I lived with Muslims in Algiers for two years and I would trust them far more than many people in my own city, the only place I have ever been attacked. I used to stay at a Trappist monastery at weekends where there was a free dispensary for the local people. In 1996 seven of the monks were beheaded by the GIA, a fanatical Muslim sect. Among them was their prior who had had a premonition he was going to suffer a violent death. This is an extract from the letter he wrote to his mother:
If it should happen one day – and it could be today – that I become a victim of the terrorism that now seems to encompass all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to Algeria; and that they accept that the sole Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure.
I would like, when the time comes, to have a space of clearness that would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of my fellow human beings, and at the same time to forgive with all my heart the one who will strike me down. I could not desire such a death; it seems to me important to state this: How could I rejoice if the Algerian people I love were indiscriminately accused of my murder?
My death, obviously, will appear to confirm those who hastily judged me naïve or idealistic: “Let him tell us now what he thinks of it!” But they should know that…for this life lost, I give thanks to God. In this “thank you,” which is said for everything in my life from now on, I certainly include you, my last-minute friend who will not have known what you are doing…I commend you to the God in whose face I see yours. And may we find each other, happy “good thieves” in Paradise, if it please God, the Father of us both.
Father de Chergé became a priest because his life had been saved by an Algerian policeman who was later found murdered for having intervened on his behalf. His answer to the OP is:
I know the caricatures which a certain Islamic ideology encourages and which make it easy for some to dismiss the religion as hateful…But such people should know that at last I will be able to see the children of Islam as He sees them—He whose secret joy is to bring forth our common humanity amid our differences.
as a free ebook.Why Forgive?