Qur’ān explicitly explains the concept of good and evil, by declaring that the
consciousness of good and evil is imbedded in the human nature. The verses
discussing this topic are as follows:
By the Soul,
and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong
and its right.
We showed him
the right and wrong path. It is now up to him to be grateful or ungrateful.
Have We not
made For him a pair of eyes? And a tongue, And a pair of lips? And shown him the
two paths (of good and evil)? (90: 8-10)
So set thou
thy face steadily and truly to the Faith; (Establish) Allāh’s handiwork
according to the pattern on which He has made mankind: no change (let there be)
in the work (wrought) by Allāh: that is the standard religion; but most among
mankind understand not. (30:30)
In fact, he
himself is a witness upon his own self however much he may put up excuses.
of Qur’ān elaborate five points:
Almighty has sent man in this world with a clear consciousness of virtue and
God has created man with a distinct nature.
this consciousness of good and bad is a part of human nature.
it is not lawful for man to change this nature created by God.
Man is fully aware of the facts of his nature.
analysis of the verses reveals that, it is being said that God has granted the
consciousness for judging good and bad, not that he has created man as good or
bad. Now it is the free will of man which helps him decide which path to follow.
clear from the Qur’ān that the awareness about good and evil is a part of human
nature. It neither accepts the notion that these are relative values nor it
considers intention, pleasure, happiness and profitability its basis.
the Qur’ān it is something which is inborn. Man is fully aware of the realities
that are a part of his innerself although he may negate them.
concept of Qur’ān undeniable? It is noteworthy that when man commits a sin, he
does not do so because his intellect demands so and some reasoning diverts his
course or because it was some kind of responsibility, the denial of which would
have caused him embarrassment. Whenever man commits evil it is either because of
his blind lust or he sometimes starts considering vice as virtue because of some
fallacious logic. Man existing at any time or place has always had a clear
understanding of good and evil. Never in this world man has accepted any evil
for himself. Every person, whether he is a source of advantage or disadvantage
to others, never likes to be harmed by anyone. No thief ever likes to keep a
servant who is a thief himself or a selfish person would never like to be
treated selfishly at the time of his own need or an unjust person never likes to
be treated unjustly by the judge.
What is the
reason for this behaviour of man which impels him to accept truth, honesty,
justice, sacrifice and compassion for himself from others. Whether he adopts
such behaviour with others or not he would always like to be treated in the best
manner possible. This rule has never been negated in this world. Is it because
of the fact that people throughout the world in every age get together and reach
a consensus over this issue and then nobody ever goes against it? If it is not
like this then what is the reason for this common behaviour of mankind.
intelligent people have tried to answer this question. They say that the
environment of man conditions him to some set ideas and beliefs, and then man
becomes bound to act according to them. Because over the past thousands of years
society has taught mankind a lot about morals, that is why we find perfect
harmony or, more precisely, stagnation as far as morals are concerned. Otherwise
it is not true to say that some values are inborn.
exists a confusion in this point of view. The question arises, if man does not
possess some inborn values and whatever morality he has is the result of
society’s teachings then how did the society acquired those values in the first
place on the basis of which it conditions mankind? Society itself consists of a
group of humans. If man does not have a nature, conscience and intuition then
how does it become possible for the society, which consists of human beings, to
condition people to certain rules and ideas.
describes the reason for this consensus on morals and values. It asserts that
all human beings are created on the same nature. It is in the nature of every
human to accept good values and morals for himself and reject the opposite. This
is the reality which dwells in the heart of man. Every person is aware of it and
everyone faces it. This is one of those realities which if denied makes the
universe meaningless. No bases are left for man to ponder and he cannot exchange
views with anyone, neither can he co-exist with anybody.
not just created man with the awareness of good and evil, he has gifted man with
a hidden conscience, which pushes him towards good and stops him from committing
evil. Qur’ān calls it the ‘reproaching soul’.
I present as
evidence the Day of Judgement itself. And [they think that the Day of Judgement
is a far-fetched reality]. By no means! I present as evidence this reproaching
soul [within you]. Does man think that We will not be able to bring together his
bones? Why not? We can put together his very finger tips. [No this is not so];
in fact [the truth is that] man wants to be mischievous before his [conscience].
He asks ‘When will the Day of Judgement be?’ (75:2)
reproaching soul is a great reality and nobody can deny its existence. This is
the voice from within which echoes in favour of good, and thunders to stop man
from committing evil. This human conscience is another reason for the fact that
the awareness of good and evil is a part of human nature, and man has acquired
this awareness from the same source from where this conscience has been sent
It is not true
that man has been adorned with a conscience but is devoid of any human nature.
In that case what standard would the conscience have set to censure man. Would
it censure man on the basis of material profit and loss? Then it would have been
fruitless because man is already very sensitive about his material gains and
losses. Does the conscience reproach man when he violates the norms of the
society? This is also not true because observing the norms of society is a
problem of society, not of man. If we are ready to accept the truth then the
simple fact remains that man is born with a conscience accompanied with the
awareness of good and evil.
Conscience of the World
Even if the
leaders of a nation try to make people understand, through sermons, that certain
actions fall under the category of good and certain other under evil, or good is
bad and bad is good, it will be clear in any case that good and evil
independently exist in reality and there is no need to prove their normative
existence. Man is fully aware of it, infact man is aware of this reality to such
an extent, that humanity has never cared about anything contrary to it. So the
collective conscience of the world is witness to the concept of Qur’ān, that
this awareness of good and evil is rooted in the nature of man. Only a blind and
insane person can deny it.
take a look at the savage tribes of the world or civilised nations, whether an
ancient society is studied or the modern civilisation is under review, we do not
find any community in which courts are set up for denial of justice, where laws
are formulated to carry out punishment on innocents, where promises and pacts
are made to be violated.
societies and nations of the world alongwith their systems of governance, their
laws and their knowledge point towards the simple fact that man has always
valued truth, honesty, justice and loyalty. Whether it is the family unit or the
entire social fabric, the foundations are always laid on these principles.
on this notion can be in the form of a question that why can’t man think
contrary to this. Because in history there are examples of Arab society which
had a tradition of female infanticide, Spartans, who had the tradition of
killing week children and Hindus, who forced the widow to die alongwith her dead
husband in the process of cremation (sati). But a deep study of these nations
reveals that all these traditions existed in these societies because of some
wrong beliefs and due to tyranny of man on his fellow humans. Had these
traditions been good, these societies would not have adopted them as external
factors. Taking these examples one by one, we see that Arabs buried their
daughters because of two reasons. Firstly because of a high degree of
intertribal conflicts, vandalism was the order of the day. During its course
women were made prisoners of war and ultimately sold as salve girls. This was a
source of great embarrassment for a tribe. Secondly some Arabs had started
considering it beyond there dignity to accept a man as their son-in-law. So
these two apprehensions became so strong that Arabs started hating female child.
example, we see that Spartans were war-like people. Their obsession with war
paved way for the notion that all the people of the society should be healthy
and strong, because these are the qualities which lead to victory. So their
indecent obsession made them kill all their weak and disabled children.
And in the
third example, the Hindu tradition of Sati was actually the result of a social
cruelty on women. They had developed an erroneous idea about women, which led
them to believe that a woman is created only to serve man. If once she is
associated to a man, then it is the inevitable demand of love and loyalty that
she should not marry again after his death. In this situation the highest degree
of loyalty was considered to be the tradition of Sati. Initially it was just a
concept, but afterwards when the society started looking down upon widows, Sati
seemed to be the only way for a widow to escape the wrath of the society.
In the above
mentioned examples, had all the external factors not been present, history would
have been devoid of such heinous traditions. That is why as soon as all these
external factors ceased to exist, these societies also came back on the true
It is a known
fact that man is responsible for his deeds, whether good or bed. But the main
question is that who is the creator of evil? What is its source? Whether it is
the Almighty, who is the creator and the source of evil or has he created the
basic element of evil in man which always gives birth to evil? Or is the reality
different from that?
explicitly mentioned in the Qur’ān that God is not the creator of evil, neither
a direct source nor an indirect one. Infact it is beyond His grace to be the
creator of evil. Qur’ān has introduced Almighty as the only God to whom all the
good attributes can be associated, and it also directs people to uphold good. It
is said in sūrah ‘Araf
beautiful names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them. (7:180)
And in Sūrah
arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what
is right, and forbidding what is wrong: they are the ones to attain felicity.
verses Qur’ān has revealed that all the attributes belong to Allah and He is the
source of all good. So no evil can be attributed to him. He is above and beyond
to create any evil, whether directly or indirectly, in human beings. All His
creations reflect good and He directs human beings to do good. It cannot be
imagined that God is the creator of evil. This is far beyond His grace.
But even after
admitting this, the question remains that if God is not the creator of evil then
who created evil? Qur’ān has answered this question.
To have an
understanding of reasons for the existence of evil in this world, it is
necessary to study the Divine scheme for human beings. According to this scheme
God has granted man some capabilities and sent him in this world for a special
purpose. Qur’ān refers to these capabilities in the following words:
Said thy Lord
to the Angels: I will create ‘A vicegerent on earth.’ They said: ‘Wilt Thou
place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? -- Whilst we do
celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?’ He said: ‘I know what ye
known not.’ (2:30)
that God has given the freedom of will to man, and along with this freedom He
has also granted a whole world of emotions and desires. This fact is explained
in the Qur’ān in the following words:
Fair in the
eyes of men is the love of things they covet: Women and sons; heaped-up hoards
of gold and silver; horses branded; and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land.
Such are the possessions of this world’s life. (3:14)
In sūrah Kuhaf
this is also explained as follows:
That which is
on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We
may test them -- as to which of them are best in conduct. (18:7)
purpose for which man is sent to this world is described in these words in the
Blessed be He
in whose hands is dominion; and He over all things hath power; He Who created
death and life, that He may try which of you is best in deed: and he is the
Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving. (67:1-2)
It is made
clear that through the circle of life and death, man is tested for his good and
bad deeds. Later, it is also informed that this world and its belongings are a
temporary and short phase. Almighty has said:
Short is the
enjoyment of this world. (4:77)
The fact, that
God has granted free will to man and he is tested in this world through his
deeds and ultimately he will be responsible for his acts, is repeatedly
mentioned in the Qur’ān. Two of these passages are as under:
We showed him
the right and wrong path. It is now up to him to be grateful or ungrateful. [We
showed him the right and wrong path; so therefore] We have prepared for the
ungrateful chains and yokes and a Blazing Fire. But [those who are grateful],
the loyal, they indeed will drink cups of wine flavoured with camphor. (76:3-5)
Truth is from you Lord: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject
(it): For the wrong-doers We have prepared a fire whose (smoke and flames) like
the walls and roof of a tent, will hem them in. (18:29)
verses reveal the Divine scheme for man, on the basis of which he is put to this
test of good and evil. For this test man is granted the freedom of will and
action. Now it depends on each person, whether he follows the voice of his
intellect or not. It is totally upto man to obey or disobey the Almighty. God
has made it possible for man to completely negate his human nature, if he wants
to, and leave aside all his responsibilities. Anyhow, whatever path man decides
to follow, his reward would be according to that.
granted man with freedom of will and action and virtuous nature with a lot of
desires. But no one can fulfil all his desires in this world, as this world is
limited. So if man decides to follow his nature then it is necessary for him to
limit his desires and emotions. To the contrary, if man lets his desires go
wild, then he has to crush his own nature and intellect. So whenever man used
his freedom of action in favour of his nature and intellect, it gave birth to
good. On the other hand whenever man did the opposite, he became a source of
evil. It is clear from this discussion that evil is only a result of the wrong
use of man’s freedom of action and his will.
of the Concept of Good and Evil
question that remains to be dealt with is that if man has inherent awareness of
good and evil in his nature, then why there is a difference of opinion about it
between various nations and religions.
The notion of
difference of opinion about good and evil between different nations is
incorrect. The reality is that there is a difference of religious concepts,
civilisation, social norms and traditions, external and internal environment
between these nations. It is because of this difference that certain concepts
have prevailed in different areas of the world. But neither the human intellect
nor the collective conscience of the world ever accepted these concepts as good.
That is why these wrong traditions ultimately met a fatal blow, as the
collective conscience of the world condemned them in every degree. Does this
really prove that there ever was a difference between the concepts of good and
evil among various nations of the world? Has the world ever disagreed on the
concepts of justice, truth, honesty, loyalty, trust and love. The truth is,
whether it is east or west the world has always accepted these concepts as good.
However, there has always been some philosophers who disagreed on these
concepts. But all their debates and disagreements never changed the collective
thinking of the world. Almighty has bestowed mankind with a collective
conscience and granted man the awareness to decide between right and wrong, so
whenever a society reached the limit of moral decadence, it was wiped out from
the face of the earth, so that man should not set an example for himself on the
basis of that corrupt society and create confusion about the inherent concepts
of good and evil. Had this awareness of good and evil not been a part of the
human nature, mankind would have been divided on this issue.
Man has never
faced any confusion about the concept of good and evil because Almighty has
granted man the consciousness of good and evil in his nature. This reality is
known by all alike. By nature man likes virtue and detests vice. Evil does not
have a continuous existence in this world. It is only an outcome of the wrong
use of freedom of action by man.
Amar Ellahi Lone