Path towards Enlightenment (883)
Welcome to our weekly programme "Path towards Enlightenment" in which we present you a fluent and easy-to-understand explanation of the Ayahs of God’s Revealed Word to all humanity, the holy Qur’an. We continue from where we left you last week, and here are Ayahs 34 and 35 of Surah Fussilat:
“Good and evil [conduct] are not equal; repel [evil] with what is best. [If you do so,] behold, 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.”
If you might recall, in our last Friday’s explanation we said Ayah 33 gives glad tiding to all real Muslims whose good deeds confirm the faith in their heart, since a true believer totally submits to the Will of God Almighty and practices whatever he/she preaches.
The Ayahs which we recited to you now mean to say that among the positive ways of inviting people to God Almighty and the ultimate truth is to strive to remove tensions, even to the extent of doing good despite the evil acts committed by others, since positive and negative actions are not on a par, and a benevolent deed is capable of turning an opponent into a friend. There are many instances of such transformation when we study the exemplary life of Prophet Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny). The Prophet and his Infallible Heirs, the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, through their excellences of disposition, succeeded in turning many of their opponents into adherents.
An instance in this regard is the famous supplication titled “Makarem al-Akhlaq” or Excellences of Disposition, through which the Prophet’s 4th Infallible Heir, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) invokes God to bestow upon him the favour of saying good things to people in return for their slanders and backbiting out of ignorance, and to forgive them with His infinite Mercy.
In other words, God Almighty says to His Prophet that no matter how disbelievers utter slanderous words against you and do wrong to you, you should return their evil words with clemency and speak unto them gently and kindly so that your enemies and foes may befriend you and turn to the Islamic faith.
In other words, it is evident that good and evil are not on a par – wrong-doers and the just, believers and disbelievers, monotheists and polytheists, the knowledgeable and the ignorant, the generous and the close-fisted are not equal, as the truthful and righteous people whose words are substantiated by their deeds are not equal with the lying and the ill-mannered man.
The next Ayah, that is 35 means to say that it is only the patient, the pious, and the prudent, that are granted such noble disposition, because they don’t seek worldly gains and strive solely for the sake of Allah, with clarity of vision, knowledge, wisdom, and the spirit of clemency and forgiveness for the faults and shortcomings of others.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- The method of the Prophet and his Infallible Heirs, the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, was based on this Qur’anic principle in order to promote Islam by melting the hearts of stone-hearted opponents and turning them into believers.
- A practical example of inviting people to the truth by responding with good towards evil was the day in 8 AH when the Arab polytheists of Mecca surrendered to Muslims, who chanted slogans of revenge, but the Prophet granted public clemency to all his former opponents, a benevolent act that highly impressed them and turned them into Muslims.
- Patience in the face of oppression requires faith, prudence and piety, which in turn brings Divine Grace during life and rewards in the Hereafter.
Here is Ayah 36 of the same Surah:
“Should a temptation from Satan disturb you, seek the protection of Allah; indeed He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
The urge to retaliate evil with evil is a satanic stratagem, while good in return for the evil deeds committed by others is a Divine Injunction. In other words, anger is a negative trait which makes a person lose control of himself to the extent of committing a sin. Thus, God Almighty commands us to seek His protection whenever the Satan tempts us to commit wrong. It is mentioned in the book “al-Khesaal” compiled over a thousand years ago by the famous Iranian scholar Sheikh Sadouq that the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), taught his companions some four hundred aphorisms regarding the issues which are to the benefit of Muslims in this world and the Hereafter, an instance of which is:
“Whenever one of you is tempted by Satan, he should seek refuge in God Almighty and say ‘I believe in Allah and purify my faith for Him.’”