Ali Asani (AKH 73-84) was the recipient of one of His Highness the Aga Khan’s personal scholarships while studying at Harvard. Since finishing his doctorate in 1984, he has pursued an academic career at his alma mater where he is currently Professor of the Practice of Indo-Muslim Languages & Cultures. Ali chose to speak about Islam and Social Responsibility at the Boston alumni dinner in November 1999.
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteous is the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book and the prophets and gives away wealth out of love for Him (God) to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask and sets slaves free… 2:1777
The above verse from the Holy Qur’an makes a fundamental observation on the nature of religiosity. In trying to explain to mankind what it means to be religious, to truly follow the sirat al-mustaqim, Allah makes it clear that piety basically comprises two dimensions. The first, which we may call ‘ibadat, consists of worship and prayer, obligations to God, and the acknowledgement of the status of a human being as an ‘abd (servant) of the Almighty. The other usually termed as Mu’amalat, is social or communal in nature for it stresses the obligation of the believer to the surrounding society, in particular its disadvantaged segment. Religiosity in Islam, then, does not distinguish between or separate the sacred and the secular. A person cannot be truly religious without fulfilling the responsibilities enjoined on him/her in both dimensions ‑ towards the Almighty and towards society. To call oneself religious and just pray and worship God, oblivious of the needs of the less fortunate, is to have only partially fulfilled one’s responsibility. Indeed, mere prayer without concern for fellow human beings is hypocrisy.
Click here to read more: http://www.amaana.org/articles.