Forgiveness in Islam

Dr. Bilal A Bhat , Intizar Ahmad

Islam is a complete code of life and it teaches us life from every aspect. Whether it is a social life, professional life or practical life. Human beings are not perfect. Forgiveness is a critical aspect of Islam as everybody makes mistakes in life and unintentionally commits sins. Researchers are showing that people will arrive to different profits (physical health, psychological, mental) by forgiveness. There are two kinds of forgiveness in Islam: Allah’s forgiveness and human forgiveness. We as human beings are in need of both since we make mistakes in our relations to Allah as well as our relations to each other. In Islam, all that is needed is to recognize the mistake or sin, improve it and seek forgiveness from Allah Almighty and also from other human beings. Forgiveness from Allah Almighty: In Quran, the word “Allah is Most Merciful” is repeated many times. In religion Islam, anyone who has committed sin can ask forgiveness directly from Lord, there is no one between Allah and the one who is asking forgiveness from Him. Allah tells us in a Hadith Qudsi : “O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you” (Al- Tirmidhi). Subhan’ Allah (Glory be to Allah) there is no limit to Allah’s forgiveness, even though our mistakes are numerous.
In Quran, Allah says: “God loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and He loves those who keep themselves pure.” From this verse, we can conclude that if someone asked forgiveness with repentance then Allah will love him/her and surely He will forgive him/her but there is one condition and that is he/she should not commit that sin or mistake again. Forgiveness from another Human Being: If someone did wrongs to another human being, the act must first be redressed with the wronged person or human being who should be asked for forgiveness before asking forgiveness from Allah. Islam teaches human beings to be forgiving and if someone sincerely asks for forgiveness, the wronged person should forgive him. Our beloved Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever suffers an injury and forgives (the person responsible), God will raise his status to a higher degree and remove one of his sins.”
If we expect forgiveness from Almighty Allah then we also have the ability to forgive others. Forgiveness in the Quran: In Holy Quran “forgiveness” and “mercy “are mentioned around 100 and 200 times respectively. An entire chapter of the Quran is devoted to the quality of mercy that is (Surah Rahman). We all know that Allah is the Most Merciful and He forgives those who ask forgiveness with repentance. There are so many Ayahs related to forgiveness in Quran some of them are: In Holy Quran Allah Almighty says: “. . . And let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”(Quran 24:22). In this ayah we are given the greatest motivation to push ourselves to forgive; it’s Allah’s forgiveness. In another verse of Holy Quran, Allah Almighty says: “The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon God.”(Quran, 42:40). Whoever forgive others from the heart then Allah Almighty will give him reward and we know Allah’s rewards are best from all. Allah Almighty says: “Whosoever desires honor, power, and glory then to Allah belong all honor, power, and glory [and one can get honor, power, and glory only by worshipping Allah (Alone)]. To Him ascend (all) the goodly words i.e. and the righteous deeds exalt it (the goodly words i.e. the goodly words are not accepted by Allah unless and until they are followed by good deeds), but those who plot evils, -theirs will be a severe torment. And the plotting of such will perish.” (Quran, 35:10). In another verse of Holy Quran, Allah Almighty says: “That [is so]. And whoever responds [to injustice] with the equivalent of that with which he was harmed and then is tyrannized – Allah will surely aid him. Indeed, Allah is Pardoning and Forgiving.” (Quran, 22:60). From this verse, we can say that Allah Almighty is all forgiving and pardoning we should seek forgiveness from Him and try to forgive others too. Forgiveness from the Sunnah of Prophet (SAW): Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was so kind and forgiving with all no matter he is a believer or non-believer. We have so many examples from the life of Prophet (SAW) about forgiving others and show kindness to even those who were so rude to Him. Some of the examples from the life of Holy Prophet (SAW) are mentioned below: Abdullah ibn Amr (r.a) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “Be merciful to others and you will receive mercy. Forgive others and Allah will forgive you” (Musnad Ahmad). If we forgive others then Allah will forgive us so try to be kind and forgiving so that we can get kindness, love, and forgiveness from Allah Almighty. Abu Abdullah Al-Khadali reported: I asked Aisha (r.a) about the character of the Messenger of Allah Prophet (SAW). Aisha said: “The Prophet was not indecent, he was not obscene, he would not shout in the markets, and he would not respond to an evil deed with an evil deed, but rather he would pardon and overlook.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi) One example of Prophet Muhammad’s practice of forgiveness can be found in the Hadith, as follows: “The Prophet (SAW) was the most forgiving person. He was ever ready to forgive his enemies. When he went to Ta’if to preach the message of Allah, its people mistreated him, abused him and hit him with stones. He left the city humiliated and wounded. When he took shelter under a tree, the angel of Allah visited him and told him that Allah sent him to destroy the people of Ta’if because of their sin of maltreating their Prophet. Muhammad (SAW) prayed to Allah to save the people of Ta’if because what they did was out of their ignorance.” Aisha (R.A) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH), said: “O Allah, You are forgiving and generous. You love to forgive.”(Sunan At-Tirmidhi) Abu Hurairah said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, “I swear by Allah that I seek Allah’s Pardon and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.” (Al-Bukhari) The Prophet (SAW) said: “O people! Ask for the forgiveness of Allah and repent to Him as I ask for the forgiveness of Allah and repent to Him one hundred times a day.” These are some of the examples from the life of Prophet (SAW) and sayings of him.
From these examples and sayings we came to know that: Whoever does not show mercy will not receive mercy. Whoever does not forgive others will not be forgiven. Whoever does not pardon others will not be pardoned. Whoever does not protect others will not be protected. So try to forgive others to receive mercy and forgiveness from Allah Almighty and others. Benefits of Forgiveness: There are so many benefits of asking forgiveness from Allah Almighty some of them are: (i) Forgiveness from Almighty Allah brings joy reassurance and peace of mind. Allah Almighty says in Quran: {And [saying], “Seek Forgiveness of your Lord and repent to Him, [and] He Will Let you enjoy a good provision}(Quran 11: 3) (ii) Forgiveness from Lord Results in the healthy and strong body free of diseases and disabilities. (iii) Forgiveness saved from Fitnah and afflictions. (iv) If someone wants righteous kids, lawful money and expanded sustenance then he/she should ask forgiveness from Almighty Allah. (v) Want to increase rewards and sins to be forgiven ask forgiveness from Almighty Allah. The Almighty Allah Says: “And say, ‘Relieve us of our burdens.’ We will [then] forgive your sins for you, and We will Increase the doers of good [in goodness and reward].”(Quran 2: 58) In Holy Quran, Allah Almighty says: “Kind Speech and Forgiveness are better than Charity “A kind and courteous word and forgiveness are (much) better than the charity that is followed by (such an emotional) abuse. Allah is free of all wants and the most Forbearing.” (Quran, 2:263) One clear obstacle to being forgiving is our tendency to want to hold a grudge against people. We notice, sometimes holding a grudge ends up being years spent apart from a family member or a friend. The question to ask then is: What do we gain by holding a grudge and not wanting to forgive? What could be so painful to us that we are unwilling to give the person who hurt us? Of all the people in Islamic history, there is no one else who suffered more, was harmed more, was insulted more, and in general, experienced more emotional and spiritual pain than Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). His own tribe, the people of Quraish, turned against him and conspired to kill him.
When finally Allah Almighty granted Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) victory over the Quraish, history captures for all of time to come, the merciful and forgiving manner in which the Prophet dealt with them. At the conquest of Makkah, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) posed the following question to the Quraish: “How do you think, I am going to treat you now?” They said, “You are a generous brother and the son of a generous brother. We expect only charity and forgiveness from you.” He said, “I will tell you what Joseph told his brothers, [“There is no blame on you today.”] (Yusuf 12:92). Recalling the forgiving attitude of Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) towards his brothers, who had also conspired to kill him, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) went beyond the imagination of the Makkans and inclined to forgive them when in fact the right to exact retribution was entirely his. Should we not aspire to imitate Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)? Can we not find it in our hearts to forgive our family and friends and to strive to strengthen the bonds of family and friendship? Learning to be forgiving is not something one can achieve overnight. It takes a lifetime of practice and reflects the height of self-restraint. Islam is a way of life and one way to think about it is that every aspect of our lives has to be lived in accordance with the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Another way to think about it is that in addition to living our lives according to the Islamic teachings, we have to aspire to internalize as many as possible of the sublime qualities as compassion, love, mercy, forgiveness and so on. We must daily practice being compassionate, loving, merciful, and forgiving, for example. Are you ready to incorporate forgiveness as a way of life? Who will be the first person you e-mail or call to tell them that he or she is forgiven? Who will you walk up to and say, “Listen, I’m sorry for holding a grudge against you for so long.” Imagine how relieved you will feel knowing that you are no longer carrying around with you the burden of anger and frustration!
Knowing that you have released all of that negative energy from your body will be refreshing and make it easier for you to be forgiving of others and to be forgivable by others. Indeed Allah is the Forgiving and our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) mastered forgiveness as a way of life. Are you up to the challenge? Forgiveness is a powerful way to amend wounds of couples when they have an uncomfortable and difficult trade. In short, when sincerely asking for forgiveness, the intention should be not to knowingly repeat the same sin again. A Muslim is to think better of Allah. No denying the fact that Allah is Mighty, Just and Wrathful, however, at the same time He is Merciful and forgiving. May Allah give us the strength to forgive others and also ask forgiveness from them! Ameen

(The authors regularly on Islamic topics exclusively for “Kashmir Horizon”. Views are his own)


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