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The eternal lesson

Victory of goodness and love against hatred and evil
01:00 AM Jan 03, 2024 IST | SHAHID ALI KHAN
the eternal lesson
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“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”                                                                                                                                                                - John Holmes

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Goodness and love stand as steadfast sentinels—mighty heroes unyielding against the onslaught of hatred and cruelty. This narrative serves as an homage to these remarkable virtues—goodness and love—that continually strive to make our world a better place, against all odds. Looking back in history, the saga of good versus evil isn't merely a simplistic struggle; it's a deeply intricate concept embedded in our past, beliefs, and narratives. Different societies, cultures, and eras weave their own tales of morality and virtue. Some chronicles depict heroes facing monstrous evils, while others reveal internal battles of right and wrong. These stories mirror what people treasured and feared in their lives.

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Philosophers, from ancient sages to contemporary scholars, have tirelessly pondered over the origins and impact of good and evil. Their debates underscore the complexity of this eternal conflict. Culturally, interpretations of good and evil vary widely. What's deemed virtuous in one community may differ elsewhere. Yet, amidst these differences, lies the universality of this struggle. Throughout time, these ideas have changed, but their core remains the same—the never-ending battle between good and evil is a crucial part of our lives. In history and stories, there are many times when goodness won, shining brightly over darkness and cruelty.

Figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. etched profound legacies by choosing paths rooted in peace and love to combat profound injustices. Their commitment to non-violence and compassion stood as towering symbols against the tide of oppression, imprinting an indelible mark on the collective conscience of society. These luminaries' impactful deeds resonated far beyond their lifetimes, inspiring successive generations to ardently pursue justice and equality through the transformative power of peaceful, compassionate actions.

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In stories and teachings from diverse literature and cultures, the struggle between kindness and cruelty stands as a testament to the enduring power of doing what's right, particularly during challenging times. Islamic narratives surrounding Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) vividly showcase his exceptional compassion and empathy. Notably, an account recounts a woman who consistently threw trash at Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), yet when she fell ill, He (peace be upon him) responded with kindness, visiting her and offering aid—forgiving her transgressions and displaying remarkable compassion.

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Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) legacy of empathy and impartiality in conflict resolution is exemplified in various narratives, including an incident involving a Jewish funeral procession. During one instance, as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) observed a funeral procession passing by, he stood up in a gesture of respect. When informed that it was the funeral of a Jewish man, not a Muslim, his companions were puzzled by his reverence for someone outside their faith. In response, Prophet Muhammad said, "Is it not a human soul?" This profound act highlighted his deep reverence for the sanctity of life, irrespective of religious affiliations. His display of respect for the deceased person's passing accentuated the universality of human dignity and demonstrated his commitment to acknowledging and honoring the humanity in every individual, regardless of their beliefs or background.

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This story reflects the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about the worth of every person. It shows how he believed in fairness, kindness, and respecting everyone, no matter their background. His actions remind us that we should treat everyone with dignity and equality, regardless of our differences. It's a lesson about being kind and respectful to all people, no matter who they are or what they believe in.

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Likewise, in cultural narratives like "A Christmas Carol" and "Harry Potter," characters such as Ebenezer Scrooge and Severus Snape reveal transformative acts of kindness emerging from initial cruelty or confusion. Moreover, ancient epics like the "Mahabharata" and "Ramayana" present individuals navigating moral dilemmas, emphasizing the challenges of upholding goodness and kindness.

These narratives serve as poignant reminders that choosing kindness, though challenging, has profound impacts. Acts of goodwill, even in adversity, endure and inspire others. The stories of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) especially emphasize the virtues of forgiveness, compassion, and respect for all, offering timeless lessons on responding to hardship with empathy and goodwill.

Compassion, empathy, and love counteract the pervasive negativity of hatred. Their warmth has the power to thaw even the coldest hearts, illuminating the world with every act of kindness. Love, beyond an emotion, serves as a unifying force, transcending barriers of race, religion, and ideology. Contemporary society grapples with formidable challenges posed by hate and evil. Divisive rhetoric, discrimination, and conflicts impede unity and understanding. Strategies promoting love, empathy, and understanding emerge as crucial in countering these negative forces.

Embracing goodness and love isn't a mere choice; it's a commitment to sculpting a world where understanding and compassion prevail. By nurturing these values, we pave the path towards a brighter, more cohesive, and harmonious future.

In our pursuit of a better world, let's learn from history's powerful stories of kindness and love prevailing over hate.

Shahid Ali Khan, Youth Welfare and Cultural Officer, University of Kashmir.

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