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Quranic Terminology: Good

Quranic Terminology: Good

Published in March 8, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy



Firstly: the comparison between what is good and what is evil:

 This comparison aims to show and define something by denoting its opposite.

1- What is good is made permissible by God, and prohibitions ordained by God are evil things/deeds to be avoided by the pious ones: "Those who follow the messenger, the gentile prophet, whom they find mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel in their possession. He directs them to righteousness, and deters them from evil, and allows for them all good things, and prohibits for them evil..." (7:157).

2- Within human deeds:

2/1: Evil deeds are committed by the sinful, evil ones, whereas good, righteous deeds are performed by the pious believers: "Bad women are for bad men, and bad men are for bad women, and good women are for good men, and good men are for good women. Those are acquitted of what they say. There is forgiveness for them, and a generous provision." (24:26).

2/2: God knows who the good people and the evil ones are, as per this verse: "God will not leave the believers as you are, without distinguishing the evil ones from the good ones..." (3:179).

2/3: Evil, disbelieving sinners will be gathered on the Last Day to be thrown like piles of garbage into Hell: "...Those who disbelieve will be herded into Hell. That God may distinguish the bad from the good, and heap the bad on top of one another, and pile them together, and throw them in Hell. These are the losers." (8:36-37).

3- The good people are the pious, righteous monotheists; their status while dying differs from that of the dying evil, wicked, disbelievers and sinners: "Those wronging their souls while the angels are taking them away-they will propose peace: "We did no wrong." Yes you did. God is aware of what you used to do." Enter the gates of Hell, to dwell therein forever. Miserable is the residence of the arrogant." (16:28-29); "Those who are the good ones when the angels take them-will say, "Peace be upon you; enter Paradise, for what you used to do."" (16:32).

4- The good words of good, monotheistic people differ from the bad words of evil, sinful polytheists: "Do you not see how God presents a parable? A good word is like a good tree-its root is firm, and its branches are in the sky. It yields its fruits every season by the will of its Lord. God presents the parables to the people, so that they may reflect. And the parable of a bad word is that of a bad tree-it is uprooted from the ground; it has no stability. God gives firmness to those who believe, with the firm word, in this life, and in the Hereafter. And God leads the wicked astray. God does whatever He wills." (14:24-27).

5- Good charity is from well-earned money and not from ill-gotten money: "O you who believe! Give of the good things you have earned, and from what We have produced for you from the earth. And do not pick the inferior things to give away, when you yourselves would not accept it except with eyes closed. And know that God is Sufficient and Praiseworthy." (2:267).

6- The good lands are contrasted with bad lands here: "As for the good land, it yields its produce by the leave of its Lord. But as for the bad, it produces nothing but hardship and misery. Thus We explain the verses in various ways for people who are thankful." (7:58).

7- This is about preserving and caring for money of the orphans: "And give orphans their properties, and do not substitute the bad for the good. And do not consume their properties by combining them with yours, for that would be a serious sin." (4:2).

8- Bad ill-gotten wealth is usually and typically in greater amounts, in contrast to good, well-earned money, as we read in this warning: "Say: "The bad and the good are not equal, even though the abundance of the bad may impress you..." (5:100).


Secondly: earning good bounties from the Lord God, in general and in particular:

1- These verses are about good bounties bestowed by the Lord God to all people in general: "It is God who made the earth a habitat for you, and the sky a structure. And He designed you, and designed you well; and He provided you with the good things. Such is God, your Lord; so Blessed is God, Lord of the Worlds." (40:64); "We have honored the Children of Adam, and carried them on land and sea, and provided them with good things, and greatly favored them over many of those We created." (17:70); "God has given you mates from among yourselves; and has produced for you, from your mates, children and grandchildren; and has provided you with good things. Will they then believe in falsehood, and refuse God's favors?" (16:72).

2- There are good bounties from the Lord God granted in particular to certain people.

2/1: These good bounties include the ones (and miracles) bestowed on the Israelites.

2/1/1: These verses are about their exodus and their passage through Sinai: "And We shaded you with clouds, and We sent down to you manna and quails: "Eat of the good things We have provided for you." They did not wrong Us, but they used to wrong their own souls." (2:57); "We divided them into twelve tribal communities. And We inspired Moses, when his people asked him for something to drink: "Strike the rock with your staff." Whereupon twelve springs gushed from it. Each group recognized its drinking-place. And We shaded them with clouds, and We sent down upon them manna and quails: "Eat of the good things We have provided for you." They did not wrong Us, but they used to wrong their own selves." (7:160).

2/1/2: These verses are about other bounties and good things granted to the Israelites in later eras: "And We settled the Israelites in a position of honor, and provided them with good things. They did not differ until knowledge came to them. Your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection regarding their differences." (10:93); "We gave the Israelites the Book, and wisdom, and prophecy; and We provided them with the good things; and We gave them advantage over all other people." (45:16).

2/2: This verse is about bounties and good things granted by God to the believers after they settled in Yathreb: "And remember when you were few, oppressed in the land, fearing that people may capture you; but He sheltered you, and supported you with His victory, and provided you with good things-so that you may be thankful." (8:26).


Thirdly: Quranic legislations about food items: good items are the permissible ones, and the prohibited items are bad:

 These are the legislative rules of verses about this topic.

1- All food items are permissible and good except the ones mentioned as otherwise in the Quran: "O messengers, eat of the good things, and perform good deeds. I am aware of what you do. This nation of yours is one nation, and I am your Lord, so fear Me within piety." (23:51-52); "O people! Eat of what is lawful and good on earth, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. He is to you an open enemy." (2:168).

2- Bad, prohibited food items are few exceptions: "O you who believe! Eat of the good things We have provided for you, and give thanks to God, if it is Him that you worship. He has forbidden you carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and what was dedicated to other than God. But if anyone is compelled, without desiring or exceeding, he commits no sin. God is Forgiving and Merciful." (2:172-173). Among the permissible food items are the ones hunted and brought by trained hunting dogs and trained birds of prey: " They ask you what is permitted for them. Say, "Permitted for you are all good things, including what trained dogs and falcons catch for you." You train them according to what God has taught you. So eat from what they catch for you, and pronounce God's name over it. And fear God. God is Swift in judgment." (5:4). 

3- It is prohibited for people to prohibit permissible food items: "O you who believe! Do not prohibit the good things God has permitted for you, and do not commit aggression. God does not love the aggressors." (5:87-88); "Say, "Who forbade God's finery which He has produced for His servants, and the delights of livelihood?" Say, "They are for those who believe, in this present world, but exclusively theirs on the Day of Resurrection." We thus detail the revelations for people who know. Say, "My Lord has forbidden immoralities - both open and secret-and sin, and unjustified aggression, and that you associate with God anything for which He revealed no sanction, and that you say about God what you do not know."" (7:32-33).

4- The above verses are explained here: "Eat of the lawful and good things God has provided for you, and be thankful for God's blessings, if it is Him that you serve. He has forbidden you carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and anything consecrated to other than God. But if anyone is compelled by necessity, without being deliberate or malicious, then God is Forgiving and Merciful. And do not say of falsehood asserted by your tongues, "This is lawful, and this is unlawful," in order to invent lies and attribute them to God. Those who invent lies and attribute them to God will not succeed. A brief enjoyment-then they will have a painful torment." (16:114-117).

5- When some of the Jews prohibited some items made permissible by God, He has punished them by prohibiting things that were previously made legal for them: "Due to injustices committed by the Jews, We forbade them good things that used to be lawful for them..." (4:160).

6- Spoils are good, permissible items to be consumed: " So consume what you have gained as spoils, legitimate and good; and fear God within piety. God is Forgiving and Merciful." (8:69).


Thirdly: what is good in the Hereafter:

1- Before the Last Day, within this world, good deeds and words are recorded and they ascend to God: "Whoever desires honor-all honor belongs to God. To Him ascends speech that is good, and He elevates righteous conduct. As for those who plot evil, a terrible punishment awaits them, and the planning of these will fail." (35:10).

2- Good deeds done by disbelievers will be nullified on the Last Day and rendered profitless and useless: "On the Day when the faithless will be paraded before the Fire: "You have squandered your good in your worldly life, and you took pleasure in them. So today you are being repaid with the torment of shame, because of your unjust arrogance on earth, and because you used to sin."" (46:20).

3- Good life inside Paradise:

3/1: The following verses are about the good life inside Paradise with its sheer bliss and pleasures.

3/1/1: Upon entering through the gates of Paradise, the angels bring glad tidings to its dwellers about their bliss as they have been good people: "And those who feared their Lord will be led to Paradise in throngs. Until, when they have reached it, and its gates are opened, its keepers will say to them, "Peace be upon you, you have been good, so enter it, to abide therein eternally."" (39:73).

3/1/2: Good, blissful life inside Paradise is mentioned further here: "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." (16:97).

3/2: This is about the good words of the Paradise dwellers: "But God will admit those who believe and do good deeds into Gardens beneath which rivers flow. They will be decorated therein with bracelets of gold and pearls, and their garments therein will be of silk. They are guided to the good words. They are guided to the Path of the Most Praised." (22:23-24).

3/3: These verses are about the good residence in Paradise: "God promises the believers, men and women, gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein forever, and good homes in the Gardens of Eden. But approval from God is even greater. That is the supreme achievement." (9:72); "O you who believe! Shall I inform you of a trade that will save you from a painful torment? That you believe in God and His Messenger, and strive in the cause of God with your possessions and yourselves. That is best for you, if you only knew. He will forgive you your sins; and will admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow, and into good mansions in the Gardens of Eden. That is the supreme success. And something else you love: support from God, and imminent victory. So give good news to the believers." (61:10-13).


Fourthly: other meanings for the term (good) in other Quranic contexts:

1- The good progeny means pious, righteous children: "Thereupon Zachariah prayed to his Lord; he said, "My Lord, bestow on me good offspring from Your presence; You are the Hearer of Prayers."" (3:38).

2- We are to use good, clean, elevated surfaces for Tayammum (and NOT sand or dust as supposed by Sunnites) when we cannot find water to perform ablution before prayers: "O you who believe! Do not approach the prayer while you are drunk, so that you know what you say; nor after sexual orgasm-unless you are travelling-until you have bathed. If you are sick, or traveling, or one of you comes from the toilet, or you have had intercourse with women, and cannot find water, find a good surface and wipe your faces and your hands with it. God is Pardoning and Forgiving." (4:43); "...and could not find water, then use a good surface and wipe your faces and hands with it. God does not intend to burden you..." (5:6).

3- This is about good lands: "In Sheba's homeland there used to be a wonder: two gardens, on the right, and on the left. "Eat of your Lord's provision, and give thanks to Him." A good land, and a forgiving Lord." (34:15).

4- This is about the good wind: "It is He who transports you across land and sea. Until, when you are on ships, sailing in a favorable, good wind, and rejoicing in it, a raging wind arrives. The waves surge over them from every side, and they realize that they are besieged. Thereupon they pray to God, professing sincere devotion to Him: "If You save us from this, we will be among the appreciative."" (10:22).

5- This is about the good greetings: "...But when you enter any home, greet one another with a greeting from God, blessed and good. God thus explains the verses for you, so that you may understand." (24:61).

6- This is about good women whose beauty entices men to marry them: "If you fear you cannot act fairly towards the orphans - then marry the good women you like..." (4:3).

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