Ihsan has two literal meanings,
doing something well and perfectly and doing someone a favor, and is sometimes
used in the Qurían and the Sunna with either meaning. At other times, as
pointed out in the reflections on Heart - 2 while describing the Prophet Josephís
consciousness of ihsan, to encompass both meanings.
According to truth-seeking scholars, perfect goodness is an
action of the heart that involves thinking according to the standards of truth;
forming the intention to do good, useful things and then doing them; and
performing acts of worship in the consciousness that God sees them. To attain
perfect goodness, an initiate must establish his or her thoughts, feelings, and
conceptions on firm belief, and then deepen that belief by practicing the
essentials of Islam and training his or her heart to receive Divine gifts and
illuminate it with the light of His manifestations. Only one who has attained
such a degree of perfect goodness can really do good to others just for Godís
sake, with-out expecting any return.
According to a Prophetic saying, perfect goodness is that
you worship God as if seeing Him; for even if you do not see Him, He certainly
sees you. The most comprehensive and precise meaning of perfect goodness is
that there is no fault in an initiateís action, and that he or she is always
conscious of Godís oversight. An initiate must concentrate on his or her
actions with all of his or her will, feelings, awareness, and outer and inner
senses. An initiate who has such degree of awareness of Godís supervision,
and therefore strives to act in the best way possible, cannot help but do good
to others. Doing good to others then becomes an essential attribute of his or
her nature, and radiates as light radiates from the Sun.
Ihsan, in the sense of doing good to others, is summed
up in the Prophetís principle of desiring for oneís fellow Muslim whatever
one desires for oneself. Its universal dimension is defined in the Prophetic
Surely, God has decreed that you excel in whatever you
do. When you punish someone by killing, do it kindly; when you slaughter an
animal, slaughter it kindly. Let him who will slaughter it sharpen his knife
and avoid giving the animal much pain.
Consciousness of goodness is like a mysterious key that
opens the door of a virtuous circle. An initiate who opens that door and steps
into that illuminated corridor enters the ďspiralĒ of a mysterious
ascension, as if getting on an escalator. In addition to being endowed with
this virtue, the correct use of oneís free will to do good and refrain from
evil will result in an advance of two steps for every one step taken: Is the
reward of goodness anything but goodness? (55:60). As we read in Tabari:
Once Godís Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, one
truthful and confirmed, asked his Companions about the verse: Do you know what
Your Lord means by this verse? The Companions answered: God and His Messenger
know better. He explained: The reward of the one upon whom I conferred belief
in Divine Unity and goodness is nothing but Paradise.
When the consciousness of goodness invades oneís heart
like clouds of rain, Divine favors begin to descend in downpours. The possessor
of such a heart, addressed by the verse: For those who do good is the
greatest good, and even more (10:26), feels the profound pleasure of having
been created as a human being.
In addition to the Divine grace coming in return for actions
done with goodness, Divine gifts issue from Godís Graciousness and Kindness
in return for a heartís sincere intention. We are unable to conceive and
describe such gifts.
A sound heart leads one straight to God without any
deviation, and goodness is the heartís greatest and most rewarding action.
Goodness is the safest way to ascend the slopes of sincerity, the most secure
means to reach the peaks of being approved by God, and the consciousness of
self-possession before the Eternal Witness. Of the many people equipped with
belief, as well as deep fear and reverence for Him, who have taken the wings of
good action and set out toward Him, only a few succeed in reaching the peak.
May those who have not yet reached it try their utmost to do so. Those who have
reached the peak feel deeply the ugliness of whatever God dislikes and are
closed to it, while they are ready to do whatever He likes and to adopt that as
their second nature.