Cooperation and helping other members of society are the foundations of social life. Providing help and removing the needs of one another bring about both progress in social affairs and increase in friendliness amongst the members of society. The Qur’an has drawn our attention to these principles and advised us with the following:
"Help one another in doing good and in piety and do not help one another in sin and hostility"1
The Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), in addition to ordering the Muslims to work together and support one another, practiced what he preached and took part in laborious tasks. Even though his companions offered and even insisted to work in his place, he would not accept their offers. Some instances of the Prophet's custom of providing help in social situations are mentioned below:
1. Prior to his appointment to prophethood, the people of Mecca suffered great poverty and economic pressures. Even though Abu Talib (the Prophet's uncle) was the most respected member of the tribe of Bani Hashim, he also experienced great pressure in trying to support his large family. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) saw his situation, he could not find comfort until he sought his other uncle, 'Abbas, who was relatively better off and said to him, "O 'Abbas, your brother, Abu T'alib, has a large family and you can see that people are under pressure (financially). Let us go together and decrease (the load of) his family members. I will take one of his children and you take another." 'Abbas accepted to do so. The Most Noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) took ‘Ali with him and 'Abbas took Ja'far. By this deed that pleased God, (the economic responsibility of) two members of the family of Abu Talib was removed.2
2. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) entered Madinah, it became apparent that a mosque was needed for performing worship and handling the political and social affairs of the Muslims. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) proposed that a mosque be built and the Muslims gladly endorsed this proposal. Land was purchased for the mosque and excitement surrounded its construction.
Everyone took part in building the mosque and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) took part in this good deed as well. Usayd ibn Hudhayr has said, "The Prophet picked up a stone and was bringing it. I said, 'O Messenger of God, give me the stone to carry.' He said, 'No, go and bring another stone.'"3
3. On one of their journeys, as soon as the Most Noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) and his friends dismounted their animals and placed their belongings on the ground, they decided to prepare a sheep to eat. One of the companions said, "I will slaughter the sheep."
Another said, "I will take off its skin." A third said, "I will cook the meat." And the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said, "I will gather firewood from the desert."
The companions said, "O Messenger of God, do not burden yourself. Sit comfortably. We will gladly do everything ourselves."
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said, "I know you (are) will(ing to) perform them, but God does not like to see his slave being distinguished amongst his friends such that he considers himself to be privileged in relation to others." Then he went to the desert and gathered some bristles and motes and brought them.4