Voices of Faith: Is it all right to ask God for revenge?
Follow rule of justice
Rushdy El-Ghussein, former president of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City, Mo.: God created the universe for humankind. God expects us to worship him and obey his laws. We must follow his guidance on how to treat others.
Nothing prevents us from asking for revenge, but one must seek it in acceptable ways. The Qur’an states that people who are oppressed may and should defend themselves. In all situations and cases, there is a rule of justice: The response must not be greater than the original injury, or the victim will become at fault, guilty of oppression himself.
Also, every time permission is given to respond, it is tempered with an appeal to forgive, to forgo retaliation as charity, to seek God’s help with patient perseverance and prayer. So if we ask for revenge, we must limit our request to what is right and just.
When Prophet Muhammad went seeking help and shelter from the people of Taif in Arabia, he was treated badly, ridiculed and wounded. After he left Taif, an angel came to Prophet Muhammad saying that if Muhammad wanted revenge, the angel would make the two mountains close upon those people and crush them. Prophet Muhammad’s response was a clear and strong “No,” and he made the following supplication: “O God, guide the people of Taif, and I hope that one day some good and great people will come out of them.”
God is just and merciful and wants us to act accordingly.
Avoid a vicious cycle
Arvind Khetia, engineer and a Hindu: The God of Vedanta (spiritual philosophy of Hinduism) is the transcendental reality — pure consciousness, called Brahman, the source of the manifest universe. Although Brahman pervades the whole universe, it is not involved in its working.
The workings of the phenomenal world are governed by the universal law of karma, which means that every thought, word and action will, sooner or later, bring its corresponding reaction. Therefore, to ask God for anything is immaterial, except that it shows the nature of one’s mind.
Asking for revenge is symptomatic of the violence in one’s mind. If implemented, it will set off a vicious cycle of revenge that will lead to endless violence and suffering. The ultimate consequence of such a vicious cycle is well stated by Mahatma Gandhi as, “An eye for an eye and the whole world will go blind.”
Therefore, only with the recognition of the law of karma comes the necessary motivation for being good and doing good. This requires the spiritual transformation of one’s mind by the practice of yoga and meditation as explained in the Bhagavad-Gita.
Then, instead of “revenge,” one’s prayers will reflect compassion and forgiveness for all. Again, according to Mahatma Gandhi, “It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends, but to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion.”
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