“Repel evil with what is better.”

“Repel evil with what is better.” October 18, 2018


Syria's Damascus
Damascus, the capital city of Syria     (Wikimedia Commons)


Sometimes I learn really valuable things from my students.  Today, the students in my “Classical Arabic Texts” course alerted me to The Mideast Beast, a wonderful news site of which I had never before heard.  Here are two representative recent articles from it:


“Hamas Leader to Move to Israel After Discovering He’s 1/1024 Jewish”


Does everybody notice the allusion there to American politics?


“Iran Just Loving Saudi Situation in Turkey”


And here’s an important Mideast Beast guest editorial by Jeremy Corbyn, the hard-left leader of the British Labour Party:


“Op-Ed: If I Wasn’t an Anti-Semite Before, I Am Now”




Whenever I speak to general audiences about Islam, which I do fairly frequently, I’m inevitably asked why Muslims haven’t spoken out against extremist violence committed in the name of their faith.


It’s a genuine concern, and I understand it.


But there have, in fact, been quite a few statements against Islamist terror.  They simply don’t get much attention, and most non-Muslims in the West don’t know about them.


Here, for example, is a statement that was issued by the Islamic Council of Greater Salt Lake, right in my own backyard, in response to the massacres in Paris a while back:




To my embarrassment, I myself was unaware of it until quite a while after it was published.


And this is still worth a look:


“The 712-page Google doc that proves Muslims do condemn terrorism: When a classmate told 19-year-old Heraa Hashmi that “all terrorists are Muslims” she began to compile a dossier of all instances of Muslims condemning terror attacks”


As is this:


“Islamic Statements Against Terrorism”


Here are some relevant passages from the Qur’an:


If anyone slays a person
— unless it be for murder or for spreading corruption in the land —
it would be as if he slew all people.
And if anyone saves a life,
it would be as if he saved the life of all people.  (5:32)

Invite all to the way of your Lord
with wisdom and beautiful preaching.
And argue with them
in ways that are best and most gracious…
And if you punish,
let your punishment be proportional
to the wrong that has been done to you.
But if you show patience, that is indeed the best course.
Be patient, for your patience is from God.
And do not grieve over them,
or distress yourself because of their plots.
For God is with those who restrain themselves,
and those who do good.  (16:125-128)

Oh you who believe!
Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God,
even against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin,
and whether it be against rich or poor,
for God can best protect both.
Follow not the cravings of your hearts, lest you swerve,
and if you distort justice or decline to do justice,
verily God is well acquainted with all that you do.  (4:135)

The recompense for an injury
is an injury equal thereto (in degree),
but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation,
his reward is due from God,
for God loves not those who do wrong.
But indeed, if any do help and defend themselves
after a wrong done to them,
against such there is no cause of blame.
The blame is only against those who oppress men
with wrongdoing and insolently transgress
beyond bounds through the land,
defying right and justice.
For such there will be a penalty grievous (in the Hereafter).
But indeed, if any show patience and forgive,
that would truly be an affair of great resolution.  (42:40-43)

Goodness and evil are not equal.
Repel evil with what is better.
Then that person with whom there was hatred,
may become your intimate friend!
And no one will be granted such goodness
except those who exercise patience and self-restraint,
none but people of the greatest good fortune.  (41:34-35)

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