The most familiar form of the golden rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many people think that Jesus was the first to propound this ethical principle, but in fact it was given a variety of forms by moral philosophers from the ancient world. In most of these formulations, it is expressed negatively (stating what should not be done) rather than positively.
The rule was found, for example, among the ancient Greeks many centuries before Jesus. One of the characters described by the Greek historian Herodotus (fifth century B.C.E.) said, “I will not myself do that which I consider to be blameworthy in my neighbor”; and the Greek orator Isocrates (four century B.C.E.) said, “You should be such in your dealings with others as you expect me to be in my dealings with you.” The saying was present in Eastern cultures as well, most famously on the lips of Confucius (sixth century B.C.E): “Do not do to others what you would not want others to do to you.”
Nearer to Jesus’ time, the golden rule was endorsed (in various forms of wording) in a number of Jewish writings. For example, in the apocryphal book of Tobit, we read, “And what you hate do not do to anyone”; and in the ancient Jewish interpretation of the book of Leviticus, we find, “Do not do to him (your neighbor) what you yourseklf hate.”
Perhaps the best-known expression of the rule in Jewish circles, however, comes from the most revered rabbi of Jesus’ day, the famous Rabbi Hillel. A pagan approached the rabbi and promised him that he would convert to Judaism if Hillel could recite her entire Torah to him while standing on one leg. Hillel’s terse reply sounds remarkably like the statement of Jesus in Matthew 7:12: “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbour; that is the whole Torah, while the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.”
Jesus, in short, was not the only teacher of his day who taught the golden rule or who thought that the essence of the Law of Moses could be summed up in the commandant to love.
The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction by renowned biblical scholar and New York Times Bestselling author Dr Bart D. Ehrman, p. 274.
The Golden Rule in Islam
Some sayings of the Prophet Muhammad in the hadith collections:
“None of you have faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.” (Sahih Muslim)
“Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and to enter Paradise…should treat the people as he wishes to be treated.” (Sahih Muslim)
“None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” (Forty Hadith, Nawawi)
“None of you is a believer if he eats his full while his neighbor hasn’t anything.” (Musnad)
“Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you, and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves.” (Abu Dawud)
“Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” (Farewell Sermon)
“There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.” (Ibn- Majah)
The Qur’an teaches:
“Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess [the slave]: For God loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious” (Q:4:36)
In fact, the Qur’an goes beyond the Golden Rule by stating in more than four places, “Return evil with kindness.” (see 13:22, 23:96, 41:34, 28:54, 42:40)