I had always been amazed by the popular saying of Jesus Christ which was to the effect of “Turn the other cheek”. This belief to me is in distinct contrary to our survival, if indeed we turned the other cheek for every attacker, we would lose our quest for survival, injustice would prevail and the weak would diminish. I have always believed that famous supposed saying of Jesus to be metaphorical- that perhaps when you turned the other cheek (instead of raising a fist) it would cause regret upon the attacker and would show the true face of humanity- that violence indeed doesn’t need to attract violence and that a persons actions are made more apparent in such a setting and that perchance they may realize the severity of their acts before they inflict too much hurt.
I have realized that whenever this subject is talked about i often get scoffed for my views on that matter, which i simply do not understand. People seem to think that you either believe in retribution or forgiveness- yet i think both are indeed are a given right for people who have been wronged. I recently saw a video i really regret online, of an actual murder that took place i believe in Ukraine. A sick duo of two men killed dozens randomly and inflicted tremendous and prolonged torture upon them for absolutely no reason. This torture was horrid and my eyes did stare in horror and it really reduced my faith and dignity in humanity and i came to think that in such cases, why is forgiveness so paramount? Why is it so important? Do they earn forgiveness? How can we show mercy to people who gave no mercy to their victims.?
I believe both systems to be acceptable. I believe equal retribution or “an eye for an eye” to be an acceptable policy- just as acceptable as forgiveness is- depending on the person and the situation and no person should be chastised for taking either side on this matter. I don’t think i should be disconnected from the chain of humanity for believing that equal retribution is acceptable. In Islam we are taught exactly that- in fact forgiveness is said to be the better option– yet one is not blamed for wanting; or enacting equal retribution. Many people when they hear this then go on and quote Ghandis famous quote
“An eye for an eye makes the world go blind“
This statement may sound advanced and civilized- yet little do people know what else Ghandi said in regards to the same topic (retribution and forgiveness). Although Mahatma Ghandi did prefer peace and forgiveness he made it clear that fighting and retribution was acceptable by some means.
“I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, i would advise violence- i would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour.“
“I want him to cultivate the art of killing and being killed rather than, in a cowardly manner, flee from danger. For the latter- in spite of his flight does commit mental Himsa. He flees because he has not the courage to be killed in the act of killing”
So why is one seen as a good guy for being against the “eye for an eye” philosophy- yet still actively supports killing in defense of a nations honour? You see just as with scriptures people could easily cherry pick quotes from people to fit their own views. In Islam it is made abundantly clear that forgiveness is the better path, so Ghandi agrees with Islam and vice versa– yet why is one ideal seen as “barbaric and backwards” whilst the other is seen as “enlightened and peaceful”. I believe that the theory is extremely easy to understand- when at a store and we refund an item we are given the exact and equal amount in return- there is no short changing nor over-pouring. When someone is taken in court for a certain fee that was borrowed to them – they are ordered to return the exact amount, not a cent less nor a cent more. We love to work with equality when it comes to inanimate objects- yet suddenly lives are not of comparable value?
How does it make sense that you could get away with cold blooded murder and get 15 years jail- all in the midst crimes that involve drugs, money and firearms could land you a heftier sentence? Is it not a given? Is it not blatantly obvious that when a life is taken, the one who took the life (with purpose) should be discarded.? When a dog bites a person its retribution is death for being dangerous!!! Yet if a human being (of much higher intellect) kills a person its retribution is a sentence in which they are still given a chance in life- isn’t a dangerous human more dangerous than a dangerous dog? Yet they still have the opportunity to live, commute and commune with other beings in undue time.
My source of inspiration is more instinctive, yet in Islam i am glad that its tenants in regards to this topic agree with my inner self. Let us look at what the Qu’ran states about retribution and forgiveness.
“And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it, but whoever pardons and makes reconciliation – his reward is due from Allah . Indeed, He does not like wrongdoers. And whoever avenges himself after having been wronged – those have not upon them any cause for blame. The cause is only against the ones who wrong the people and tyrannize upon the earth without right. Those will have a painful punishment. Yet whoever is patient and forgives – indeed, that is of the matters requiring determination.” (Quran – 42: 40)
So when one asks “Retribution or Forgiveness”? I will say with no regret- BOTH. Forgiveness is better, but equal retribution is acceptable . I don’t understand our government and how people fear placing such a system thinking of it to be “tyrannical”. If a person slaps me, i have a right to slap them back ONCE. I cannot slap them twice. I cannot kick them in their gonads. I cannot seek revenge in some other obscure way. That my friends is true justice and if we are fearful of justice and overplay it with “forgiveness” – we’re going to have many evil people walking amongst us.
Peace, Salam Alaykum.