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Monday, August 22, 2022

Good and evil are never equal - So Repel (evil) with that which is good

The  fight between the good and evil has been in vogue  from the very first day of human life on the earth. The story of  Cane and Able is perhaps the perhaps encounter of good with evil and it was seen that the good prevailed. But man never learns from history and prefers to live in the present and continues to part of the tug of war between evil and good forces. 

Although seemingly evil is seen prevailing, yet in the end good prevails. No matter how an influential person may be who using his power of wealth and authority tries to beat off the fable yet good. But we have seen empires and demagogues crumbling and being subdued or perishing in a miserable end.

Islam also teaches that while good and evil can never be equal, yet still a believer should continue to respond evil with good, for in the end good prevails upon the evil. When Prophet Muhammad ﷺ presented the concept of a new religion to the pagans of Makkah, He ﷺ was rebuked, mocked, teased and laughed at and even called a sorcerer and a magician. Yet Prophet ﷺ stood to his ground, bore the evil machinations of the polytheists of Makkah, till a time came when Makkah  fell without any resistance from them for they finally came to know that Islam was all about good, completely tangent to evil. 

The very  theme of 34th verse of Surah 41 Ha Mim (also known as Surah As Sajdah, and also as Surah Fussilat (Explained in Detail) is hinged on a directive from God to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to remain good even in the face of treachery and evil unleashed by the pagans of Makkah for ultimately good and the truth will prevail - and the world saw the truth and goodness finally prevailed.

وَلَا تَسۡتَوِى الۡحَسَنَةُ وَ لَا السَّيِّئَةُ ؕ اِدۡفَعۡ بِالَّتِىۡ هِىَ اَحۡسَنُ فَاِذَا الَّذِىۡ بَيۡنَكَ وَبَيۡنَهٗ عَدَاوَةٌ كَاَنَّهٗ وَلِىٌّ حَمِيۡمٌ‏ 
(41:34) (O Prophet), good and evil are not equal. Repel (evil) with that which is good, and you will see that he, between whom and you there was enmity, shall become as if he were a bosom friend (of yours).
To understand the full significance of these words also, one should keep in view the conditions in which the Holy Prophet and, through him, his followers were given this instruction. The conditions were that the invitation to the Truth was being resisted and opposed with extreme stubbornness and severe antagonism, in which All bounds of morality, humanity and decency were being transgressed. Every sort of lie was being uttered against the Holy Prophet and his Companions; every kind of evil device was being employed to defame him and to create suspicions against him in the minds of the people; every kind of accusation was being leveled against him and a host of the propagandists were busy creating doubts against him in the hearts; in short, he and his Companions were being persecuted in every possible way because of which a substantial number of the Muslims had been compelled to emigrate from the country. Then the program that had been prepared to stop him from preaching was that a hand of the mischievous people was set behind him, who would raise such a hue and cry that no one should be able to hear anything as soon as he opened his mouth to preach his message. In such discouraging conditions when apparently every way of extending invitation to Islam seemed to be blocked, the Holy Prophet was taught this recipe for breaking the opposition.
First, it was said that goodness and evil are not equal, as if to say: "Although apparently your opponents might have raised a dreadful storm of mischief and evil, as against which goodness might seem absolutely helpless and powerless, yet evil in itself has a weakness which ultimately causes its own destruction. For as long as man is man, his nature cannot help hating evil. Not only the companions of evil, even its own upholders know in their hearts that they are liars and wicked people and arc being stubborn for selfish motives. Not to speak of creating dignity and honor for them in the hearts of others, it lowers them in their own esteem, and causes their morale to be weakened and destroyed in the event of every conflict. As against this evil, the good which appears to be utterly helpless and powerless, goes on operating and working and it becomes dominant in the long run. For, in the first place, the good has a power of its own which wins the hearts and no man however perverted and corrupted, can help esteeming it in his own heart. Then, when the good and evil are engaged in a face to face conflict and their nature and merits become apparent and known, after a long drawn out struggle, not many people would be left, who would not start hating the evil and admiring the good.
Second, it was said that evil should be resisted not by the mere good but' by a superior good, as if to say: "If a person treats you unjustly and you forgive him, it is the mere good. The superior good is that you treat the one who ill-treats you which kindness and lout. "
The result would be that "your worst enemy would become your closest friend," for that is human nature itself. If you remain quiet in response to an abuse, it will be mere goodness but it will not silence the abuser. But if you express good wishes for him in response to his abuses, even the most shameless opponent will feel ashamed, and then would hardly ever be able to employ invectives against you. If a person doesn't miss any opportunity to harm you, and you go on tolerating his excesses, it may well make him even bolder in his mischiefs. But if on an occasion he gets into trouble and you come to his rescue, he will fall down at your feet, for no mischief can hold out against goodness. However, it would be wrong to take this general principle in the meaning that every enemy will necessarily become a close friend when you have treated him with the superior good. There are such wicked people also in the world, whose inimical nature will never change for the better no matter how tolerantly you may overlook their excesses and how benevolently you may react and respond to every evil committed by them. But such devil-incarnates are as few in the world as the embodiments of goodness are. 

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
You do not return good for evil, for there is no equality or comparison between the two. You repel or destroy evil with something which is far better, just as an antidote is better than poison. You foil hatred with love. You repel ignorance with knowledge, folly and wickedness with the friendly message of Revelation. The man who was in the bondage of sin, you not only liberate from sin, but make him your greatest friend and helper in the cause of Allah! Such is the alchemy of the Word of Allah! Cf. xxiii. 96; xxviii. 54.

Asad Ali Explanation:
In the present instance, the injunction to "repel [evil] with something that is better" relates to scurrilous objections to, and hostile criticism of, the Qur'an. The whole of this passage (verses {33} ff.) connects with verse {26}.

This verse is better explained for the 22nd verse of Surah 13 Ar R'ad. wherein the same theme is covered "... and [who] repel evil with good". Some of the commentators take this to mean that "if they have committed a sin, they repel it [i.e., its effect] by repentance" (Ibn Kaysan, as quoted by Zamakhshari), while others think that the "repelling" connotes the doing of a good deed in atonement of a - presumably unintentional - bad deed (Razi), or that it refers to endeavours to set evil situations to rights by word or deed (an alternative interpretation mentioned by Zamakhshari). But the great majority of the classical commentators hold that the meaning is "they repay evil with good"; thus Al-Hasan al-Basri (as quoted by Baghawi, Zamakhshari and Razi): "When they are deprived [of anything], they give; and when they are wronged, they forgive." Tabari's explanation is very similar: "They repel the evil done to them by doing good to those who did it"; and "they do not repay evil with evil, but repel it by [doing] good". See also {41:34-36}.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
(In reality, good and evil are not equal. [There is no doubt that these disbelievers of yours are now after evil, ) It is mentioned earlier that that miscreants of the Quryash had gone so far to oppose the Prophet (sws) that they would urge people to make noise when he stood to recite the Qur’ān so that nothing could be heard. The attitude that should be adopted in return is explained ahead. 

(but] you do that which is good in response to evil.)  Ie., patience and forgiveness because it is only this attitude which is befitting to reform people. Thus every caller to the truth has been directed by the Almighty to adhere to this attitude before the phases of conclusive communication of the truth and decisive punishments arrive.

(Then you will see that the very person between who and yourself there is enmity, it is as if he has become a bosom friend. ) This is stated with regard to general human nature. 

Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes: " … When people whose nature has not been perverted see that so anxious is a person in wishing well for them that in spite of their bad behaviour and disrespect for him, his graciousness towards them remains the same and in fact he responds to this bad behaviour with prayers for them, their attitude does change: even if because of some misunderstanding they have animosity for him, they are deeply influenced by his magnanimous behaviour and their animosity gives way to love and affection and they become his bosom friends. Thus, it is an undeniable fact that the most effective factor in the preaching mission of Muḥammad (sws) was this aspect of his character. Whoever among his enemies had any trace of decency in them were greatly influenced by this aspect of his character and ultimately became his sincere companions and undaunted men of Islam. Only those hard-hearts whose nature had been perverted were not affected by this attitude. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 7, 103)"

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (Wisdom in Da`wah)
(The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal.) means, there is a huge difference between them.

(Repel (the evil) with one which is better,) means, `when someone does you wrong, repel him by treating him well,' as `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "There is no better punishment for one who has disobeyed Allah with regard to you, than your obeying Allah with regard to him.''

(then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.) means, `if you treat well those who treat you badly, this good deed will lead to reconciliation, love and empathy, and it will be as if he is a close friend to you and he will feel pity for you and be kind to you.' 

Having explained the above said verse in detail, you may now listen to explanation of the Ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the  Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be firm on our feet of goodness and truth and respond to evil with good for we know good will prevail over evil one day. May we be like the ones Allah loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others life miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible to make you accept it forcibly, And if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, You will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so  that they are able to discuss issues with Non Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Important DOs and DON'Ts from Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages: Understanding Al Qur'an and  Selected Verses from the Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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