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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The Innumerous Blessings

‏        عن جابرِ بنِ عبد اللَّهِ رضي الله عنهما قال: ( خَرَجَ عَلَيْنَا النَّبِيُّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم، فَقَالَ: « خَرَجَ مِنْ عِنْدِي خَلِيلِي جِبْرِيلُ آنِفًا فَقَالَ: يَا محمَّد، وَالَّذِي بَعَثَكَ بِالْحَقِّ إِنَّ لِلَّهِ عَبْدًا مِنْ عَبِيدِهِ، عَبَدَ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى خَمْسَمِائَةِ سَنَةٍ عَلَى رَأْسِ جَبَلٍ فِي الْبَحْرِ عَرْضُهُ وَطُولُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ ذِرَاعًا فِي ثَلَاثِينَ ذِرَاعًا، وَالْبَحْرُ مُحِيطٌ بِهِ أَرْبَعَةَ آلَافِ فَرْسَخٍ مِنْ كُلِّ نَاحِيَةٍ، وَأَخْرَجَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى لَهُ عَيْنًا عَذْبَةً بِعَرْضِ الْأُصْبَعِ تَبِضُّ بِمَاءٍ عَذْبٍ فَتَسْتَنْقِعُ فِي أَسْفَلِ الْجَبَلِ، وَشَجَرَةَ رُمَّانٍ تُخْرِجُ لَهُ كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ رُمَّانَةً فَتُغَذِّيهِ يَوْمَهُ، فَإِذَا أَمْسَى نَزَلَ فَأَصَابَ مِنَ الْوَضُوءِ وَأَخَذَ تِلْكَ الرُّمَّانَةَ فَأَكَلَهَا ثُمَّ قَامَ لِصَلَاتِهِ، فَسَأَلَ رَبَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عِنْدَ وَقْتِ الْأَجَلِ أَنْ يَقْبِضَهُ سَاجِدًا، وَأَنْ لَا يَجْعَلَ لِلْأَرْضِ وَلَا لِشَيْءٍ يُفْسِدُهُ عَلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا حَتَّى بَعَثَهُ وَهُوَ سَاجِدٌ، قَالَ: فَفَعَلَ، فَنَحْنُ نَمُرُّ عَلَيْهِ إِذَا هَبَطْنَا وَإِذَا عَرَجْنَا.

 فَنَجِدُ لَهُ فِي الْعِلْمِ أَنَّهُ يُبْعَثُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيُوقَفُ بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فَيَقُولُ لَهُ الرَّبُّ: أَدْخِلُوا عَبْدِي الْجَنَّةَ بِرَحْمَتِي، فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ بَلْ بِعَمَلِي، فَيَقُولُ الرَّبُّ: أَدْخِلُوا عَبْدِي الْجَنَّةَ بِرَحْمَتِي، فَيَقُولُ: يَا رَبِّ بَلْ بِعَمَلِي، فَيَقُولُ الرَّبُّ: أَدْخِلُوا عَبْدِي الْجَنَّةَ بِرَحْمَتِي، فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ بَلْ بِعَمَلِي،  فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ: قَايِسُوا عَبْدِي بِنِعْمَتِي عَلَيْهِ وَبِعَمَلِهِ.  فَتُوجَدُ نِعْمَةُ الْبَصَرِ قَدْ أَحَاطَتْ بِعِبَادَةِ خَمْسِ مِائَةِ سَنَةٍ وَبَقِيَتْ نِعْمَةُ الْجَسَدِ فَضْلًا عَلَيْهِ، فَيَقُولُ: أَدْخِلُوا عَبْدِي النَّارَ.

  قَالَ فَيُجَرُّ إِلَى النَّارِ فَيُنَادِي: رَبِّ بِرَحْمَتِكَ أَدْخِلْنِي الْجَنَّةَ، فَيَقُولُ: رُدُّوهُ فَيُوقَفُ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ، فَيَقُولُ: يَا عَبْدِي، مَنْ خَلَقَكَ وَلَمْ تَكُ شَيْئًا؟  فَيَقُولُ: أَنْتَ يَا رَبِّ،  فَيَقُولُ: كَانَ ذَلِكَ مِنْ قِبَلِكَ أَوْ بِرَحْمَتِي؟  فَيَقُولُ: بَلْ بِرَحْمَتِكَ.  فَيَقُولُ: مَنْ قَوَّاكَ لِعِبَادَةِ خَمْسِ مِائَةِ عَامٍ؟  فَيَقُولُ: أَنْتَ يَا رَبِّ،  فَيَقُولُ: مَنْ أَنْزَلَكَ فِي جَبَلٍ وَسَطَ اللُّجَّةِ وَأَخْرَجَ لَكَ الْمَاءَ الْعَذْبَ مِنَ الْمَاءِ الْمَالِحِ وَأَخْرَجَ لَكَ كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ رُمَّانَةً وَإِنَّمَا تَخْرُجُ مَرَّةً فِي السَّنَةِ، وَسَأَلْتَنِي أَنْ أَقْبِضَكَ سَاجِدًا فَفَعَلْتُ ذَلِكَ بِكَ؟  فَيَقُولُ: أَنْتَ يَا رَبِّ،  فَقَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: فَذَلِكَ بِرَحْمَتِي وَبِرَحْمَتِي أُدْخِلُكَ الْجَنَّةَ، أَدْخِلُوا عَبْدِيَ الْجَنَّةَ فَنِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ كُنْتَ يَا عَبْدِي، فَيُدْخِلُهُ اللَّهُ الْجَنَّةَ. قَالَ جِبْرِيلُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ: إِنَّمَا الْأَشْيَاءُ بِرَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى يَا محمَّد» .  رواه الحاكم.

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         Narrated Jabir Ibn Abdil-Allah -may God be pleased with them- said: “Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- came out to us and said:

‘My close companion Angel Gabriel just left me and he had said: `O Muhammad, by the One Who sent you with the true message, there is a slave of God, who worshipped the Almighty God for 500 years.  The slave was granted a shelter on top of a mountain whose length and width were thirty by thirty arm-lengths, and which was surrounded by the sea for four thousand leagues from all sides.  The Almighty God made a stream of fresh water with the width of a finger to flow through the mountain and collect at the mountain base for him.  The Almighty God also raised for him a pomegranate tree that grew one pomegranate every night from which the man would eat during the day.  Every evening, the man would go down, make ablution, and eat from that pomegranate, then stand up in prayer to his Lord.

The man supplicated his Lord -the Almighty- to take his soul while in prostration, and guard him against the earth and everything else until he would be resurrected in that state.

Angel Gabriel said: the Almighty God answered his supplication and granted his prayer.  So whenever we come down to the Earth or go up to the sky, we find this man (dead) but in a perpetual state of prostration to God.

          We find in the future knowledge that on the Day of Judgment, the Almighty God would say to the the angels: ‘Take this slave of Mine to Paradise with My Mercy.’   But the man would say: ‘O Lord, reward me with my good deeds.’  The Lord would say: ‘Take My Slave to Paradise with My Mercy.’  But the man would say: ‘O Lord, reward me with my good deeds.’  The Lord would say: ‘Take My Slave to Paradise with My Mercy.’   But the man would say: ‘O Lord, reward me with my good deeds.’

So the Almighty God would instruct the angels: ‘Measure his good deeds in comparison to My blessings on him.’  It would be found that 500 years of his worship would not even equal the blessings of the eyesight, and the bounty of the rest of his body would still remain in excess.

So God would say to the angels: ‘Take My slave to Hell-Fire.’  The man would be dragged toward Hell-Fire but he would plead: ‘O Lord, let me enter Paradise with Your Mercy.’   God would say: ‘Bring him back.’

The Almighty God would then say to him: ‘O My slave, Who created you from non-existence?’  The man would reply: ‘You have created me, O My Lord.’  God would say: ‘That was because of you or because of My Mercy?’  The man would reply: ‘Rather because of Your Mercy.’  God would say: ‘Who granted you the ability to worship for 500 years?’  The man would reply: ‘You, O My Lord.’  God would say: ‘Who placed you on the mountain surrounded by the ocean? Who created a stream of fresh water to flow in between the salty water? Who made a pomegranate to grow every night for you while it grows once a year?  And you supplicated Me to take your soul in a state of prostration, who did that?’  The man would reply: ‘‘You, O My Lord.’

The Almighty God would say: ‘Indeed, all of that happened with My Mercy, and with My Mercy you will enter Paradise.  Take My slave to Paradise.  Indeed, a righteous and good servant you were, O My slave.’  So God would let him enter Paradise.  Angel Gabriel -peace be upon him- said: O Muhammad, everything is by the Mercy of the Almighty God.` ’ ”  Related by Al-Haakim.

 

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Indeed, humans have been granted blessings in everything: in health, in wealth, in progeny, in food, in dwelling, and in everything.  Yet, man being ungrateful often dwells on the few problems he has and forgets the many blessings he enjoys. 

God says in Qur’an: { And God has given you of all that you asked for, and if you try to count the blessings of God, never will you be able to count them. Verily, man is indeed most unjust, ungrateful} (Surah 14, verse 34).  Man is unjust when he uses the blessings of God in a bad way or to do sins, and he is ungrateful when he does not thank God for the many blessings but only remembers the few problems he may have.

          The Muslim should thank God for every single blessing he has and should never take it for granted.  And in case a problem or a calamity strikes him, then instead of focusing on this one single problem the Muslim should think of the many other blessings that God has granted him and should thank God for them.

In another verse, God says: { And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you thank Me, I will give you more; but if you are thankless, verily, My punishment is indeed severe”} (Surah 14, verse 7).  Thus, God promises increase and prosperity for those who thank Him and loss and punishment for those who are ungrateful.

          The Mercy of God is limitless and has no bound, but the Muslim is asked to take some effort and try to get the most of that mercy by obeying God’s commands, avoiding sins, and showing thankfulness and gratitude to God.  Indeed, the Muslim should thank God for every single blessing he has and never take it for granted, rather should know that these blessings are only possible because of the favor of God and His Great Mercy.  And God and His Messenger know best.

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The Repentant and the Command to Repent

 

عن أبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قالَ: قالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: «‏ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَوْ لَمْ تُذْنِبُوا لَذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِكُمْ وَلَجَاءَ بِقَوْمٍ يُذْنِبُونَ فَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ اللَّهَ فَيَغْفِرُ لَهُمْ».  رواه مسلم وأحمد.

 

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him: the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, if you were not to commit sins, Allah would replace you with a people who would commit sins and then seek forgiveness from Allah; and He would forgive them.”  (Related by Muslim and Ahmad).

Allah, the Creator and the Most Knowledgeable, describes the son of Adam in His Holy Book as follows: {And man was created weak} (Surah 4, verse 28). The word ‘weak’ aptly describes the son of Adam, no matter how lofty he considers himself and how arrogantly he tries to elevate himself.  Not only is man weak in his body, but he is also weak in the face of temptations and self-desires.

When disease strikes the son of Adam, only then does he realize the limitation of his strength; when sickness cripples his limbs, only then he realizes the fragility of his health; and when old age overtakes him, only then he realizes the little power he possesses. Likewise, in the face of strong temptations and desires, man realizes how weak he is in controlling his inner self–except for those whom Allah gives strength.

Thus, the Muslim is urged to seek Allah’s help in all of his affairs, to present his needs before the Mighty One, and to ask for His forgiveness and pray for redemption. While Allah is Most Merciful to His creation, the son of Adam is asked to follow Allah’s commands and refrain from disobedience.

But since man is weak and will inevitably commit sins, the Prophet ﷺ instructed the Muslim in the hadith above to seek forgiveness from Allah the Exalted, as soon as one slips and commits a sin. The Muslim is urged to repent of his sin and promise His Lord to abandon that sin. The Muslim is also commanded to ask for Allah’s forgiveness and to feel regret over his slip and transgression.

There are two common misconceptions concerning the above hadith. First, this hadith is not an invitation to commit sins; indeed, Allah is displeased when His commands are violated and has created Hell for those who disobey Him. Instead, the hadith is an invitation towards repentance: Allah loves repentance so much that He would rather see weak people inevitably slip and repent, instead of seeing strong people who never slip and thus have no need to repent. Thus, this hadith should not be considered an excuse to commit sins; rather it should be looked at as encouragement to abandon sins whenever they happen, to repent, and to return to Allah and fulfill His obligations.

The second misconceptions is the notion that whoever commits sins is in Hell. The hadith dispels this notion by reminding the Muslim of the great mercy of Allah and of his vast forgiveness. Indeed, an inkling of this limitless mercy can be seen in the following authentic hadith:

عَنْ أَبِي مُوسَى، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: « إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَبْسُطُ يَدَهُ بِاللَّيْلِ لِيَتُوبَ مُسِيءُ النَّهَارِ، وَيَبْسُطُ يَدَهُ بِالنَّهَارِ لِيَتُوبَ مُسِيءُ اللَّيْلِ، حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا».  رواه مسلم.

Abu Musa reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, stretches out His Hand during the night so that the sinner of the day may repent; and He stretches out His Hand during the day so that the sinner of the night may repent. (He accepts repentance) before the sun rises from the west (i.e. before the Day of Judgment).”  (Related by Muslim).

Allah’s mercy has no bounds; it is limitless and eternal. Part of seeking Allah’s mercy is repenting to Him, as the following hadith urges:

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه عن النبي صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « لو أخطأتم حتى تبلغ خطاياكم السماء، ثم تبتم لتاب عليكم». رواه ابن ماجه.

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “If you committed sins until your sins reached the sky, then repented, Allah would accept your repentance.”  (Related by Ibn Majah).

Thus, the Muslim should never despair of the vast mercy of Allah, but should always seek it and do his best to receive it. The Muslim is urged to return to Allah and to take advantage of this great bounty before it is too late. Now there is time for repentance while we are alive. As for those who indulge in sins and ignore Allah’s commands, then they may be punished.  Allah the Exalted has given us this warning in Qur’an in the most gentle way. Allah says:

53.{Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins), do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

  1. And turn in repentance to your Lord and submit to Him, before the punishment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.
  2. And follow the best of that which is revealed to you from your Lord (i.e. this Qur’an, do what it orders you to do and keep away from what it forbids), before the punishment comes upon you suddenly while you do not perceive!
  3. Lest a person should say: “Alas, my grief that I was undutiful to Allah (i.e. I have not done what Allah has ordered me to do), and I was indeed among those who mocked [at the truth]”.
  4. Or (lest) he should say: “If only Allah had guided me, I would have been among the pious and righteous (Muttaqun).”
  5. Or (lest) he should say when he sees the punishment: “If only I had another chance (to return to the world) then I should indeed be among the doers of good (Muhsinun).”} (Surah 39, verses 53-58).

Thus the sensible Muslim is the one who takes heed of the warning of His Lord and tries his best to follow His command to get His reward. The prudent Muslim is the one who is forewarned and tries to resist temptations and self-desires to attain eternal bliss, and if he slips and commits a sin then he soon repents and returns to Allah the Exalted. And the wise Muslim is the one who repents to Allah during day and night, and tries to get the greatest share of Allah’s limitless mercy by constantly asking His forgiveness and vast bounty and by trying his best to follow Allah’s commands and avoid things He has forbidden.  And Allah knows best.

“Preserve God’s Commands, He will Preserve you!”

 

عن ابنِ عبَّاسٍ رضيَ اللَّه عنهمَا قال: كُنْتُ خَلْفَ النَّبِيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم يوْماً فَقال: « يَا غُلامُ إِنِّي أُعلِّمُكَ كَلِمَاتٍ: احْفَظِ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْكَ، احْفَظِ اللَّهَ تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَكَ، إِذَا سَأَلْتَ فَاسْأَلِ اللَّهَ، وَإِذَا اسْتَعَنْتَ فَاسْتَعِنْ بِاللَّهِ، واعلَمْ أَنَّ الأُمَّةَ لَوِ اجْتَمَعَتْ عَلَى أَنْ يَنْفعُوكَ بِشيْءٍ، لَمْ يَنْفعُوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَد كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ لَكَ، وإِنِ اجْتَمَعُوا عَلَى أَنْ يَضُرُّوكَ بِشَيْءٍ، لَمْ يَضُرُّوكَ إِلاَّ بَشَيْءٍ قد كَتَبَهُ اللَّه عليْكَ، رُفِعَتِ الأقْلامُ، وجَفَّتِ الصُّحُفُ».  رواهُ التِّرْمذيُّ.

Narrated Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father: “I was riding behind the Prophet ﷺ once when he said: ‘O boy!  I will teach you some words (so learn them).  Be mindful of Allah; He will protect you. Safeguard His obligations; Allah will be on your side. If you ask for assistance, ask Allah, and if you seek help, seek it from Allah. Know that if all people gather their strength to benefit you, they will never benefit you with anything except that which Allah has foreordained for you.  And if all of them gather their strength to harm you, they will never be able to harm you with anything except that which Allah had pre-destined against you.  The pens had been raised, and the ink had dried up.’” (Related by Al-Tirmidhi).

The Prophet ﷺ gave his young cousin Abdullah Ibn Abbas–who went on to become the learned scholar of this nation–advice that should be written with ink of gold and engraved on stone so it can be remembered forever. This hadith is one of the Jawami’ al-Kalim: ‘Concise and Comprehensive words’ of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, full of the eloquence that indicates the true message of the Prophet ﷺ.

Indeed, every word of this hadith deserves a volume by itself, but here we briefly focus on the statement:

(احْفَظِ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْكَ، احْفَظِ اللَّهَ تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَكَ)

 Preserve (the Commands of) Allah, He will preserve you. And keep the rules of Allah, He will be there for you.

 

If we ponder upon this statement, we will find that it contains the path to success in both this life and the Hereafter. This worldly life has been created with troubles and tribulations as a test for the son of Adam, and he then chooses to believe and show patience and gratitude or to disbelieve and display ingratitude and impatience.  As Allah the Exalted states in Qur’an: {He (God) is the One Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft- Forgiving} (Surah 67, verse 2).  Thus, every person experiences some troubles and difficulties in his daily life, some minor and some major.

But Islam also teaches us how to deal with these problems and troubles. In the above hadith, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ explains that the first step to overcome problems is to obey the commands of Allah and observe His rules in everything. Consequently, just as we try our best to preserve the commands of Allah, Allah will preserve us and be there for us when we need Him.

Indeed, when the Muslim is afflicted with a calamity or trouble, the first thing he does is raise his hands to Allah and seek His help. And as the Prophet ﷺ explained in the above statement, the pious Muslim’s call for help is answered faster, and his need is fulfilled sooner–as a result of his safeguarding of Allah’s obligations. Despite how severe his calamity may be, sooner or later a solution or a way out of his trouble is found for him.  As Allah the Exalted states: {And whoever fears Allah, He will make for him a way out (of difficulty).  And He will provide for him from where he does not expect} (Surah 65, verses 2-3).  Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said concerning this verse: “Allah will deliver him from every difficulty of this world and the Hereafter.”

Consider the other situation, when a man is busy with sins and following self-desires; when calamity or trouble befalls him, he is left with no support and no real help. Naturally, he too turns to his Creator and seeks His help.  But the help may or may not come, and it may come at a much later point, leaving him anxious, worried, and depressed. More significantly, this anxiety may raise self-doubts and ungrounded assumptions in the weak person’s heart. Thus, his initial lack of obedience becomes a cause of the weakening of his faith. This is in contrast to the pious person who is firm in his belief and has full trust in his deliverance and aid from his Lord.

But it is never late to return to Allah, the Most Merciful.  Indeed, troubles sometimes act as a reminder to the slave to get back to his Lord. And when the Muslim repents of his sins and observes Allah’s commands, the limitless mercy of Allah encompasses him, and it is hoped that he will find a way out of his trouble despite his sinful past. As Allah the Exalted states in Qur’an: {Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins), do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” And turn in repentance to your Lord and submit to Him, before the punishment comes upon you, then you will not be helped} (Surah 39, verses 53-54).

Thus, we see the effects of the statement: “Preserve (the Commands of) Allah, He will preserve you.  And Keep the rules of Allah, He will be there for you,” both in this life and the Hereafter. In this life, the pious Muslim experiences the blessings of steadfastness and firmness in religion and full trust in Allah in the face of difficulties and troubles, as well as a forthcoming solution for his troubles that soon materializes by the Will of the Almighty (though the Muslim is asked to take every effort to consult the people of knowledge and find a solution). And in the Hereafter, the pious Muslim wins the Pleasure of Allah, along with Paradise and the Eternal Bliss. To paraphrase Ibn Abbas, through this piety a person thus gains the happiness of this world and the next. We ask Allah to grant us this gift.  And Allah knows best.

Most Beloved

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ sent some cavalry towards Najd. They captured a man from the tribe of Bani Hanifa, who was called Thumama Ibn Uthal, and he was the chief of the people of Yamama.  They tied him to one of the pillars of the Mosque.

The Prophet ﷺ went to him and said: ‘What do you have, O Thumama?’  He replied: ‘I have goodness, O Muhammad. If you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody, and if you should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful, and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ left him for two days.

He ﷺ then came back to him and asked: ‘What do you have, O Thumama?’  He replied: ‘What I have already told you: if you should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful; if you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody; and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ left him until the next day.

He ﷺ then came back to him and said: ‘What do you have, O Thumama?’ He replied: ‘I have what I have already told you: if you should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful; if you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody; and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.’  Upon that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Set Thumama free.’

So Thumama went to a garden of date-palm trees near the Mosque, took a bath, and then entered the Mosque and said: ‘I testify that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.  By Allah, O Muhammad, there was no face on the surface of the earth most disliked by me than yours, but now your face has become the most beloved face to me.  By Allah, there was no religion most disliked by me than yours, but now your religion (of Islam) is the most beloved religion to me. And by Allah, there was no city most disliked by me than your town, but now your town is the most beloved city to me. Your cavalry captured me (at the time) when I was intending to perform Umrah. So what do you think I should do?’

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ gave him good tidings (congratulated him) and instructed him to proceed with Umrah.

When Thumama reached Makkah, somebody asked him: ‘Have you renounced your religion?’  He replied: ‘No, rather I have embraced Islam with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. By Allah, you will not get a single grain of wheat from Yamama until the Messenger of Allah ﷺ gives permission for that.’ ”

(Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

We see the high moral character of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in many aspects of this story. Thumama was already wanted by the Muslims as he had killed some of them, and yet the Prophet received him calmly and in the best manner. It is related in another narration that the Prophet displayed hospitality and ordered his own camel to be milked for Thumama.  In addition to that, we see the amiable demeanor of the Prophet ﷺ with his captive; he showed him no signs of threat or aggressiveness or torture.  Quite the opposite: the Prophet treated his captive with honor, generosity, and forgiveness.

In the face of such treatment and high moral code, Thumama was captivated by this noble character and had no choice but to admit to the truthfulness of Prophet Muhammad’s Divine Message.  Thumama then made his famous statement and expressed his true feelings:

By Allah, O Muhammad, there was no face on the surface of the earth most disliked by me than yours, but now your face has become the most beloved face to me.  By Allah, there was no religion most disliked by me than yours, but now your religion is the most beloved religion to me.

Indeed, what great words, and what wonderful meanings they contain.  For indeed, whoever comes to know Allah and His Messenger ﷺ will find inner peace, enlightenment, and true happiness that sustain him throughout life and after death, such that he attains pleasure in both this world and the Hereafter.  It is this great feeling that Thumama expressed in his words and this beautiful meaning that he tried to convey.  Thumama also expressed his appreciation of his new faith in action as well.  Ibn Hisham reported that when Thumama was a prisoner, he used to complain of the little food they brought him although the Muslims served him as much as they could.  But when they presented the same food to him after he embraced Islam, he ate little and showed contentment. The Muslims wondered at his change of behavior, so the Prophet ﷺ alerted them to the fact that his Islam now took precedence.

Finally, it is related that Thumama, who was the chief of Yamama, stopped all supplies and provision from reaching Quraysh in Makkah for their ill treatment of the Muslims, until they suffered shortage of food due to that embargo. Quraysh sought the aid of the Prophet ﷺ in this matter, beseeching him to maintain their kinship. Again we see the high moral code of the Prophet ﷺ and his high level of compassion: he wrote to Thumama asking him to let supplies pass to Quraysh. Thumama did so, appreciating the mercy, compassion, and true human feelings of the Prophet of Allah, prayer and blessings be upon him.

Thus, we see many lessons in this story that the Muslim should learn and try to emulate.  Indeed, as shown by both words and action of the Prophet ﷺ, positive morals and exceptional manners are an integral part of our religion of Islam. In this story, we see the embodiment of mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and morals in the best way possible. These traits and characteristics should be the target and goal of Muslims in their daily lives. And Allah knows best.