In the Bible, Jesus (as) is reported to have said in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” (Matthew 5:38-42)
The statement that Jesus (as) mentioned ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, is actually what is found in the Torah:
“But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exodus 21:23-35)
‘Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death. Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animal. ‘If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him— fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death. You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the Lord your God.’” (Leviticus 24:17-22)
“Then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Deuteronomy 19:19-21)
From the apparent it seems as though Jesus (as) came to abolish, or abrogate the law of the Torah, specifically the concept of ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ However we see that in the same chapter Jesus (as) explains he is not here to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
Both statements (eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, and turn the other cheek) are statements which are authenticated in Islam as being in the Torah and said by Jesus (as), respectively. Allah (swt) states in the Holy Qur’an:
“Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah ] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah , and they were witnesses thereto ... And We ordained for them therein a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is legal retribution.” (5:44-45 / Sahih International)
As for the statement of Jesus (as) (turn the other cheek), we find it in an authentic hadith in a reliable book:
حدثنا جعفر بن محمد بن مسرور ( رضي الله عنه ) ، قال : حدثنا محمد بن عبد الله بن جعفر الحميري ، عن أبيه ، عن محمد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطاب ، عن علي بن أسباط ، عن عمه يعقوب بن سالم ، عن الصادق جعفر بن محمد (عليهما السلام) ، قال : قال عيسى بن مريم (عليه السلام) لبعض أصحابه : ما لا تحب أن يفعل بك فلا تفعله بأحد ، وإن لطم أحد خدك الأيمن فأعط الأيسر
Imam al-Sadiq (as) said: Jesus the son of Mary (as) said to some of his companions: “What you do not like to be done to you, do not do it to anyone. And if one were to slap your right cheek, then give him your left.”
Sanad: al-Sadooq from Ja`far bin Muhammad bin Masroor, from Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Ja`far al-Humairi, from his Father, from Muhammad bin al-Hussain bin abi al-Khattaab, from Ali bin Asbaat, from his uncle Ya`qoob bin Saalim, from al-Sadiq Ja`far bin Muhammad (as) who narrated the above hadith.
Reference: Amaali al-Sadooq, Assembly Fifty-Eight, Hadith #13 / #603 (See First Image below)
Grading: al-Mohsini says it is a Mu’tabar (Reliable) hadith [Mashra`at Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 2, Page 371] (See Second Image below)
The Qur’an further reconciles both of these thoughts and shows what is meant by the words of Jesus (as):
وَكَتَبْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِيهَا أَنَّ النَّفْسَ بِالنَّفْسِ وَالْعَيْنَ بِالْعَيْنِ وَالْأَنفَ بِالْأَنفِ وَالْأُذُنَ بِالْأُذُنِ وَالسِّنَّ بِالسِّنِّ وَالْجُرُوحَ قِصَاصٌ ۚ فَمَن تَصَدَّقَ بِهِ فَهُوَ كَفَّارَةٌ لَّه
“And We ordained for them therein a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is legal retribution. But whoever gives [up his right as] charity, it is an expiation [of sins] for him.” (5:45 / Sahih International)
His statement: “But I tell you not to resist an evil person” also resonates with the following ayah:
وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ۚ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. (41:34 / Sahih International)
Thus we find that in Islam, we accept both the concepts of “Eye for an Eye” as well as the concept of “To Turn the Other Cheek”. In fact, we do not find them contradictory concepts, but rather they are complimentary. Yes, there must be the concept of Justice, while Forgiveness (at times) is better for both the forgiver and the forgiven. This is indeed what Jesus (as) meant in the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew. This does not mean one should be passive and allow oppression to spread in society – but rather one should show a soft heart in personal matters for the betterment of your own afterlife, particularly in legal cases as explained in the Qur’an (5:45: “and for wounds is legal retribution”) and Jesus (as) in the Sermon on the Mount (“If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also”).
So we find the words of Jesus (as), which is found in the bible, are very much echoed concepts within Islam and Tashayyu`. Indeed taking your right is acceptable but forgiveness is better!
It was asked: So I guess the “eye for an eye” concept would really only be present when a very grievous crime has taken place, like murder. But in most other offenses, we should display mercy instead of immediate revenge.
Reply: Even with murder the above principles can be applied. One can take their right (life for a life) or one can take blood-money or even forgive. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِصَاصُ فِي الْقَتْلَى ۖ الْحُرُّ بِالْحُرِّ وَالْعَبْدُ بِالْعَبْدِ وَالْأُنثَىٰ بِالْأُنثَىٰ ۚ فَمَنْ عُفِيَ لَهُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ شَيْءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَأَدَاءٌ إِلَيْهِ بِإِحْسَانٍ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ تَخْفِيفٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۗ فَمَنِ اعْتَدَىٰ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَهُ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered – the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment. (2:178 / Sahih International)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِصَاصُ فِي الْقَتْلَى ۖ الْحُرُّ بِالْحُرِّ وَالْعَبْدُ بِالْعَبْدِ وَالْأُنثَىٰ بِالْأُنثَىٰ ۚ فَمَنْ عُفِيَ لَهُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ شَيْءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌوَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ أَن يَقْتُلَ مُؤْمِنًا إِلَّا خَطَأً ۚ وَمَن قَتَلَ مُؤْمِنًا خَطَأً فَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ مُّؤْمِنَةٍ وَدِيَةٌ مُّسَلَّمَةٌ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ إِلَّا أَن يَصَّدَّقُو
And never is it for a believer to kill a believer except by mistake. And whoever kills a believer by mistake – then the freeing of a believing slave and a compensation payment presented to the deceased’s family [is required] unless they give [up their right as] charity. (4:92 / Sahih International)
Thus, this law of turning the other cheek despite the eye-for-an-eye method being viable, is applicable to all (or at least most) legal cases.