فقال: بحاجتهم إلى علمه وعدم احتياجه إلى دنياهم، فقال الأعرابي: هذا لعَمْر أبيك هو السؤدد..