Living The Quran


From Issue: 501 [Read full issue]

Al-Nahl (The Bees)
Chapter 16: Verse 126

Just Retribution
"If you should punish, then let your punishment be commensurate with the wrong done to you. But to endure patiently is far better for those who are patient in adversity."

When the Prophet, peace be upon him, saw the mutilated body of his uncle Hamza (may Allah be pleased with him) after the battle of Uhud, he said that he would mutilate 30 of the enemy. The Sahabah said they would carry out a slaughter never seen before by the Arabs. This verse was revealed to address that sentiment.

Aggression is an action that must be repelled with similar force in order to preserve the dignity of the truth and to ensure that falsehood does not triumph. Response to aggression, however, must not exceed the limits of repelling it. Islam is the faith of justice and moderation, peace and reconciliation. It repels any aggression launched against it or its followers without committing any aggression against others.

This is indeed part of the method of advocacy. To repel aggression within the limits of justice preserves the dignity of the Islamic message so that it suffers no humiliation. A humiliated message has no appeal for anyone. Indeed no one will accept that humiliation be suffered by a divine message. God does not permit His message to suffer humiliation without repelling it.

Yet at the same time that the rule of equal punishment is established, the Quran calls on believers to endure with fortitude and to forgive. This applies in situations when the believers are able to repel aggression and to eradicate evil. In such cases, forgiveness and patience are more effective and of greater value to the Islamic message. Personal position or prestige is of secondary importance when the interests of the message are better served by forgiveness and endurance.

In the life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, we have the best example. He and his companions were tortured, killed and driven out of their homes by the Makkans but they forgave them and accepted them as brothers after the opening of Makkah. The Prophet, peace be upon him, also taught soldiers to kill only combatants and not to destroy crops, kill Priests and Monks or destroy houses of worship. At the same time, warfare is allowed and fighting to protect one's family, property or life is a type of Jihad. We have to maintain our balance and not fight evil with evil or commit atrocities to respond to atrocity. We have to be patient and wait for the victory given by Allah to our struggle.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 11, pp. 115-116
"Questions and Answers" - Abdullah Hakim Quick