Are not [surely] equal good and evil [deeds]. Repel [evil] with something better [good], and behold, [you will see that] the one who [was once your] enemy has become you dearest friend.
(Quran 41, 34)
وَلا تَستَوِي الحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ۚ ادفَع بِالَّتي هِيَ أَحسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذي بَينَكَ وَبَينَهُ عَداوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَميمٌ
34 wa-lā tastawī l-ḥasanatu wa-lā s-sayyiʾatu dfaʿ bi-llatī hiya ʾaḥsanu fa-ʾidhā lladhī baynaka wa-baynahū ʿadāwatun ka-ʾannahū waliyyun ḥamīm
And not alike are the good and the evil. Repel (evil) with what is best, when lo! he between whom and thee is enmity would be as if he were a warm friend.
(t-Maulana Mohammed Alì)
Good deeds and evil deeds are certainly not the same, in fact there is a huge difference between them, in fact everyone knows about it. What instead is often not understood is the deep meaning and how to put into practice the precept reported in verse 34 of the Sura 41 (Arabic فصلت fuṣṣilat “explained in detail”). A “Law of Replacement” is of fundamental importance not only for the improvement of the lives of believers, but if put into practice it will also prove to be one of the key principles in “repairing the World“.
Also the New Testament (Rm 12, 21 ; Mt 5, 44) encourages us to imitate the same behaviour, but it is often difficult to put it into practice. To be able to set ourselves aside because of the love we have for GOD and His Creation (our brothers, sisters, animals, the World) is already difficult, imagine doing so towards our enemies. But striving to lead one’s life as a continuous offering to GOD, showing oneself consecrated and devoted to the Cause will lead the believer towards his own improvement and that of those around him.
You have to be very strong in order to not let the evil penetrate into our thoughts and therefore into our lives, and you have to be able to overcome it with good and good deeds, transform evil into good and be able to replace a negative thought with a good one. When instead we repay that received evil, it is as if we associate ourselves with that evil, lowering our Spirit to that level, and this translates into more sin, more pain, and an endless cycle of revenge and hatred. In other words, evil wins if we act selfishly, if we live first for ourselves, only for our own good, instead of for also benefiting others.
The ultimate victory over evil is prophesied for humanity on a future day, but to achieve this every believer is called not only to pray and hope, but first and foremost to perform good and righteous deeds toward neighbor. There are many negative influences in the world that threaten to overwhelm and destroy our families, but if we want to live and see the spiritual victory of the good, and if we want our children to live it too, there are some key principles that we must understand, implement and spread.
To repel evil with good, in other words, with what is better, is to repel anger with tolerance, ignorance with patience, and the purpose of defeating evil with forgiveness; and behold, those among whom they were divided by enmity may become close friends. This teaching is also reported by Omar the closest man to the Prophet Mohammed, speaking about someone that does wrong to another person:
Repel him by treating him well, there is no better punishment for those who have disobeyed GOD in your regard than [responding] by obeying GOD [working favorably] in his regard.
The amount of good deeds in the World will always exceed all existing bad ones, but sometimes it seems that the news and life are filled only with evil, but we should not believe in this illusion. This only happens because bad deeds make more noise than good deeds, which instead move in humility and silence. GOD wanted it this way, this is also His Will so that He can fulfill His Plan, to strengthen in secret the righteous hearts that will rule the world as the Psalm 37 states:
28 For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. 29The righteous will inherit the landand dwell in it forever. 30The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. 31The law of their GOD is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.
A historical account of the oral tradition of Islam makes us fully understand one of the infinite ways to put into practice what is explained by the Sura 41. The Prophet Mohammed had a non-believing neighbor who considered him a deceiver, so every day to humiliate him he dropped his garbage in front of the door of the house of the man of GOD. Mohammed remained patient and did nothing, on the contrary, just as he disposed his garbage, he did with his neighbor’s garbage. One day he noticed that the garbage at his door had not been left, and so he genuinely worried about the man, he went to the door of his house to check it on him. His neighbor was indeed sick, but finding Mohammed visiting him, he was so moved that he recognized the good that was in the Prophet’s heart and agreed to follow his revelation.
May GOD favour us in seeking good and in the difficult “substitution” of evil with positive works that come from the heart. We are all brothers and sisters who live under the same roof, the Heaven, and the love between us and towards our “home” remain the only things that matter for building a better future for everybody.