| 2 Summary of Ethics


Overall Meaning: The Meaning of Beneficence

Ihsan linguistically: is the opposite of isa’ah (malifelence). Hasanah (a good deed) is the opposite of sayyi’ah (an evil deed). It is said: a man is muhsin and mihsan (beneficent, good-doer). It is also said: ahsin (do/be good), so-and-so, for you are mihsan, meaning you are still a muhsin. [16] Taj al-`Arus, al-Zabidi (34/422), with adaptation.

Ihsan technically: is having ihsan (perfection, excellence) in worshipping the Creator: by worshipping Allah as if one can see Him; and if one cannot see Him, then Allah sees him. It is being serious in upholding the rights of Allah in a most perfect way, fulfilling them surely. Having ihsan to the creation: is expending all means to benefit each and every creature, but it changes depending on the object according to their status and rights. It also depends on ihsan itself - how well-received and beneficial it will be, as well as the faith of the muhsin himself and what causes him to exhibit this virtue. [17] Bahjat al-Qulub, al-Sa`di (p. 206). The Difference Between Beneficence (Ihsan) and Bestowal (In`am) [18] al-Mufradat, al-Raghib (p. 236); Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (13/114).

Beneficence is for one’s own benefit as well as others, such that it may be said: ahsantu li-nafsi (I have done good unto myself). Bestowal is solely for the benefit of others.Commandments of Beneficence and Enticement towards it in the Qur’an and Sunnah

Allah, sanctified, says: “Indeed, Allah commands justice, beneficence, and courtesy to close relatives. He forbids indecency, wickedness, and oppression. He instructs you so perhaps you will be mindful.” al-Nahl: 90.
He has also said, most honourable: “Allah’s mercy is always close to the good-doers.” al-A`raf: 56.

Shaddad ibn Aws, Allah be pleased with him, says: “I have memorised two statements from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ: ‘Allah has prescribed beneficence unto all things.’” [19] Reported by Muslim (1955). meaning, he has commanded to be good to all things, or in all things, and what is intended by it is all humans generally, be they dead or living. It is also said that the effective meaning is: Allah has prescribed upon mankind beneficence unto all things. [20] Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, al-Mubarakfuri (4/664-665). Quotes from the Predecessors and Scholars Regarding Beneficence

❖ al-Hasan al-Basri recited the verse: “Indeed, Allah commands justice and beneficence” al-Nahl: 90, then he paused and said: “Allah has summarised for you all good and all evil in a single verse. By Allah, justice and beneficence have gathered between them all good; and indecency, wickedness, and oppression have gathered between them all evil.” [21] Hilyat al-Awliya’, Abu Nu`aym (2/158).
❖ Ibn al-Qayyim says: “The key to attaining mercy: is excellence in worshipping the Creator, and seeking to benefit His slave.” [22] Hady al-Arwah, Ibn al-Qayyim (p. 66). The Impact of Beneficence and its Benefits
It is a reason for cohesion in society and its protection from destruction and ruin. It safeguards it from societal ailments that result from economic imbalance. It is the standard according to which man’s success is measured in his relationship with life - a relationship of trial. The good-doer is with Allah, exalted in His highness. Whomever Allah is with can never fear harm or injustice. The good-doers have a great reward in the Hereafter. They are safe from fear and grief. It is a means to gain blessings in one’s life, wealth, and family. Among the Forms of Beneficence
Excellence in worshipping Allah. Being good to one’s parents. Being good to one’s neighbour. Being good to orphans and paupers. Being good to those who harm you. Perfection in one’s speech. Excellence in rhetorical argumentation. Being good to animals. Proverbs and Poetry in Beneficence

“Only a true man rewards, not a camel.” Meaning, the free, magnanimous one is the one who recompenses goodness done unto him with goodness. One cannot hope to benefit from he who is ignoble like a camel, unless he is forced to be good. [23] Jamharat al-Amthal, al-`Askari (p. 57).

Abu al-Fath al-Busti says:

“One’s increase in their worldly life is decrease;
His gaining other than pure good, is loss.

Be good to people and you enslave their hearts;
Often does doing good to him enslave a man.

Whoever is generous with wealth, the people
Soften towards him - wealth is a trial for man.

Be good so long as you are healthy and able,
For ability is never permanent over man.” [24] Qasidat `Inwan al-Hikam, Abu al-Fath al-Busti (p.35).

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