Responses to last week’s column have been inspiring to the core. You’ll recall Basheer Islam, one of the organizers of Cochrane’s World Religions Conferences, shared with us his reaction as a Muslim to the recent assault on the family of five London, Ont., Muslims out for an evening walk. A 20-year-old fellow drove his truck into them, killing four and severely injuring the fifth. The driver has been charged with a terrorist offense motivated by hate against members of the Islamic faith.
At the heart of the responses was how the motto of Basheer’s Ahmadiyya Muslim faith community, “Love for All, Hatred for None,” would apply to this situation. Yes, it certainly got me thinking, as a Christian, about how I would apply Jesus’ teaching about blessing those who curse us and praying for those who abuse us. So, I wrote Basheer and his fellow conference organizer, Kalim Ahmed, and asked them how they’d apply “love for all,” when one of those “all” just committed this murderous assault on the five London Muslims.
BASHEER responded, taking his guidance from two verses in the Holy Qur’an: “My mercy encompasses all things” (7:156), and “despair not of the mercy of Allah, surely Allah forgives all sins. Verily, He is most forgiving, merciful” (39:54):
IT IS MY FIRM UNDERSTANDING that it is through Love and Belief in God that one can bless those who curse us, and sincerely pray for others who are out to harm innocent people; it is sincere Love of God that helps one steer clear of all hatred. Recognizing true God and belief in Him has the power to heal all misguided spirits, no matter how far one has deviated away from God. Sincere repentance and forgiveness can put one on the course of rehabilitation.
I have always considered these verses as abutments of the bridge of Forgiveness. It is laid open for mankind out of the sheer Mercy and Grace of God. This is the only bridge that will take us out of darkness into light where we will recognize and respect the rights of Creator and His creation.
YOU’VE RAISED the question of how to show Love towards Murderers. Indeed, a 20-year-old youth getting radicalized under evil influences and committing a heinous crime against society, and eventually spending his whole life behind bars, is a tragedy in its own.
The teaching of the Holy Qur’an and the blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has always encouraged forgiveness with the objective to bring about reformation in the society. There have been numerous instances where the Holy Prophet forgave perpetrators of grave crimes. He forgave the murderer of his beloved daughter when she was also pregnant with a child. Similarly, on the conquest of Mecca, he made a general announcement that “No blame shall lie on you this day,” and forgave all of those who murdered and persecuted his close friends and relatives.
The decision of forgiveness must lie with the family of the victims and the government of the time, keeping in view the overall safety and peace of the society. “Love for All” must be thought of as an overarching principle. If implementing the law in its strictest way can deter any future events and ensure the peace of the society, that would be in line with its true spirit.
THANK YOU, Basheer and Kalim.
© 2021 Warren Harbeck
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