Reflection No. 158 on Q 5:2 – Co-operation in goodness

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُو ا . . . وَتَعَاوَنُواعَلَىالْبِرِّوَالتَّقْوَىٰ
Yā ayyuhal-ladhīna āmanū . . . wa-ta‘āwanū ‘alal-birri wat-taqwā
O, You who believe . . . help one another in goodness and piety (Sūratul Mā’idah, No. 5, Āyat 2)

This verse emphasizes the necessity of cooperating and supporting in virtue and piety. Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī points out in Tafsīr-e Namūne that the use of these two words birr and taqwā is interesting. Birr or virtue is positive good actions, and taqwā refers to staying away from evil actions. Thus the verse urges a co-operation of two types – in performing good, and refraining from evil. The Messenger of Allah (s) encouraged Muslims to cooperate with another. He says: People will continue to be blessed so long as they invite each towards good, discourage each other from evil, and cooperate in goodness and piety. (Tahdhībul AHkām, 6:181)

Cooperating with others in goodness is one of the basic rules for a Muslim society. When believers work together there is motivation, enthusiasm and a rise in spirit. Along with that there is Divine help and blessing in the deed. Each believer feels encouraged by the response of the other, and in this way a spark of goodness can become a great light. The light then engulfs society, its beams reflecting on various aspects of the members’ lives. What can be achieved through such unity of action cannot be achieved by an individual alone – however powerful, rich or influential he/she may be.

Sincerity of intention is essential in the cooperation of people in an Islamic society. Cooperation must be for the sake of Allah only. Often people become very disillusioned with others and are reluctant to work together and help one another. They feel that the others do not deserve their help, and are not worthy of it. However when you do good work for the sake of Allah (swt), you are always motivated. Allah deserves the best we can do, at all times.

Cooperating with others means drawing on the skills and talents that each person has to offer. Everyone has been granted unique talents by the Almighty. When these talents are pooled together the results can be amazing. It creates synergy, a term used for the interaction of multiple elements to produce a result greater than the sum of their individual effects. When two people have different complementary skills, and they cooperate together to work on something, the result is greater than the total of each individual effect.

Use this Qur’anic āyat to remind yourself of the importance of working together with others on good things. It will produce blessed results.
Sources: Āytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh