Rasulullah SA states:
“Do good to the worthy and the unworthy. If a person is worthy, then he is deserving of that good. If a person is unworthy, then you are the one who does good regardless”
The very act of kindness is something which does not require prerequisites of worthiness. It is not contingent on some kind of ‘moral credit scoring’, where there is some kind of index to measure individuals against. There are at least two points to consider in this hadeeth. Firstly, it is precisely because one cannot truly assess the worthiness of an individual that that consideration is done away with. Secondly, the real test is to see virtue through an objective lens, rather than a subjective one. Virtue exists independently and consequently, it should be applied as such. In all circumstances, regardless of the how, when, where and why of the situation, virtue should prevail. In this sense, this hadeeth is a call to ikhlaas – sincerity of intention and action.
Our job as members of humanity, is not to prove the worthiness of people; the overriding consideration is to participate and promote that co-existence, regardless of who and what. It’s an appeal to our higher function. This prophetic directive is there to hone our incentives in carrying out good. In a way it also makes it so much easier to do good. Simply put, Rasulullah SA unburdens us of the responsibility of gauging others, where the risk of being mistaken greatly outweighs the possibility of being accurate. That responsibility is not ours, so why bear it? Isn’t it so much simpler and easier then to do good for the sake of good?
Furthermore, this hadeeth affords the right and prerogative to carry out good. In other words, we are all worthy regardless, in the sense that if nothing, then at least we are worthy enough and capable enough to carry out good. Nothing can take that away from us, so why not exercise that right? Why, through poor judgement, would we not exercise that right? Why make our decisions – in regard to our moral behaviour, conditional on others? Why give up control of what has been attributed to us?
Ultimately this hadeeth actually underscores our self-worth and invites us to recognise it. It is this sense of self-worth that propels us to see good in all that we do and in all that we see.