In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.
Love for All, Hatred for None.
A Hindu swami, Shugan Chander, who had been undertaking work of social service for a few years thought that people must be brought together on a common platform. He initiated the idea of the conferences of great religions. The first conference took place in Ajmer. The second conference was held in Lahore in 1896.
Swami Shugan Chander asked the leaders of Muslims, Christians, and Aryas, in the name of God, that the eminent scholars of each faith join the conference to put forth the beauties of their faith. He said that the objective of the conference to be held in Town Hall Lahore is that the love of true faith be inculcated. The listeners may also be given the opportunity to compare the merits of each faith with the others.
The Promised Messiah said:
Swami Shugan Chander has written in his announcement that he asks in the name of God that all leaders of faith come to describe the beauties of their faith. So we inform him that to honor the name in which he has called us that we are ready to respond to the invitation. Insha' Allah my essay will be read in the conference. Islam is the faith that teaches us that when asked in the name of Allah we must respond.
Before the conference the Promised Messiah made the following announcement in accordance with the glad tiding given to him by Allah:
God, the All-Knowing, has revealed to me that my paper will be declared supreme over all other papers. It is full of the light of truth, wisdom and understanding which will put to shame all other parties, provided they attend the Conference and listen to it from beginning to end. They will not be able to match these qualities from their scriptures.
I have been informed that after this essay is distributed widely the falsehood of the false doctrines would be exposed and the truthfulness of the Holy Qur'an would be manifested until the time that it becomes all-comprehensive. (Announcement dated December 21, 1896)
Religion of Harmony
But there was only one speech which gave a truly complete and comprehensive response to all the questions. That was the speech of the Promised Messiah.
Hadhrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (May Allah be pleased with him) reads it in a very melodious voice.
Although only two hours had been designated for the speech, the audience were so engrossed in the speech that the moderators decided that the proceedings should continue until the speech is completed. Their decision was fully in accordance with the wishes of the audience who welcomed the decision .... The speech took about four hours and was listed with complete attention from beginning to end.
The conference had been scheduled for December 26, 27, 28. The conference was continued for another day, 29, only in order to complete the essay. What greater evidence of the supremacy can there be!
Punjab Observer wrote an extensive article in praise of the speech. Moreover, Paisa, Chaudhween Sadi, Sadiqul Akhbar, Munbir of Dakken, General was Gauhar Asifi of Calcutta unanimously praised the speech. For example The Civil and Military Gazette wrote that special attention was paid to the lecture of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani and people traveled long distances to listen to it.
Chaudhween Sadi wrote:
The best lecture was that of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. We have not heard another lecture like it in our life time. Everybody listened to it with utmost attention and interest. It was a very precious.
General wa Gauhar Asifi wrote under a double caption "Conference of Great Faiths" and "Victory of Islam":
The record of the proceedings of the conference makes it obvious that Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, the noble man from Qadian, alone did full justice to serve as the champion of Islam. If he had not been present, Muslims would have suffered the blame of not defending Islam. But the mighty hand of Allah safeguared Islam. Rather, it granted Islam a manifest victory through this speech. Not only the friends, but all the foes also admitted: This is the victories speech".
The following are some of the works in which the speech had been praised:
Bristol Times and Mirror:
Spiritual Journal Boston, Theosophical Book Notes, Indian Review, and Muslim Review.
The Physical Moral and Spiritual State of Man
What is the State of Man after Death
The Object of Man's Life and the Means of its Attainment
Operations of the Practical Ordinances of the Law in the Life and the Next
Sources of Divine Knowledge
First Source: The Self That Incites to Evil
The first spring which is the source of all natural states is designated by the Holy Quran the Nafse Ammarah, which means the self that incites to evil, as it says:
The mind of man is ever ready to incite to evil (12:54).
This means that it is characteristic of the human self that it incites man to evil and is opposed to his attainment of perfection and to his moral state, and urges him towards undesirable and evil ways. Thus the propensity towards the evil and intemperance is a human state which predominates over the mind of a person before he enters upon the moral state. This is man's natural state, so long as he is not guided by reason and understanding but follows his natural bent in eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, anger and provocation, like the animals. When a person is guided by reason and understanding and brings his natural state under control and regulates it in a proper manner, that state ceases to be his natural state and is called his moral state.
Second Source: The Reproving Self
The source of the moral state of man is designated by the Holy Quran Nafse Lawwama, as is said:
I call to witness the reproving self (75:3); that is to say, I call to witness the self that reproves itself for every vice and intemperance. This reproving self is the second source of human state from which the moral state is generated. At this stage man ceases to resemble the animals. Calling it to witness is for the purpose of doing it honour, as if by advancing from the state of the self that is prone to evil and and arriving at the state of the reproving self, it has become worthy of honour in divine estimation. It is so called as it reproves man on vice and is not reconciled to man's submitting to his natural desires and leading an unbridled existence like the animals. It desires that man should be in a good state and should practise good morals, and no kind of intemperance should be manifested in any aspect of human life, and natural emotions and desires should be regulated by reason. As it reproves every vicious movement, it is called the reproving self. Though it reproves itself in respect of vices, yet it is not fully effective in practising virtue and occasionally it is dominated by natural emotions, when it stumbles and falls. It is like a weak child who does not wish to stumble and fall but does so out of weakness, and is then remorseful over his infirmity. In short, this is the moral state of human self when it seeks to comprehend within itself high moral qualities and is disgusted with disobedience, but cannot achieve complete success.
The Third Source: The Soul at Rest
The third source which should be described as the beginning of the spiritual state of man is called by the Holy Quran Nafse Mutmainnah, that is to say, the soul at rest, as is said:
O soul at rest that has found comfort in God return to thy Lord, thou well pleased with Him and He well pleased with thee. Now join My chosen servants and enter into My garden (89:28-31).
This is the stage when the soul of a person being delivered from all weaknesses is filled with spiritual powers and establishes a relationship with God Almighty without Whose support it cannot exist. As water flowing down from a height, on account of its volume and the absence of any obstruction, rushes with great force, in the same way the soul at rest flows towards God. That is indicated by the divine direction to the soul that has found comfort in God to return to its Lord. It undergoes a great transformation in this very life and is bestowed a paradise while still in this world. As this verse indicates in its direction to such a soul to return to its Lord, it is nourished by its Lord and its love of God becomes its nurture, and it drinks at this fountain of life and is thus delivered from death. This is indicated at another place in the Holy Quran where it is said:
He who purifies his soul of earthly passions shall be saved and shall not suffer ruin, but he who is overcome by his earthly passions should despair of life (91:10-11).
It is absolutely true that the soul is a fine light which is developed inside the body and is nurtured in the womb. To begin with it is hidden and imperceptible and later it is made manifest. From the very beginning its essence is present in the sperm. It is related to the sperm in a mysterious manner by the design and command and will of God. It is a bright and illuminated quality of the sperm. It cannot be said that it is a part of the sperm as matter is part of matter, nor can it be said that it comes from outside or falls upon the earth and gets mixed with the matter of the sperm. It is latent in the sperm as fire is latent in the flint. The Word of God does not mean that the soul descend from heaven as a separate entity or falls upon the earth from the atmosphere and then by chance gets mixed with the sperm and enters the womb with it. There is no basis for such a notion. The law of nature rejects it. We observe daily that thousands of insects infect impure and stale foods and are generated in unwashed wounds. Dirty linen secretes hundreds of lice and all sorts of worms are generated inside a person's stomach. It cannot be said that all these come from outside or can be observed as descending from heaven. The truth is that the soul is developed in the body and this also proves that it is created and is not self-existent.
The design of the Almighty Who has created the soul from the body with His perfect power appears to be that the second birth of the soul should also take place through the body. The movements of the soul follow the movements of the body. If the body is drawn in a particular direction the soul automatically follows it. It is, therefore, a function of the Book of God to direct itself to the natural state of man: that is why the Holy Quran pays so much attention to the reform of the natural state of man and gives directions with regard to everyone of his actions, his language, weeping, speaking, keeping silent, marrying, remaining single, walking, stopping, physical cleanliness, bathing, submitting to a discipline in health and in illness etc. It affirms that man's physical condition affects his spiritual condition deeply. I cannot undertake a detailed exposition of all those directions as time is not available for such an undertaking.
As the soul is affected by physical conduct, in the same way sometimes the soul affects the body. For instance, when a person experiences sorrow his eyes become wet, and a person who feels happy, smiles. All our natural actions like eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, moving about, resting, bathing etc., affect our spiritual condition. Our physical structure is related intimately to our total humanity. If a certain part of the brain is injured memory is immediately lost. An injury to another part of the brain causes loss of consciousness. Poisonous air affects the body and through it the mind, and the whole inner system, to which the moral impulses are related, is impaired and the unfortunate victim passes out quickly like a madman. Thus physical injuries disclose that there is a mysterious relationship between the soul and the body which is beyond the ken of man. Reflection shows that the body is the mother of the soul. The soul does not descend from outside into the womb of a pregnant woman. It is a light that is inherent in the sperm which begins to shine forth with the development of the embryo. The Word of God Almighty conveys to us that the soul becomes manifest from the framework that is prepared in the womb from the sperm, as is said in the Holy Quran: Then We develop it into a new creation. So blessed is Allah, the Best of Creators (23:15).
In old age a person arrives at a stage in which, after having acquired much knowledge he loses it all. (22:6) All this observation of ours is proof enough that the soul without the body amounts to nothing. This is reinforced by the thought that if the soul without the body had amounted to anything, it would have been without purpose for God Almighty to set up a relationship between it and a mortal body. Further it is worthy of note that God Almighty has created mall for limitless progress. Then if the soul is not able to achieve the progress possible in this brief life without the companionship of the body. How can we expect that it would be able, by itself, without the companionship of the body, achieve limitless progress in the hereafter.
All this shows that according to Islamic principles, for the soul to act perfectly it is necessary for it to enjoy the companionship of a body at all times.
Spirituality can be achieved only through the use of every moral quality in its proper place and on its proper occasion, and through treading faithfully upon the ways of God and through being wholly devoted to Him.
According to the Holy Quran the natural state of man has a very strong relationship with his moral and spiritual states, so much so that even a person's manner of eating and drinking affects his moral and spiritual states. If the natural state of a person is subjected to the control of the directions of divine law it becomes his moral state and deeply affects his spirituality, as is said that whatever falls into a salt mine is converted into salt. That is why the Holy Quran has laid stress on physical cleanliness and postures, and their regulation in relation to all worship and inner purity and spiritual humility.
As indicated in the Holy Word of God Almighty, the natural state of man, the fountain head of which is the self that incites to evil, is not something divorced from his moral state.
The Holy Word of God has classified man's natural faculties and desires and urges, as natural conditions. These, when they are consciously regulated and controlled and are brought into action on their proper occasions and places, become moral qualities.
In the same way, moral conditions are not entirely distinct from spiritual conditions. When moral conditions develop absolute devotion to God and complete purification of self and, cutting asunder from the world, turn wholly to God and to perfect love and complete devotion and full serenity and satisfaction and complete accord with the divine will, they become spiritual conditions.
Reflection on the Holy Word of God discloses that it lays down rules for the reform of the natural condition of man and then lifts him gradually upwards and desires to raise him to the highest spiritual state. First, God desires to teach man the rules of social behaviour like sitting, standing, eating, drinking, talking etc., and thus to deliver him from a state of barbarism and distinguish him from the animals and thus bestow upon him an elementary moral state which might be described as social culture. He then desires to regulate his elementary moral habits so that they should acquire the character of high moral qualities. Both of these methods are part of the same process as they are related to the reform of man's natural condition. There is between them a difference only of degree. The All-Wise One has so arranged the moral system that man should be able to rise from a low to a high moral condition.
The third grade of progress is that a person should become wholly devoted to the love of his True Creator and to a winning of His pleasure. The whole of his being should be committed to God. To remind Muslims constantly of this grade their religion has been named Islam, which means to devote oneself wholly to God and to keep nothing back. As God, the Glorious, has said:
Salvation means that a person should commit himself wholly to God, and should offer himself as a sacrifice in the cause of God, and should prove his sincerity not only through his motive but also through righteous conduct. He who so comports himself will have his recompense from God. Such people shall have no fear nor shall they grieve (2:113).
Tell them: My prayer and my sacrifices, my living and my dying are all for the sake of God, Whose providence comprehends everything and Who has no associate. So have I been commanded and I am the foremost of those who fulfil this concept of Islam and offer themselves as a sacrifice in the cause of Allah (6:163-164).
This is My straight path then follow it and do not follow any other path which will lead you away from His path (6:154).
Tell them: If you love God then follow me and walk along my path so that God may love you and forgive you your sins. He is Most Forgiving Ever Merciful (3:32).
The first is that senseless savages should be taught the elementary social values pertaining to eating, drinking, marriage etc. They should not go about naked nor eat carrion, like dogs, nor practise any other type of wildness. This is an elementary stage of the reform of natural conditions of the type that would have to be adopted, for instance, if it is desired to teach a savage from Port Blair, the elementary ways of human behaviour.
The second method of reform is that when a person has adopted elementary human ways, he may be taught the higher moral qualities and should be instructed to employ his faculties in their proper places and on their proper occasions.
The third method of reform is that those who have acquired high moral qualities should be given a taste of the draught of the love of and union with God.
Our lord and master, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was raised at a time when the world had been thoroughly corrupted. As God Almighty has said:
Corruption has spread over land and sea (30:42). This means that the people of the book, as well as those who had no experience of revelation, had all been corrupted. The purpose of the Holy Quran was to revive the dead, as is said:
Know that Allah is about to revive the earth after its death (57:18). At that time the people of Arabia were steeped in barbarism. No social pattern prevailed and they took pride in every type of sin and misconduct. A man married an unlimited number of wives, and they were all addicted to the use of everything unlawful. They considered it lawful to marry their mothers, and that is why God Almighty had to prescribe:
Your mothers are made unlawful for you (4:24). They ate carrion and some of them wore even cannibals. There is not a sin that they were not guilty of. Most of them did not believe in the after life. Many of them denied the existence of God. They killed their female infants with their own hands. They killed orphans and devoured their substance. They had the appearance of human beings but were bereft ot reason. They possessed no modesty, no shame, and no self respect. They drank liquor like water. The one among them who indulged indiscriminately in fornication was acknowledged as the chief of his tribe. They were so utterly ignorant that their neighbouring people called them the unlettered ones. At such time and for the reform of such people, our lord and master, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, appeared in Mecca. This was the time that called for the three types of reform that we have just mentioned. That is why the Holy Quran claims to be more complete and more perfect than all other books of guidance, inasmuch as the other books had not the opportunity of carrying out the three types of reforms which the Holy Quran was designed to carry out. The purpose of the Holy Quran was to elevate savages into men, and then to equip them with moral qualities, and finally raise them to the level of godly persons. The Holy Quran thus comprehends all those three projects.
The whole purpose of the Quran is the three reforms, and all its teachings are directed towards that end. All other directions are the means for the achievement of those reforms.
First, God desires to teach man the rules of social behaviour like sitting, standing, eating, drinking, talking etc., and thus to deliver him from a state of barbarism and distinguish him from the animals and thus bestow upon him an elementary moral state which might be described as social culture. He then desires to regulate his elementary moral habits so that they should acquire the character of high moral qualities. Both of these methods are part of the same process as they are related to the reform of man's natural condition. There is between them a difference only of degree. The All-Wise One has so arranged the moral system that man should be able to rise from a low to a high moral condition.
The Holy Quran claims to be more complete and more perfect than all other books of guidance, inasmuch as the other books had not the opportunity of carrying out the three types of reforms which the Holy Quran was designed to carry out. The purpose of the Holy Quran was to elevate savages into men, and then to equip them with moral qualities, and finally raise them to the level of godly persons. The Holy Quran thus comprehends all those three projects.
Khalq connotes physical birth and Khulq connotes inner birth. As inner birth is perfected through moral development and not merely through the exercise of natural impulses, Khulq connotes moral qualities and not natural impulses.
God, the Glorious, has addressed the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in the words:
Thou dost most surely possess high moral excellences (68:5). This means that all high moral qualities such as benevolence, courage, justice, mercy, bountifulness, sincerity, high mindedness etc. were combined in the person of the Holy Prophet. In short all the natural qualities of man as courtesy, modesty, integrity, benevolence, jealousy, steadfastness, chastity, piety, equity, sympathy, bravery, generosity, forbearance, endurance, bountifulness, sincerity, loyalty etc., when they are manifested on their proper occasions under the guidance of reason and reflection would all be accounted moral qualities. In reality they are the natural states and impulses of man and are designated moral qualities when they are exercised deliberately on their proper occasions. A natural characteristic of man is that he desires to make progress and, therefore, through following a true religion and keeping good company and conforming to good teachings he converts his natural impulses into moral qualities. No other animal is invested with this characteristic.
One matter to be kept in mind in this context is that in the very name of this animal God has indicated the reason for the prohibition of its flesh. The Arabic word for swine is Khinzeer which is a compound of Khanz and Ara, which means: I see it very foul. Thus the very name that God Almighty gave to this animal at the beginning points to its uncleanness. It is a curious coincidence that in Hindi this animal is called Suar, which is a compound of Su and Ara. This also means: I see it very foul. It should not be a matter of surprise that the Arabic word Su should have found its way into Hindi.
Moral qualities fall under two heads. First, those moral qualities that enable a person to discard evil; and, secondly, those moral qualities that enable him to do good. Discarding evil comprehends those qualities through which a person tries that he should do no harm to the property, honour or life of a fellow being by his tongue or his hand or his eyes or by any other organ, nor should he design to do him such harm. The doing of good comprehends all those moral qualities whereby a person tries to benefit a fellow being in respect of his property or honour by his tongue or his hand or his knowledge, or by any other means, or determines to make manifest his glory or honour, or overlooks a wrong that had been done to himself and thus benefits the perpetrator of the wrong by sparing him physical pain or financial imposition, or inflicts such chastisement upon him in respect of the wrong which is in reality a mercy for the wrongdoer.
The moral qualities that the true Creator has appointed for the discarding of evil are known by four names in Arabic which has a specific name for all human concepts, behaviours and morals.
The first of these moral qualities is called Ihthan, that is to say, chastity. This expression connotes the virtue that is related to the faculty of procreation of men and women. Those men and women would be called chaste who refrain altogether from illicit sex and all approaches to it, the consequence of which is disgrace and humiliation for both parties in this world, and chastisement in the hereafter, and dishonour and grave harm for those related to them.
As this vice and its preliminaries can be practised by both men and women, the Holy Book of God sets forth directions for both men and women in this context. It says:
Direct the believing men to restrain their eyes from looking at women outside the prohibited degrees so openly as to be sexually excited by them, and to cultivate the habit of guarding their looks. They should safeguard all their senses. For instance, they should not listen to the singing or beguiling voices of women outside the prohibited degrees nor should they listen to descriptions of their beauty. This is a good way of preserving the purity of their looks and hearts. In the same way direct believing women that they should restrain their eyes from looking at men outside the prohibited degrees and should safeguard their ears against listening to the passionate voices of such men. They should cover up their beauty and should not disclose it to anyone outside the prohibited degrees. They should draw their head-coverings across their bosoms and should thus cover up their heads and ears and temples. They should not strike their feet on the ground like dancers. These are directions which can safeguard against moral stumbling (24:31-32).
The second method is to turn to God Almighty and to supplicate Him to be safeguarded against stumbling and slipping. Another direction is: Approach not adultery (17:33).
One should avoid all occasions that might incite one's mind in that direction, and should eschew all the paths that might lead to this vice. He who indulges in this vice carries his viciousness to the extreme. The way of adultery is an evil way as it obstructs one's progress towards the goal and is extremely harmful to the achievement of the purpose of life. Those who find no means of marriage should keep themselves chaste through the adoption of other means (24:34); for instance, through fasting or dieting or exercise.
People sometimes adopt celibacy or submit to castration and take up monasticism. God has not prescribed monasticism and that is why those who adopt it prove unable to conform to its discipline (57:28). This is an indication that if celibacy and monasticism had been imposed by the Divine, everyone would have had to adopt this discipline, in which case the human race would have come to an end long ago. Also, if chastity had to be preserved through castration or any other such device, it would amount to criticism of the Divine Who has bestowed this capacity upon man. Besides merit depends upon restraining the exercise of a capacity on an improper occasion, through fear of God, and thus acquiring double benefit through its proper exercise. By destroying the capacity a person would deprive himself of both benefits. Merit depends upon the possession of the capacity and its proper regulation. What merit would a person acquire who has lost that capacity and has become like a child? Does a child deserve merit because of his chastity?
In these verses God Almighty has not only set forth excellent teaching for acquiring the quality of chastity but has furnished man with five remedies against unchastity. These are: to restrain one's eyes from gazing on those who are outside the prohibited degrees; to restrain one's ears from listening to their voices and to descriptions of their good looks; to avoid occasions which might furnish incitement towards this vice; and to control oneself during the period of celibacy through fasting, dieting etc.
We can confidently claim that this excellent teaching with all its devices that is set forth in the Holy Quran is peculiar to Islam.
It should be kept in mind that as the natural condition of man, which is the source of his passions, is such that he cannot depart from it without a complete change in himself, his passions are bound to be roused, or in other words put in peril, when they are confronted with the occasion and opportunity for indulging in this vice. Therefore, God Almighty has not instructed us that we might freely gaze at women outside the prohibited degrees and might contemplate their beauty and observe all their movements in dancing etc. But that we should do so with pure looks. Nor have we been instructed to listen to the singing of these women and to lend ear to tales of their beauty, but that we should do so with a pure intent. We have been positively commanded not to look at their beauty, whether with pure intent or otherwise, nor to listen to their musical voices or to descriptions of their good looks, whether with pure intent or otherwise. We have been directed to eschew all this as we eschew carrion, so that we should not stumble. It is almost certain that our free glances would cause us to stumble sometime or the other. As God Almighty desires that our eyes and our hearts and all our limbs and organs should continue in a state of purity, He has furnished us with this excellent teaching. There can be no doubt that unrestrained looks become a source of danger. If we place soft bread before a hungry dog, it would be vain to hope that the dog should pay no attention to it. Thus God Almighty desired that human faculties should not be provided with any occasion for secret functioning and should not be confronted with anything that might incite dangerous tendencies.
This is the philosophy that underlies the Islamic regulations relating to the observance of the veil. The Book of God does not aim at keeping women in seclusion like prisoners. This is the concept of those who are not acquainted with the correct pattern of Islamic ways. The purpose of these regulations is to restrain men and women from letting their eyes to rove freely and from displaying their good looks and beauties, for therein lies the good both of men and of women.
It should be remembered that to restrain one's looks and to direct them only towards observing that which is permissible is described in Arabic by the expression ghadde basar, which is the expression employed in the Holy Quran in this context. It does not behove a pious person who desires to keep his heart pure that he should lift his eyes freely in every direction like an animal. It is necessary that such a one should cultivate the habit of ghadde basar in his social life. This is a blessed habit through which his natural impulses would be converted into a high moral quality without interfering with his social needs. This is the quality which is called chastity in Islam.
The second quality in the context of the discarding of evil is the one known as honesty or integrity, that is to say, intolerance of the causing of harm to a fellow being by taking possession of his property dishonestly or unlawfully. Integrity is one of the natural conditions of man. That is why an infant, who follows his natural bent and who has not yet acquired any bad habit, so much dislikes anything belonging to another that it can only be persuaded with difficulty to be suckled by a wet nurse. If a wet nurse is not appointed for it while it is quite small and has not yet developed a keen consciousness. It becomes very difficult for a wet nurse to suckle it. It is naturally disinclined to be suckled by a woman other than its mother. This disinclination sometimes imposes great suffering upon it, and in extreme cases pushes it to the brink of death. What is the secret of this disinclination? It is that it naturally dislikes to leave its mother and to turn to something that belongs to another. When we reflect deeply upon this habit of an infant it becomes clear that this habit is at the root of all honesty and integrity. No one can be credited with the quality of integrity unless his heart becomes charged with dislike and hatred of the property of another as is the case with an infant.
The third moral quality in the context of discarding evil is designated in Arabic as hudnah or haun, which means refraining from inflicting physical pain on anyone and behaving peacefully. Without a doubt peacefulness is a high moral quality and is essential for humanity. The natural impulse corresponding to this moral quality, the regulation of which converts it into a moral quality, which is possessed by an infant, is attachment. It is obvious that in his natural condition man is unable to conceive of peacefulness or combativeness. In that condition the impulse of attachment that he exhibits is the root of peacefulness, but as it is not exercised under the control of reason or reflection and with deliberation, it is not accounted a moral quality. It becomes a moral quality when a person deliberately makes himself harmless and exercises the quality of peacefulness on its proper occasion, and refrains from using it out of place. In this context the Divine teaching is:
Try to promote accord between yourselves (8:2); Peace is best (4:129); when they incline towards peace, do you incline towards it also (8:62). The true servants of the Gracious One walk upon the earth in humility (25:64); and when they Come upon something vain, which might develop into strife, they pass on with dignity (25:73). That is to say, they do not start quarrelling over trifles and do not make small matters which do not cause much harm an occasion for discord. The expression vain that is employed in this verse means mischievous utterance of words or doing something which causes little damage and does little harm. Peacefulness means that one should overlook conduct of that type and should act with dignity; but if a person's conduct does real harm to life or property or honour, the moral quality that should come into play in apposition to it is not peacefulness but forbearance, to which we shall revert later. Should anyone behave mischievously towards you, you should try to repel it with peacefulness, whereby he who is your enemy will become your warm friend (41:35). In short, peacefulness means overlooking trivial matters of annoyance which occasion no great harm, and are more-or less confined to uttering nonsense.
The fourth moral quality in the context of discarding evil is courtesy or a good word. The natural impulse which is at the root of this moral quality is cheerfulness. Before an infant is able to express itself in words it displays cheerfulness as a substitute for courtesy and good talk. That shows that the root of courtesy is cheerfulness which is a natural faculty and is converted into the moral quality of courtesy by being used on its proper occasion. The Divine teaching in this context is:
Say to people that which is good (2:84). Let not one people deride another people, haply they may be better than themselves; nor let one group of women deride another, haply the last may be better than the first. Defame not your people nor call them names (49:12). Eschew too much suspicion; Also spy not, nor backbite one another (49:13). Do not charge anyone with anything of which you have no proof, and remember that the ear and the eye and the heart will all be called to account (17:37).
The second type of moral qualities are those that are related to doing good. The first of these is forbearance or forgiveness.
The second moral quality in this category is equity, and the third is benevolence and the fourth is graciousness as between kindred.
The first of these is forbearance or forgiveness. He who commits an offence against another causes him pain or harm and deserves to be punished either through the process of the law, with imprisonment or fine, or directly by the person offended. To forgive him, if forgiveness should be appropriate, would be to do him good. In this context the teaching of the Holy Quran is:
Those who control their tempers when they are roused and who overlook people's faults when that is appropriate (3:135). The recompense of an injury is a penalty in proportion thereto; but whose forgives and effects thereby a reform in the offender, and no harm is apprehended, that is to say, exercises forgiveness on its appropriate occasion, will have his reward with Allah (42:41).
This verse shows that the Quran does not teach non-resistance to evil on all occasions, or that mischief makers and wrongdoers should never be punished. Its teaching is that one must consider whether the occasion calls for forgiveness or punishment, and to adopt the course which would be best in the interests both of the offender and the public. Sometimes an offender turns away from wrongdoing in consequence of being forgiven, and sometimes forgiveness incites him to further wrongdoing. Therefore, God Almighty directs that we should not develop the habit of forgiving blindly on all occasions, but should consider carefully whether forgiveness or punishment would be most appropriate, and, therefore, a virtue, in each particular case, and should adopt that course. Some people are so vindictive that they keep in mind the wrongs done to their fathers through generations, and there are others who carry forbearance and forgiveness to the extreme, sometimes even to the limit of shamelessness. They exercise such weakness, forgiveness and forbearance as are utterly inconsistent with dignity, honour, jealousy and chastity. Their conduct is a stain on good character and the result of their forgiveness and forbearance is that people are disgusted with them. That is why the Holy Quran attaches the condition of appropriate time and place for the exercise of every moral quality, and does not approve the exercise of a moral quality out of its place.
The second moral quality in this category is equity, and the third is benevolence and the fourth is graciousness as between kindred. God, the Glorious, has commanded us:
Return good for good, and to exercise benevolence when it is called for, and to do good with natural eagerness as between kindred, when that should be appropriate (16:91). God Almighty forbids transgression or that you should exercise benevolence out of place or should refrain from exercising it when it is called for; or that you should fall short of exercising graciousness as between kindred on its proper occasion, or should extend it beyond its appropriate limit. This verse sets forth three graduations of doing good.
This verse sets forth three graduations of doing good.
The first is the doing of good in return for good. This is the lowest gradation and even an average person can easily acquire this gradation that he should do good to those who do good to him.
The second gradation is a little more difficult than the first, and that is to take the initiative in doing good out of pure benevolence. This is the middle grade. Most people act benevolently towards the poor. But there is a hidden deficiency in benevolence, that the person exercising benevolence is conscious of it and desires gratitude or prayer in return for his benevolence.
The third grade of doing is graciousness as between kindred. God Almighty directs that in this grade there should be no idea of benevolence or any desire for gratitude, but good should be done out of such eager sympathy as, for instance, a mother does good to her child. This is the highest grade of doing good which cannot be exceeded.
It should be remembered that equity or benevolence or graciousness between kindred is not in itself a moral quality. They are man's natural Conditions and faculties that are exhibited even by children before they develop their reason. Reason is a condition of the exercise of a moral quality and there is also a condition that every moral quality should be exercised in its proper place and on its proper occasion.
That the last Divine guidance should shine forth from Arabia was determined by Divine wisdom. The Arabs are descended from Ishmael who was cut asunder from Israel and had, under Divine wisdom, been cast into the wilderness of Paran (Faran), which means two fugitives. The descendants of Ishmael had been cut asunder from Bani Israel by Abraham himself and they had no part in the law of the Torah, as was written that they would not inherit from Isaac.
Thus they were abandoned by those to whom they belonged and had no relationship with anyone else. In all other countries there were some traces of worship and commandments which indicated that they had at one time received instruction from prophets. Arabia alone was a country that was utterly unacquainted with such teachings and was the most backward of all. Its turn came last of all and it received the benefit of a universal prophethood, so that all countries might share again in the blessings of prophethood, and the errors that had become current in the meantime among them might be weeded out.