Monday, June 19, 2006

Avert Evil with Good



The message is stated repeatedly in the Qur'an: repel evil by good. Yet too many Muslims seem to overlook this. There are lengthy discussions by scholars about what the mysterious letters at the beginning of some suras might signify, but comparable attention is not given to this foundational principle of Islamic ethics. Consider the verses:

(Only those who possess intellect take admonition/—those who fulfill Allah’s covenant and do not break the pledge solemnly made,/ and those who join what Allah has commanded to be joined, and fear their Lord, and are afraid of an adverse reckoning/—those who are patient for the sake of their Lord’s pleasure, maintain the prayer, and spend out of what We have provided them, secretly and openly, and repel evil with good. For such will be the reward of the abode:/ the Gardens of Eden, which they will enter along with whoever is righteous from among their forebears, their spouses, and their descendents, and the angels will call on them from every door:/ Peace be with you for your patience.”) (13:19-24)

(Repel evil by what is best. We are most knowing of what they allege.) (23:96)

(Not equal are good and evil. Repel evil by what is best, then he between whom and you was enmity will be as though he were a sympathetic friend./ But none is granted it except those who are patient, and none is granted it except the greatly endowed.) (41:34-35)

(As for those who retaliate after being wronged, there is no blame on them./ The blame lies only upon those who wrong the people and commit aggression in the land unduly. For such there is a painful punishment./ As for him who endures patiently and forgives—that is indeed the steadiest of courses.) (42:41-43)

2 Comments:

Blogger mohammed said...

Any further analysis on why you suppose that is? Sometimes I think we are so occupied with defending the actions of our co-religionists, often stuck in situations of seemingly endless conflict, that we forget the truer ideals of islam. I suspect though there is more to it, what do you think?

20 June, 2006 08:07  
Blogger Hajj Muhammad Legenhausen said...

Thanks for the comment.
I suspect there is more to it, too.
For too many centuries the Islamic sciences have been in the hands of kings and other powers more interested in using popular beliefs to prop up their own authority. Events like Shirazi's tabacco rebellion were much more the exception than the rule. Scholars found a safer way to respect by parading esoteric knowledge than by emphasizing the message of peace and justice. In the modern period, conflict itself has become a sort of cottage industry. Posturing and taking a hard line win more popular approval than trying to organize effective collective action. But maybe I'm missing something. I'm open to suggestions.

20 June, 2006 13:52  

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