What was our inspiration behind the 40 day challenge?

Surely we cannot sit back and wait for a miracle to alleviate the suffering of the humanity. The onus is upon us, the citizens of this world.

The most generous of the people is the person who gives to those from whom he has no hope of return.” Hussain ibn Ali

Extending help to those who do not expect it from us without hope of any favour in return, is one of the lessons of compassion we learn from Hussain ibn Ali. An act of compassion towards a complete stranger has the potential to trigger a chain reaction of kindness and positivity.

It was in the year 2014 when our team in Lebanon initiated a unique campaign: “40 Acts of Kindness” to pay homage to the legacy of Hussain ibn Ali during the days of commemoration: from the day of his martyrdom until the day of Arbaeen. The simplicity, uniqueness and the ultimate impact on social media of Lebanon’s work inspired the volunteers at Who is Hussain – Pakistan to take up a similar initiative in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Excitement pervaded from the outset as the teams collectively brainstormed the 40 tasks to be performed, with ideas pouring in from representatives in each of the cities. As each act was uploaded and shared on social media platforms a buzz was created that generated an energy of its own. The forty acts were selected to combine compassion with creativity.

One of the most popular acts of kindness on the list was “Washing a stranger’s car” which involved our team members setting up in various parking lots around the city, washing the parked cars and leaving a note of love in the name of Hussain ibn Ali.

Mushahid, our team member in Islamabad who led the team of volunteers washing cars, recalls his experience:

“Last year in Muharram, acts of kindness for the name of Hussain ibn Ali, made me feel pretty good about myself and surely made somebody else feel pretty good too. It surprised me to learn that the small gestures we make towards other have a far-reaching, powerful, lasting effect on them. Some of the best days of my life while spreading love and smile among random people.”

Bushra, another dedicated and active team player recalls her experience of the acts of kindness initiative:

“Some of the activities were group tasks while others were individual tasks. Some of them deeply affected me at both an emotional and spiritual level. One of those tremendous experiences was a visit to a public hospital’s children’s ward. Before that, I had never visited children at the hospital. We distributed food and presents among these kids. We shared smiles and a connection sparked up between us and we started talking to each other. There I met a kid who was a cancer patient who smiled widely and asked me to take a photograph with him. It made me realise we are always whining upon the tiny things that we don’t have. Who is Hussain is a platform where voluntary work gives us gratitude and motivates us to give back to society. These acts of kindness might seem small; however, they hold a huge impact both on our lives and those who are served as it provokes thought, as kindness is mighty”.

Bilal Kazmi, another energetic and active volunteer shared his experiential reflection:

“We focused on the underprivileged and needy communities to serve them. It meant a lot to communicate the message of boundless humanity given by Imam Hussain to serve those in need, regardless of their caste, creed and religion”.

The fact that kindness is contagious was proven at the time when the public responded to our acts of kindness positively, by consequently doing good for others and paying it forward. If a small group of people can inspire a chain of kindness merely by showing compassion for a few days, imagine how significantly the world can be transformed if everyone follows suit. For surely we cannot sit back and wait for a miracle to alleviate the suffering of the humanity. The onus is upon us, the citizens of this world, to do good and become the hope for humanity.

Zahra Ejaz & Masooma Zaidi

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