Do Good to Others

It was narrated that Imam al-Ridha (p) said, “Do good to all the people whether they be worthy of it or not. Even if they do not deserve it you should be worthy of doing good.”[i]

We learn this valuable principle of life from our beloved 8th Imam (p), which will help us in our day to day interactions in society. We often find a flawed mentality prevalent in society today, which is that, we should do good to others only if they are good to us. And if they treat us bad, then we respond with the same bad behavior. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp), through his excellent moral example, taught us not to adopt this negative attitude. We read in the Holy Quran:

“Only through the Divine Mercy have you (Muhammad) been able to deal with your followers so gently. If you had been stern and hard-hearted, they would all have deserted you a long time ago. Forgive them and ask God to forgive (their sins)” (3:159)

It is narrated that Imam al-Ridha (p) has also said: “To be friendly with others denotes one half of wisdom.”[ii]

Having knowledge is one thing, but wisdom is putting that knowledge to use in its proper way, place and time. God did not create us to be enemies of each other and to hate one another. We should treat everyone fairly and just. We should strive to live by the example of the Messenger of God (pbuh&hp) who God Himself described as a mercy to the worlds.

“(Muhammad), We have sent you for no other reason but to be a mercy for mankind.” (21:107)

Does the Quran teach us only to be kind to the Muslims?

“God does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with those who have not fought against you about the religion or expelled you from your homes. God does not love the unjust people.”

“We made a covenant with the children of Israel that they should not worship anyone except Me, that they should serve their parents, relatives, orphans, and the destitute, that they should speak righteous words to people, and that they should be steadfast in their prayers and pay the religious tax. But soon after you made this covenant, all but a few of you broke it heedlessly” (2:83)

Take notice that the verse says to speak righteous words “lin Naas (to people)” and it did not say “lil muslimeen (to Muslims)” for example, which would have made it exclusive for the people whose faith is Islam. This means we should speak righteous words to people in general indiscriminately, not just for our own nationality, creed, or faith. Imam Ali (p) is narrated to have said that “People are of two types: Either they are your brother in religion or your equal in humanity.”

Treat People Kindly

Imam Ali (p) advised his son Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiya “Treat all people kindly as long as you want them to treat you kindly. Accept for them whatever you accept for yourself, and find unfavorable for yourself all that which you find unfavorable for others. Treat all people with good manners so that they will long for you when you are absent and weep for you and when you depart this world, they will say, ‘We are the servants of God and to Him we shall all return.’ (2:156) Do not be one of those about whom people say, ‘All praise is due to God, the Lord of the worlds’, when they depart this life.”[iii]

As followers of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) and his purified household, we should be pleasant people to be around and others should want to be around us. People should feel comfortable and desire our company. They should not see us coming and do their utmost to hide or make up excuses not to be around us saying “Oh not them again!”

Imam Ali (p) is narrated saying in Nahj al-Balagha, “Make your own self the standard in social conduct between yourself and the other person. Thus, do [similarly] for other people, which you love for your own self. And dislike for others what you dislike and hate for yourself. Do not commit aggression upon anyone just as you like that no one commits aggression against your own self. And do favors to others just as you like others doing favor to you. And what you regard bad for others do regard that bad for yourself as well. If what you like to do with the people is done to you then do love it (for yourself). And do not say what you do not know, instead even do not say all that you know. And do not utter a word which you dislike other’s saying it to you.”

Often times we run into the mentality that we should only respect people who are the same social status as us. If we are professionals then we should only show respect to other working professionals. One may say “I am a doctor so why should I be kind and show respect and honor to a person who is not?” We have to keep in mind that we are all creations of the same God who created us all with the common purpose to serve Him. We should respect everyone whether what position they hold in society. We learn this from the great teachings of Imam al-Ridha (p) when he is narrated saying:

“If one sees a poor person and greets him in a manner different from the way he greets a rich man, he will meet God on the Day of Resurrection with God being angry with him.”[iv]

The 8th Imam (p) has given us this pearl of wisdom for how we should interact with the many different people that we encounter in our society:

“Behave with the friend humbly, with the enemy carefully and the general people with a smiling and blooming face.”[v]

Let’s all strive our best to implement the advice that the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) have given us in regard to social interaction. Let’s be sure that we are not negative and unpleasant to be around which in turn would push people away from Islam and have a negative impact on society’s view of us as a whole. Rather let’s be pleasant with people in order that they crave our companionship. Let’s be good examples for society by showing how our beautiful religion, as the Noble Prophet (pbuh&hp) and the illustrious Imam’s (pbut) have instructed us to live.


[i] Wasael-al-Shiam by Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p)

[ii] Tuhaf-ul-Uqool p. 443

[iii] Man lā yahduruhu al-Faqīh, Al-Shaykh al-Saduq

[iv] al-Amali of Shaykh Saduq

[v] Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 78, p. 355

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