Understanding Islam. (Ignorance leads to fear!) - Page 2 - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #11 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-20-2007, 05:24 PM
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Thumbs up The Responsibility of Believers

Those who have no concern for events unless they directly affect them are bereft of the insight that espouses unselfishness, brotherhood, friendship, honesty and the service that religion bestows upon people. Throughout their lives, such people try to satisfy their own egos by merely wasting their means, totally unaware of the threats humanity faces. In the Qur'an however, God praises the morals of those who strive to bring good to their surroundings; those who are concerned about the events that take place around them and who call people to the right way. In a verse from the Qur'an, a metaphor is given for those who offer no good to others and those who always act on the path of goodness:God makes another metaphor: two men, one of them deaf and dumb, unable to do anything, a burden on his master, no matter where he directs him he brings no good, is he the same as someone who commands justice and is on a straight path? (Qur’an, 16:76)
As the verse points out, it is obvious that those who are "on a straight path", are those who are devoted to their religion; fear and heed God, hold spiritual values in high regard, and are filled with eagerness to serve people. In general, such people are there to serve humanity and bring with them great benefits to mankind. For this reason, it is very important for people to learn about the true religion and live by the morals explained by the Qur'an - the final Revelation from God. In the Qur'an, God defines those people who live by such high morals:
Those who, if We establish them firmly on the earth, will keep up prayer and pay the welfare due, and command what is right and forbid what is wrong. The end result of all affairs is with God. (Qur’an, 22:41)
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post #12 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-20-2007, 05:25 PM
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Thumbs up God Commands Us to Do Good Deeds

A Muslim is someone who abides by the commands of God, tries scrupulously to live by Qur'anic morality, peace and harmony, which make the world a more beautiful place and lead it to progress. His aim is to lead people to beauty, goodness and well-being. The Qur'an says:

Those who threaten the lives of civilians, and especially those of children, must ask themselves: What crime did these children commit? Is committing cruel acts against innocent people something that will go unaccounted for in the presence of God?
... And do good as God has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the earth. God does not love corrupters. (Qur'an, 28:77)
Someone who adopts the Islamic faith wishes to earn God's pleasure and compassion and to enter heaven. He has to make strenuous efforts to do this, and to adopt a morality acceptable to God while he is in this world. The clearest manifestations of this morality are compassion, pity, justice, honesty, forgiveness, humility, sacrifice and patience. The believer will behave well towards people, try to perform good deeds and spread goodness. In His verses, God commands:
We did not create the heavens and earth and everything between them, except with truth. The Hour is certainly coming, so forgive [men's failings] with fair forbearance. (Qur'an, 15:85)

... Be good to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to neighbours who are related to you and neighbours who are not related to you, and to companions and travellers and your slaves. God does not love anyone vain or boastful. (Qur'an, 4:36)
... Help one another in benevolence and piety. Do not help each other to wrongdoing and enmity. And fear God. God is severe in retribution. (Qur'an, 5:2)
As the verses have made clear, God wishes those who believe in Him to behave well towards people, to cooperate with each other when it comes to goodness, and to avoid wickedness.

In the moral teachings of Islam, the most important qualities are love, compassion, mutual support, self-sacrifice, tolerance and forgiveness. In a society where this morality is lived as it should be, it is impossible to find the foundations of violence and conflict.
In Sura Anam,verse 160, God promises that "anyone who comes with a fine deed will have ten more like it. But those who produce a bad action will only be repaid with its equivalent and they will not be wronged."
In His book, God describes Himself as He who knows "the secrets of men's hearts", and warns people to "avoid all kinds of evil." A Muslim therefore, which means "one who surrenders himself to God" must evidently be someone who does his best to fight terrorism.
A Muslim does not remain indifferent to what goes on around him, and never adopts the mentality that nothing matters as long as it does not harm him. That is because he has surrendered himself to God. He is His representative, and an ambassador of good. He cannot, therefore, remain indifferent in the face of cruelty and terrorism. In fact, the Muslim is the greatest enemy of terrorism, which kills people who have done no wrong. Islam is against all forms of terrorism, and tries to prevent it right from the beginning, in other words
on the level of ideas. It demands peace between people and for justice to prevail, and commands people to avoid discord, conflict and wickedness.
post #13 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-20-2007, 05:25 PM
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post #14 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-20-2007, 05:26 PM
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Thumbs up God Commands Us to Be Just

The true justice described in the Qur'an commands man to behave justly, making no discrimination between people, to protect peoples' rights, not to permit violence no matter what the circumstances, to side with the oppressed against the oppressor and to help the needy. This justice calls for the rights of both parties to be protected when reaching a decision in a dispute, assessing all aspects of an incident, setting aside all prejudices, being objective, honest, tolerant, merciful and compassionate. For instance, someone who cannot assess events in a moderate way, and who is swayed by his emotions and feelings, will fail to arrive at sound decisions and will remain under the influence of those feelings. However, someone who rules with justice needs to set all his personal feelings and views aside. He needs to treat all parties with justice when they ask for help, to side with what is right under all circumstances, and not to diverge from the path of honesty and truthfulness. A person should incorporate the values of the Qur'an into his soul in such a way that he may be able to consider other parties' interests before his own and maintain justice, even if this harms his own interests.
God commands the following in Sura Ma'ida, verse 42: "... if you do judge, judge between them justly." In Sura Nisa, God commands believers to act justly even it is against themselves:
O You who believe! Be upholders of justice, bearing witness for God alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, God is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, God is aware of what you do. (Qur'an, 4:135)
In the Qur'an, God gives a detailed description of justice and informs believers of the attitude they have to adopt in the face of incidents they encounter and of the ways to exercise justice. Such guidance is a great comfort to believers and a mercy from God. For this reason, those who believe are responsible for exercising justice in an undivided manner both to earn God's approval and to lead their lives in peace and security.

The justice God commands in the Qur'an is the justice that is exercised equally among all people, with no consideration of language, race, or ethnicity. The justice in the Qur'anic sense does not vary according to place, time and people. In our day, too, there are people being subjected to cruel and unjust treatment because of the colour of their skin or their race in all corners of the world.
However, God informs us in the Qur'an that the purpose in the creation of different tribes and peoples is "that they should come to know each other". Different nations or peoples, all of whom are the servants of God, should get to know one another, that is, learn about their different cultures, languages, traditions and abilities. In brief, the purpose of the creation of different races and nations is not conflict and war but cultural richness. Such variation is a bounty of God's creation. The fact that someone is taller than someone else or that his skin is yellow or white neither makes him superior to others nor is it something to feel ashamed of. Every trait a person has is a result of God's purposeful creation, but in the sight of God, these variations have no ultimate importance. A believer knows that someone attains superiority only by having fear of God and in the strength of his faith in God. This fact is related in the following verse:
O Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in God's sight is that one of you who best performs his duty. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Qur'an, 49:13)
As God informs us in the verse, the understanding of justice recommended by Him calls for equal, tolerant and peaceable treatment of everyone, with no discrimination between them.
post #15 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-20-2007, 05:28 PM
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Thumbs up Islam Defends Freedom of Thought

Islam is a religion which provides and guarantees freedom of ideas, thought and life. It has issued commands to prevent and forbid tension, disputes, slander and even negative thinking among people. In the same way that it is determinedly opposed to terrorism and all acts of violence, it has also forbidden even the slightest ideological pressure to be put on them:
There is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has become clearly distinct from error. (Qur'an, 2:256)
So remind them! You are only a reminder. You are not in control of them. (Qur'an, 88:21-22)
Forcing people to believe in a religion or to adopt its forms of belief is completely contrary to the essence and spirit of Islam. According to Islam, true faith is only possible with free will and freedom of conscience. Of course, Muslims can advise and encourage each other about the features of Qur'anic morality. All believers are charged with explaining Qur'anic morality to people in the nicest manner possible. They will explain the beauties of religion in the light of the verse, "Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition..." (Qur'an, 16:125), however, they must also bear in mind the verse, "You are not responsible for their guidance, but God guides whoever He wills." (Qur'an, 2:272)

No matter what another person's religion or belief may be, be they Jew, Christian, Buddhist or Hindu, Muslims are called on in the Qur'an to be tolerant, forgiving, and to act justly and humanely towards them.
They will never resort to compulsion, nor any kind of physical or psychological pressure. Neither will they use any worldly privilege to turn someone towards religion. When they receive a negative response to what they say, Muslims will reply along the lines of: "To you your religion, and to me, mine" (Qur'an, 109:6)
The world we live in contains societies with all kinds of beliefs: Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, deist and even pagan. Muslims living in such a world must be tolerant of all beliefs they come up against, no matter what they may be, and behave forgivingly, justly and humanely. This responsibility placed on believers is to invite people to the beauty of the religion of God by means of peace and tolerance. The decision whether or not to implement these truths, whether or not to believe, lies with the other party. Forcing that person to believe, or trying to impose anything on him, is a violation of Qur'anic morality. In fact, God issues a reminder to believers in the Qur'an:
If your Lord had willed, all the people on the earth would have believed. Do you think you can force people to be believers? (Qur'an, 10:99)
We know best what they say and you [O Muhammad] are not a compeller over them. But warn by the Qur'an whoever fears My warning. (Qur'an, 50:45)
A model of society in which people are forced to worship is completely contradictory to Islam. Belief and worship are only of any value when they are directed to God by the free will of the individual. If a system imposes belief and worship on people, then they will become religious out of fear of that system. From the religious point of view, what really counts is that religion should be lived for God's good pleasure in an environment where peoples' consciences are totally free.
In 1492, the Jews who refused to convert were exiled from Spain by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (above). The Jews were accepted by the Ottoman Empire, a haven of Islamic justice and tolerance.
The history of Islam is full of the tolerant practices of Muslim rulers who have respected all religions and built religious freedom with their own hands. For example, Thomas Arnold, a British missionary employed in the service of the Indian government, describes that Islam favours freedom in these words:
But of any organised attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism penal in France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years. The Eastern Churches in Asia were entirely cut off from communion with the rest of Christendom, throughout which no one would have been found to lift a finger on their behalf, as heretical communions. So that the very survival of these Churches to the present day is a strong proof of the generally tolerant attitude of the Muhammadan governments towards them.1
post #16 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-20-2007, 05:29 PM
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Thumbs up God Forbids the Murder of Innocent People

Killing a person for no reason is one of the greatest sins related in the Qur'an:
... if someone kills another person - unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth - it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. Our Messengers came to them with Clear Signs, but even after that many of them committed outrages in the earth. (Qur'an, 5:32)
..those who do not call on any other deity together with God and do not kill anyone God has made inviolate, except with the right to do so, and do not fornicate; anyone who does that will receive an evil punishment. (Qur'an, 25:68)
As the verse suggests, a person who kills innocent people for no reason is threatened with a great torment. God informs us that killing even a single person is as evil as murdering all mankind on earth. A person who observes God's limits can do no harm to a single human, let alone massacre thousands of innocent people. Those who assume that they can avoid justice and thus punishment in this world will never succeed, for they will have to give an account of their deeds in the presence of God. That is why believers, who know that they will give an account of their deeds after death, are very meticulous to observe God's limits.
post #17 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-20-2007, 05:30 PM
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Friday night mass?

post #18 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-20-2007, 05:30 PM
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Thumbs up God Commands the Faithful to be Compassionate and Merciful

Islamic morality is described in one verse as:
Then to be one of those who have faith and urge each other to steadfastness and urge each other to compassion. Those are the Companions of the Right. (Qur'an, 90:17-18)
As we have seen in this verse, one of the most important features of the morality that will lead believers to salvation on the Day of Judgement and to enter into paradise is "being one of those who urges each other to compassion".
Islamic Morality Envisions a Life Filled With Peace,
Well-being, Love and Joy For All People...

The true source of compassion is love of God. A person's love of God gives rise to his feeling love for the things He has created. Someone who loves God feels a direct link and closeness to the things He has created. This strong love and closeness he feels for the Lord, who created him and all mankind, leads him to display a pleasing morality, as commanded in the Qur'an. True compassion emerges as he lives by this morality. This model of morality, full of love, compassion and sacrifice, is described in these verses:
Those of you possessing affluence and ample wealth should not make oaths that they will not give to their relatives and the very poor and those who have made emigration in the way of God. They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love God to forgive you? God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 24:22)
Those who were already settled in the abode and in faith before they came, love those who have migrated to them and do not find in their hearts any need for what they have been given and prefer them to themselves even if they themselves are needy. It is the people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. (Qur'an, 59:9)
... those who have given refuge and help, they are the true believers. They will have forgiveness and generous provision. (Qur'an, 8:74)
Be good to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to neighbours who are related to you and neighbours who are not related to you, and to companions and travellers and your slaves. God does not love anyone vain or boastful. (Qur'an, 4:36)
Charity (zakat) is for: the poor, the destitute, those who collect it, reconciling people's hearts, freeing slaves, those in debt, spending in the Way of God, and travellers. It is a legal obligation from God. God is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 9:60)
…While terrorism longs for a society where violence, fear, anxiety and chaos reign.

This high level of morality that is demanded from believers, described in the Qur'an, stems from their deep love of God. Thanks to their devotion to Him, they scrupulously abide by the morality revealed by Him in the Qur'an. Believers never try to make people feel indebted because of the compassion they demonstrate and the help they offer people, and do not even expect to be thanked. Their true aim is to try to gain God's good pleasure by means of the morality they exhibit, because they know that they will be called to account for that morality on the Day of Judgement. In the Qur'an, God has expressly revealed that hell will be the outcome for those who knowingly refuse to live by the morality of the Qur'an:
"What has brought you into hell-fire?" They will say, "We were not among those who prayed and we did not feed the poor." (Qur'an, 74:42-44)
Seize him and bind him, and then expose him to hell-fire, then fasten him with a chain seventy cubits long! For he did not believe in God Almighty, nor did he urge the feeding of the poor. (Qur'an, 69:30-34)
Have you seen him who denies the religion? He is the one who harshly rebuffs the orphan and does not urge the feeding of the poor. (Qur'an, 107:1-3)
...nor do you urge the feeding of the poor (Qur'an, 89:18)

Islamic morality commands Muslims to protect the rights of orphans and those in poverty and need, to mutually support one another, and to be well-disposed towards one another. As we have seen in these verses, the Muslim described in the Qur'an possesses a most loving and compassionate nature. Nobody who possesses this morality can of course consent to terrorism or acts of violence directed at innocent people. Terrorists' characters are the exact opposite of Qur'anic morality. A terrorist is a ruthless person who looks with hatred on the world, and wants to kill, destroy and shed blood.
A Muslim raised in the morality as revealed by the Qur'an, however, approaches everyone with the love expected by Islam, respects ideas of all kinds, always tries to bring harmony where there is discord, lower tensions, embrace all sides and behave with moderation. Societies consisting of people like this will be ruled by a more developed civilisation, and enjoy greater social morality, harmony, justice and plenty than can be seen in even the most modern nations today.
post #19 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-20-2007, 05:31 PM
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Thumbs up God has Commanded Forgiveness and Tolerance

The concept of forgiveness and tolerance, described in the words, "Make allowances for people" (Qur'an, 7:199) is one of the most fundamental tenets of Islam.
When we look at the history of Islam, the way that Muslims have translated this important feature of Qur'anic morality into the life of society can be seen quite clearly. As we shall be considering in later parts of the book, Muslims have always brought with them an atmosphere of freedom and tolerance wherever they have gone. They have enabled people whose religions, languages and cultures are completely different from one another to live together in peace and harmony under one roof, and provided peace and harmony for its own members. One of the most important reasons for the centuries-long existence of the Ottoman Empire, which spread over an enormous region, was the atmosphere of tolerance and understanding that Islam brought with it. Muslims, who have been known for their tolerant and loving natures for centuries, have always been the most compassionate and just of people. Within this multi-national structure, all ethnic groups have been free to live according to their own religions, and their own rules.

In societies where Islamic morality is followed, churches, mosques and synagogues co-exist peacefully. This view of three sanctuaries in an institution for the homeless shows the tolerance, justice and striving for peace inculcated by the teaching of Islamic morality.
True tolerance can only bring peace and well-being to the world when implemented along the lines set out in the Qur'an. Attention is drawn to this fact in a verse which reads: "A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend." (Qur'an, 41:34)

In the verses of the Qur'an, God has always described forgiveness as a superior quality, and in one verse, He has given the good news that such behaviour will be rewarded: "The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with God. Certainly He does not love wrongdoers." (Qur'an, 42:40) In another verse, He has described believers as: "those who give in times of both ease and hardship, those who control their rage and pardon other people - God loves the good-doers" (Qur'an, 3:134) God has revealed in the Qur'an that it is virtuous behaviour to forgive someone even if he has done wrong. One verse on the subject reads:

... You will never cease to come upon some act of treachery on their part, except for a few of them. Yet pardon them, and overlook. God loves good-doers. (Qur'an, 5:13)
All of this shows that the morality that Islam recommends to mankind brings to the world the virtues of peace, harmony and justice. The barbarism known as terrorism, that is so preoccupying the world at present, is the work of ignorant and fanatical people, completely estranged from Qur'anic morality, and who have absolutely nothing to do with religion. The solution to these people and groups who try to carry out their savagery under the mask of religion is the teaching of true Qur'anic morality. In other words, Islam and Qur'anic morality are solutions to the scourge of terrorism, not supporters of it.

…God is All-Gentle, Most Merciful to mankind.
(Qur'an, 2:143)
post #20 of 49 (permalink) Old 07-20-2007, 05:32 PM
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Thumbs up War in the Qur'an

…God is All-Gentle, Most Merciful to mankind. (Qur'an, 2:143)

According to the Qur'an, war represents an "unwanted obligation" which has to be carried out with strict observance of particular humane and moral guidelines and which must not be resorted to except when it is absolutely inevitable.
In one Qur'anic verse, it is explained that those who start wars are the disbelievers and that God does not approve of wars:
…Each time they kindle the fire of war, God extinguishes it. They rush about the earth corrupting it. God does not love corrupters. (Qur'an, 5:64)
In the case of a conflict, before engaging in a war, believers must wait until fighting becomes compulsory. Believers are allowed to fight only when the other party attacks and no other alternative except war remains:
But if they cease (fighting), God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 2:192)

A view of present-day Madinah, the city to which the Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims emigrated and established their own polity.
A closer examination of the Prophet Muhammad's life reveals that war was a method resorted for defensive purposes only in unavoidable situations.
The revelation of the Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad continued for a period of 23 years. During the first 13 years of this period, Muslims lived as a minority under a pagan order in Mecca and faced much oppression. Many Muslims were harassed, abused, tortured, and even murdered, their houses and possessions plundered. Despite this, however, Muslims led their lives without resorting to violence and always called the pagans to peace.
When the oppression of the pagans escalated unbearably, the Muslims emigrated to the town of Yathrib, which was later to be renamed Madinah, where they could establish their own order in a freer and more friendly environment. Even establishing their own system did not prompt them to take up weapons against the aggressive pagans of Mecca. Only after the following revelation, the Prophet commanded his people to prepare for war:
Permission to fight is given to those who are fought against because they have been wronged - truly God has the power to come to their support - those who were expelled from their homes without any right, merely for saying, "Our Lord is God"… (Qur'an, 22:39-40)
In brief, Muslims were allowed to wage war only because they were oppressed and subjected to violence. To put it in another way, God granted permission for war only for defensive purposes. In other verses, Muslims are warned against the use of unnecessary provocation or violence:
Fight in the Way of God against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. God does not love those who go beyond the limits. (Qur'an, 2:190)
After the revelation of these verses, several wars occurred between the Muslims and the pagan Arabs. In none of these wars, however, were the Muslims the inciting party. Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammad established a secure and peaceful social environment for Muslims and pagans alike by signing the peace agreement of Hudaybiya which conceded to the pagans most of their requests. The party who violated the terms of the agreement and started hostilities once again were the pagans. With rapid conversions into Islam, the Islamic armies mustered a great force against the pagan Arabs. However, Muhammad conquered Mecca without bloodshed and in a spirit of tolerance. If he wished, Muhammad could have taken revenge on pagan leaders in the city. Yet, he did not do harm to any one of them, forgave them and treated them with the utmost tolerance. In the words of John Esposito, a Western expert on Islam, "eschewing vengeance and the plunder of conquest, the Prophet instead accepted a settlement, granting amnesty rather than wielding the sword toward his former enemies." 2
Pagans, who would later convert to Islam of their own free will, could not help admiring such nobility of character in the Prophet.
Not only during Mecca's conquest, but also in the course of all the battles and conquests made in the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the rights of innocent and defenceless people were meticulously protected. The Prophet Muhammad reminded believers numerous times about this subject and by his own practice became a role model for others to follow. Indeed, he addressed believers who were about to go to war in the following terms: "Go to war in adherence to the religion of God. Never touch the elderly, women or children. Always improve their situation and be kind to them. God loves those who are sincere."3 The Messenger of God also clarified the attitude Muslims must adopt even when they are in the middle of a raging battle:
Do not kill children. Avoid touching people who devote themselves to worship in churches! Never murder women and the elderly. Do not set trees on fire or cut them down. Never destroy houses!4
The Islamic principles God proclaims in the Qur'an account for this peaceful and temperate policy of the Prophet Muhammad. In the Qur'an, God commands believers to treat the non-Muslims kindly and justly:
God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you over religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just. God merely forbids you from taking as friends those who have fought you over religion and driven you from your homes and who supported your expulsion... (Qur'an, 60:8-9)
The verses above clarify how Muslims should behave towards non-Muslims: A Muslim should treat all non-Muslims kindly and only avoid making friends with those who show enmity towards Islam. In a case where this enmity causes violent attacks against Muslims, that is, where they wage a war against them, then Muslims should respond to them justly by considering the humane dimensions of the situation. All forms of barbarism, unnecessary acts of violence and unjust aggression are forbidden by Islam. In another verse, God warns Muslims against this and explains that rage felt towards enemies should not cause them to fall into injustice:
You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of God, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to heedfulness. Heed God (alone). God is aware of what you do. (Qur'an, 5:8)
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