Those Who Do Good Find Good, Part 1(Chapter 32 in “The Quran and the Life of Excellence” by Dr. Sultan Abdulhameed)
And when it is said to those who are conscious of God, “What is it that your Lord has revealed?” They say, “What is good.” For those who do good, there is good in this world, but the reward in the hereafter is better still; for how excellent is the abode of the God conscious!
During our regular bi-monthly meetings in New York City, we discuss one chapter from Dr. Abdulhameed’s book and the following is the summary from our meeting on March 7th, 2016:
The purpose behind the aya that says that those who do good will find good in this world is that it refers to a formula for success and what it takes is that we need to focus on continually doing good. The religion has been used as a source of good, wisdom, and morality and at the same time, it has been and continues to be, used as a way to justify many injustices in the world. In addition, it has been used as a source of authority for those that want to keep the authority and advantages they have over others.
The teaching of this chapter is very simple and it says that we need to train ourselves to overcome our negative tendencies in order to let the true light within us shine, so that we can show with our own lives what is truly meant by this aya: positive thoughts, speech and action, thinking well of ourselves and others, creating a positive intention within our minds when we do something, not looking down on what God gave us in our person or our experience, letting go of anger, jealousy, hopelessness and self-pity, and never wishing to harm anyone. These are not lofty ideals that are unattainable or attainable only by a select few. The idea is to work on internalizing, that is, seriously thinking about and looking to understand what it means to be God-conscious - something that the first part of the aya is asking us to do - by making a concerted effort and being honest with ourselves as to what we are trying to do. If we try to contemplate this idea of God-consciousness a couple of times, an encouragement is surely to follow. Once God consciousness has been achieved, it become easier and natural to want to do good.
We must remember that the Quran and consequently, the religion of Islam, is not what it has come to mean for many people, judging by their behavior – a set of complex rules and obligations that burden. Working on true understanding of ayas is like any other effort that we do because we think it will be worth our while in the long run: we get as much out of it as we put into it. We must remember that if we don’t try, it doesn’t make sense to expect God to try.
Therefore, we must try to work on achieving God-consciousness by interpreting God’s ayas by ourselves and for ourselves without asking anyone whom we consider to be an authority in these matters to do it for us. We, of course, can consult the writings of those who have thought about the subject for a long time, but we must remember that everything we read must make sense to us so that it takes root within us. As we work on achieving the state of God-consciousness, we will begin to see encouragement along our way. Then, it becomes natural to want to do good and with a heart that is in alignment with our wishes, our wishes that now begin to reflect His will.
Dr. Abdulhameed has also developed an exercise for each chapter to help us internalize the ideas behind the chapter. The exercise for this chapter states:
1) Write a paragraph about an interpretation of religion which results in harm. Describe an alternate interpretation of the same teaching that can be beneficial.
2) Write a paragraph abut a belief you had in the past out of which you have evolved. Describe how this change occurred.
3) What part of your life can be described as doing good to others?
Our practice is to discuss each chapter during two consecutive meetings so Part 2 will be discussed on March 21st. Stay tuned!