Receiving Goodness

Peace, one and all…


During my first year religious studies seminar this morning we were exploring the differences between Meccan and Medinan portions of the Quran.  As part of our exploration, we were looking at Surah al-Rahman, the Quran’s 55th chapter.  As we were coming to the end, my eyes fell upon the following verse:

‘Can goodness receive aught but goodness?’ (55:60)

Sometimes a simple question can pierce the hard shell that surrounds our hearts more forcefully than a bolt of lightning.  And so it was this morning.  As the rest of the group discussed the structure and form of the surah, I felt myself lifted briefly to some other place, in some other time.

I was suddenly struck by the force of this simply stated rhetorical question: how can you think that God will reward good with anything other than good?  Give goodness and receive goodness in return.  How beautiful!  How simple!  How profound!  On a deeper level, my very ability to give is actually a gift from; it is actually my receipt of the grace of that ability (tawfiq).  Moreover, God’s gift is always beyond my ability to repay.  The scales truly are loaded in my favour!  In other words, receive goodness, give back of that goodness, and receive yet more in return!

How then can I give back even more of myself?  In that new moment I understood, by opening myself ever more fully, by participating in life; or by learning to see that which has always been there.

Wa akhiru da’wana an il hamdu lillahi rabbil alameen

Ma’as salama,
Abdur Rahman


2 thoughts on “Receiving Goodness

  1. Salam Abdur Rahman!
    Mystic Saint’s blog has at its opening
    Hal jazaa ul ihsani illal ihsani?
    translated as “Is the reward of goodness other than goodness?”.I understood it to be “Virtue is its own reward” but I see I am wrong since this leaves out the Rewarder.
    Srinivas Rau

  2. Salams Srinivas,

    I think that you are also right, if it is remembered that the ultimate source of Virtue is God. Given this, to be virtuous is to come into harmony with the natural order of things. Virtue thus has an eschatological function, in that it refers to otherworldy matters. It is also its own reward – because goodness is good in and of itself.


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