Eighty Years Ago

20 EIGHTY YEARS AGO (The following is an extract from the Review of Religions dated January, 1908) Thus as God is the God of the whole world and not of any one tribe, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, is the Apostle of the whole world, and a mercy for all mankind. The circle of his teachings of sympathy and fellow-feeling, therefore, includes the whole world in it and is not limited to any one tribe or people. The teaching on this point contained in the Holy Quran is of such a universal and perfect nature that it is unparalleled in the teachings of all the great teachers of the world. The Holy Quran says: “Verily God commands you to do justice and goodness and the giving of kindred.” This verse speaks of three stages of doing goodness. The first is spoken of as mere justice, i.e., doing good for good. It is the lowest stage of goodness that when a man receives any good from any one he should do good in return, and when he claims a right, he should not claim more than justly his due. Then there is the second stage of goodness which is spoken of as Ihsan. The essence of this word is that goodness should be done to a person without ever having received any benefit from him. It consists in bestowing favours upon persons who cannot claim them as of right. But as to this stage of doing goodness is often attached the infirmity that the doer expects thanks in return for the good he does or reminds the person to whom he does any good of the obligation, the Holy Quran speaks of a third stage of doing goodness which is free from all defects. This stage is spoken of as “the giving of the .kindred,” by which it is meant that the idea of doing goodness should proceed from sincere sympathy like that which is shown to a person’s nearest relations or kindred, to a child, for instance, by his mother. In this stage a person is required, in fact, to look upon the whole world as his kindred and to do good all as if they were his near relatives. This is the only form of perfect goodness and the Muslim is required to rise above all limitations’in doing good to humanity.