If I met Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on the street, he would probably have had me killed, or done the job himself. News reports say that he personally decapitated people, and was directly responsible for thousands of civilian deaths. Zarqawi violently thwarted the rebuilding of a war-torn country, and he had to be stopped. But he was our brother, and I mourn for him and for his family.
I do not believe that Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount asks those who take on His name to submit to evil and be slaughtered by our brothers and sisters who hate us. I believe the hatred, vengeance, and the lust for blood of those rejoicing in our brother Zarqawi’s death directly leads more people to take up his cause, just as the news footage of people dancing in the streets after the World Trade Center bombings broke our hearts and demanded revenge.
Zarqawi was responsible for horrible suffering. But unless our practice of glorifying hatred and violence — a practice that is grounded in religious belief and fueled by supplication to God — is forsaken, we will never find peace on this earth. Zarqawis have been around since the beginning of time, and others will spring up in our midst. Zarqawi’s sister said: “God sent Abu Musab, and he will send others.”
Turning the other cheek and allowing violence to spread is not the way to mend our broken world, but we must love our brother. We must practice compassion, which is the foundational teaching of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and every major religion. For now, we must turn away from hatred and mourn Zarqawi’s death, and the deaths of our brothers and sisters he killed, while continuing to pray and to work for peace.