New Age Islam
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Islamic Ideology ( 7 Oct 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

The Quran and the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto Others as You Would Have Them Do unto You’

By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

08 October 2016

In my article Religion as a Civilizing Influence which I wrote three and a half years ago, I had argued that it is the moral principles from religion that have civilized us and without them; we would never have made the transition from living like savages to becoming civilized. The article however did not identify what the first moral principle may have been that helped man make the transition. What we know from modern scholarship is that the very first moral principle may have been what we have come to know as the Golden Rule which is found to exist in every civilization and common to every religion. Charles Gibbon was the first to use the term “Golden Rule” in 1604.The most familiar version of the Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”The rule also comes in the form of a negative injunction: “One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated”

As savages, we lived in small communes separated from other communes, had great mistrust of others, which often lead to raids and ambushes, resulting in a high death-rate. It is easy to see how the Golden Rule transformed such people. Once this rule was accepted and practiced by a wider group under a common religion, cooperation and trust between them developed giving them obvious survival advantages. Peace within a large group comes from shared values as is the case when people share the same beliefs or religion. To this day, people trust their coreligionists and distrust people from other faiths. This is why inter-faith dialogues are necessary to bring out what is common and shared across people from different religions.

The rule is found in the Talmud, Torah and the Bible and in every other religion and civilization.


"Now this is the command: Do to the doer to make him do." (c. 2040 – c. 1650 BC)

A Late Period (c. 664 BC – 323 BC) papyrus contains the Golden Rule: "That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another."


"Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing." – Thales (c. 624 BC – c. 546 BC)


"Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself." — Confucius c. 500 BC)

"Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss." — Laozi (c. 500 BC)


One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behaviour is due to selfish desires. —Brihaspati, Mahabharata

What the Scholars say:     

“…numerous studies show that it (Golden Rule) has been endorsed in all of the major and most minor religions.” (Neil Duxbury)

The golden rule is shared by virtually all the world's religions. (Jeffrey Wattles)

Interestingly Jeffrey Wattles calls it "the principle of the practice of the family of God." which sounds like Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

The Golden Rule in the Quran

The Golden Rule differs from the maxim of reciprocity and is a unilateral moral commitment to the well-being of the other without the expectation of anything in return. In the Quran the Golden Rule is presented in its most refined form. We are asked to repel evil with what is good. It is conceivable that when wronged, we may think that the person who has caused us injury, or we ourselves in the same position, will not expect to be treated well, and may act according to such reasoning. The Quran gives no scope for such reasoning and instructs us to repel evil with what is good.

41:34. Nor can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and you was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate!

35. And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint,- none but persons of the greatest good fortune.

36. And if (at any time) an incitement to discord is made to you by the Evil One, seek refuge in Allah. He is the One Who hears and knows all things.

The Quran acknowledges that behaviour of such a high moral standard is difficult but shows the way to achieve such a standard and encourages us to follow the rule. The objective is to make even an enemy an intimate friend. This is more than even forgiveness since forgiveness does not require returning what is good for the evil.

Confirmation that the same message was given to the apostles before

41:43. Nothing is said to you that was not said to the apostles before you. Verily your Lord has at his Command (all) forgiveness as well as a most Grievous Penalty.

“This Qur´an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the worlds.” (10:37)

The Signs that the same message was delivered to all people

41:52. Say: "See ye if the (Revelation) is (really) from Allah, and yet do ye reject it? Who is more astray than one who is in a schism far (from any purpose)?"

The blessed Verse in question is saying:

You see for yourself that the revelation is really from Allah and yet you reject it! Who is more astray than one who knows the Truth but still denies it and opposes it with such vehemence? Such a person has gone to extreme in his opposition and enmity to God Almighty and all without purpose.

41:53. Soon will We show them our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own being, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that your Lord does witness all things?

We do find the Golden Rule in the furthest regions of the earth from the earliest civilizations and these are the Signs that the revelation is from Allah and sent to all people in all parts of the world. This truth will become manifest to every person and God will be a witness to it. If anyone disbelieves after this, it will be after the truth has become manifest to them.

The Surah was revealed in the 7th century when people had no knowledge that the same rule was common to every civilization. This is a discovery of the 16th century. The Surah:

1.       Gives us the most refined version of the Golden rule

2.       Confirms that the same was given to all previous prophets

3.       Predicts that God will show us Signs in the furthest regions of the earth which will be evidence that this revelation is really from Allah.


Was a wait of more than a thousand years showing the Sign soon?

Verily a Day in the sight of your Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning. (22:47)

For Allah, it is only like a day or thereabouts. Moreover, if this was made known in the 7th century itself, it would have served no purpose as it was not verifiable then.

There are several other verses of the Quran which repeat the message that every nation on the earth was sent a Prophet for their guidance.

And for every Ummah (a community or a nation), there is a Messenger; (10:47)

And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (Qur'ân 16:36)

"And there is not a people but a warner has gone among them." (35:24)

Of some messengers We have already told you the story; of others We have not; (4:164)

And, indeed We have sent Messengers before you (O Muhammad(P)); of some of them We have related to you their story and of some We have not related to you their story, (40:78)

Commentary by scholars on these verses:

The meaning of 41:53 “Soon will We show them our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth.” was to be made clear by Allah only in the future, and therefore the commentaries by scholars on this verse are speculative and completely off the mark. We find this to be true even of ayat Al Nur as discussed in my article: An Exposition of the Verse of Light (Ayat al-Nur). It was God’s intention that the meaning of certain verses was to be made known only in the future at the appropriate time.  At a time when it has become an axiom of western education that religion is only a construct of the human mind and there is no such thing as God, this is the appropriate time for the Quran to manifest once again, the truth of:

41:52. Say: "See ye if the (Revelation) is (really) from Allah, and yet do ye reject it? Who is more astray than one who is in a schism far (from any purpose)?"

However, nothing much may have changed, and going by the past, the great majority of people may initially disbelieve until a small band of core believers transform the world once again.

My article “An Exposition of the Verse of Light (Ayat al-Nur) shows that Imam Ghazali’s famous treatise Mishkatal-Anwar (The Niche of Lights) is in error which he should have known and which should have been obvious even to a kid. While the correct interpretation was not possible for any scholar of his times, the incorrectness of his explanation is obvious and is falsified by the very next verse from which it is apparent that the Light is external to man. What made Ghazali give an erroneous explanation without acknowledging the flaw or shortcoming? He is also the scholar who is responsible for advocating the end of Ijtehad in Islam when his inability to come to grips with a single verse or Ayat was proof that man was far from discovering every truth. Verse 41:53 is a verse which makes it clear that more truths are going to be made manifest in the future. It is appropriate that such a scholar should fall from his pedestal paving the way for the end of Taqleed (blind imitation) of all such scholars and opening the doors of Ijtehad. No scholar of the past or even the present has shown the intellectual honesty to throw doubt on Imam Ghazali’s interpretation and they have all more or less followed it. Nobody has been critical of it. No wonder with such poor scholarship and blind imitation of the same, both bigotry and extremism thrive. Hopefully, this realization will pave the way for sweeping clean all the muck from the past. With more people realizing the reality of the stagnant cesspool that Islam has become, we may be able to build a brave new world free from bigotry and all forms of extremism. This needs to be based on an understanding of the Quran free from the polluting influence of every other source of “Islamic” literature.

How the majority are likely to react - from the same Sura

41: 5. They say: "Our hearts are under veils, (concealed) from that to which thou dost invite us, and in our ears in a deafness, and between us and you is a screen: so do thou (what thou wilt); for us, we shall do (what we will!)"

41:40. Those who pervert the Truth in Our Signs are not hidden from Us. Which is better?- he that is cast into the Fire, or he that comes safe through, on the Day of Judgment? Do what ye will: verily He seeth (clearly) all that ye do.


 The rewards for bringing out the truth and supporting it

(39:32) who, then, doth more wrong than one who utters a lie concerning Allah, and rejects the Truth when it comes to him; is there not in Hell an abode for blasphemers?

(33) And he who brings the Truth and he who confirms (and supports) it - such are the men who do right.

(34) They shall have all that they wish for, in the presence of their Lord: such is the reward of those who do good:

(35) So that Allah will turn off from them (even) the worst in their deeds and give them their reward according to the best of what they have done.


The rewards for bringing out the universal truths and supporting them are great for obvious reasons. These truths can revive and renew a dormant and misguided people. May Allah guide us to the truth and make us support it. Allah knows the truth best and may Allah guide us all to His Light.

Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to


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