بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
By Amina Salau
“…and who restrain anger and who pardon other people; for Allah loves the good doers.” (Qur’an 3:134)
Whenever I come across this verse, I always imagine how it must have felt for the Prophet (sa) to forgive and unite with the people of Makkah. With over a decade of persecution, betrayal, and outright hostility towards him, Islam, and the early companions, one cannot but marvel at the personality of the Prophet (sa) as a forgiving person. Forgiveness is not an easy attribute for human beings. Because it is so closely associated with the feeling of being hurt, a lot of people find it difficult to forgive easily when they have been wronged.
When someone’s actions have a negative impact on us, we are bound to feel hurt and become angry at the person. However, as human beings, we make mistakes and there is almost no way you will go through life without offending someone or the other. What makes an offence better is when we seek the forgiveness of those whom we have hurt, and seek to make peace with them.
The Qur’an, Hadiths, and biographies of the early companions all point to forgiveness as an attribute of a good Muslim. The story of Prophet Yusuf (as) is a very good lesson on the importance of forgiving other people. His brothers were jealous of the love their father showed towards Yusuf, and as such, plotted to kill him. After plotting their mischief, they threw Yusuf into a well where he was later found and sold into slavery. They went back home to lie to their father that Yusuf had been eaten by a wolf.
Allah’s promise to Prophet Yusuf raised him out of his adversity and made him a wealthy man to whom his brothers would later come for assistance. When they discovered that the wealthy man they were asking for help was indeed their own brother, they sought his forgiveness. Yusuf forgave his brothers and took care of them. The moral of this story lies in the benefit of forgiving other people and these benefits go a long way in making us better people and keeping the Ummah united.
- Forgiveness relieves you from burden. In as much as the person that has hurt you is burdened by the guilt, you are also burdened by the weight of the anger you have towards them. Forgiving those who hurt us means that we are freeing our mind from the issue, and we are letting go. When this happens, the heart is lighter and worry-free.
- Forgiveness endears people to you. Whoever has a reputation as a mean or unforgiving person will not be liked by people. Because of this, people are bound to stay away from such a person so as not to earn their wrath. On the contrary, someone who forgives easily is more endearing to people because they know he/she is amiable.
- Forgiveness promotes good human relationships. Your attitude towards anyone who has offended you says a lot about you. Do you retain malice for long because you were hurt by someone? Or do you make sure that you retaliate and hurt the person back? When one is quick to forgive and reconcile, people automatically feel at ease in your company, become friendlier to you, and want to be around you. The positive energy that comes from being a good person is loved by people.
- Forgiveness strengthens family ties. Looking at the story of Prophet Yusuf, the benefits of forgiveness in family relationships is very glaring. Had he been angry and determined to retaliate, he would have had his brothers killed or sold into slavery. He had the power to do that, but doing so would not have erased what they had done to him. By forgiving them, Prophet Yusuf reunited his family with feelings of love and brotherhood. Lack of forgiveness brings bad blood between people, and this kills ties of kinship.
- Forgiveness earns us reward from Allah (st). The verse quoted above shows that Allah loves the good doers. The Prophet (sa) reminds us of the love of Allah for anyone who forgives his fellow human beings. This is enough motivation for us to hasten to forgive those who hurt us. After forgiving them, the Prophet (sa) was even known to pray for those who had hurt him.
Forgiveness is important in our personal and spiritual relationships, as it is a trait that allows us to live in harmony, love, and kindness with other people. May Allah make us among those who forgive easily and earn His pleasure.
Amina Salau is a freelance writer who is passionate about women’s issues in Islam
© IIPH 2015