Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the Islamic College in London and also the Managing Editor of the Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies.
Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi,
Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to religious questions. In the past, he has also spent significant time in India guiding the community.
There are so many ways to serve Islam and become close to Allah (SWT)
depending upon your abilities, circumstances and the requirements of
your society and wherever you can serve.
The first and foremost step in serving Islam lies in living Islam in
our day to day lives by setting an example as a good Muslim. A Hadeeth
from Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (AS) states that : Invite people to us not only
through your tongues but through your good deeds.
The second important step is to try to convey and spread the message
of the Holy Qur'an, the Holy Prophet (SAWA) and the Ahlul Bayt (AS) to
all the people who do not know about it - either Muslims or
Thirdly, rendering services to the people is a very great act of
virtue in Islam like helping the poor and needy, sponsoring orphans
and treating them with respect and dignity, providing shelter to the
homeless, drinking water to those who are in need of it, building or
taking part in building mosques, Husainiya, Islamic Centre or any
project which helps the community, translating and publishing
literature and distributing it among people, helping and educating
people especially the poor children who cannot afford the expenses of
education, helping strengthening the Muslim families in all possible
ways including training courses for new couples and reconciliation to
This is a question which I am sure many people will have valuable contributions on.
In my view, we are all born with different talents, opportunities, resources and inclinations. Some people have artistic talent, some people are good leaders, some people are good writers, some people are very empathetic and good at charitable or service work, some people have a good hand for making money, and so forth. The important thing is to develop and use whatever we have for the greater good. There isn't just one job to be done - either now or even in the time of the Prophet (S). But if we fulfill what we were created for, we will have done our part. No one person can do everything just as a single thread does not make a rug; and yet if a rug did not have all its single threads, it would cease to exist.
Coming closer to Allah involves sincerity, prayer (especially voluntary/non-obligatory prayer), consciousness of Allah, being mindful of not being overwhelmed by material or bodily desires, refining the soul, and seeking Allah's assistance. Of course, it goes without saying that as a prerequiste, one should not be indulging in forbidden acts (such as drinking, unlawful relationships, lying, cheating the masses, and the like), or at the very least, should be struggling to overcome those unlawful acts that they have not yet been able to extract themself from. Forbidden acts are not only forbidden because they cause individual or social harm but also because they harm the relationship between the soul and its creator. Also it is helpful to consider one's theology - for instance, being careful to avoid the "lesser shirk" in worshipping things other than Allah such as money or power.
Many of our prayers involve asking Allah for nearness to Him; it would be arrogant for us to think it could be done on our own! For instance:
‘O Allah, grant me the perfection of devotion to You, and illuminate the sight of our hearts with the radiance of looking at You until the sight of our hearts pierces through the veils of light, reaching the source of Exaltedness.’ - Munajat Sha'baniyyah
When we seek something sincerely from Allah, it is almost certain that Allah will set us on the path to it.
There are many more narrations on and discussions of this topic in our tradition including on this website and if you search "nearness to Allah" on al-islam.org (you can search them all on Google by typing "nearness to Allah al-islam.org"), you will find many resources. Hopefully they will be useful and inspiring!