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Strive, then, to excel each other in good deeds

By Hikmet Aydinoghlu


While reading the Qur’an you cannot avoid from noticing the essence, the noble core of Islam. The Qur’an clearly fills its readers with the feeling of that core, repeatedly met in almost every Chapter. But both the rabid fanatics of Islam (radicals) and its rabid enemies (Islamophobia fanatics) easily manipulate the Truth. When they turn to the sacral texts they are just hunting for convenient, “tailwind” lines.

Any unbiased reader will witness that the Qur’an urges humans to be kind, tolerant and merciful. It holds approximately 150 calls for good deeds, often dichotomously followed by warnings about inevitability of a terrible punishment for malicious. The Qur’an encourages us to respond with good even to the harm [13:22], although we have the right to pay the offender back in the same coin:

41:34. Good and evil are not equal. Repel (evil) with what is best, and you will see that the one you had mutual enmity with him will turn as if he were a close friend.

42:40. The recompense of evil is evil like it. Then the one who forgives and opts for compromise has his reward undertaken by Allah. Surely, He does not like the unjust.

Human kindness is the most basic postulate of Islam. Preciously this focus shapes the inner content of Islam, its core, while external attributes of religious affiliation and zealous ritual manifestations compose a shell of the Faith. It is very important in this context to understand why the Qur’an repeatedly urges us to check on the righteous prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). He was a hanif, i.e. a righteous person, who lived very long ago and thus could not know today’s canons and rituals. However, even being unaware about various nowadays norms and, of course, not performing rituals and prescriptions of any of the current confessions, still he appears the best example of righteousness:

3:65. O people of the Book, why do you argue about Ibrāhīm, while the Torah and the Injīl [Gospel] were not revealed until after him? Have you, then, no sense?

4:125. Who is better in Faith than one who has surrendered his self to Allah and is good in deeds, and has followed the creed of Ibrāhīm, the upright. Allah has made Ibrāhīm a friend.

The Faith and its Canon need each other. The Faith roots in souls; and canons of the Faith are its normative and ritual vestments, which are mostly needed for community building and manifestation of the religious conviction of believers. The Faith links us to Eternity, while canons and regulations proceed in a particular community during particular historical slice [13:38-39].

As sometimes circumstances would be stronger than the will of a human, the Almighty can mercifully forgive some Canon deviations. However, no circumstances can subdue a person’s soul nesting the Faith.


The Islamic concept of diligence is known as Jihad.

Islam identifies the Greater Jihad (Jihad of the Heart) as a constant struggle of a person against his inner lacks, temptations, personal weaknesses and vices, such as laziness, ignorance, injustice, indifference, irascibility, foul language, lies, perjury, lust, greed, cowardice, cruelty, and etc. The jihad against one’s own inner flaws never ends…

Another kind of Jihad may also occur in the life of a Muslim when situation requires his selfless struggle against violence and extermination of Muslims. Participation in such a war is the right and religious duty of a Muslim and is considered a Lesser Jihad (‘Jihad of the Hand’ or ‘Jihad of the Sword’). Lesser jihad ends when aggression, which caused that war, stops.

Unfortunately, now the word “jihad” is more often understood as a completely different, negative action. And this shuffle had happened due to those who used the cover of jihad for their inhuman terrorist activities.

Pretending to exclusiveness in interpretation of the Islamic regulations, radicals and extremists launched a merciless terror against any slightest dissent. They took the path of a hard religious dictatorship – the forcible imposition of their own canon, declared as the only true and fundamental way… Like blinds, they do not notice that many verses of the Holy Qur’an clearly indicate the impropriety of such a ‘service’ (5:87, 7:56, 10:59, 13:40, 42:41, 42:42, 47:22, 47:23, 47:24, etc.), which is beyond the measure and looks more like reshaping canons into idols. How can killing of people who accidentally find themselves nearby to such militants be treated as jihad?! What could be more absurd?!

2:190. Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like the transgressors.

Or, after all, maybe they perform political terror, not jihad? And if they have chosen their sinful path just for becoming a governing authority, then nobody should take them as Islam in whole. Traditional Islam always condemned such Kharijites – those who lost understanding of their primary core, put themselves above it, and flew away from the orbit of that core:

Narrated Abu Said:
Prophet said, “…will be some who will recite the Qur’an but the Qur’an will not reach beyond their throats (i.e. they will recite like parrots and will not understand it nor act on it), and they will renegade from the religion as an arrow goes through the game’s body. They will kill the Muslims but will not disturb the idolaters.
If I should live up to their time’ I will kill them…”

[‘Sahih al-Bukhari’, Volume 4, Book 55, Hadith 558]

While the Qur’an repeatedly says that the diversity of peoples and beliefs exists according to a Divine intent, Kharijites force everyone in the world, including Muslims of all other canons, to accept radical vision of Islam. Isn’t this idolatry?! Isn’t this a turning their backs to Qur’an and bowing to idols erected in their souls?!

7:87. If a group from among you has believed in what I have been sent with, and another group has not believed, then keep patience until Allah decides between us. He is the best of all judges.”

10:99. Had your Lord willed, all those on earth would have believed altogether. Would you, then, compel people, so that they become believers?

Radicals consider themselves to be true fighters against idolatry and thus they destroy ancient statues and temples. But if they read the Qur’an with an open mind, they will see that ‘idols’ should be taken much broader, and idols in the minds and souls are more dangerous than those that make up the pagan pantheon…


The Qur’an is composed from 114 Chapters, and only one among them doesn’t have a preamble of ‘With the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Very-Merciful’. The sole exception is Chapter 9 named ‘Repentance’. It was revealed in the 9th year of Hijra (630 AD), when a large-scale military threat against Islam had raised.

It is impermissible to speculate on the Truth, ignoring deliberately the context or cutting the phrase, as some malicious authors do while quoting. Such is the scandalous film ‘Fitna’ by the radical anti-Muslim racist Geert Wilders, where the quotes were brutally taken out of their context and were even adjusted aiming to tarnish the Qur’an. For example, Wilders cited verse 4:89 having veiled the certain group described here as a target – traitors, who had joined an armed enemy. Besides, Wilders concealed that this Ayat continues semantically, logically and contently in the immediately next verse:

4:90. except those who are allies of a people you are bound with in a treaty or those wholeheartedly opposed to fighting either you or their own people. If Allah had willed, He would have empowered them to fight you. So if they refrain from fighting you and offer you peace, then Allah does not permit you to harm them.

Those who claim that the Qur’an calls for negative attitude towards all infidels are misleading us:

60:8. Allah does not forbid you as regards those who did not fight you on account of faith, and did not expel you from your homes, that you do good to them, and deal justly with them. Surely Allah loves those who maintain justice.

60:9. Allah forbids you only about those who fought you on account of faith, and expelled you from your homes, and helped (others) in expelling you, that you have friendship with them. Those who develop friendship with them are the wrongdoers.

Not aggression, but dignity and justice – this is what the Qur’an calls us to, asserting that only those will be forgiven and even deserve a reward, who fight against an enemy invasion and defending themselves under enemy attacks.

An impartial reading of the Holy Qur’an opens our eyes to many sides of the history and contemporary world as well. We read and make sure that the essence of Islam is in kindness, humanism and tolerance, while extremism and bitterness against the world created by the Almighty is a manifestation of the sinful pride and arrogance. The Sacred Word tests us: in some hands It brings us light and salvation, while in others (those who are deaf to the Truth) – darkness and trouble [57:25].