Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Our Brother

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.

Comments

  1. Of course, you’re absolutely right, E. He was a son of God.

    But here’s a testament to the power of the natural man: I am very glad he is dead, and I hope that his death was painful, lonely and frightening. I cannot seem to purge this feeling from me; much of it has to do with having seen a clip of the decapitation of one of his American hostages, an image that still haunts me today.

    Love our enemies? This is too hard for me when that enemy is a butcher like Zarqawi. The human condition, it seems, has as terrible canker.

    “Forgive them Father.”

    (E, tell me: does “loving our enemies” constitute not taking Zarqawi out or simply not rejoicing in his death? It has to be the latter, surely. His role in the carnage of Iraq had to be stopped, right?)

  2. Elisabeth says:

    Ronan, I thought I made that clear in my post. Sorry. Yes, of course Zarqawi had to be stopped. Killed? Chased down a spider hole and exhumed a la Saddam Hussein to be paraded around in his underwear before the world? I dunno.

    But the bloodthirsty hatred proudly displayed by people rejoicing in his death is decidedly destructive. Self destructive, as well as destructive to living peacefully with our brothers and sisters.

  3. Mark Butler says:

    There are rare occasions where death is the fulfilment of love, otherwise war would be illegitmate in all cases. War is necessary because there are some enemies with whom civil authority cannot cope.

  4. Elisabeth says:

    That may be, Mark. Although “death as the fulfillment of love” applies more to painlessly ending the life of someone afflicted with a terminal disease rather than bombing the sh*t out of a safe house from ten miles away.

    However, I don’t think Jesus said anything about not killing anyone (besides the Thou Shalt Not Kill thing). But he had a lot to say about loving people and practicing compassion for even the most despised members of our society.

    I’m not so much concerned about Zarqawi’s death as I am about people not seeing it for the tragedy that it was.

  5. Turning the other cheek and allowing violence to spread is not the way to mend our broken world . . .

    What makes you think turning the other cheek necessarily means that violence spreads–at least any more so than the alternatives? In the case Iraq, it appears that it was violence that begat violence. I’m not so sure I’d sell the turning the other cheek so short just yet.

    Love our enemies? This is too hard for me when that enemy is a butcher like Zarqawi

    .

    Which is likely why Christ has given us such an injunction.

    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.

    Well said.

  6. Elisabeth says:

    Guy, you are right. Thanks for that. Turning the other cheek doesn’t necessarily mean we should lay down our weapons and be slaughtered. Although, in His infinite wisdom, God sometimes does require that we do sacrifice ourselves this way. 

  7. If God sent Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi it was as a lesson to the rest of us in how not to waste your life on evil.

    May he rot in hell.

    If violence spreads because people flock to Zarqawi’s way then bring on the violence until all of them are dead. If that means I must die in the effort to wipe out such fools, then so be it.

  8. greenfrog says:

    I have adapted this prayer from Buddhist tradition:

    May I be healthy, may I be happy, may I find joy, may I feel peace.

    May those I love be healthy, may they be happy, may they find joy, may they feel peace.

    May those to whom I do not know be healthy, may they be happy, may they find joy, may they feel peace.

    May those who hate me be healthy, may they be happy, may they find joy, may they feel peace.

    May those I hate be healthy, may they be happy, may they find joy, may they feel peace.

    May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

    The only way the creation of new violence and hatred will end is when those who experience hatred and choose violence experience the same things that lead me to feel peaceful and loving.

  9. If violence spreads because people flock to Zarqawi’s way then bring on the violence until all of them are dead. If that means I must die in the effort to wipe out such fools, then so be it.

    Which is precisely the point. Dying in the effort, their effort, through violence and terror will never produce an end result of wiping them out. It only fuels the fire.

  10. I’m glad that Zarqawi isn’t active in trying to kill Iraqi civilians and American soldiers any more. I really wish, though, that his removal from the field of action could have involved his arrest.

    Thanks for this post, Elisabeth.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    Trevor, man, I am glad that Zarqawi is no longer able to kill innocent civilians and attack American troops. But “may he rot in hell?” I am honestly wondering how you reconcile that sentiment with Christianity. He is evil — yes. He is dead — a necessity, I believe. But wishing someone to go to hell is the opposite of what we stand for.

  12. Steve Evans says:

    Trevor — never mind. I just visited your site and I think I’ve got the picture now.

  13. Readers of this thread must check out this interview with Michael Berg, father of al-Zarqawi victim Nicholas Berg upon al-Zarqawi’s death.

  14. Bro. Jones says:

    I was just going to recommend that people check out the Mike Berg interview. An absolutely amazing example of real Christianity (and, if I recall correctly, the Bergs are Jewish).

  15. I think Elisabeth’s feelings are noble, but perhaps a little too idealistic for this world we live in.

    I mean, are we supposed to mourn for Hitler’s parents and Eichmann’s kids? I’m sorry, but at some point it is possible to forfeit your right to live. Torturing, beheading, and killing innocent people is that point for me.

    I agree it is unseemly to rejoice in someone’s death, but I don’t think it’s wrong to feel good about a world with one less animal in it.

  16. And I don’t want to threadjack this interesting post with politics, but I don’t think Mr. Berg is a great example of forgiveness. It is clear that he doesn’t hate Zarqawi; however, this is not because of some super-human Christ-like love, but rather because he blames George Bush almost completely for the beheading of his son by masked cowards.

    Rather, I think he is a remarkable example of how one can be ready to sacrifice common sense for a political delusion.

  17. I really wish, though, that his removal from the field of action could have involved his arrest.

    Why? SO we could have another Hussein-type trial? Please. If justice were to be served at trial, death would have been the sentence.

    I gotta agree with Flanders on this one. His death was justice. His death was a victory. Do I wish he burns in hell? No. But Zarqawi knew what the eventual outcome ofhis involvement would be.

  18. Ned,

    I mean, are we supposed to mourn for Hitler’s parents and Eichmann’s kids? I’m sorry, but at some point it is possible to forfeit your right to live. Torturing, beheading, and killing innocent people is that point for me.

    Yes, we should mourn for them. And we should mourn also for Hitler and Eichmann themselves; not for their deaths, but for their embrace of evil, their departure from God. They are our siblings, in the end; and we have lost them, perhaps forever. That should bring us grief, even if they left us no option but to kill them.

  19. SV– That’s a fair point. I guess we should mourn anyone who has allowed himself/herself to become a monster.

    I agree with your statement completely. Some truly evil people have left the world no option but to kill them. I think this probably includes Zarqawi, but it’s healthy to have a debate about it.

  20. Elisabeth says:

    Ned #16 – I do agree with you that Mr. Berg is certainly no friend of the Bush Administration and that he is opposed to the war in Iraq (understandably). However, I fail to see how this is at all relevant to Mr. Berg’s statement that he has forgiven the murderers who brutally killed his son, and that he is, “sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being. He has a family who are reacting just as my family reacted when Nick was killed, and I feel bad for that.”

    As for debate, I agree with RT. Let’s support the democratic institutions our soldiers are dying in Iraq to implement.

  21. Why? SO we could have another Hussein-type trial? Please. If justice were to be served at trial, death would have been the sentence.

    Correct me if I’m wrong; I thought the current justification for the war in Iraq is to build democratic institutions. The rule of law and the court system is a component of such institutions. Perhaps the result of a judicial process would have been a death sentence. But that result would be very different from a battlefield killing because it would reinforce the rule of law and help build a perception that Iraqis are running their own country in an institutional way.

  22. There are rumors about now that Zarqawi was taken captive alive and that he was beaten to death by U.S. soldiers. It’s hard to know exactly what happened on the ground. But the result is clear.

    It’s a relief that finally Zarqawi is dead. May Osama bin Laden be captured or suffer a similar fate. The sooner the better.

  23. Justice is only served after the trial–not before. You know, all those pesky “due process” requirements and all.

  24. I liked you better when you were mourning for your cat.

  25. MikeInWeHo says:

    Question for the ‘real’ Mormons in here: What will likely happen to Zarqawi now? I realize that we do not judge, but how about some bloggernacle speculation. Does he go to Outer Darkness? Is he in Spirit Prison and thus waiting for eventual proxy baptism? Would anybody in here be willing to be baptised on his behalf?

    Was going to jump on Trevor for cursing him to hell and point out how that’s not an LDS perspective, but then I read his web site. Let’s just say I hope I never get on Trevor’s bad side…. : )

  26. I will not mourn Zarqawi’s death. I’m glad he’s dead. I would have made the decision to take him out myself if it was my decision to make. If non-violent arrest was a possibility, sure, that would’ve been the better path to take, but that clearly wasn’t a possibility.

    The tragedy is not that he’s dead, it’s that his circumstances and decisions led him to a position where his killing was justified. That, I mourn.

    May God have mercy on his soul. He will, because He is God.

  27. Mike,
    He’s probably being readied for a TK Smoothie. If you are wondering what on earth I am talking about, that’s probably a good thing.

  28. Mark Butler says:

    Whether Zarqawi will eventually merit the telestial glory depends largely on his state of mind – if he had acquired the *spirit* of bloodshed, killing for the sake of killing, then he will likely never make it. The latter is the spirit of the devil, and the practical equivalent of denying the Holy Ghost. So Joseph Smith taught.

  29. Mark Butler says:

    If we acquire the same spirit, we are in very dangerous territory. That is why it is important not to rejoice in the death of anyone, however necessary. The cult of revenge (as opposed to deterrence) is of the evil one.

  30. Mark Butler says:

    So I do not see Zarqawi’s death as a tragedy. He probably counted it glory to die for the cause. The tragedy is wider than that – the whole culural belief in the merit of the slaughter of infidels in the first place. That is the tragedy – an indictment of a whole civilization, not just one man.

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    I haven’t been following the news that closely, so this is a genuine question, not a comment. But have Americans been gleeful in their rejoicing over this death? I saw the announcement from Pres. Bush, and he seemed very somber about it. The people I’ve heard of who were gleeful were the Shiites, who truly rejoiced and shot guns in the air. But I think that’s a cultural reaction, and we can’t blame them for not following our Christian ideals. Certainly they had taken the brunt of his brutality.

  32. Elisabeth says:

    Kevin – I haven’t seen much media coverage of his death (since we don’t have a TV). Rather, this post was written after a conversation last night with a dear (Mormon) friend, and after stumbling across this bloggernacle website referenced under the Notes from All over at Times and Seasons. 

  33. Eric Russell says:

    Good point #21 about the rule of law. But aside from the real-life effects of a trial and imprisonment, I wonder about the the ethics. A few comments have seemed to suggest that it would be more Christ-like to capture alive if possible than to kill, and that’s generally a good rule of thumb. But is it necessarily so?

    I think I like O’Reilly’s position on capital punishment. Don’t send those worthy of a death sentence to the chair, send them to a workhouse where they wish they were dead. Death isn’t always the worst possible option.

    For someone like al-Zarqawi, the humiliation of being captured by the evil West, put on trail and imprisoned by infidels may just be a worse option than a TK Smoothie. My point here is that I see a real possibility that, in some cases, just ending their earthly existence is actually the more merciful choice.

  34. Mark Butler says:

    If Zarqawi regularly visited a certain grocery store, or walked unarmed into a local police station, I am sure we would have managed to arrest him peacefully. The bomb is more a matter of timeliness and reliability.

  35. Mr. Murray,

    On what do you base your opinion? I’m not sure what logic you are using to reach the conclusion that squashing Zarqawi will create more zealots like him. Please, eludcidate.

    People who embrace offensive violence to achieve their goals should be wiped out. I don’t understand your viewpoint at all. But I respect your right to have it, as long as you don’t attempt to infringe on my right to defend myself.

    Steve – I’m glad you think you have the picture. I’m in Iraq, I believe this war is self-defensive, and I’m glad a monster is no longer able to practice his evil on other human beings.

    I have nothing but respect for those who risked their lives to send Zarqawi to his final destination where he can no longer blow people up or saw off their heads.

  36. gst,

    Show some class–if you want to engage the topic, then do so.

  37. Eric Russell says:

    Mark Butler,

    I agree completely. So much so, in fact, that I think any attempts to try to discuss the issue in moral terms, as I did, is really just absurd.

  38. Over on my blog, I posted about Nicholas Berg’s father who was interviewed on CNN. Out of anyone who could best have said Zarqawi should burn in hell, he would be the one. But he didn’t. Here is the interview:

    “O’BRIEN: Mr. Berg, thank you for talking with us again. It’s nice to have an opportunity to talk to you. Of course, I’m curious to know your reaction, as it is now confirmed that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man who is widely credited and blamed for killing your son, Nicholas, is dead.

    MICHAEL BERG: Well, my reaction is I’m sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being. He has a family who are reacting just as my family reacted when Nick was killed, and I feel bad for that.

    I feel doubly bad, though, because Zarqawi is also a political figure, and his death will re-ignite yet another wave of revenge, and revenge is something that I do not follow, that I do want ask for, that I do not wish for against anybody. And it can’t end the cycle. As long as people use violence to combat violence, we will always have violence.

    O’BRIEN: I have to say, sir, I’m surprised. I know how devastated you and your family were, frankly, when Nick was killed in such a horrible, and brutal and public way.

    BERG: Well, you shouldn’t be surprised, because I have never indicated anything but forgiveness and peace in any interview on the air.

    O’BRIEN: No, no. And we have spoken before, and I’m well aware of that. But at some point, one would think, is there a moment when you say, ‘I’m glad he’s dead, the man who killed my son’?

    BERG: No. How can a human being be glad that another human being is dead?”

    Forgiveness is more about ourselves than the perpetrator. The perpetrator still has to pay for his crime, whether by the laws of man or by the laws of God. Forgiveness is not about stifling justice, but about changing our own hearts to no longer have hatred for those who have committed crimes against us.

  39. I agree with your sentiment, Elizabeth, but the real tragedy was that Zarqawi’s live was a waste.

    As for his death, we had to choose between him and the next child, mother, police, and soldier he was going to murder. Our obligations to the innocent exceeded those that we have to Zarqawi.

    Whoever killed him deserves our gratitude.

    To put things into perspective, we should remember that our favorite enemy was never our most important enemy in Iraq. The real problem was the Sunni insurgency.

    I am using the past tense because the Sunni insurgency is now exacerbated by Shia revanchism. In light of such conditions, the foreign zealots are the least of our problem in Iraq.

  40. I’ve spent some time thinking about this and find the results a bit troubling. I took the title of this post and did some swapping:

    • Pol Pot, my brother
    • Hitler, my brother
    • Stalin, my brother

    The litany sickens me. I want to scream: “No”! But, of course they are. Of course Abu Musab al-Zarqawi hadn’t slaughtered millions; but, I imagine that he might have.

  41. Costanza says:

    How about “Laban, my brother.”

  42. Rosetta says:

    Controlling and destroying evil must be done.
    Zarqawi was the embodiment of evil. Yes, this is a judgement on my part, but one I am not ashamed to make–the scriptures do not tell us NOT to judge, but to make “rightoeus” judgements (how else could we make our way through life and preserve life from being destroyed by evil?).
    As justice is so hard to achieve on earth, sending Zarqawi on to a place where he can no longer harm others is a good thing, not bad.
    Let God be his ultimate judge, and mine.

    Rosetta

  43. Mathew, I engaged the topic about as much as I wanted to. I’m not sure what class has to do with it.

  44. Rosetta says:

    Zarqawi may have been a son of God, but, in my opinion, he lost this position when he became a son of the devil by choosing to embrace evil.
    His actions show us he LIKED killing people. The righteous don’t.
    Hence, hopefully, he is no longer a brother of mine, or anyone else who chooses good over evil.

    Rosetta

  45. Steve Evans says:

    Rosetta, so only people who choose good over evil are your brothers? Where do you get the scriptural guidance to make that distinction — I can’t find any.

  46. HL has pretty much captured my thoughts on this.

  47. Elisabeth,

    Thank you for your very thoughtful post, with which I fully agree, and which was timely for me in a personal way. This morning, during my prayers, for some reason Jesus’ counsel about praying for our enemies came to my mind, and I immediately thought to pray for this man and his family. I also thought about some whose political views I detest, and prayed for them and their families. I do not remember ever doing this before (praying for military or political enemies), but I felt a very great peace by doing so. Perhaps Jesus was right in his advice; at least it blessed me today.

  48. Mark B. says:

    Elisabeth,

    Thanks for this post.

    Rejoicing at the death of anybody (except perhaps a dear one suffering terribly for whom death is a blessed relief and an expected entry into rest) is unseemly. Robert E. Lee was right when he said that war is terrible, and success in war, bought as it is at so dear a price (on both sides) should not be celebrated without acknowledging that price.

    Furthermore, speculating on the eternal reward of another is equally unseemly. We ought instead, publicans all, “not lift up so much as [our] eyes unto heaven, but smite upon [our] breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

  49. I’m still glad Zarqawi is dead. It was crucial to apprehend or kill him and now that has been accomplished. It was a difficult task. He was a wily vicious adversary and it’s hard to suddenly reverse gears; to pretend to care about the state of his soul or the feelings of his family. From what I’ve read about his parents and siblings and what they’ve had to say on the subject of his death, they are creeps as well.

  50. I think this is one of those uncommon situations where the stories of warfare from the Book of Mormon are directly instructive.

    For example, Alma 44 shows Captain Moroni speaking to the leader of the Lamanite army, who were surrounded by the Nephite army:

    “5) And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country; yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us—

    6) Yea, and this is not all; I command you by all the desires which ye have for life, that ye deliver up your weapons of war unto us, and we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us.

    7) And now, if ye do not this, behold, ye are in our hands, and I will command my men that they shall fall upon you, and inflict the wounds of death in your bodies, that ye may become extinct; and then we will see who shall have power over this people; yea, we will see who shall be brought into bondage.”

    Zarahemnah agreed to give up his arms, but refused to promise not to wage war against the Nephites again. Moroni, taking a rather hawkish view, determined that Zarahemna’s counter-offer wasn’t good enough and he ordered his soilders to kill Zarahemnah and his men.

    Moroni’s example is important, I think. He certainly took a hard line with Zarahemnah. He ordered his soilders to kill him and his men–but interestingly the story goes on to show that they spared (i.e., showed mercy to) those who would give up their swords and covenant not to wage war against the Nephites again. The scriptures say Moroni was “angry”, but never said that he rejoiced in the deaths that he caused.

    Mormon’s editorial about Captain Moroni’s character is an excellent guide for our attitude in these things.

    Alma 48:11-13 “And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;

    12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the awelfare and safety of his people.

    13 Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.”

    He swore to defend his people and their rights and was absolutely willing to kill when necessary. Yet he “did not rejoice in bloodshed”.

    Would that we were all like Captain Moroni.

  51. You are absolutely right to praise Moroni, Elisabeth. He could be very stern and to the point with people and yet he could demonstrate mercy as well.

    It would be interesting to see how Moroni would have dealt with a character like Zarqawi. I’m not sure it’s entirely clear what he would have done.

    I imagine it must take a great degree of military discipline to stop a huge army in the midst of battle, to have them resume, and then to have them stop again. Especially in an era where mass-communications technology wasn’t available. How did he do it? How could they even hear his commands? Maybe there was some kind of natural lull in the fight. I’ll have to ponder this one for a little while and maybe revisit that chapter.

  52. Whoops, I guess it was Travis commenting about Moroni. Not sure how I got that mixed up.

  53. Back off, Ronan. Captain Moroni is an all-star.

  54. LOL. I forgot that Ronan is Captain Moroni-phobic.

    [I think that last line can be read a few different ways ... doesn't seem to matter though which way you read it.]

  55. I think Captain Moroni comprises a very interesting and somewhat troubling character that forms a very interesting contrast with the Anti-Nephi-Lehites. But Captain Moroni himself does not trouble me nearly as much as the Mormon apotheosis of him….

  56. Elisabeth wrote:
    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.”

    And while it is within the strict purview of God to judge their souls, we must be willing to do what is necessary to protect ourselves and others. The fact that Zarqawi was committed to inflicting violence and death upon non-combatants is sufficient cause to arrange a meeting with his God.

    I see little rejoicing. But I am certainly not going to mourn his passing.

  57. Given the Moroni-praising comments of Travis, I feel I should elaborate: It’s not that people view him as an exemplary individual that troubles me, after all the BOM itself gives a very hearty endorsement of C. Moroni, it’s when members seem more interested in emulating C. Moroni’s resoluteness more than traditional Christ-like attributes (patience, meekness, love, forgiveness) that I get really worried about the culture that causes this inverted (at least on my view) value system….

  58. Trevor,

    I simply mean that I believe the policy and rationale which got us to Iraq was and is flawed. The fact that Iraq has turned into the so-called “front” of this war on terror supports my belief that what we have done has not improved but rather made worse our standing throughout the world–but particularly the Arab world. The abuses in the war have clearly made things worse, and have further tarnished the U.S. position as force for moral leadership in the world. They have made the world a more unsafe place. They have increased the number of terrorist attacks in Iraq. This, I belive is a matter of historical fact at this point.

    I believe the injunction that those who live by the sword, die by the sword. I further believe that we live in a lost and fallen world (Babylon) which is the antithesis of a Zion Society, described here and here. We are immersed in and living a Babylon lifestyle. We can only hope for those results, which I think are indeed born out by comparing pre-war Iraq with what is happening there now. At least that’s how I see it.

  59. Kleermaker says:

    Mourn his death?! Listening to those of you chiding others for apparently not being righteous enough to actually feel sad at this monster’s well-earned end is incomprehensible to me.

    The only one I have heard so far that has earned that right is Berg’s father. The rest of you are engaging in debate society antics, holding forth where you have not earned the right to tell others how they should respond.

    I do not mourn his death. As a human being, I am entitled to react this way to his butchery. Having personally risked and lost nothing, those of you advocating “mourning” are playing an illusory game, much like office party poker with monopoly money. You can pretend you are really playing, but you have nothing at stake. That is an easy luxury.

  60. Kyle Nuttall says:

    If anything I’ll rejoice in his death. Not because I hate him, but because he is my brother.

    He’s now in a situation where he cannot sin, as far as I can tell. And he can’t encourage others to sin either. For him, his death was the best thing that could have happened to him now. He has progressed far enough along the path of hatred and evil that no one in this world could likely help him to see the error of his ways. Perhaps someone on the other side will be able to. Though I rather doubt it. If he does see the error of his ways, he’s going to be one miserable wretch for a long time. He’ll have a lot of apologizing to do. How in the world (out of it actually) could he make up to people?

    His death has somewhat diminished the forces of hatred and evil in this world, and that’s a good thing.

    The tragedy in all this is that his evil has caused others who should know better to succumb to evil as well; that evil being hatred. Even in war we are not encoraged to hate those we are killing.

  61. Mark Butler says:

    Jesus taught that fatherhood was conditional, and if fatherhood, then certainly brotherhood. Zarqawi felt the same – to him we are not brothers, but enemies. And unless he has a change of heart in the spirit world, he will get his way in the matter.

  62. Steve Evans says:

    Mark, how did Jesus teach that fatherhood was conditional?

  63. 63. I agree with you, Steve. That would be an odd notion of fatherhood. In fact, that attitude might be the real root of the crisis of the family.

  64. I have tried, albeit not very hard, to find a reason to mourn the passing of this Islamofacist Murdering Thug. For some reason, probably the fact he has the blood of so many US soldiers and marines on his hands – leaving aside the fact he personally removed the head of Nick Berg using a dull butcher knife – I cannot.

    I’m glad he’s dead. More importantly, I’m glad he lived long enough to know who it was who had caused his death. Call me heartless – I can take the flack.

    I did, however, find one reason to be sorrowful over the death of this Thug. The answer, as always, is found in the scripture Alma 48:23 –

    “…they were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God.”

    I guess that will have to do for me.

  65. JA Benson says:

    It would have been nice if he could have been captured and information gotten out of him. Since the military was unable to do so, I am glad that Zarqawi knew what had hit him before he died.

  66. Seth R. says:

    I think Captain Moroni would be ashamed and disgraced to find out that people were more interested in following his example than Christ’s.

  67. Jonathan Green says:

    The corrossive effects of the Two-Minute Hate are independent of the target’s actual depravity. The same bombs that killed Zarqawi also killed a 5-year old girl; when the blood of that innocent calls out of the earth, whom will it accuse? I’ll save my cheering for the World Cup.

  68. Actually, conditional sonship has a fairly lengthy heritage in Mormon thought. I think that such conditionality reffers to a different relationship than we are talking about here. For example, John Taylor was fond of language like:

    It was not a law of carnal commandments and ordinances, but “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes us free from the law of sin and death;” the law of the Gospel whereby men were adopted into the family of God, and became “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ,” that “if we suffer with him,” as he once said, “we shall also reign with him, that both may be glorified together.” It was a thing that adopted them into the family of God, and made them heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ his Son (JD 14:326)

  69. oh, that conditional sonship.

  70. Mark Butler says:

    How about this conditional father/childhood:

    I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

    They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

    Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

    Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

  71. Mark Butler says:

    That was John 8:38-44.

  72. Steve Evans says:

    Mark, you’re right to point out those scriptures, which are I think expressing the same idea J. Stapley pointed out as well. However, I think we’re talking past each other. There’s a type of sonship here in the sense of rightful heirs and similarities of kinship that is what I think Jesus and John Taylor refer to; however, I (and this post, I believe) are referring to something else, namely that Heavenly Father is the father of all our souls, good and otherwise, and as such we have a kinship with all the sons of Adam (which is yet another level of brotherhood, if we wanted to walk down that road).

    So yes — I agree, it’s unlikely that Zarqawi will be our brother the way Jesus refers to. However, in another sense, he shares a common Father which we cannot deny.

  73. “The same bombs that killed Zarqawi also killed a 5-year old girl; when the blood of that innocent calls out of the earth, whom will it accuse?”

    That’s not a hard question. It will accuse Zarqawi, who was shielding himself behind her like a coward.

  74. [Responding to comment 56]

    I think that Captain Moroni and the Anti-Nephi-Lehis were quite similar in their views of what kind of violence was necessary. The only difference was that the Anti-Nephi-Lehis had a murderous past they were repenting of … that is all that held them back from fighting themselves.

    We have to keep in mind that the Anti-Nephi-Lehis raised some of the most successful (deadly) warriors in Nephite history.

  75. Eric Russell says:

    Also, whatever conditionality may exist between father and son doesn’t necessarily translate to a conditionality between brothers.

    Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (D&C 64:9-10)

  76. Elisabeth says:

    His death has somewhat diminished the forces of hatred and evil in this world, and that’s a good thing.

    Not so. The act of killing someone like Zarqawi does not diminish hatred and evil. Acts of forgiveness and compassion do.

    In Sacrament Meeting yesterday, I listened to a speaker tell a charming story about how he left a popsicle to melt on his mother’s new carpet, was duly chastised and then forgiven. We typically hear cute stories like this in Church and in the Church magazines where indiscretions are forgiven and everything works out in the end.

    These stories are nice, but we need to be reminded more often that Jesus extended compassion and forgiveness to the most depraved members of society, not just to children and melted popsicles. Jesus Christ’s atonement covers all of us. Yes, even Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, and Zarqawi.

    Comment #60 raises a good point. Perhaps we don’t have the responsibility to forgive Zarqawi unless he murdered our own son. But my original point still stands – 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.

  77. That guy ain’t my brother and I’m glad he’s dead.

    There are a lot of others who aren’t my brother, either. Death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to anyone, and I think the world would be a better place without a lot of people.

  78. #68:

    “The corrossive effects of the Two-Minute Hate are independent of the target’s actual depravity. The same bombs that killed Zarqawi also killed a 5-year old girl; when the blood of that innocent calls out of the earth, whom will it accuse? I’ll save my cheering for the World Cup.”

    well said. and I would like to add my second to #77:

    “Not so. The act of killing someone like Zarqawi does not diminish hatred and evil. Acts of forgiveness and compassion do.”

    some people seem to confuse forgiveness with removal of punishment. Forgiveness is more about ourselves than the perpetrator. The perpetrator still has to pay for his crime, whether by the laws of man or by the laws of God. Forgiveness is not about stifling justice, but about changing our own hearts to no longer have hatred for those who have committed crimes against us.

    Violence begets violence, hatred begets hatred. Conversely, love begets love, forgiveness begets forgiveness, charity begets charity.

    If we want to change the world for the better, we need to stop being happy when someone dies, any one. Those feelings are not of God.

  79. tesseract says:

    So, as a kid I used to pray for Satan. Not in a bad way – I know it sounds weird. From what I understood, he was my brother. I prayed for him that he would stop being bad and would repent and be forgiven.

    It sounds really silly, but is it? I always wondered if this was a possibility. Can Satan ever be forgiven? Will Christ’s atonement only cover us who received bodies? Will the other spirits get a second chance? Will the Atonement apply to them at all or did they forfeit their opportunity?

  80. tesseract,

    from my understanding of the Gospel, those who chose to reject the second estate, i.e. coming to earth to receive a body, cannot continue on, but follow the Devil into Outer Darkness. They are the Devil’s angels, his followers, and since they rejected receiving a temporal body, cannot continue further. As to what happens to them once in Outer Darkness, I don’t think we know.

    In regards to Satan being forgiven, if Sons of Perdition cannot have forgiveness in this life or the life to come, it is highly unlikely that their father, Satan, will have it either.

  81. tesseract says:

    Dan –
    Thanks for your input. I always wondered. My parents thought i was a weird little girl – praying for satan . i know its sounds bad, but I promise I had good intentions!

  82. Guy,

    Thanks for that answer. Assuming you were put in charge on the morrow, and you inherited all of Bush’s challenges along with the incredibly unrealistic expectations the American public has for him, what would you do differently?

    As too living by the sword, I would rather have the sword available as an option than not have it. I don’t think God is going to punish me for defending myself.

    I work with a Latter Day Saint, and he doesn’t seem to have any problem whatsoever with being in Iraq. Of course, we are not front line warriors, we’re just in the mortar impact area.

    The act of killing Zarqawi did diminish hatred and evil – Zarqawi’s well known hatred and evil. If it encourages more evil people to step forward then they too will be killed. Misguided is one thing. Gathering together four people you know, asking them to hold a man down and sawing off his head with a big knife is quite another.

  83. #83,

    Trevor, you say:

    “As too living by the sword, I would rather have the sword available as an option than not have it. I don’t think God is going to punish me for defending myself.”

    the question here is not defending yourself, but attacking someone who has not attacked you. there is no defense in offense, no matter how strongly military propagandists like to think so.

  84. Mark N. says:

    #17: Zarqawi knew what the eventual outcome of his involvement would be.

    That’s possible. But I also believe that he felt entirely justified in doing what he did. Nobody on earth looks in the mirror and sees the “bad guy”; everyone believes that they are the “good guy”. Had he ever read the Book of Mormon, he may well have seen himself as a Captain Moroni, fighting against the evil Nephites who had invaded his land in the form of the United States.

    No “bad guy” ever believes that he is anything but the “good guy”, absolutely justified in the actions he takes. The minute you truly see yourself as the real “bad guy”, you stop and repent.

    The command of the Lord unto all is to repent. Until we come to believe that we may actually be the bad guy, Zion will not be established.

  85. #86 “there is no defense in offense, no matter how strongly military propagandists like to think so.”

    I don’t think that is right. Of course, it might be appropriate to go on offense to defend oneself. Preemptive strikes come to mind. The Six Day War would be a case in point.

    By the way, the people who study the utility of offense are not propagandists but strategists.

    I would agree with you, Daniel, that when offense is the best defense then war will be more likely. In that case, people will assort to aggression not only for greed but also for fear.

    Therefore those who live by the sword will die by the sword.

    If one deals with an opponent who acts out of fear then it pays to forego the sword to establish trust.

    That’s the wisdom of non-violence and the second mile.

    On the other hand, there are also people who resort to aggression because of greed. That’s why I take walking the second mile and turning the other cheek quite literally. It does not mean walking the third, seventh mile, or thirtieth. If people are still aggressive after we have given them the second mile then we shall oppose their aggression.

  86. Hellmut,

    but see, that’s the problem isn’t it? those who go on the offense usually do not get the return they desire, do they? Has Israel received peace from its actions? Has the US?

    Sun Tzu said: “supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

    too easily we think we need to resort to violence to solve our problems, but forget that it is because of violence that we have our problems. Take for instance the Iraq situation. It was World War I that really started the modern process which led to Saddam being in power, which led him to start a war against Iran and to try and take over Kuwait, and to his removal of power by the United States.

    Take for instance Iran. Back in the 50s, the United States set up a puppet government over the will of the Iranian people which led to the Iranian revolution of the late 70s, which led to our current conflict with them today.

    On the other hand, some peoples have apparently gotten sick enough of violence that they’ve actually let go of hundreds if not thousands of years of conflict with each other. I am talking about Europe. It is truly a wonder to see Germany and France and Britain working together after the many battles they’ve fought over the centuries. The grossness of the two world wars fought on their soil makes me think they realized how terrible violence really is.

    I applaud them and set them as an example to the rest of the world. They are learning to live together, not against each other.

    What truly worries me about the future is that we’re not even close to seeing the end of violence. I think we’re going to see a heck of a lot more in the coming years.

    We’ve been told that the Last Days will be akin to the days before the Flood, when the Lord destroyed all living life, with the exception of Noah and those with him. If that is so, it is worth noting what the Lord said about those days. In Moses chapter 8, he tells Noah the following:

    “28 The earth was corrupt before God, and it was filled with violence.

    29 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.

    30 And God said unto Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will destroy all flesh from off the earth.”

    It is worth noting that the Lord singled out “violence” as a main cause for the earth’s impending apocalypse. If the Last Days are to be like the days before the Flood, and the Lord caused the Flood because the “earth was filled with violence,” what does that say about the Latter Days? What major sin will the peoples of the earth commit?

    Violence.

  87. those who go on the offense usually do not get the return they desire, do they? Has Israel received peace from its actions?

    No, it has not. It has received only continued survival.

  88. gst,

    can a nation truly survive in the long run when it is constantly at war?

  89. #89 – With enough foreign aid from the U.S. (and other supportive nations) it can.

  90. Lisa,

    historically speaking, has any nation survived constant war?

    and in regards to Israel, the only thing that will actually save it in the end is the Second Coming. We know this from prophecy. So not even all the support from the United States and other supportive nations can save Israel.

  91. No doubt about it, you cannot obtain peace by military means. Israel, however, did keep her enemies out of her borders and away from her citizens. That’s worth something.

    Cases where violence is necessary are rare. But that’s a lot more than never.

    We ought to remember that war begins with defense. The aggressor would prefer to take over our country entirely peacefully (paraphrasing Clausewitz).

    Christians do have the duty to confront evil. Evil, however, tends to be rare. Therefore there are only a few cases when war is justified.

    When Poland defended herself against aggression, she entered a just war. So did France and Britain who came to her aid.

    When we invaded Iraq we had no security needs that could be advanced in that way. Therefore that war is unjustified.

  92. Elisabeth says:

    Thanks to all of you for contributing to an interesting discussing. My final thought is that although we may not feel like mourning him, Zarqawi’s death is a sad event on many levels. Furthermore, the U.S. targeted Zarqawi not only because of his heinous acts, but also because he was the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and maintaining the connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda and the terrorist bombings is vitally important to shore up support for the Iraqi war effort.

    There are many men just as murderous as Zarqawi, and until we address the underlying causes of religous rage and violence, innocent people will continue to be slaughtered by those who take Zarqawi’s place as the next personification of evil by the media.

  93. in regards to Israel, the only thing that will actually save it in the end is the Second Coming. We know this from prophecy. So not even all the support from the United States and other supportive nations can save Israel.

    Dan, I respectfully suggest that it is this kind of thinking that partly hinders the peace effort in the Middle East. “It’s hopeless,” we say. “We’ll never have peace there until the end of the world.” This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I once wrote about this on one of the blogs, but I cannot for the life of me find where! Anyway, it sometimes feels like some Christians do not actually want peace, because peace would interfere with their notion of prophecy. Needless to say, I think we can achieve peace; shelling beaches in Gaza and tit-for-tat suicide reprisals make we wonder whether some really want it though.

  94. a random John says:

    Anybody happen to see Letterman the day al Zarqawi was killed? Dave was sitting at his desk talking and this woman comes out from backstage with an envelope and says, “Well Dave, I guess you’ve heard the news…” in the most somber voice possible. Dave asks what the news is and she replies, “Well al Zarqawi has died. Everybody in the office is chipping in $20 to send roses to the family.”

    Dave then admits that he left his wallet up in his office and she walks off muttering, “Cheap bastard.” or something like that.

    The joke really stuck with me because it was saying that not only is it great that the guy is dead, but that even mourning him was somehow inappropriate. It was funny and terribly cold at the same time, and it has sort of stuck with me. Everytime I see a story on al Zarqawi I think about that skit and wonder (in a non-funny way) if anyone sent flowers to his mother.

  95. Ronan,

    I want to see peace in the Middle East, and I think it can be possible, but not if both sides continue using conflict to get their ways. That was my point, Ronan. Recently, the Israeli navy fired shells onto a Palestinian beach killing seven or so Palestinians going to the beach. What does Hamas do? they end their cease-fire. What is Israel going to do? I’m sure they’re not thinking of going to a Hamas campfire to sing kumbayas with them.

    War cannot achieve peace. Violence cannot achieve love. It is impossible.

    As long as both sides in this particular case keep resorting to violence, then I am afraid that only the Second Coming will save Israel. And I stand by that.

  96. Israel is now saying that the bombs that killed the family on the Gaza beach were not theirs. It appears Hamas stashed some bombs at the beach and that, well, they went off.

  97. My final thought is that although we may not feel like mourning him, Zarqawi’s death is a sad event on many levels. Furthermore, the U.S. targeted Zarqawi not only because of his heinous acts, but also because he was the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and maintaining the connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda and the terrorist bombings is vitally important to shore up support for the Iraqi war effort.

    So we killed somebody for political reasons? And? Isn’t that the very definition of war?

    Why do you separate “his heinous acts” from being “the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq” like they are two different things? Al Qaeda ain’t the Elks, you know.

  98. War cannot achieve peace. Violence cannot achieve love. It is impossible.

    You may have a career in bumper stickers.

    As long as both sides in this particular case keep resorting to violence, then I am afraid that only the Second Coming will save Israel. And I stand by that.

    And so what should they do in the mean time? Roll over and die because you believe that nothing can save them?

  99. MikeInWeHo says:

    Since when is it a Christian duty to “mourn” for somebody like al-Zarqawi? Not rejoicing in the death of another human being, that I understand. It doesn’t necessarily imply mourning is required, imo. I felt happy when I learned he had been killed. Later on, the whole thing just made me feel sad. Thankfully, I don’t believe God judges me for my highly-transient feelings. My words and actions are of much greater concern.

    re: 91 How much of a role does Israel (the literal one currently existing in the middle east) play in LDS end-time prophecy, anyway? Is it similar to the Evangelical view?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Personally, I find the way group dynamics function inside a personality to create an individual personal identity. Most people–I think it’s safe to say that–don’t accept or think about a sort-of “fractured” morality, where the “right” course of action not only depends upon the context but on how the agent approaches it. But this is how I approach most of my ethics. To give another example, take BCC’s recent thread Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Our Brother, where Elisabeth writes, “…he had to be stopped. But he was our brother, and I mourn for him and for his family.” [...]

  2. [...] “I liked you better when you were mourning for your cat.” [...]

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