In tension with the motif of generosity exists an altogether different theme. Besides the leaning towards hospitableness, relationships in many Muslim cultures are marked by much violence.
In communities deriving from a tribal base, sever force is a common element of societal challenge and control. Violence is proof of serious intentions and plays a prominent part in communal decision-making, even if it is only a violence of word, as in the use of oaths.
In traditional Arab settings, fighting arose most often over concerns about land, water, grazing or women! The proverb about fingernail and blood, quoted above, gives a fair warning to an aggressor who is threatening to kill another person that the inevitable vengeance of the victim’s family needs to be reckoned with before it’s too late.
Feuds, then, are one expression of violence in Middle Eastern communities. Indeed, the imperative to hate is necessary if ever they are to achieve their life’s ambition of revenge.
Often, succession to leadership is sorted out by violent means. In more recent times, violence has punctuated the way many political leaders have arisen and been replaced in Muslim countries. The example in Iraq is mirrored, in varying degrees of magnitude, in Turkey, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Iran.
The strongly motivating force of hasad or envy expresses a violence of mind and emotion. Another kind of violence is demonstrated in various calls to jihad (holy war).
Actions perceived as amounting to ‘apostasy’ often provoke Muslims to severe violence. Compulsion in religion is allowed to have a heyday when what seems to be at stake is an undermining of group honour.
In the emotionalism of many Middle Easterners, and especially in the Arab’s uninhibited anger or exaggeration, there is an element of violence. It is more talk than act.