Forgiveness: A Divine Character !

(Keywords: Forgiveness, Pardoning others, forgiving others, forbearance, Showing Kindness, Showing Mercy, Good Morals, Overlooking others’ faults, forgiving others’ mistakes, Concept of Forgiveness)

 

قال الله عز وجل: { إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ} البقرة 173. ـ

       God the Exalted- says: { Truly, God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful} (surah 2, verse 173).

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        God -the Exalted- often describes Himself as: Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful, as stated in the verse above.  Indeed, God’s forgiveness and mercy know no bound.  God generously and continuously forgives the son of Adam even when s/he continues to be negligent, to do misdeeds, to fall into sins, and to be careless about other prohibited deeds.  But God by His Utmost Mercy and Favor, forgives the sons of Adam once they turn to Him and ask His forgiveness.

 

     So forgiveness is a Divine character and a mercy that God has bestowed upon His creatures.  As human beings favoured with a perceptive mind, we need to think about forgiveness, ponder upon it, and try to implement forgiveness ourselves in our daily lives and interactions.  Indeed, if God shows great Mercy and forgiveness toward His salves, then we as slaves of God should do that and treat others with forgiveness and mercy, too.

  In the another verse, God commands us to forgive people, and overlook their mistakes.

قال الله عز وجل:{ خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاهِلِينَ} الأعراف 199. ـ

God the Exalted says: { Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant} (surah 7, verse 199).


 

          There are many reasons for the high status of forgiveness, including:

  1)  Forgiveness is the basis of a good and strong relationship:

      As humans, we are not perfect and are prone to make errors and mistakes.   Therefore, we may mistreat others intentionally or unintentionally, we may offend others knowingly or unknowingly, and we may hurt others consciously or unconsciously.   While we are instructed to avoid causing anybody any harm, as humans we err and may end up causing harm. 

But while the offender should feel remorse and regret for his action, we need to show forgiveness and mercy on our side.  Only then can we have a healthy relationship and a solid platform to build friendship.  Thus, forgiveness and mercy are two essential components of any good relationship.

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  2)  Forgiveness teaches self-control and discipline, and results in higher honor:

 

     Some people may consider forgiveness as a sign of weakness.  But far from being a weakness, forgiveness is a sign of strength and honor, as only the person who has full control of his self and ego can forgive.  The proud and arrogant person lacks the ability, power, and discipline to overlook and forgive. 

Therefore, the Prophet explained that forgiveness actually increases the person in honor, just like charity increases the blessings of the money, even if people may think the opposite, as stated in the following hadith:

    عن أبي هُريرة رضيَ اللَّهُ عنه أَنَّ رسولَ اللَّه صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « مَا نَقَصَتْ صَدَقَةٌ مِنْ مَالٍ، وَمَا زَادَ اللَّهُ عَبْداً بِعَفْوٍ إِلاَّ عِزّاً، وَمَا تَوَاضَعَ أَحَدٌ للَّهِ إِلاَّ رَفَعَهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وجلَّ» .  رواه مسلم والترمذي . ـ

      Narrated Abu Hurairah -may God be pleased with him- that Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said:

Charity does not decreases wealth.  God increases the slave for a forgiveness but in honor.  And no one behaves modestly for the sake God, except God -the Almighty- would raise him.”  Related by Imam Muslim and Al-Tirmidhi.


 

Thus, Forgiveness is a sign of strength, honor and generosity, as explained by the Companion and Scholar Abu Ad-Darda’:

   وسئل أبو الدرداء رضي اللَّه عنه: عن أعز الناس؟ قال: الذي يعفو إذا قدر، فاعفوا يعزكم الله.

    Abu Ad-Darda’ -may God be pleased with him- was asked: “Who is the most honorable among people?”  He replied: “The one who forgives when he is able to punish. So forgive others, God would make you honorable.”


 

3)  Forgiveness purifies the heart of ill-feelings like malice and vengeance:

 

        Furthermore, forgiveness relieves the heart of much vexation and heartache that can cause sadness, anxiety, hatred, malice and other ill-feelings.  Moreover, forgiveness can result in the other party choosing the same path and asking for reconciliation, which puts an end to disputes and enmity. 

The Almighty God gave us an example of that: the story of Abu Sufyan Ibn Herb.

     Abu Sufyan Ibn Herb was the leader of Qureish and had taken every opportunity to fight against Prophet Muhammad and cause him harm.  But during the Conquest of Makkah, the Prophet showed him great mercy and forgave him.  After that, Abu Sufyan became one of his followers and one of his staunchest allies.  And about this forgiveness, God states:

    قال الله سبحانه وتعالى {وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ} فصلت 34.  

     God -the Exalted- says: {The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better, and thereupon he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend} (Surah 41, verse 34).


 

4)  Forgiveness has a great reward:

God has promised great reward for those who forgive others.  Whoever forgives people, God will forgive him.   Whoever pardons people, God will pardon him.  And whoever shows mercy to others, the Almighty God will show him mercy, as mentioned in the following hadith:

 

    عن عبد الله بن عمرو بن العاص رضي الله عنهما أنَّ رسولَ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « الرَّاحِمُونَ يَرْحَمُهُمُ الرَّحْمَنُ، ارْحَمُوا مَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ» .  رواه أبو داود والترمذي.

     Narrated Abdul-Allah Ibn Amr Ibn ‘Aas -may God be pleased with them- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said:

The merciful ones will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful.  Be merciful to those on earth, the One in heaven will be merciful to you.”  Related by Abu Dawood and Al-Tirmidhi.

Thus, whoever overlooks people’s mistakes, God will overlook his mistakes.  Whoever pardons others, God will pardon him.  Whoever accepts people’s excuses, God will accept his excuse.  And whoever forgives others, God will forgive him. 

 


 

5)  Forgiveness has a special reward on the Day of Judgment: 

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: « إِذَا كَانَ يَوْمُ الْقِيَامَةِ أَمَرَ اللَّهُ مُنَادِيًا يُنَادِي: أَلَا لِيَقُمْ مَنْ كَانَ لَهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ أَجْرٌ، فَلَا يَقُومُ إِلَّا مَنْ عَفَا فِي الدُّنْيَا، فَذَلِكَ قَوْلُهُ تعالى {فَمَنْ عَفَا وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ} (الشورى 40) ». أخرجه ابن مردويه، والبيهقي عن أنس في شعب الإيمان.   

    Narated Ibn Abbas -may God be pleased with them- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said:

When it is the Day of Judgment, God would command an angel to proclaim: ‘Let those who have any reward due with God rise.’  None would rise except those who forgave others in the world.  And that is the interpretation of the Verse: { But whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with God} (Surah 42, verse 40).”  Related by Ibn Merdaweih and Al-Beihaqi.

Thus, whoever forgives others in this life, will be called out to enter Paradise among the first group to enter Paradise, and will be distinguished with great reward on that most horrific and scary Day when people are experiencing varying levels of anxiety and distress.


Thus, Forgiveness is constantly needed in our daily interactions and everyday lives. 

Forgiveness is needed in many situations: with family members, with friends, in work, as well as in many other situations.

   A) Forgiveness toward Family Members. 

       The best example is the husband and his wife.  The couple can have many disputes and conflicts if they don’t learn to forgive each other.  A husband wishes for a perfect match, and a wife wishes for a perfect match, but that’s rarely the case as both are imperfect.  However, they need to learn this fact and need to learn to forgive each other.  The husband and his wife must learn to overlook the other’s shortcomings and forgive his or her mistakes and presumed injustices.  The same applies to other family members; they need to show forgiveness toward each other, and find excuses for each other’s mistakes.  It is through forgiveness and mercy that relationships are fostered and strengthened.

B) Forgiveness toward Friends. 

         Relationship with friends can be close at times, but it can be distant and difficult at other times.  They might get angry at something the friend said or did and so decide not to talk to them again.  However, we should show forgiveness toward our friends and overlook their mistakes.  We should try to find excuses for their mistakes and then forgive them.  Indeed, it is through forgiveness and mercy that friendship are fostered and strengthened.

C) Forgiveness in work. 

      We may find somebody less accomplished or weaker or less bright in work.  A boss would like to fire that man, while others will tend to condemn such a person.  However, if he is doing what he can then we need to forgive that person and realize that not all people are equal.  Likewise, when we see the poor, we shouldn’t condemn them and think the worst of them.  Rather we should forgive them, be kind to them and show them mercy.  We should remember that whoever forgives others, God will forgive him.  Maybe one day we would need that forgiveness when we may make a mistake.  As we would like others to understand our situation and pardon us, others expect that of us as well.


 

    Know that when we choose forgiveness and mercy as a way of life and as a character to implement in our houses, neighborhood, communities, in work, with family members, with friends and co-workers, and with society in general, then the community will be strong and loving, and the individual would be happy and lead a peaceful happy life.

Then, We should choose forgiveness and mercy as a way of life, and as a character to implement in all of our dealings.  We should learn to forgive people, accept their excuses and realize that no human is perfect.  We should realize that those who forgive people, will be forgiven by the Most Forgiving God, and that those who find excuses for people’s weakness and forgive them, will be helped by the Most Perfect God.  Finally, we must realize that happiness and peace lie in forgiveness, strong and healthy relationships start with forgiveness, and that forgiveness has a great reward; indeed God and His Messenger commanded us with forgiveness for these reasons.  And God knows best.

 

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“And They Repel Evil With Good”

(Keywords: Forgiveness, Pardoning others, forgiving others, forbearance, Showing Kindness, Showing Mercy, Good Morals, Overlooking others’ faults, forgiving others’ mistakes, Concept of Forgiveness)

 

       قال الله عز وجل: { وَالَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِمْ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنْفَقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ سِرًّا وَعَلَانِيَةً وَيَدْرَءُونَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ أُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ (22) جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ يَدْخُلُونَهَا وَمَنْ صَلَحَ مِنْ آَبَائِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَذُرِّيَّاتِهِمْ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ يَدْخُلُونَ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ كُلِّ بَابٍ (23) سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ بِمَا صَبَرْتُمْ فَنِعْمَ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ} الرعد 22-24.

    God the Exalted- says: {

22. And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them secretly and publicly,

 and repel evil with good, for such there will the good consequence of [this] home.

23. Gardens of perpetual residence; in which they will enter with whoever were righteous among their fathers, their spouses and their descendants. And the angels will enter upon them from every gate, [saying],

24. “Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent indeed is the final home!” } (Surah 13, verse 22-24).


 

Interpretation of the Verse:

 

   قال ابن كثير في تفسير الآية: (أي يدفعون القبيح بالحسن، فإذا آذاهم أحد قابلوه بالجميل صبرا واحتمالا وصفحا وعفوا).  ـ

Ibn Katheer said: “ ‘Repel evil with good’ means they fend off evil with good conduct.  If anybody caused them harms, they respond with kindness out of patience, forbearing, pardon, and forgiveness.

وعن الحسن في قوله تعالى {وَيَدْرَءُونَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ} الرعد 22، قال: ( إذا حُرِمُوا أَعطوا، وإذا ظُلِمُوا عَفَوْا، وإذا قُطِعُوا وصلوا).  ـ

   Al-Hasan said: “ ‘Repel evil with good’ means: When they are denied, they give. When they are treated unjustly, they forgive. And when their relations are severed, they maintain it.”

      وقال ابن زيد: ( يدفعون الشر بالخير، لا يكافئون الشر بالشر، ولكن يدفعونه بالخير).  ـ

    Ibn Zaid said: “‘Repel evil with good’ means: They ward off the evil act with a good act; they don’t repay the evil act with an evil act, rather they ward it off with a good act.”

وعن سعيد بن جبير، قال: (“ويدرؤون”: يعني يدفعون، “بالحسنة السيئة”: يعني يردون معروفاً على من يسيء إليه، “أولئك لهم عقبى الدار”: يعني دار الجنة).  ـ

Sa’eed Ibn Jubair said: “ Repel evil with good: means they repay those who mistreat them with a good act.  For such there will the good consequence of [this] home: means the dwelling of Paradise.”


 

Thus, one of the characteristics of the People of Paradise is that they repel evil with good.  When someone treats the true believer with a bad word, then he only responds with a good word.  So not only does he show forgiveness and pardons the offender, he goes one step further and shows his high morals by overlooking the negative remark and instead responding with a good word and polite manner.  Therefore, God has promised them perpetual or eternal gardens in Paradise.

 

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