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  1. #1
    Berries'forest's Avatar
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    What determines how good we really are?

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    Since many things and ideas can and often are also viewed in a relative sense, a concept such as goodness or being good can become a very controversial topic which many people have their different takes on. We usually describe the people who fit or fulfill our standards of what morally resonates with us as being good and to a very large extent what makes someone good or even bad in our eyes is mostly subjective. For example we often use the word 'nice' to describe people with whom we consider as accepting and non judgmental, when we say this person is nice there is an underlying indication that we consider them as good people. While the person who we think is horrible is the one who we feel has wronged us and usually we mean this referring to social dynamics. But the one thing we sometimes overlook is that no one treats everyone the same so that very person whom we say is nice or good can in fact be very cruel and harsh to others and the other horrible person can be as sweet as honey to everyone else but us. I'm noticing that when we say someone is good it's the measurement of how well they treat us personally and not everyone else around them so just as long as they are good with us they deserve to be placed in the good people category.

    And then there's something else, when someone is collectively deemed by the majority of people whom they know as bad we only take it from a face-value point of view. That same person may be bad in front of others but when they're alone they might be taking care of an injured or abandoned animal or they might be the only ones who give out change to the needy in the streets. While another who many people consider as good publicly might secretly lead a not so good private life.

    What makes a person good in it's authentic and concrete sense and why is goodness confused with public acceptance and the desire to win peoples approval and validation while knowing deep down inside that you maybe leading a false and even hypocritical way of life.

    Sorry for the long question and thanks for taking the time to read. I'm very interested in reading your thoughts about this. Thanks.


    P.S- I actually posted this somewhere else and I got a respond which although I disagree with I think it does open a wider gateway on the topic so here:

    There are no bad people.

    The good and bad/evil that you see don't even exist in reality, at least not outside of the mind that believes in them. They are only judgments passed by the individual from their own unique perspective. What one person sees as bad or evil may seem to be the only logical thing to do from some other perspective. The ideas of both good and evil are point of view specific. This is why people like bush and bin laden are either loved or hated. Bush was seen as good by people who shared his fear based thought system. Those who have a compassionate concern for all of mankind often saw him as evil.

    Bin laden was much the same. He was seen as a villain in much of the western world, but he was somewhat of a celebrated pop star in certain parts of the Middle East. There were T-shirt shops that sold items with his picture as though he was Jesus. His demise was reason for celebration in some circles and a reason for sadness in others. It all depends on your point of view or perspective.

    To sum it all up good is the name we give to people who do things that we think we like.

    Evil is the name we give to people who do the things that we don’t like.

    This is of course based solely on our particular point of view.

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  3. #2
    Ahmad H's Avatar
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    Re: What determines how good we really are?

    It is really all very simple. Good is what deeds are done for the sake of Allah, anything done against Allah in disobedience is a bad deed. Then any deeds not done for His sake but are not bad lead to nothing, because only that which is good is that which is done for Him.

    Even if non-believers do good actions, things which people commonly know as moral, that does not make them good. Good is only that which is done for the sake of Allah, because even animals do good deeds, much of what humans do as well.

    And evil and good are not alike.

  4. #3
    Signor's Avatar
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    Re: What determines how good we really are?

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Following paragraphs can be helpful in drawing any conclusions Insha Allah

    Conscience is a judge having spiritual quality that differentiates between right and wrong. Common sense and conscience are given to everyone but their use is not common.People even do not use commonsense and conscience; hence they are strayed from the right path. Conscience is like inspiration.When a man does something wrong, deep in his heart he feels guilty.When a man does some good he feels a queer sense of pleasure and satisfaction.When people like William Shakespeare say; “There is nothing good and bad, only thinking makes it so”; actually they try to mix up good and bad. Good is good and bad is bad. Intrinsically values are absolute but relatively they are relative.To make it clearer and simpler an example can be presented.Everybody irrespective of creed, class or clan condemns murder.To commit murder is a sin.When Mr. A murders Mr. B without any reason or justification it is to be cursed.But now as Mr. A is a culprit and a murderer, hence he has to be punished.Now to give him sentence to death becomes essential.We have justification for the murder of Mr. A. The act of murder,from one angle is a sin and from the other angle is correct.Hence conscience decides what is good and what is bad.Here it should be noted that Human conscience is of two types; pure conscience and impure conscience. The former in the words of Quran is “Nafs-e-Mutminah”. “The contented self” It is a virtuous self differentiating between good and bad according to divine injunctions. The latter is “Nafs-eummarah”, the evil self.It does not differentiate between good and bad. It is a demonic and vicious self. The Quran regards such vicious and cruel people worse than animals and hard stones. Such people of hardened hearts are tyrants, oppressors and terrorists. For their petty material and worldly gains they can go to any extent even to kill people indiscriminately. The atheists and the unscrupulous persons have coined the philosophy of relative values. The Theory of Relativity of Einstein has largely influenced the morals of human kind as well.

    But they should know that mind and matter are two different objects.There can be no relativity in the matters of morality.Moral and Immoral are absolute values only in relative situations they look relative.About the conscience or self the Quran in Sura “Shams” says; “And the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity and piety, he who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed.”
    From the world view of Islam there is good thinking and bad thinking and 'rational' thinking is nothing more than morally good thinking. Someone who strives to do that which is right in the way he thinks, who is sincere and avoids self deception, someone who seeks the truth, avoids biases and prejudice in his opinions, who seeks knowledge from all available sources, someone who reflects on what he sees and always looks for explanations and doesn't accept that things are as they are simply without any reason, someone who tries to avoid any contradictions in his understandings, such a person is rational and such a person is one who seeks to think, learn and decide in a morally good way.
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    What determines how good we really are?



  5. #4
    greenhill's Avatar
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    Re: What determines how good we really are?

    Based on some points above, good or bad is a perspective in one's mind used to give a guideline as to how to behave, I suppose. Putting it further, then, the intentions becomes the deciding factor whether these 'moral' based actions taken will be given its due 'rewards' as a good deed or not will be judged basically on whether it was done for the sale of Allah or otherwise.

    Often we take guidance from action of others, we incorporate our feelings into it, and if we take offense, chances are we would not repeat the same action to others and if it is given favourable response we might follow. And in most cases we 'judge' the action when we are not supposed to as we do not know the real intentions behind those actions except for what we can see (which may not be the whole truth).

    Peace

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    Mustafa2012's Avatar
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    Re: What determines how good we really are?

    Greetings.

    As Muslims we believe Allaah decides how good we really are.

    He's given us various criteria to assess the level of goodness but these are just external indicators. Only Allaah knows the true extent to how good a person is or isn't.

    O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa[i.e. one of the Muttaqun (pious - see V.2:2)]. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware
    (Interpretation of the meaning. The Noble Qur'an (49:13).



    So the the best person in the sight of Allah is one who is most pious or God fearing. People are of various levels with the most God fearing at the top of the scale and the rest below them according to their level of piety.

    If someone says, "I am pious", this is an indication that they are ignorant of what being pious really means and this person cannot be truly pious because being pious involves doing deeds of piety until it becomes a habit and not mere words.

    The level of external or apparent piety can be assessed only via observing a person's actions and speech, character etc. This is the only external way of assessing a person's level of piety.

    However the real piety is something that no person can truly see as the real piety is in the heart where only Allaah, The Most High can see. Only He can see how sincere the deeds, speech and character of a person really is.

    If someone is a truly pious person Allaah will honour this person and make them beloved to the people without them desiring to be known. However if someone is not sincere and does things to seem great in the eyes of the people then Allaah will make their intentions apparent some way or the other.

    Most of the time we see indicators of how "good" a person might be through the way they conduct themselves, the things they say and do which are considered "good" by religious or moral standards. If a person does "good actions" most of the time they are considered a "good" person based on actions that we can all see externally. But Allah alone knows what their intentions were in doing all these good deeds, whether they were done to show off to others or done purely for His sake. In this case He alone has this knowledge.

    Not too long ago on this forum on this thread I said, "I know that there are many good people out there among non Muslims and I give credit where it's due. But they are in the minority."

    At a first glance someone who reads this might think "Who is he to judge people" and they might be right in thinking that however if you read the context of why I said that you may understand why I said it. It was said on a thread which was discussing how the media is working to discredit and insult Islam and Muslims. Then the topic of racism came up which still is very rampant all over the world. Add to that the various wars going on and some incidents where I have personally experienced racism and physical attacks and threats for a number of years and still see it every day. If you experienced what I've experienced and still see on a daily basis I think you might understand better why I made the statement.

    My statement was also based on a Qur'anic verse which I have seen in various forms in several places:

    You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah(legal ways, etc.)] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma'ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah. And had the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) believed, it would have been better for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are Al-Fasiqun(disobedient to Allah - and rebellious against Allah's Command). (3:110)

    It is not my place to judge people, except in cases where I have been a victim of oppression and have seen first hand a person who is inflicting their evil behaviour upon me as I have personally experienced.

    Ultimately it is Allaah who decides who is good and who isn't. My statement was based on what Allaah has said Himself in His Final Revelation to mankind.

    That being said, The Qur'an itself i
    s not all negative. There's a lot of positive verses and teachings in there. It balances glad tidings with warnings so that people have a healthy outlook towards what is expected of them from Allaah and what they can expect from Him if they do good or evil.

    The Qur'an
    is a primarily a book of guidance and mercy for mankind and focuses more on guiding people to the path that Allaah is pleased with for his creation and away from the path that He is not pleased with. It is full of stories of people of the past nations, stories of The Afterlife rewards for good and punishments for transgression, laws concerning the Permissible and Prohibited actions etc.

    In it Allaah addressed all groups of mankind, Muslims AND Non Muslims so there's something for everyone in there.

    Another thing to bear in mind as the person who replied to your questions suggested is that my experience might be completely different to another person. They might have the opposite view to me and might not have experienced what I've experienced which affects my perspective and influences my views on this matter.

    However ultimately from an Islamic perspective being "good" is not a matter of personal opinion. It is based on criteria which are laid out in The Qu'ran and the sayings of Prophet Mohammed known as hadith. This is a universal set of criteria which all Muslims are expected to live up to. Some do and some don't. Some fall short and keep trying but at least there is a universal code available. This way there is no confusion and no one can make make up their own interpretation about what being "good" constitutes because it has already been done for us and the sources have been verified and largely agreed upon by the most knowledgeable people in terms of religious matters.


    Last edited by Mustafa2012; 10-20-2013 at 10:34 PM.

  8. #6
    Nur Student's Avatar
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    Re: What determines how good we really are?

    Divine laws and 'fitrah'/conscience (including consciousness) are two compatible guides to find out what is good and what is bad. They confirm and verify one another.

    Note: However, if a conscience is spoiled and diseased because of some spiritual illnesses like unbelief, indifference, sin etc., it may be vice versa and lead a person go astray.

    Ma'assalaam!


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