What Is Meant by Goodness (Khayr)?

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


I’m not sure if it’s explicitly stated, but if Allah “makes people good,” does this refer to actually making them good or to guidance? Is this a rejection of free will, or am I misunderstood? If that is the case, please clarify this matter for me.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

I pray you are in good faith and health.

What is Khayr (Goodness)?

Good can be described as Khayr (خير), as in the dictionary it is good, moral or physical; anything that is good, real or ideal, and actual or potential; a thing that all desire; such as intelligence, for instance, and equity; excellence; and what is profitable or useful; benefit; contrary of evil, (shar; شَرٌّ) :  [Raghib, Mufradat al-Quran] pl. Khuyur (خُيُورٌ). [Lane, Lane’s Lexicon]

Khayr is mentioned 148 times in the Quran. Khayr (خير) means good, what all people with sound and healthy intellect want and desire, like happiness, money, wife, children, house, respect, etc. Every human is created to act with goodness and wants goodness. Islam teaches and preaches goodness. Islam in itself is goodness, as mentioned in a hadith.

Islam is Goodness

Hudhayfa ibn Yaman said, “O Messenger of Allah, we were in a state of ignorance and evil, and then Allah brought us this khayr (goodness, i.e., Islam).” [Muslim]

To Do Good

“O believers! Bow down, prostrate yourselves, worship your Lord, and do (what is) good (al-Khayr) so that you may be successful.” [Quran, 22:77]

The Best

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The best amongst you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it.” [Bukhari]

What is Guidance (Hidaya)?

Hidaya is direction, an indication with kindness; it is applied to all good things.

Allah Most High said, “Guide us along the Straight Path.” [Quran, 1:6]

Varieties of Guidance

The guidance of Allah is manifold, and its varieties are beyond count; as He said, “(…) if you would count the bounty of Allah, you cannot number it.” [Quran, 14:34]

However, they can be subsumed into sequential types:

  • First, the bestowal of powers by which one is able to pursue one’s own welfare, such as intellective power, sentiments, and external senses.
  • Second, producing the proofs that demarcate truth from falsehood and righteousness from corruption. He referred to this type when He said, “Have we not shown him (hadaynahu) the two roads?” [Quran, 90:10] and “As for Thamud, We guided them, but they preferred blindness over guidance.” [Quran, 41:17]
  • Third, guidance by sending messengers and revealing books. This is what He meant when He said, and “We made them leaders guiding by Our command, (…).” [Quran, 21:73] and “Truly this Quran guides to what is straightest.” [Quran, 17:9]
  • Fourth, He discloses secrets to their hearts and shows them things as they are, whether through revelation or inspiration and truthful dreams. This is something only Prophets and friends of Allah obtain. That is respectively what He means by saying, “Those are the ones whom Allah guided, so follow their guidance.” [Quran, 6:90] and “As for those who strive in Us, We will most surely guide them to Our paths.” [Quran, 29:69]

Prayer for Guidance: Show Us the Straight Path

What is asked, then, is (1) more of what they were conferred of guidance; (2) or firmness with it; (3) or the acquirement of the ranks that result from it. When spoken by the accomplished knower of Allah he means, “Direct us on the path of wayfaring in You, so that You will eradicate from us the pitch-darkness of our states and take away the dense screens of our material bodies, so that we can be illuminated with the light of Your holiness and we can see You with Your light!” [G F Haddad, The Lights of Revelation]

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I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete the hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled in an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and ‘Aalimiyya sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for several years. He has taught hifz of the Quran, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to children and adults onsite and online extensively in the UK and Ireland. He taught at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences. He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His interest is a love of books and gardening.