Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dear anonymous: I respectfuly disagree with you.

A week ago, and in response to my previous post, I received this comment from an anonymous reader.

".... there is no doubt and i totally agree with you that targeting civilians is totally unislamic and immoral, but, i'm talking about the Palestinians specifically, i think if we put ourselves where they are, in so much despair, oppression, not being able to get food or not having electricity (referring to what happened recently in Gaza) i think one would not think whether civilians are targeted or not. u just want to get back at those people occupying your country and making you suffer that much especially with no one being able to do anything about it for so many years. i think if one is living under these circumstances you cannot expect him to think about anything else than revenge. i'm not saying it is right but this is the human nature and we cannot blame them." end of comment.
The emphasis using boldface is mine.

There is no doubt in my mind that the suffering of the Palestinian people is real and is beyond what most of us can imagine, not to mention, live under. Israeli occupation is not just land grab, but has always been aiming at the destruction of the Palestinian spirit and the Palestinian identity. It is evil, and no historic rights of any kind could make it lawful. And, YES; if it were me, I probably would have liked to "just get back at those people" as the comment said. But the truth remains that if I did that it should not be acceptable or justifiable. To understand where the anger and rage are coming from is healthy, and helps all of us: Muslims, non-Muslims, Arabs, and non-Arabs, get to the real source of the problem of violence: Injustice, and try to help solve the cycle of violence.
But through out all this, we SHOULD NOT ever accept such a deed, or try to justify it. Understand it: Yes. Condone, accept, or justify: Never. Speak against it, and try to stop it from
happening: Always.
The reasons are simple and many: some are practical, but most are religious.
"Getting back at those people" ends up targeting a lot of innocent individuals. Not every Isreali is guilty of occupying Palestinians. There are many that knew, over several generations, of no land but that piece of land they live on called Israel. Historic right or not, they were born there, grew up there, were brought up to look at it as home, not as the land their grandparents took away from Palestinians.

Most of us grow up being fed - by our parents, leaders and teachers - facts about life, history, and religion - that we never questioned or verified. If one of those Israelis had their child or sister killed by a suicide bomber, do you think that he or she is entitled to the same kind of anger, and desire for revenge and vengeance like the Palestinian that grow up watching the suffering and atrocities committed against Palestinians? If that Israeli decided to "get back at those people" who killed his child or sibling, how much will we empathize with them? Are we going to judge them by the same standard that we extend to our Palestinian brother or sister? If we do not treat the two situations equally, we are violating God's orders (please read this verse carefully, thinking about what God is asking you to do, very explicitly)

And regardless of whether we treat them equally or not, the cycle of vengeance will perpetuate itself ad infinitum until the only peace available is the peacefulnesses of death for everyone.

The young Palestinian young man that carried out the last suicidal bombing had ample reasons to be angry, both national and personal as his native land was occupied, and he was jailed and abused at age 15 by Israeli soldiers, . On the other side, the brother of the Israeli child that lost his legs in the latest Qassam rocket attack on Sderot town in Israel, will grow up to be an Israeli soldier in a couple of years, and will have his reasons to hate Palestinians, and to take it out on them.
The next reason is based in religion. Revenge and vengeance are basic feelings that we all have. They are part of our inherent desires and instincts that got created us with. Throughout the Quran, and in a good portion of the Prophetic teachings, God is teaching us that to be good human beings, and obtain eternal success in the life after, we need to resist the urge to act upon many of those instincts. Inner desires and instincts can lead us stray, and can be in the way when justice needs to be served. In this verse, God comm
ands all of us, through the lesson He is teaching Prophet David, to resit one's basic desire ( الهوى in Arabic) in our search for justice lest we go astray, and that otherwise we shall face dire consequences.
Eternal happiness (paradise) is promised to those who resist responding to the impu
lses of the inner desires (lust, greed, vengeance) .

Anger and vengeances, even during war, are not acceptable in Islam. Muslims should fight out of love for justice, not out of anger or for revenge.

We are told that Imam Ali - the fourth of the Muslim leaders after the Prophet, pbuh - once during a battle was ready to yield the final blow to an enemy soldier when that fighter spat on him. Ali, being a good student of the Prophet, subdued the enemy soldier but did not kill him. When asked why he did not kill the enemy soldier, he answered: "I would not have been sure whether I killed him in my fight for justice, or out of the anger I felt when he spat on me."

Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, intending to be provocative for enducational reason, told his companions "Help your brothers come out victorious, be them the oppressed, or the ones committing injustice". He was instantaneously asked by his critically thinking companions: how can we help them come out victorious if they are the oppressors? He, pbuh, answered: "by stopping them from committing injustice".

Victory, for the Prophet, was achieved by getting one of our own to stop committing injustice. As God said in the verse listed above: "Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious" (Holy Quran: chapter 5 verse 8).

What a wonderful lesson Islam teaches us: Victory is not in killing the enemy, or getting the land. Victory is in pleasing God, but by doing what He ordered us to do: being just in the face of hatred, adversity and evil-doing by others, and in the face of our anger and desire for vengeance.



  1. Salaam, Khaled,

    Great past two posts. These are the things that should be discussed at khutbahs and elsewhere in the Muslim community.

    Thanks so much for the citations to Islamic history and applicable Quranic verses. I like the story about Imam Ali very much.

    We should pray for the Palestinians and pray for the Israelis. What a horrible situation. And the cycle of violence is at the core of what you are discussing. As Ghandi said, "an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind."

    I know it is completely simplistic, but I have often wondered what would happen if the Palestinians ever had a Ghandi disciple who was somehow able to convince them that non-violent confrontation with the Israelis was the one way to get the entire world on their side. He'd probably be killed of course, but its an interesting thought.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Khaled
    Your writing is so convincing, and methodical. I hope a lot of people get to read that arguments, they are very enlighhtening.
    I never thought about Jim's question of a palestinian Ghandi, I bet here were some, but they never made it to be in the news