Asalaamu alaykum, dear brother,
Thank you for sending your question to Ask About Islam.
To begin with, I am in awe of your wisdom.
It takes a special sort of heart to look beyond the easy pattern of revenge and retaliation which is so prevalent in our societies today.
But For The Grace of God…
When I was a young girl, I remember that when someone would judge another person, my mother would say,
Judge not lest you be judged! There but for the grace of God, go I!
This is old English for: “Do not judge people. If God had not guided you and saved you from the life they have led, you would certainly be in their shoes, too.”
I think many Muslims, especially those who are blessed enough to have been raised in Muslim homes, sometimes find themselves ungrateful for the guidance Allah has given them.
But as a convert, I find it difficult to ever judge the choices of anyone. I know, as a matter of terrifying fact, exactly the sort of person I would be had Allah not guided me to Islam.
Likewise, when we see someone who is living a life outside the parameters set by Allah, we must actively choose to engage our hearts in empathy and compassion.
Let us never forget that we, too, would be disbelievers if God had not guided us, or guided our parents, to the Straight Path of Islam.
(Notice I said “disbelievers” instead of “kafireen”? Because not all non-Muslims are kafireen.)
Rather than viewing anyone as an “enemy”, or even as an “enemy of Islam”, let’s start looking at them as people who are on a journey which may lead them into the fold of Islam.
Prophet Muhammad was reported to have said,
By the One, other than Whom there is no deity, verily one of you performs the actions of the people of Paradise until there is but an arm’s length between him and it. Then that which is written overtakes him, and so he acts with the actions of the people of the Hellfire and thus enters it. (Sahih Al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim)
None of us is safe from Hellfire. We don’t know what sorts of choices we may make in the last stretch of our lives.
The fact is that many Muslims will enter Hellfire, if only for a moment, to be cleansed of their sins they did not repent from on Earth.
Prophet Muhammad’s Example
In all things, we must look to Prophet Muhammad as our example.
He, peace and blessings be upon him, often prayed for God to guide and forgive “his people”, the Quraish. He said,
O Allah, forgive my people, for they do not know. (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)
He used to ask Allah to guide his close family members and those powerful men in his family and tribe to Islam.
Ibn ‘Umar, one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad, reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
O Allah, support Islam with the man who is more beloved to You: Abu Jahl or ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab. (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi)
Abu Moosa (may Allah be pleased with him), another one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad, said,
The Jews would pretend to sneeze in the presence of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) hoping that he would say to them, “May Allah have mercy on you,” but he used to say: “May Allah guide you and set your affairs straight.” (narrated by al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood)
When someone told him to pray to Allah for destruction of the disbelievers, he said,
Verily, I was not sent to invoke curses, but rather I was only sent as a mercy. (Sahih Muslim)
Moreover, we should be extremely careful in our prayers to God.
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
Verily, when a servant curses something, the curse rises to the heaven and the gates of heaven close upon it. It turns right and left and if it does not find somewhere to go, it will return to that which was cursed only if it deserved to be curse, otherwise the curse will return to the one who made it. (Sunan Abu Dawud)
Can you be 100% sure those disbelievers you are seeking destruction of deserve that curse? Can you be sure Allah won’t guide them and make them Muslim before their death, and your curse will affect you, alone?
About this, Allah reminds us:
It may be that God will grant love (and friendship/amity) between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies. [Quran – 60:7]
Teach Our Children Love, Not Hate
Your point about the impression these sorts of teachings have on our children is very wise.
We must always remember that our children are watching us every minute of every day. They are learning to be humans by watching us.
What sort of example are we setting for them when we harbor hatred and fan the flames of division in our hearts?
A Muslims seeks peace and reconciliation with his enemies rather than seeking vengeance and supplicating to The Most Merciful to rain destruction on others.
As you’ve pointed out, our fates are connected, and we are all living on this earth together. What I do affects people I may never meet, and the same if true for the supplications I make against people.
That person’s soul is claimed by God and God will work to guide him until that man draws his last breath.
This person was born to worship God like you were and she is merely on a journey which will, inshaallah, place her on the Straight Path to Allah.
Each and every disbeliever you ever meet is a Muslim-in-waiting.
I hope this answers your question.