The word "Ihsan" in Arabic is a derivative of the verb "ahsana," which means doing things better and in an excellent manner. Thus the literal linguistic meaning of Ihsan is doing the best, namely goodness or excellence. Hence, the opposite of Ihsan is badness or evil. The good deeds contradict with the evil ones, the good sayings contradict with the evil sayings. Allah says in the Qur’an (what means): “And who parry an odious (act) with a fair one; those will have the (Ultimate) Outcome of the Residence.” (Ar-Raad: 22) The verse means that the ones who meet a bad saying or act with a good one will have Allah’s reward by being patient and forgiving. They do that because He commands them in the Qur’an: “And not equal are the fair deed and the odious deed. Repel with that which is fairest; then, only then, he between whom and you there is enmity will be as if he were an intimate constant patron.” (Fussilat: 34)(2) This is also reflected in what the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him) told Mu'adh Ibn-Jabal (RA). Abu Dharr al-Ghifari and Mu'adh Ibn-Jabal relate that the Prophet (Peace Be upon Him) said: "Fear Allah wherever you are. Follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will blot it out. And deal with people in a good manner.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)(3)
People of faith meet the bad sayings and deeds with good ones. Entrusting one’s soul to Allah, hope, sincere penitence, fear and reverence are good deeds, while on the other hand bad ones are polytheism, hypocrisy, arrogance, hatred, malice, envy and animosity etc.
The Arabic verb "Hasana" means to perfect, improve and beautify. Al-Azhari(4) narrated from Ibn al-Haitham what he said about the verse in Surat Yusuf: “He was indeed good to me, when He took me out of the prison.” (Yusuf: 100). Ibn al-Haitham said: “good to me, namely treat me with goodness, which means the state of Ihsan.”
- Lisan al-Arab by Ibn Manzur (3/179).
- Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Surat Ar-Raad: 22) (8/136, Awlad Al Sheikh Edition)
- Narrated by Imam Ahmed (5/228/236), Sunnan al-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-Birr Wassila, Bab Ma Jaa’ Fi Mouasharat Al Nass (Dealign with Peopld Chapter) (1987), Al- Albani declared this Hadith to be Good (Hadith Hasan) in "Sahih al-Jami (97), al-Ahadith al-Sahiha (1373), Review Jami' al-'Ulum wal-Hikam by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (Hadith No. 18)
- Lisan al-Arab by Ibn Manzur (877, Article: Hasan)