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Taking pleasure in the misfortune of others - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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During the heat of battles with the enemy, Imam Malik recommended that church priests should be protected and not left penniless, citing God’s mercy. He said do not kill priests, they should be left with the money they need to live on, for they will die without it. This was in a state of war, and as for when security was restored, Malik stressed that the lives and property of all non-Muslims should be protected.

I cite this wonderful humanitarian testimony as I continue on from my last article about taking pleasure in the misfortune of non-Muslims, whenever a disaster befalls them. We see this sense of schadenfreude after every natural disaster that occurs on our planet, the latest being Hurricane Sandy. If a Muslim could once call for greater mercy on non-Muslims and even some enemy combatants during times of war, then how can Muslims today take pleasure in the misfortune of others?

It is worthwhile pointing out here that a segment of those who incite shadenfraude and take joy in the misfortune of non-Muslims in disasters are also keen to spread the call to Islam. Here lies a clear contradiction, for those proselytizing Islam must possess sublime morals and be far removed from any reprehensible qualities. A key attribute is extending mercy, which is intrinsic to the call to Islam.

In this regard, I remember an Arab Christian associate of mine who was very fond of Muslims and often argued for their causes. He stood up against all kinds of occupation in the Arab and Islamic world. He lived in a Gulf city next to a mosque and would hear the preacher there calling to convert the Christian community by widowing their women, orphaning their children and drying their rivers. My friend once asked the Imam the logical question about why he was extending the call to Islam in such a manner! The Imam met with this Christian after one of his sermons and personally asked him to convert, but could you ever imagine the Christian agreeing to this, after the preacher had called for his wife to be widowed and his children orphaned?!

The Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, forbade the killing of children, women, the elderly and priests during wars, even though it is well known that some rabbis and priests were the ones who inspired people and encouraged them to fight battles, as in the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. Yet they were exempt because they were not a part of the Islamic doctrine, therefore could not be considered infidels.

Taking decisions based on esteemed morals and values is clearly a fundamental part of the Sharia approach and the path of the Prophet. In fact, it is a fundamental part of every religion, among all people. When Muslims take joy in the pain of others this is a source of shame, and shows signs of cruelty and backwardness. Are such Muslims happy to deviate from the moral approach of the Sharia, and to jeopardize the call to Islam?

It remains for me to whisper in the ear of some scholars and public opinion leaders, saying: If this schadenfreude phenomenon is detrimental to Muslims and yields a negative impact, how can some opinion leaders and preachers still behave in this way?

Dr. Hamad Al-Majid

Dr. Hamad Al-Majid

Dr. Hamad Al-Majid is a journalist and former member of the official Saudi National Organization for Human Rights. Dr. Al-Majid is a graduate of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh and holds an MA from the University of California and a doctorate from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom.

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