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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A Man from Paradise

(Keywords: Purifying Inner Self, Getting rid of Vices, Mending the Self, Islah Al-Batin)

    عن أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه قال: ( كنا جلوسا مع رسول الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم فقال: « يَطلُعُ الآن عليكم رجلٌ من أهل الجنة»، فطلع رجل من الأنصار تنظُفُ لحيتُه من وضوئه، قد علق نعليه بيده الشمال،  فلما كان الغد قال النبي صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم مثل ذلك، فطلع ذلك الرجل مثل المرة الأولى، فلما كان اليوم الثالث قال النبي صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم مثل مقالته أيضا، فطلع ذلك الرجل على مثل حاله الأول،  فلما قام النبي صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم تبعه عبد الله بن عمرو فقال: إني لاحيتُ (أي خاصمت) أبي، فأقسمت أني لا أدخل عليه ثلاثا، فإن رأيت أن تؤويني إليك حتى تمضي فعلت، قال: نعم، قال أنس: فكان عبد الله يحدث أنه بات معه تلك الثلاث الليالي فلم يره يقوم من الليل شيئا، غير أنه إذا تعارَّ (أي استيقظ) تقلَّب على فراشه ذكر الله عز وجل، وكبر حتى صلاة الفجر. ـ

قال عبد الله : غير أني لم أسمعه يقول إلا خيرا، فلما مضت الثلاث الليالي وكدت أن أحتقر عمله، قلت: يا عبد الله لم يكن بيني وبين أبي غضب ولا هجرة، ولكن سمعت رسول الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم يقول لك ثلاث مرات: « يَطلُعُ عليكم الآن رجلٌ من أهل الجنة»، فطلعت أنت الثلاث المرات فأردت أن آوي إليك فأنظر ما عملك فأقتدي بك، فلم أرك عملتَ كبيرَ عملٍ، فما الذي بلغ بك ما قال رسول الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم؟  قال: ما هو إلا ما رأيت. فلما وليت دعاني، فقال: ما هو إلا ما رأيت غير أني لا أجد في نفسي لأحد من المسلمين غِشا، ولا أحسُد أحدا على خير أعطاه الله إياه، فقال عبد الله : هذه التي بلغت بك) .  رواه أحمد بإسناد على شرط البخاري ومسلم والنسائي وأبو يعلى والبزار وسمى الرجل المبهم سعدا. ـ

زاد النسائي في رواية له والبيهقي والأصبهاني فقال عبد الله : (هذه التي بلغت بك، وهي التي لا نُطِيق ) . ـ

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Narrated Anas Ibn Malik -may God be pleased with him- said: “While we were sitting with the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him, he said: ‘A man from the people of Paradise will come out to you now.’  So a man from the tribe of Al-Ansaar came out, whose beard was dripping from his ablution, and he had hung his shoes in his left hand.

When the following morning came, Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said the same thing, so the same man came out like the first time.

On the third day, Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said the same thing again, and the same man came out in the same condition.

When the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- left, Abdul-Allah Ibn Amr followed the Ansaari man and said to him: ‘I have quarreled with my father and I have sworn to avoid him for three days, so if you could let me stay with you until they pass.’  He replied: ‘Yes.’

Anas said: Abdul-Allah Ibn Amr related that he slept those three nights in the Ansaari man’s house, and he did not see him praying any voluntary prayers at night.  However, whenever he woke up, he would roll over on his bed and mention God -the Almighty- and say Allahu akbar (God is the Greatest) until the dawn prayer.

Abdul-Allah Ibn Amr said: ‘But I only heard him speaking good.  And when the three nights had passed and I almost scorned his deed, I said to him: O Abdul-Allah, there was not any quarrel or abandonment between my father and me, but I heard the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- saying three times about you: `A man from the people of Paradise will come out to you now,`  and you came out on the three times.  So I wanted to stay with you to find about your deed, and do likewise.  But I haven’t seen you doing any great deed, so what made you reach what the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- had mentioned.’  He replied: ‘I have nothing except what you saw.’  As I was leaving, he called me back and said: ‘I have nothing except what you saw, but I do not find within myself any deceitfulness for any of the Muslims, and I do not feel jealous toward anyone for any good that God has granted him.’

So Abdul-Allah Ibn Amr said: ‘This is what made you reach that degree.’ ”  And in another narration: “Abdul-Allah said: ‘This is what made you reach that degree, and it is what we cannot bear doing.’ ”   Related by Imam Ahmad with a narration based on Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim, and Al-Nasa’ee, Al-Beihaqi, Abu Ya’la, Al-Asbahani, and Al-Bazzar (Who named the obscure man: Sa’ad).

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          Islam places great emphasis on righteousness and piety.  The Muslim is commanded to obey God, by doing what God has obligated and staying away from what God has forbidden.  Thus, the Muslim is instructed to do all obligatory deeds (wajibat) and refrain from sins and misdeeds.

But beside paying attention to outer deeds and action, Islam has placed great emphasis on purifying the inner self as well.  So while it is important to engage in worship and avoid all sins with the limbs, it is equally important to work on the inner heart and try to adorn the self with good traits like modesty, generosity, forgiveness and the like, and to rid the inner self of vices like pride, jealousy, cheating, etc.

The Muslim does not attain full Faith (Iman) until he mends both his outer and inner self.  The Muslim should be concerned with his outer action by trying to obey God in all of his action, but the Muslim should also be concerned with his inner self and try to adorn it with good traits and try to rid the inner self of vices.

Once the Muslim mends his inner and outer self, then he would attain full Faith (Iman) and will get higher grades in Paradise.  Therefore, Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- pointed to the same man as being ‘a man from Paradise’ for three consecutive days. 

And when Abdul-Allah Ibn Amr stayed with the same man for three days, he couldn’t detect any extra worship or many good voluntary deeds.  But when Abdul-Allah asked him directly, the man denied anything at first, but as Abdul-Allah was leaving, he casually enlightened about the real reason. 

The man said that he doesn’t find in himself any ill-feelings for others.  In other words, he had purified his inner self.  So not only did he obey God outwardly, but he also mended his inner self, so it was adorned with modesty (as seen from his denial of being good), generosity (as seen from his welcoming Abdul-Allah as a guest for three days), and piety (as seen from his avoidance of sins). 

Furthermore, the man had purified his inner self of vices so he stated that he didn’t have any ill-feelings for others.  Abdul-Allah Ibn Amr got the message and exclaimed: Then that was why the Messenger of Allah declared you to be a man from Paradise for three consecutive days.

Then, the Muslim is advised to try to obey God by doing good deeds and avoid sins, but also by trying to mend his inner self by adorning it with good traits and ridding it of vices.  And God and His Messenger know best.

 

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