President of Masjid Al Salam Louay Nassri points out where the mosque was vandalised Arkansas Matters/screengrab

A US mosque which had a swastika sprayed on its building alongside the words "go home" has paid off the culprit's fines in an act of forgiveness.

The kindhearted actions of the Masjid Al Salam in Fort Smith, Arkansas came after Abraham Davis, 20, was caught on CCTV helping a friend vandalise the mosque in October 2016.

Davis's subsequent felony charge consisted of community service and about $3,200 in fines and restitution – a bill he couldn't afford to pay.

"We heard that he was having financial problems," President of Al Salam Louay Nassri told Arkansas Matters.

"Now if you don't pay your fine, that's an automatic six years in jail. Well, we didn't want him to go to jail for six years."

Davis had already written a letter of remorse to the mosque during the three months he spent in prison, saying he deeply regretted his act of bigotry.

Without a job to pay off his fine, he was preparing himself for another six years behind bars.

But just before the New Year, Nassri wrote a cheque for $1,700 to wipe away the rest of Davis's fines.

"After all that he had been through, we didn't want him sitting on the severe financial stress," Nassri said. "And like I told him, we want him to have a much better future."

The generous donation was originally set aside for renovations to the mosque.

"We thought this was the right thing to do," Nassri continued. "We thought if someone does something bad and came and apologised, you just forgive them. That should be the natural thing."

He added: "If he would've known who we are, he wouldn't of done this. If we would've known his troubles with us, we would've tried to help him. Communication is extremely important. Education is extremely important."

Davis says he was stunned that such an act of kindness could come from the people who had suffered most by his actions.

"It's a great weight being lifted off of my shoulders," he told the New York Times. "And I don't deserve it, but this act of kindness, it's just, wow."

The story of forgiveness has made headlines across the US, with Davis's own life struggles being given a sympathetic ear from the public.

It saw him publicly defended by Wasim Yasin, the Muslim son of the mosque's founder, who went to school with Davis.

"Abraham was a good guy, a 'whatever' kind of guy, he never had any problems with that," Yasin had said. "You know how people can talk about Muslims. He came up to me and he said: 'I'm with you, man. If anybody bothers you, just let me know. I'm your friend.'"

The words were echoed by Davis's brother, Noah, who said his sibling was "a very kind person" and not someone "who would attack race in any form".

He pointed out that Davis had not carried out the vandalism himself, but had driven his friend to the scene and stayed in the car while the swastika and offending messages were daubed on the mosque.

Davis now works full time at the Hydration Station, a gas station and convenience store a few miles from his house.