When I received an abusive message from Elmer Argomedo, in which my faith and person were directly insulted, my first instinct was to insult him back according to the law of retaliation, namely, an eye for an eye. As the Quran states, “The retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it” (42:20). Fortunately, however, I remembered the words of the Prophet Muhammad who stated that “The strong are not the best wrestlers. Verily, those who are truly strong are those who control themselves when they are angry” (Bukhari and Muslim). Consequently, I calmed myself down, seeking the pleasure of the Creator who promised forgiveness and Paradise to “those who restrain their anger” (3:134).
Seeking to avoid an explosive expletive exchange that would prove unproductive, and determined to “Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better” (41:34), I opted to follow the procedures and polices put in place by the US Armed Forces. In short, I filed a complaint for harassment hoping that the individual in question could be reasoned with by his superior officer. Feeling that there was a lesson to be learned from the incident in question, I shared my story with sister Hanan al-Harbi, a supporter of the Covenants Initiative, who has come to my defense in times of need.
The article, titled “Muslim Leader Was Harassed by a US Marine” was published in Mvslim on Sunday, July 23rd, 2017. No sooner had it been shared by thousands of readers, I was contacted by my friend and colleague, Qasim Rashid, who notified me that his brother, Tayyib Rashid, wanted to speak with me. Although I had never met him in person, I was well-aware of his identity. Known as “The Muslim Marine,” Tayyib Rashid rose to prominence for offering to guard Jewish cemeteries in the United States from hate-filled anti-Semites who sought to desecrate them.
I was quite honored to make the acquaintance of Tayyid Rashid, a positive role model who makes Muslims proud and a person who embodies the teachings of the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Almighty Allah be upon him. The Muslim Marine sent me the following message:
Assalamo Alaikum Dr Morrow,
I'm writing as a mediator for Corporal Elmer Argomeda. After reading the article regarding the disturbing comment he left on your video I found him on Facebook and reached out to him to explain himself. Coincidentally, he is stationed at Cherry Point NC, same as my permanent duty station almost 20 years ago.
It turns out that he realizes that he is guilty of exercising poor judgment and asked me to make sure that you receive his apology below.
Message from Corporal Argomedo:
Good afternoon. First of all, I want to sincerely apologize regarding the comment I already deleted. I have nothing against Muslims people nor people in general who follow the Islamic religion. With that being said, I was talking about the radicals but I guess I should’ve be specific in that part. I hope you can understand and forget this. Have a wonderful day.
In any case I just wanted to try and make peace between a fellow Marine and a fellow Muslim. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive him. Is so, please do let him know.
Although the law of retribution provides for justice, the law of love calls of mercy: “pardon and overlook” (24:22). As we read in the Quran, “whoever pardons and makes reconciliation, his reward is [due] from Allah” (42:40). “If they incline to peace,” states Muslim Scripture, “then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah.” And as the Prophet Muhammad counseled in the Covenants that he granted to Christian communities: “If a Christian were to commit an offense, Muslims must stand by his side, help him and support him… They should encourage reconciliation between him and the victim to either help or save him.” As one who submits and surrenders to the Creator, my only conceivable course of action is the statement: “We hear and we obey” (2:285)
As a Muslim and as an Aboriginal Person, I hold no grudges. There is no place for hatred in my heart. I have love for all. Consequently, I forgive Corporal Elmer Argomedo and have formally withdrawn my complaint of harassment that was submitted to the United States Marine Core. It takes courage for a man to say sorry to another man. Corporal Argomedo, however, did not hesitate to man up. For that I respect him. I also respect his desire to serve this great country which is based on profound principles. As for myself, I have only endeavored to adhere to the teachings of the Quran, which command: “Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend” (41:34).