Thursday, September 13, 2012

When righteous indignation is not righteous at all

"Do they even know their faith or the Prophet they claim to defend?"  That is what comes to my mind when I see the rioters in the Middle East around the American embassies protesting a disgusting movie made to insult Islam and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

There has not been a moment of boredom in the new Egypt and other Arab countries following the 'Arab spring'.  Let us pray things may eventually end up well, and there is still hope.

But the long history of oppression, ignorance and the lack of trust by the people in their own governments and in the world at large, are hugely compounded by extreme social and economic hardships. Anger at the world and at life takes unfortunately a hyper-religiosity path in a place where 'life on this earth' does not offer much for the youth to look forward to, and nothing to lose.

Criminals prey on this anger and hyper-religiosity, and the outcome is what we witness off and on: random violence against the innocent, and criminal acts that added up to the murder of our American ambassador, a fair, friendly and an upright human being by all of what I have read, the late ambassador John Christopher Stevens, and three of his aides in Benghazi, Libya.

I and every one I have been in touch with, here and in Egypt, have been very distressed and hurt by what happened.  But it is even more maddening that the 'righteous indignation' that those killers and rioters appear to express is not even acceptable by the same religion they claim to defend.

I am mad at the idiot rioters in Egypt, Libya and Yemen 'defending' Islam and the Prophet by means that neither God nor the Prophet would approve,  I did a quick search and compiled a short list of 'anti-anger', pro-tolerance and forgiveness sayings from the Quran and the Prophet's sayings.

For me, this is just another demonstration of the distance between the faith teachings, and Muslim's practices, a dichotomy that underlies most if not all of our problems in the Arab and Muslim world.

Here is what I found on very quick search.  There are many more Quranic verses that convey the same sentiment, but this was not meant to be a comprehensive collection – just a sampler.  These Quranic verses are encouraging patience, forgiveness and benignly ignoring the non-violent enemies and abusers:
(25:63)  وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا
For, [true] servants of the Most Gracious are [only] they who walk gently on earth, and who, whenever the foolish address them, reply with [words of] peace;

(7:199)  خذ العفو وأمر بالعرف وأعرض عن الجاهلين
MAKE due allowance for man's nature,  and enjoin the doing of what is right; and leave alone all those who choose to remain ignorant."

(23:96)  ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ السَّيِّئَةَ نَحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَصِفُونَ
[But whatever they may say or do,] repel the evil [which they commit] with something that is better: We are fully aware of what they attribute [to Us].

(41:34)  وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
But [since] good and evil cannot be equal, repel thou [evil) with something that is better - and lo! he between whom and thyself was enmity [may then become] as though he had [always] been close [unto thee], a true friend!

Prophetic narrations (sayings of prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) echo the same Quranic sentiments.  There has been enough incidents in his lifetime that makes it clear that he lived by his own teachings.  That is not surprising of course as the Quran was his moral fiber ("كان خُلُقُه القرآن"), as his wife Aisha was narrated to have said.
الغضب يفسد الإيمان كما يفسد الصبر العسل
Anger spoils Faith as bitter aloe spoils honey.

من كف غضبه ستر الله عورته
He who restrains his anger, gets God to cover for his sins

ليس الشديد بالصرعة ؛ إنما الشديد الذى يملك نفسه عند الغضب
The strong among you is not the one that wins the fight; it is the one that restrains himself when angry

إن الغضب جمرة توقد في القلب
Anger is red-hot piece of charcoal that burn your heart.

وإذا غضبت فاسكت
And if you feel angry, shut up

أشدكم من غلب نفسه عند الغضب وأحلمكم من عفا عند القدرة
The toughest among you is the one that conquers his own anger, and the wisest among you is the one that forgives when he is capable of punishing.
 After you read this, do those rioters seem to know the faith they seem willing to sacrifice life and limb to 'defend'?



  1. Khaled, thank you so very much for clarifying for non-Muslims the true Islamic position on this issue. It seems much like Jesus' admonition "when struck, turn the other cheek". We pray for the misguided masses as well as for the innocent ones killed by them.

  2. Beautiful article, good work, and u make it look so easy to search and find out the answers, which have been under our noses, but many - including me- are not able to put it the way u did. Thanks.

  3. Khalid, I agree with you 100%. We need to know the religion we claim to defend first. If we know it and live it, none of this would be happening.
    May Allah (swt) reward you for your insight. If only there was a way to get this to a bigger group of people.

  4. I want to look at this from a different angle. What did the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) used to do under similar circumstances ? He was greeted by insults, humiliations, curses and even physical injuries on a daily basis. Yet he not only would forgive the offender, but many a times would pray for them. When the lady who would place thorns and broken glass on his path daily so that his feet would get injured, missed a day because of falling ill, she was visited and comforted by him. Even in Medina, where he could have easily proclaimed himself to be a king, he was insulted many a times by many, especially by a renowned tribal chief ; yet he did not taken any revenge.
    Aftab C