Sunday, February 15, 2009

Yusuf Ali's Two Faces

I hardly think the following words of Yusuf Ali in his commentary on the Qur'an require much comment, so I will refrain except for the following: notice just how close these two notes are to each other. It is bad enough to contradict yourself, but to do it in such a close proximity is even worse.

#4581 "....But this active righting of wrongs, whether by physical or by moral or spiritual means, which are commended as better, is an antithesis to the monkish doctrine, when you are smitten on one cheek, to turn the other also. This would not suppress, but encourage wrongdoing. It is practised by none but poltroons, and is preached only by hypocrites, or men who want to make slaves or [sic, of?] others by depriving them of the power of self-defence. It occurs in two of the four canonical Gospels (Matt. 5:39, and Luke 6:29), but we need not therefore assume that it was preached by Jesus.

#4586 "It is harder to be patient and forgive, and yet to get wrongs righted, as was done by the Holy Prophet than to bluster about and "punish the guilty" or "teach them lessons". It may look like futility or lack of purpose but in reality it is the highest and noblest form of courage and resolution. And it may carry out the purpose of reform and the suppression of evil even better than stern punishment. The gentleness of innocence often "persuades where stronger measures fail." But of course circumstances alter cases, and there is some allowance also to be made for the personal equation of the men you have to deal with: in some cases severity may be called for, but it should be from a strict judicial motive, and not merely from personal anger or spite or lower motive in disguise."

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