Op-Ed

Islam teaches restraint, not vengeance
Abdullah Juhair
19 Nov,2017

At least 30 Hindu homes were burned to the ground by thousands of enraged Muslim protesters after a local Hindu named Titu Roy made a “blasphemous Facebook post” insulting Islam and the holy Prophet (PBUH) in Rangpur, Bangladesh in recent times.

After seeing the post, hundreds of Muslim locals began protesting and gave the authorities an ultimatum to arrest Roy within 24 hours. Since the police failed to do so, the protesters were joined by around 8,000 Muslims from surrounding villages and taking the opportunities, some opportunist miscreants began torching homes in Roy’s village named Thakubari, a predominantly Hindu neighbourhood.

The resultant fires and destruction has left dozens of Hindu families totally homeless.

Though the main culprit, Titu Roy was arrested afterwards but in the meantime, many innocent peoples have suffered and the nation’s image of communal harmony has become questionable once again.

Patience and forgiveness

For Muslims who are unsure about how to respond to insults about Islam or are even the slightest bit doubtful as to the unacceptability of the miscreants’ actions, I quote only two Quranic verses from the plethora of Islamic sources which preach patience and forgiveness in the face of insult and slander:

In chapter 73 (Al Muzammil — The Wrapped Up), verse 10, in relation to those who insult or mock the prophet or Islam, the Quran instructs to “be patient over what they say and keep away from them in a graceful manner.”

Some may argue that the injunction of this verse is repealed by verses of jihad which were revealed later on.

However, in Maariful Quran, one of the most comprehensive and authoritative Quran commentaries of all time, Pakistani Islamic scholar Mufti Muhammad Shafi argues that a careful analysis indicates that the injunction is not repealed.

The above verse enjoins patience and steadfastness in the face of hurtful things the enemies say and cutting ties with them courteously. This is not in conflict with verses that deal with reproof, punishment, and armed struggle that were revealed subsequently since the former is a verse of general application (which is applicable under normal circumstances), whereas the latter verses on jihad and armed struggle are of specific application (to be followed during times of war).

He makes clear that Islamic jihad and armed struggle are not a matter of taking revenge or expression of anger, which would be totally in conflict with patience, fortitude, and courteous severance which is generally required of Muslims. 

He further argues that in cases of slander and insult, true Muslims do not even entertain the thought of revenge.

In Chapter 3 (Al-i-Imraan — The Family of Imraan), verse 186, the Quran states: “You will absolutely hear hurtful words from those who were given the book way before you and people who commit adultery and blasphemy with Allah.

“If you can be patient and you can maintain your consciousness of Allah then that is the most noble of deeds — the highest of accomplishments that you can accomplish.”

This verse was revealed in the context of a specific incident. Abu Bakr had angrily slapped a Jewish person who had snidely remarked that “Allah is poor and we are rich.”

The Jewish man then complained to the Prophet (PBUH) and thereafter this verse was revealed and again instructs Muslims to practice to be patient when faced with situations of insult and mockery.

Mufti Shafi comments that these situations are nothing but a trial for Muslims. The best course for them is to observe restraint and remain calm and composed.

Unacceptable behaviour

Thus, from the study of the above two verses which deal with cases of “insulting Islam” or “hurting religious sentiments,” it becomes clear just how unacceptable both the recent Rangpur and  near past Brahmanbaria incidents are.

By trying to use Islam as a cloak to legitimise their senseless violence, these miscreants end up insulting the religion they claim to follow a thousand times more than any single anti-Islam Facebook post by a non-Muslim ever could.

We can no longer remain passive in the face of attacks against our minorities, that too in the name of Islam. We need to unite and eradicate the fanatics from within our own communities and expose the fallacy of their ways to show they are not serving the interests of anyone but themselves.