In all corners of the world, there is evil, injustice, tyranny and wrongdoing. There are a number of reasons why people are witness to these negative realities which have become part of our daily lives. From the time a person acquires consciousness, he is exposed to an outpouring of news about such terrible happenings. Hardly a day goes by without encountering stories in the papers or on the TV, of swindlers, cruel serial killers, unprotected women, children and the elderly abandoned mercilessly to hunger and cold, all harrowing reminders that immorality, corruption, conflicts of interests and degeneracy are firmly rooted in society.
The majority of people who witness such events consider them as events which befall others, and thus, as things that have no relevance to them. For this reason, they never assume responsibility for the unrest, corruption and mercilessness that affects society. For instance, it may be that an innocent and defenseless person is exploited by a wealthier one, who insults and slanders him. In such an instance, everyone would recognize that the wealthy person is guilty of unjustly mistreating the innocent person. However, often, most people prefer to remain silent. They simply say “What difference would my words make?” or “This is none of my business”, and turn a blind eye to this unfairness.
Undoubtedly, such situations arouse strong feelings and move a person whose heart is not so hardened. However merely getting angry, and disapproving, or feeling distressed, will in no way prove to be a hindrance to the recurrence of these harms. For this end, those who are conscientious and wish for the good of humanity should put forth a sincere effort and in every circumstance, lend their support to others who also strive for the good.
However, in order to do so, one needs to be able to distinguish between the good and the evil. Today “goodness and evil” have become relative concepts, varying according to the society, the type of social lifestyle and interests. For example in our day, caring for stray dogs and protecting their rights is regarded as an important mark of goodness. Similarly, making a few phone calls to collect aid for a disaster-stricken territory is sufficient to be regarded as a charitable person. A person busying himself in his spare times with renovation of a school building, or meeting a few school children’s needs, deems himself worthy of life-long honor and earns the respect and appreciation of the rest of society. Surely these can be considered acts of goodwill, yet, it is obvious that such feeble attempts are an insignificant contribution to the total eradication of all the wickedness that exists. As a matter of fact, these people also know that their efforts do not require great sacrifices. Some of them may even be aware that with such charity work, they can ingratiate themselves to people surrounding them, wanting to be admired for their efforts. Ultimately, another motivation for their interest in such charity work may be to ease their conscience.
However, the purpose of the “good” is loftier and more noble. The “alliance of the good”, formed by people committed unconditionally to remain among the good and offer complete support to this end, acquires immense strength and brings forth unprecedented results in the shortest possible time. Grudge, hatred, mercilessness, insincerity, lying, injustice, penetrating into the societies of the world today, can only be removed by the “alliance of the good”. Only people with high morals can stop the harm such corruption brings to the world.
None of these goals should seem remote, imaginary or unattainable to anybody. One should also acknowledge that joining with the “alliance of the good” is amenable to anyone. Be they a housewife, a high school student, a tradesman, or a professor, every conscientious person living by moral principles and committed to the dissemination of such values in society is capable of associating with the good. For this end, you must set aside your prejudices, presuppositions, and the ideas of right and wrong you have acquired earlier in life. The next step will be to look around you to identify the true good and the true evil. In the process, you will have to adopt a single criterion: the Qur’an, the only guide sent to mankind by God. That is because, only God knows who are the truly good or the truly evil, and it is in the Qur’an that He provides us a detailed account of the attributes of the good and the evil.
The Good and the Evil in the Qur’an
The only reason why a man conducts himself immorally is a lack of faith in God and the Day of Judgment and a lack of fear for God. Think for a moment about all the evil on earth: injustice, jealousy, murders, grudge, hatred, mercilessness, deceit, malice, oppression… In the Qur’an, God prohibits man from exhibiting these traits and informs that people committing them will be exposed to eternal punishment in the hereafter. For this reason, it is unlikely that a God-fearing person exhibits “devilish” characteristic. One of the verses of God forbids evil as follows:
We have sent down the Book to you making all things clear and as guidance and mercy and good news for the Muslims. God commands justice and doing good and giving to relatives. And He forbids indecency and doing wrong and tyranny. He warns you so that hopefully you will pay heed. (Surat an-Nahl: 89-90)
You may hear people saying that they avoid those forms of mischief commonly practiced in society though they do not believe in God and the Day of Judgment. However, it is a definite and evident fact that a person, who has never been involved in any wicked deed in his lifetime, may possibly suddenly change this attitude once changing conditions seriously challenge his interests. When his career, for which he has worked day and night, or his wealth or life are at stake, for instance, he does not hesitate to cause harm to another person. We often encounter such people in our every day lives. In business life, in fear of being fired from his job for a mistake he has made, a person may well put the blame on someone else. Alternatively, a person who as a principle never accepts bribes or does anything unlawful, may find it reasonable to take a bribe for something urgent, for instance, when he has to pay his son’s hospital bills.
If a non-God fearing person claims to be the most reliable and virtuous person in the world, it would definitely not prove to be convincing. Such a person may truly avoid committing theft or lying but he may lack good morals. You may not find an amicable, sincere and compassionate attitude in him, for instance. He may humiliate people in words or with his jokes, and the way he talks to people may have a disturbing tone. Similarly, a non-gambling person may indulge in a game when he is in an environment where gambling is popular. It would be unreasonable to consider a non-God-fearing man a truly righteous person, since he has an inherently weak-will that is prone to temptation because of a lack of fear of God.
There are also those who relentlessly commit acts of immorality, disturb, degrade or defraud people, use abusive language, do not value people, think only of themselves, act aggressively and maliciously, and yet help the poor now and then. In such cases, we certainly cannot consider these people to be “good”. The essential attributes of a good person are righteousness, honesty, justice, and sincerity. However we should also keep in mind that a good person who is sincere can also make mistakes and have certain failings, but what makes him different is his endeavor to purify himself of these flaws, and to exhibit moral perfection as best as he can.
A person with fear of God shows good character, not only at particular times, but under all circumstances. His moral perfection is not dependent on the changing attitudes of people or of events and conditions around him, but the consideration of the heavy judgment awaiting in the hereafter, and facing an outcome from which there is no return. With these factors in mind, he cannot dare to say a word or commit anything for which he would fail to give account in the hereafter. On the contrary, he pursues the bounties he hopes to attain in the hereafter. In the Qur’an, God calls man to ponder over the Day of Judgment:
On the Day that each self finds the good it did, and the evil it did, present there in front of it, it will wish there were an age between it and then. God advises you to beware of Him. God is Ever-Gentle with His servants. (Surah Ali ‘Imran: 30)
Consequently, fear of God in one’s heart is a sign of being among the good. A non-God fearing person who does not observe God’s limits inevitably identifies himself with the alliance of the evil. Possibly, he does not always actively participate in this wicked alliance, but, considering that conditions may develop at any time to in such a way as to prepare the appropriate ground for becoming involved in acts of wickedness, he may, deliberately or not, side with the evil ones against the good.
God informs believers who the worst people are:
“The worst of creatures in the sight of God are those who disbelieve. They will not believe.” (Surat al-Anfal: 55)
Therefore, someone who wants to ally with the good should definitely be with God-fearing people.
Harun Yahya is a prominent Turkish intellectual.
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