GOODNESS IS ONE OF THE CONCEPTS THAT SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED IN ORDER FOR ISLAM TO BE BETTER UNDERSTOOD AND EXPERIENCED. BUT HOW DO THE ISLAMIC SOURCES DEFINE GOODNESS? WHAT IS THE DESCRIPTION OF GOODNESS, AND WHAT IS ITS ROLE IN SOCIAL LIFE?
How does Islam define goodness, and what kind of responsibilities does it put on the individual?
In the Islamic civilization, goodness is the purpose of all existence. Humans exist in order to do good, right, nice, beneficial and useful things, and to struggle with bad, wrong, ugly, malevolent and harmful things. According to Islam, it’s not enough to be good; you also have to lead goodness by creating values. Being a true believer in God, a good son, a good parent, a good neighbor, a good friend – in short, a good person – is the individual’s ultimate duty that Islam asks from each of us. Thus, goodness is a requirement of being Muslim.
The modern world has its own understanding of goodness, but it’s obvious how inadequate this understanding is and where it’s got us in the world. What do you think is the problem with the modern world’s understanding of goodness?
The modern world perceives goodness only as goodness to one’s self. Benefit and self-interest have replaced being good. Individualism and egoism have turned goodness into pragmatism and utilitarianism. The goodness in modern times has lost its aspect of love and metaphysics. Love, respect, mercy and goodness have been replaced by social responsibility projects designed as advertising.
In this day and age, where we witness wars and genocide, what does Islam suggest in order to change this?
First and foremost, the most important thing to do is to emphasize the value and honor of being a human, all the while taking into consideration why he was created and the purpose of his existence. Man started to lose the feeling of mercy at the expense of his desire for power, never-ending ambition and the consumption frenzy. Man can turn even religion into a tool for his desires. However, Islam is about pure goodness. I believe we have no other option but to rekindle the feelings of love, peace and compassion in all hearts from Islam’s perspective of the good.
A religion of peace and goodness, Islam, unfortunately, is associated with terror and violence in the West, which, in turn, increases Islamophobia. What should both sides do in order to prevent this perception?
Islamophobia is not only a phobia but also a product of global politics. Its internal and external reasons should be scientifically specified and challenged by the means of science, ethics and law. However, I’d like to point out a more efficient way and method in addition to these. The Holy Qur’an leads us the way in showing us how to turn even the fiercest animosities into candid friendship. The solution is to banish all evil with the good. The 34th verse of the Surah Fussilet says, ‘The good is not equal to the bad. Avoid the evil in a good way. And when you look, it’s like that enemy of yours has become a candid friend.’
In the name of freedom of speech in the West, we’ve seen increasing attacks on Islam and The Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). Can we say that an act that disrespects and insults anything that’s regarded as sacred by a religion is freedom of speech?
No matter who or what the target is, any kind of insult, belittlement, disdain, mockery or swearing is bad. No one can say that these things are good deeds. Therefore, regarding an insult, belittlement or disdain towards sacred values as freedom of speech means that the concepts of good and bad have been reversed. This doesn’t mean that there can’t be any criticism. In fact, the sun of truth rises from the open and clear clash of opinions. Hereby, no matter what the subject is, I wish for all the people in the world to find what’s right not by insulting each other but by expressing and discussing their opinions in a respectful manner.