“The Way a proper Muslim acts . . .”

The nation got an arresting lesson in forgiveness last month as a father of a Sydney boy, killed when a car rammed into a classroom, expressed his forgiveness of the driver. It was an act of arresting grace. Raed Darwiche was being driven in a hearse from his mosque to the cemetery with the body of his eight-year-old son Jihad in a coffin behind him.

In a video message that subsequently went viral, he explained that forgiveness was “the way a proper Muslim acts in a time of calamity and tribulation”.

In one of those moments when the ground shifts in terms of perception; where assumptions are challenged and possibly found wanting. It was also great PR for a beleaguered religion in this land – has a Christian soldier recently given us anything quite so riveting, on a national level, within the public sphere? Such a simple act, and so potent. In the midst of his grief Raed invited the driver involved in the accident, Maha Al-Shennag, to sit with his family for a meal. “The family are telling everyone out there – forgive her, it’s an honest mistake, it could have happened to any one of us.” It was an act of extraordinary compassion.


From an article by Nikki Gemmell, ‘Season of the switch’ in the Weekend Australian Magazine.