When A Man Vandalized A Mosque, Worshippers Offered Him More Than Just Their Forgiveness

"That’s how we treat people in Islam."

In October 2016, Abraham Davis and two other men vandalized the Masjid Al Salam mosque in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Davis was convicted of a felony and ordered to pay about $3,200 in fines, and now, over a year later, members of that same mosque have agreed to pay the remainder of what he still owes.

At the time of the incident, The Associated Press reported the mosque was spray painted with profanity, xenophobic phrases such as "Go Home" and "Go Back to Your Country," and several swastikas. While members of the mosque's congregation easily could have harbored resentment towards those who defaced their sacred space, they instead opted to forgive and help Davis.

To show they truly meant it, congregants paid the remainder of Davis's fines for him, which totaled more than $1,700. "He needs to keep going, don't even look back. The back is gone," Hisham Yasin, the mosque's social director, told HuffPost. "I look forward to seeing him work and study and become something in the future. And at that time, he'll talk about what happened with him ... how he flipped his life from bad to good." 

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According to the New York Times, after Davis's father died when he was five, he felt powerless and alone, and struggled to fit in at school, though he was friends with Yasin's son, Wasim.

While serving time in jail for his crimes Davis wrote a letter of apology to those who worship at the mosque. "I hurt y'all and I am haunted by it," he said, in part. "And even after all this you still forgave me. You are much better people than I."

Upon learning the mosque had paid the remainder of his fines, Davis told the Times, "It's a great weight being lifted off of my shoulders. And I don't deserve it, but this act of kindness, it's just, wow."

As for why the mosque extended that olive branch? "We need that shock for him, to stop all evil acts in the future," Yasin explained to HuffPost. "He'll say, 'Look at those people, I hurt them, I hurt their mosque, I hurt their God, and with all those bad things, they still showed me the most love I've ever received."

"That's how we treat people in Islam," he concluded. "Islam is a love religion. Islam is peace."

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