Ayat ul Birr
What is a Good Person in Islam? (Al-Baqarah: 177)
Ramadan is the inauguration month of a new nation for Muslims. Previously Muslims had prayed in the same direction as the Jews, and fasted at the same times. With the revelation of the Quran, the Muslims now had their own book, their own capital (Makkah), and their own set of religious requirements.
As part of this inauguration, Allah redefines what the definition of a good person is in Surah Al-Baqarah:177
02. A Thematic Overview
“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true]
righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and
the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the
traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer
Day 2 │Qur’an for Young Adults │1
and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who]
are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been
true, and it is those who are the righteous.” (Sahih International)
The word for “goodness” is بِر (birr) which is related to the word بَر (barr) because goodness is like the safety on land, whereas sin is like an ocean in which you are drowning in loss (ُخسر ). Also, land is firm, just as the definition of Goodness is firm. Even as our cultures and situations change, our definition of goodness remains fixed. It’s important to note that this discussion is about the highest level of goodness. If a person doesn’t meet these requirements, it doesn’t mean that they don’t do anything good; it just means that they haven’t reached the highest level of goodness as Allah defines it.
In Summary to be a Good Person You Must:
1) Believe in Allah – important to note this is the first pre-req to goodness
2) Believe in The Last Day – accountability
3) Believe in The Angels, The Book, and The Messengers (the chain of revelation) – without
revelation, we wouldn’t know what goodness is...
4) Give charity despite your love of wealth OR out of love for Allah OR you give from
whatever you love to...
a. Those closest to you (relatives/friends) – tough since we don’t take those closest
to us very seriously
b. Orphans – only way to know the orphans is talk be familiar with people at your
c. Poor – Poor people won’t always ask for help. You need to seek them out and
help them in a way that retains their dignity
d. Travelers – Compete to host people at your home
e. Those who ask for help under crushing debt – like a student loan. Classically used
to describe a slave.
5) Establish Prayer – symbolic of all deeds we do for Allah swt
6) Give Zakat – symbolic of all deeds we do to help others
7) Those who keep their commitments when they have given their word
8) Those who are patient during times of distress, economic hardship, and in the heat of
As we can see, Allah swt expects us to be engaged in our communities in order to meet the highest standard of goodness. We ask Allah swt to allow us to forgive us of our sins, allow us to be agents of goodness, and to rejoin us all in Jannah.