A Forgiving Heart
“It’s okay. I forgive you”.
How many instances in our life do we find ourselves uttering this sentence? And in the few moments that we do, how many times do we mean it? See, it’s hard to apologise for something wrong that we did because frankly, no one likes to admit that they did something bad. On top of that, it puts us at the mercy of the person we’ve wronged. Again, it is really hard to come up to someone and apologise for doing something wrong. But you know what’s harder? Forgiving someone.
Imagine being in love with someone and spending a good part of your life planning for your future and making the necessary preparations for it. Imagine all the effort you put in to make them happy, to help them become better and overlooking their shortcomings in hopes that one day, they might change for the better. Then one day, you find out that they fell for someone else. Imagine all the work you’ve done for this relationship with that certain someone, only to have them throw it in your face like it all meant nothing. How would you feel? Would you have the heart to forgive them?
In all honesty, maybe not all of us share the same energy when it comes to relationships with a certain someone. But what if the people hurting us are close to us? What if our own family were the ones hurting us?
For some, the issue of domestic violence is a nightmare they have to face daily. Whether it’s an abusive father or a spiteful mother, the abuse some people go through in their own home comes in many forms. Many people are now coming out with their own stories; of mothers who verbally abused their partners and brutally beat her children, of fathers who get intoxicated and rape their daughters, of brothers or sisters who would exploit their younger siblings for money or other things. Imagine the childhood that some people have to grow up with. Do we expect them to be forgiving to these people they call ‘family’?
What some people call family, others use the word ‘tribe’.
Abdullah bin Mas’ud reported: I saw the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, tell the story of a prophet who was beaten by his people and he wiped the blood from his face, saying: “My Lord, forgive my people for they do not know” (Sahih Bukhari)
This story is ever-so similar to the tale of our own Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who went to the town of Ta-if to spread Islam but was mocked, ridiculed and thrown stones at him by the children. Instead of having the people of Ta-if destroyed, our dear Prophet chose to pray for them, that their progeny would be faithful Muslims in the future.
Why did our Prophet forgive these people? It’s likely that they didn’t deserve it. Why did he do it anyway?
Allah says in the Quran: “And let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (24:22). Here, we understand the metaphysical aspect of forgiving others, and that is, our reaction towards other people when we are wrong can be reflected in Allah’s reaction to our own shortcomings. In this verse, we are given the greatest motivation to be forgiving, and that is by being someone who can look past the hurt, Allah will forgive us for our own wrongs. God-willing.
Another Quranic verse says: “The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon God” (42:40). Islam is a religion of justice, and every relationship we have has its rights; our rights to our parents, our teachers, our friends, our neighbours, the rights when dealing with different types of people and many more. But above all else, Islam encourages us to practise mercy and compassion. Why? Because the reward of forgiving others is given by Allah, and Allah’s rewards are the best rewards.
When we say to ourselves “How can I forgive this person?”, ask yourself “Why not?”. When you forgive someone, you are giving yourself a chance to move on, to drop the heaviness in your heart and find the peace you sought. Ultimately, you forgive others because it is good for you, because you want to grow to be a stronger person and because better things await once you learn to forgive others.
Contributed by Ustaz Mizi Wahid of Safinah Institute.