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The Quranic Term (Better) Within Deeds and Comparatives


The Quranic Term (Better) Within Deeds and Comparatives

Published in March 3, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy





 The term (better) in the Quranic context has two usages: the comparative usage and the usage that denotes the betterment in one's endeavors/efforts, deeds, and words. We trace the usages of this term in the Quranic verses, hoping that our dear readers would ponder deeply on them.


Firstly: better deeds:

1- God will reward the charitable persons in a better way here in this life as well as in the Afterlife as they have obeyed God's command of performing good deeds as best as they can: "…and act better and charitably. God loves the charitable." (2:195), "…obey, and believe, and do better deeds, then maintain piety and faith, then remain righteous and charitable. God loves the charitable." (5:93); "If you perform better deeds, you work righteousness for yourselves; and if you commit evil, you do so against yourselves…" (17:7).

2- God never wastes the reward of those who perform better deeds within charity and righteousness/piety: "As for those who believe and performed good deeds - We will not waste the reward of those who done better acts of righteousness." (18:30).

2/1: God tells us here about the reward of the pious ones in this world and the next: "...For those who perform better deeds in this world, is goodness. And God's earth is vast. The steadfast will be paid their wages in full, without bounds." (39:10); "...To those who do good in this world is goodness, and the Home of the Hereafter is even better. How wonderful is the residence of the pious." (16:30); God says the following about some contemporaries of Muhammad who strive patiently for God's sake: "…For the pious ones who performed better deeds among them is a great reward." (3:172).

2/2: God says the following about their rewards in Paradise and their being pardoned: "For those who have done better deeds is goodness, and more. Neither gloom nor shame will come over their faces. These are the inhabitants of Paradise, abiding therein forever." (10:26); "" (65:11); "...Whoever believes in God and performs good deeds, He will admit him into gardens beneath which rivers flow, therein to abide forever. God has given him an excellent provision." (46:16). This is a comparison between those who performed good deeds and those who performed bad ones: "...He will repay those who do evil according to their deeds, and recompense those who perform better deeds with the best reward." (53:31).

3- (Better) within words of human beings:

3/2: Joseph said the following about Almighty God: "..."God forbid! He is my Lord. He has given me a better home. Sinners never succeed."" (12:23); "...He has provided me with better things, when he released me from prison, and brought you out of the wilderness, after the devil had sown conflict between me and my brothers. My Lord is Most Kind towards whomever He wills. He is the All-knowing, the Most Wise."" (12:100).

3/2: The Israelite man Quaroon was advised by the pious ones in this way: "...And perform better deeds within charity, as God has been charitable to you. And do not seek corruption in the land. God does not like the seekers of corruption." (28:77).


Secondly: the term (better) within the comparative sense:

 Within the English tongue, we have both the comparative and the superlative forms of the adjective (good): (good, better than, and the best). In Arabic, there are no superlative forms at all; we have only the comparative form. That is why the Quranic term (better) is used to denote both the comparative and the superlative usages, understood and differentiated from each other within the Quranic context. We explain this in the points below.

1- (Better) and (better than) in the comparative sense:

1/1: Those who perform better acts within charity will be rewarded by God in ways better than their good deeds: "Whoever comes up with a good deed will have ten times its like; and whoever comes up with an evil deed will be repaid only with its equivalent - they will not be wronged." (6:160); "God will reward them according to the best of what they did, and He will increase them from His bounty. God provides for whomever He wills without bounds." (24:38); "What you have runs out, but what is with God remains. We will reward those who are patient according to the best of their deeds. Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while being a believer, We will grant him a good life-and We will reward them according to the best of what they used to do." (16:96-97); "Those who believe and do righteous deeds-We will remit their sins, and We will reward them according to the best of what they used to do." (29:7); this is about the prophets/messengers and those pious, charitable ones who followed them: "God will acquit them of the worst of their deeds, and will reward them according to the best of what they used to do." (39:35); this is about urging dwellers of Yathreb, and desert-Arabs around it, to strive with their souls and money within jihad endeavors for God's sake: "Nor do they spend any expenditure, small or large, nor do they cross any valley, but it is recorded to their credit. That God may reward them in accordance with the best of their deeds." (9:121).

1/2: The Paradise dwellers are better than the Hell dwellers: "The companions of Paradise on that Day will be better lodged, and more fairly accommodated." (25:24).

1/3: God is testing human beings in this world to see who will perform better or the best deeds: " order to test you - which of you is best in conduct..." (11:7); "We made what is upon the earth an ornament for it, to test them as to which of them is best in conduct." (18:7); "He who created death and life-to test you - as to which of you is better in conduct..." (67:2).

1/4: When the Quranic verses were recited to them, the Meccan disbelievers of Qorayish assumed they are better than the believers during the era of Muhammad: "When Our Clear Verses are recited to them, those who disbelieve say to those who believe, "Which of the two parties is better in position...?"" (19:73).

2- (Better) within contexts of comparing between justice and charity:

2/1: God commands believers to adhere to justice and charity: "God commands justice, and charity, and generosity towards relatives. And He forbids immorality, and injustice, and oppression. He advises you, so that you may take heed." (16:90).

2/2: We should bear in mind that (charity) is a higher degree than (justice); i.e., charity is better than justice: "The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But whoever pardons and makes reconciliation, his reward lies with God. He does not love the unjust." (42:40). Hence, justice means to exact retribution in the same manner within which one has been wronged; yet, it is better to pardon the wrongdoers charitably and be patient with them: "If you were to retaliate, retaliate to the same degree as the injury done to you. But if you resort to patience - it is better for the patient ones." (16:126).

2/3: It pertains to justice to repay goodness with the same amount/degree of goodness; yet, it is better to repay it with the best/most amount of goodness possible: "When you are greeted with a greeting, respond with a better greeting, or return it. God keeps count of everything." (4:86).

2/4: Within charity, which is better than justice, there are better/higher degrees; e.g., it is better to act charitably to those who wronged you: "Repel evil by what is better. We are aware of what they describe." (23:96); "And who is better in speech than someone who calls to God, and acts with integrity, and says, "I am of those who submit"? Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with good, and the person who was your enemy becomes like an intimate friend. But none will attain it except those who persevere, and none will attain it except the very fortunate." (41:33-35).

3- The Quranic term (better) is used sometimes in the superlative sense of (best).

3/1: This pertains only to Almighty God, as in the following verses.

3/1/1: This is about the inherent instinct inculcated into all humanity by God: "It is the instinct created by God, and who creates better instinct than God?" And we are worshiping Him."" (2:138).

3/1/2: This is about Islam: "And who is better in religion than he who submits himself wholly to God, and is a doer of good, and follows the monotheistic religion of Abraham?..." (4:125).

3/1/3: These verses are about the Quran itself.

3/1/3/1: It is the Best Discourse: "God has sent down the Best Discourse: a Book consistent and paired. The skins of those who reverence their Lord shiver from it, then their skins and their hearts soften up to the remembrance of God..." (39:23).

3/1/3/2: It contains the Best Stories: "We narrate to you the Best Stories, by revealing to you this Quran..." (12:3).

3/1/3/3: It contains the Best Interpretation, as the Quranic verses explain one another: "Whatever argument they come to you with, We provide you with the Truth, and a better exposition." (25:33).

3/1/4: This is about the Quranic sharia of God: "Is it the laws of the time of ignorance that they desire? Who is better than God in judgment for people who are certain?" (5:50).

3/1/5: These verses are about the creations and creatures of God.

3/1/5/1: about the creation of inanimate and animate things/creatures: "He who perfected everything He created, and originated the creation of man from clay." (32:7).

3/1/5/2: about the creation of the human beings in particular: "...Most Blessed is God, the Best of Creators." (23:14); "Do you call on Baal, and forsake the Best of creators? God is your Lord, and the Lord of your ancestors." (37:125-126); "We created man in the best design." (95:4); "...and He designed you, and designed you in the best way, and to Him is the final return." (64:3); "...and designed you in the best way..." (40:64).

3/1/6: These verses are about the Scripture/Tablets of Moses: "And We inscribed for him in the Tablets all kinds of enlightenments, and decisive explanation of all things. "Hold fast to them, and exhort your people to adopt the best of them..." (7:145); "Then We gave Moses the Book, the best for the righteous, and explaining everything clearly, and a beacon, and mercy, that they may believe in the encounter with their Lord." (6:154).

3/2: "Better" in the relative sense of human beings' application and obedience of the sharia of Allah in the Quran, as in the following verses.

3/2/1: This verse is about using God's Word (i.e., the Quranic Message/Messenger) only as the criterion for judgment/arbitration: "O you who believe! Obey God and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you dispute over anything, refer it to God and the Messenger, if you believe in God and the Last Day. That is best, and a most excellent determination." (4:59), and this is explained further in these verses: ""Shall I seek a judge other than God, when He is the One who revealed to you the Book, explained in detail?"..." (6:114); "Whatever matter you differ about, its judgment rests with God. "Such is God, my Lord, in Whom I trust, and unto Him I repent."" (42:10).

3/2/2: These verses are about the call to God within the best way possible.

3/2/3: Within proselytizing to all people in general: "Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good advice, and debate with them in the best manner possible. Your Lord is aware of those who stray from His path, and He is aware of those who are guided." (16:125).

3/2/4: Within preaching to the People of the Book except the unjust, aggressive ones among them: "And do not argue with the People of the Book except in the best manner possible, except those who do wrong among them. And say, "We believe in what was revealed to us, and in what was revealed to you; and our God and your God is One; and to Him we are submitting."" (29:46).

3/2/5: Within talking to all people: "Tell My servants to say what is best..." (17:53).

3/2/6: To follow the best is among the Quranic commands of the Dominant Lord God: "Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best of it..." (39:18).

3/2/7: Those sinners and disobedient ones must repent and readily perform the best of good deeds to attain mercy and pardon: "Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves: do not despair of God's mercy, for God forgives all sins. He is indeed the Forgiver, the Clement." And turn to your Lord, and submit to Him, before the retribution comes upon you. Then you will not be helped. And follow the best of what was revealed to you from your Lord, before the torment comes upon you suddenly, while you are unaware." (39:53-55).

3/2/8: These verses are about preserving the money of orphans: "And do not come near the property of the orphan, except with the best intentions, until he reaches maturity..." (6:152); "And do not go near the orphan's property, except with the best of intentions, until he has reached his maturity..." (17:34).

3/2/9: This is about integrity and honesty in trade and selling/buying: "And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with accurate scales. That is fair, and the best determination." (17:35).




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