In the beginning murder came to be when Cain killed his brother Abel after God had driven Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. When you place yourself away from the divine care you might be able to destroy your brother whom God shepherds; it is as if you kill God Himself. And Cain killed his brother out of jealousy since God accepted the offering of Abel and did not accept that of Cain, so he became angry with God, that is, he separated himself from God and in turn from his brother. So when he met Abel in the fields, he killed him.

Then came the commandment through Moses: “Thou shall not kill” and as such the life of others is not under your control. That (life of others) would go only to the One who gave it and thus it enters His mercy.

There is arrogance in taking the life of another or in other words, murder comes from arrogance and highhandedness. And highhandedness as such is a type of deification in the sense that God alone is the one who is highhanded and can destroy. Every sin is a self deification and the murderer is the major “destroyer” since he considers the one he is about to kill as not having the right to exist. He (the killer) takes you back to nothingness or he thinks he does that; and afterwards he feels he has returned himself to nothingness and this feeling increases day after day to the point that often the killer despairs of his own repentance.

The cancellation of the other is the feeling that a certain person has to be brought to nothingness by shedding his blood because his existence is intolerable. That is the existence of the other is bothering to the “killer” to the point of stifling. And if you (the killer to be) do not stifle the “enemy”, you will suffocate. The Qur’an describes the inner state of the murderer saying: “…. whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if be had killed all mankind…” Sura 5: 32

Murder takes place primarily in one’s soul. So the aim is to love your enemy since when you keep him existent, both you and he will be glorifying the Lord and Heaven will roll into your heart and his heart. And then you would be able to understand, not in the popular way but with more depth, the meanings in the Qur’an (in Sura 2:191) that ”Oppression is worse than murder”; what God wants you to do is to rid your heart from the seeds of oppression that are in it since that is what spurs your hands to kill. And the aforementioned explanation goes hand in hand with what we find in the Gospel of Matthew 5: 21-22, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. ’But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment”. In the spiritual traditions of the Fathers of the Church, anger is the passion that gives birth to the sin of murder or any form of violence; and as such one of your spiritual goals is to eradicate this passion so it does not turn into sin. And the soul which is free of anger is the quiet (restful) soul; that is the spiritual ascetic school of the hesychasts who work to undo the effect of the passions and appetites in the depth of their being where God alone has full reign.

The load of Murder is quite heavy. A well known journalist of the An-Nahar newspaper once told me about what a sniper of the times of the Lebanese civil war once told him:”I wake up in the middle of every night and I see the ones I killed, their faces and even their clothes, and this makes me very anxious and troubled“. That is in fact the return of that man to his conscience after he had been trained by his military friends to quench that conscience in him. Keep in mind that murder might stay on the conscience of the murderer tens of years or the rest of his life.

Despite all that the murderer remains the sheep that has lost his way in the mountains, and he remains our brother and we are supposed to shepherd his wounded soul so that he can open his heart for the Lord to sow His word in him. And that murderer might be a major one, still tenderness can find a way to his heart and make of him a meek lamb. Repentance is God’s work in the soul, and if one’s soul opens up to it in tears, the Lord will wipe every tear from one’s eyes. Some of our Saints were ultra sinners but the Lord took them in His compassion and tenderness so that nothing remained in them except His invocation and remembrance.

I conclude from this that we have to raise ourselves up on forgiveness; and that brings down on us the mercy of God and His power and puts limits to our waywardness. Such a great conversion can take place through God’s love no matter how deep we have sunk in sin because the human heart is the beloved of God and the human soul is able, when touched by His love, to say with Psalm 33:8 “Taste and see how good is the Lord”. And if we get to the passionate love of God after we have sinned, the Lord will blot out our sin forever. The greatness of the Lord lies in that sin does not find a place in His memory. Is that not His forgiveness?

The above was a discourse on individual murders. What about the killing of communities one the other? What about wars? No doubt, there are countries that hate others; or maybe that was so before World War II after which came peoples who seem for them impossible to fight each other nowadays. So training and taming groups of people not to fight is possible.

There are peoples who have warred due to what seemed to be a religious reason. Yes indeed this happened; and God was “borrowed” for the sake of killing. During the period of Hitler, “God is with us” was written on the habit of the German soldier; and there are peoples who thought that God has commissioned them to kill other peoples and that the killers are God’s militaries. And in that Karl Marx was right when he said that “religion is the opium of the people”. He had witnessed murders in God’s name and the spread of poverty in God’s name. Would one group of people feel sad over another group that kills in God’s name? I have noticed that this rarely happens and as such those that do not feel sorrow in the case I mentioned above, have themselves participated in the killing. How long would it take us to reconcile with and forgive the sin for those who sinned against us?

None of us is God’s agent is shedding blood. And every interpretation or explanation that contains such understandings is from Evil. Cannot the believers in each religion call each other to an agreement or pact of peace that considers killing in God’s name a heresy or even blasphemy?

So, is it not possible to change the ideology of the peoples in such a way that the understanding of the army of a country would be only one of defense in case an attack against it takes place? If you permit me to talk nonsense, I would question saying why shouldn’t the production of weapons be banned altogether? It seems that in times of danger, factories are immediately converted for the production of instruments of death. Why are the peoples afraid? In that, I do not understand how the United States accepts to give permission to its citizens to possess weapons. What would happen if the human being gets angry and agitated?

The citizen is given the weapon of murder; then why is he called to account when he kills? And how is it that they speak of his virtues in such a case? Of course you cannot heal a person of anger and of the possibility that he would destroy another human being unless the grace of God descends on him. The angry person wounds others from his heart. Why then are there those instruments of death? Why is it that we should die apart from God decreeing that?

I understand that what the angels said at the birth of Christ “Gloria in Excelsis and peace on Earth” to mean that obedience to God is what leads to Peace. Is it not the responsibility of the religions and nations of the world to make an effort so that something of that, if not all of it, might be realized? That was the reason behind founding the United Nations. Do we need a political scientific agreement to get to real love or do we seek self purification in order to sow mercifulness among individuals and peoples alike?

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “القتل” – An Nahar – 05.11.2011