Revenge vs. Forgiveness: an uphill battle against ourselves?
The western way of thinking has been based upon the moral values that are known as (the great box). There were more than 480 books that constituted the European, western and American civilizations. They published this huge amount of books which consists of 60 volumes for promoting this ideology.
Among these volumes was a book called the Prince by Machiavelli in which the personal benefit is given preference over moral values. In the Prince, Machiavelli says that the passion for revenge comes in the second place after the passion for sex which is something weird and unfamiliar to Islamic principles. The Islamic creed promotes forgiveness and forbearance and thus does not allow us to seek revenge in reciprocity for the harm caused.
Islam has commanded us to exercise patience, suppress our anger and be kind to people. Islam has maintained a position opposite to which Machiavelli has maintained concerning the issue of seeking revenge. Allah the Almighty says: “Many of the People of the Scripture wish they could turn you back to disbelief after you have believed, out of envy from themselves [even] after the truth has become clear to them. So pardon and overlook until Allah delivers His command. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent. And establish prayer and give zakah, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves - you will find it with Allah. Indeed, Allah of what you do, is Seeing.” [2: 109, 110] Based on this, Islam has commanded us to endeavor in inhabiting the earth, worship Allah and to shun taking revenge.
The Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] did not tell us to treat arrogant people with arrogance because punishment is equivalent to the crime On the contrary, he said: “who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise” And 6000 seeds of mustard equals the weight of 1 gram and this means that a seed of mustard equals o.oo6 gram
As if it is nothing and a person’s heart includes this tiny amount of arrogance, he will neither enter Paradise nor smell its fragrance. Therefore, when Allah the Almighty commanded us to adhere to moral values, forgive, pardon others and exercise patience Allah says: “So patience is most fitting. And Allah is the one sought for help against that which you describe." [12: 18]
Moreover, Allah the Almighty has commanded us to be lenient as He never commanded us to seek revenge and harm others even if they had harmed us.
“So pardon and overlook until Allah delivers His command. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.” [2: 109]
A believer has never restrained anything better than his anger Therefore, Allah the Almighty says: “And who restrain anger and who pardon the people - and Allah loves the doers of good” [3: 134]
Although they restrain their anger, anger will take place and so the harm but do not seek revenge because seeking revenge is a vicious circle which have harmful effects and the escalations know no end.
Some people inquire about whether retribution, criminal punishments and hudud [Islamic legal punishments] entail revenge?
Actually, pardon has been made possible by Allah the Almighty in such cases in order to show us that it does not entail revenge. Therefore, when qisas [retribution] was permitted for us, this was to reassure people. Allah the Almighty says: “And there is for you in legal retribution [saving of] life, O you [people] of understanding, that you may become righteous.” [2: 179]
However, Allah has guided us to pardon, forgive and accept diyya [blood money] as this is considered a well-constructed system And better than the laws which execute those who have been proved guilty in committing such crimes. In these secular laws, the perpetrators are executed but in qisas [retribution] they are not executed
In qisas, we bring wali al-dam [the victim’s closest male relative] and ask him whether he pardons the killer for the sake of Allah If he agrees, he receives a great reward and this is the highest degree of patience and tolerance Otherwise, the victim’s closest male relative may say that the victim has children who need money. In this case we say to him, you may pardon the killer and he pays diyya [blood money] in return which serves the victim’s children instead of what their father used to provide for them. Based on this, the second stage involves the diyya and not execution.
The third stage involves physiological disturbance and seeking revenge and the judge is entitled to retain back the right of the victim. Therefore, he says to the family of the victim that they have the right to demand the execution of the Killer but in this case the diyya is not disregarded.
All these matters are freely chosen by people and allow people to settle their disagreements. It also draws the community closer to tolerance than the concept of absolute punishment which is closer to seeking revenge
The same with hudud [legal punishment], Islam commands us to conceal our sins. When Ma’iz approached the Messenger of Allah telling him that he has committed adultery, the Prophet turned away from him, then the man kept coming to him for four consecutive times and the Prophet was turning away from him due to his persistence, the Prophet asked him: are you insane? And submitted him to a medical commission and then a group of people came from his tribe and the Prophet asked them: Is he insane?
As if the Prophet wanted them to say that he was insane in order not to administer the legal penalty upon him; however, they answered he has the soundest mind among us. The Prophet told him: “You may have kissed or embraced or so and so but without committing adultery” he wanted to give him a chance. And when they took him for administering the penalty, he said: I did not do it, yet he was killed.
‘Umar ibn Al- Khttab went to the Prophet and said: “O Messenger of Allah, have you seen what this miserable man has done? He was saying that he has not committed any sin”
The Prophet said: “And why have you killed him?” this means that they should have believed him in retracting his confession. All these matters prove that the penalty is meant to ward people off from committing the sin as Allah the Almighty says: “By that Allah threatens His servants. O My servants, then fear Me”. [39: 16] But not for taking revenge and if a sin is committed we are commanded to conceal ourselves and our fellow brothers. To the extent that the Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings be upon him] have said: “Conceal the sin of your brother even with the hem of your garment”
He also commanded us to establish testimony and allowed the perpetrator to retract his confession
Therefore, throughout 1000 years of Islamic history, we have never witnessed administering the penalty of committing adultery, why? Because the legal conditions of this penalty are extremely difficult.
Qunswa al-Ghuri summoned the scholars and told them, I have never seen any person being stoned. They answered: “yes, no one has been stoned in Egypt for 500 years”.
He said I want to administer the penalty of stoning, the scholars said, this is difficult and we have not administered legal penalties for 500 years because the conditions of the penalties are unfulfilled.
However, Qunswa al-Ghuri wanted to administer the legal punishment and said: “pursue a fornicator and tell me about him”. They observed and found an unmarried young man who has committed fornication and confessed his sin for which he deserves 100 lashes. He said: just stone him in order to follow shari’a, so the scholars said: this is not shari’a because the legal punishment in this case is lashing.
But he refused saying that he wants to stone the young man and the judge refused, so he fired the judge and appointed another who also refused and Qunswa fired him and appointed a third who also refused to administer the penalty.
So he took the poor young man out from prison and killed him After some time, Selim khan killed Qunswa al-Ghuri in Marj Dabiq and people said that he was punished for killing the poor man who was the victim of what Qunswa believed as shar’ia.
This is how we are living at the present time, some ignorant individuals believe they must administer legal penalties even without fulfilling its conditions.