A Pound of Flesh?


When the Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, entered Mecca towards the end of his mission in a position to take vengeance upon his former adversaries, he did not do so.

He had the strength to give up taking the proverbial “pound of flesh.”

How could someone endure so many tribulations at the hands of his enemies (a great deal of them were his kin), and then pardon them when he could have punished them?


If we consider those in our lives we see as enemies, people who work against our interests or those who invalidate our pursuit of meaning and fulfillment, wouldn’t most of us take our pound of flesh from them if given the opportunity?

Is the only thing standing in our way from turning the tables and oppressing our oppressors our present position of weakness in relation to them?

Would we have the strength to pardon if entrusted with any worldly power?

Please note that pardoning doesn’t mean becoming best friends with our oppressors; I’m using the word to mean avoiding vengeance and the cycle of oppression that continues when vengeance is taken.

We can easily justify taking vengeance – that is why it takes so much strength not to.

If we take the example of excellence in our Prophet, peace upon him, entering Mecca victorious over his former oppressors, we can simply say he behaved in the beautiful manner he did because he was a perfect human being – and that is true.

If we stop our reflection there, though, we’ll be missing out on the way we can inculcate the Prophet’s example in our lives, peace upon him.

The Mission

This is a critical subject as so many of us are hurt, often profoundly so, at the hands of those closest to us. That is the exact scenario the Prophet dealt with.

If we are to unravel these issues in our lives, we must look more meaningfully into the example of the Seal of Prophets, upon him peace.

I would argue, in addition to being a perfect person and as a proof of his perfection, the Prophet Muhammad had some rational reasoning for pardoning his former adversaries, who, again, were often his kinsmen.

It strikes me that he, upon him peace, must have at least been considering the following points:

1) His mission was to shed light on Truth and benefit people with it. When he, or members of his Truth-community, were personally attacked, it was hurtful in many personal ways, but his mission was not one of a material, personal agenda.

Therefore, when he entered Mecca victorious, it wasn’t a personal victory in which personal scores would be settled. It was a Divine blessing and fulfillment in which the light of Truth had to shine through in the utmost fashion. That Truth was fought for to benefit all, not just personal friends and allies.

It had to shine through for those who were previously enemies as well.

2) If vengeance were taken, nothing would have changed – the mission would have all been for naught.

If the Prophet’s mission, peace upon him, were simply to take power into his hands from those of others, only the name of the oppressor would change. His mission was nothing of the sort. It was, once more, to bring Truth and benefit – to improve the worlds. In order to improve, the cycle of oppression must be put to an end.

He, peace upon him, emphatically did so when he refused to take vengeance during the Opening of Mecca.

These are not words being written for the first time. I am not a profound person writing them. I am simply taking the time to contemplate on them for myself, and encourage us all to examine the Prophet’s life, peace upon him, in a way that can inform us beyond platitudes.

When we have thought about his blessed life in earnest and extracted concrete lessons we can absorb and use in our daily lives, we will immediately see the benefit and feel the meaning we’re so desperately in need of in our lives.


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