By "the good word," most perceive it to mean being complimentative, expressing love or speaking in an inspiring manner. However, the type of "good word" Allah refers to in the Qur'an means something quite other, and is more comprehensive, although it also includes the above-mentioned meanings. Allah describes what the good word is with the verse;
Who could say anything better than one who summons to Allah, and acts rightly and says, "I am of those who submit to Allah"? (Surah Fussilat, 33)
In other words, the "good word" is that which summons people to Allah and the Qur'an. And, those who utter this good word, that is, those who call to Allah, are the believers.
Conveying Allah's religion, guiding people by the light of the Qur'an, enjoining the good and condemning the wrong, reminding people of Allah's verses; each are manners of calling to Allah, and the best and most beneficial words that can ever be said to another. These words uttered by the believers, to lead people to the Qur'an's morality, are neither aimed to please them, or gain some worldly benefit. All such words have a single goal; to earn Allah's good pleasure, and assist the other to attain a quality of character with which Allah will be pleased. This being so, remembering Allah, explaining the ideals of morality, encouraging another to become one worthy of Paradise, while from time to time also criticizing him by the light of the Qur'an, to allow him to become aware of his flaws that he may can correct them, and reminding him to heed Allah, are all examples of the good word.
The reader may better be able to understand the meaning of the good word, in its true sense, if he considers the following example: assume for a moment that you are right next to the eternal fire of Hell, where you see people dragged from one form of punishment to another; they mourn in regret, feeling the terror of being unable to save themselves from that fire. They are offered boiling water or tied to towering columns. Having seen such things, you would focus all your attention in earning Allah's good pleasure, so as to avoid any mistake that would lead you into such punishment. What you would most fear and seek to avoid would be losing Allah's good pleasure. At that moment, someone admonishing in light of the Qur'an, warning you against some error, or reminding you of Allah, would be the best and most helpful words that you could ever hear. As one who feels the punishment of Hell as if it were right next to you, you would neither react adversely against these remarks, nor make up any excuses to deny them, nor feel prideful. Being sincere in the conviction that correcting your mistakes is of vital importance, you would be open to any form of admonition or criticism. The moment you would hear these remarks, which are explained to you solely for your own benefit, you would humbly accept them, feel thankful towards the person who offered these admonitions, and most probably would want him or her to continue providing you with such advice.
As is stated in the previous example, one who finds himself at the edge of the Hellfire regards every word as an opportunity to reform himself. Similarly, every word uttered in this world, that calls to Allah, and to abide by the Qur'an, are all opportunities not to be missed. While there is still time, in this life, every admonition given, every call made to good, and every warning about the coming of the Day of Judgment, will be a means of attaining Paradise and security from the fire of Hell. The following verses make clear that all may at any time come face to face with the fire of Hell, though only the faithful will be saved from it:
… Then We will assemble them around Hell on their knees. (Surah Maryam, 68)
Then We will rescue those who guarded against evil and We will leave the wrongdoers in it on their knees. (Surah Maryam, 72)
Of the ways that lead to avoiding the punishment of Hell, an eternal punishment, are these admonitions and recommendations made in the light of the verses of the Qur'an. For this reason, answering a call to faith in Allah, to abiding by the Qur'an, and to adopting moral excellence, will be to the benefit of all. In order to attain true sincerity and submission, it is not necessary to be at the edge of the fire of Hell. Prior to that, one should set out to comply with every good word he hears.
In this book, rather than merely describing what the good word is, we will detail the loss upon those who avoid it, in the light of the verses of the Qur'an. Because, for billions of people living in this world today, there is the dire possibility of their being condemned to Hell, and being passed from one punishment to another for all eternity. All will be faced with Allah's punishment, unless they comply with the good word, though they might otherwise be enjoying a beautiful life, in this world, as well as being destined for one in the next.
The Qur'an describes the bitter day of punishment as follows:
And warn them of the Day of Immediacy when hearts rise choking to the throat. The wrongdoers will have no close friend nor any intercessor who might be heard. He knows the eyes' deceit and what people's breasts conceal. Allah will judge with truth; and those you call upon apart from Him will not judge with anything at all. It is Allah Who is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (Surah Ghafir, 18-20)