Forgive and Forget

Al-Ghafoor: the Forgiving OneWhether it is personal, family, or communal, grudges hold us back from so much progress. Forgiving someone, and being able to reunite, is a fight against the ego.

Al-Ghafoor: the Forgiving  OneIt’s that time again: the month of forgiveness, the month of blessings, the month of Ramadhan. We are constantly told that this is the special month in which Allah has invited us to beseech His forgiveness for all of our wrong actions and that we will be forgiven. How awesome is that? We have a whole month to cleanse out our past year of slips and mistakes, and Allah is going to be cool with us! He really is Merciful. It is a shame that we cannot take those qualities into our own lives.

We are told that one who knows himself knows his Lord. And when one begins to know himself and his Lord, in which we can refer to His 99 names, one begins to adopt those qualities in his/her life. For example, if a person begins to know himself and his/her stance, or “level of”, generosity, introspection will allow the person to realize how beautiful a characteristic generosity is, as we see in the Grace of Allah.

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) says in Lantern of the Path, “‘They should pardon and turn away. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is forgiving, merciful.’ (24:22) If you do not pardon another mortal like yourself, how can you hope for the pardon of the Compelling King?”

Whether it is personal, family, or communal, grudges hold us back from so much progress. Forgiving someone, and being able to reunite, is a fight against the ego. When we do not feel like, or are not willing to forgive someone, we are placing ourselves very high above. If Allah forgives His creations for their every mistake, how can we not forgive our own brother or sister for a mistake against us? Are we comparing, or placing, ourselves on the same level as Him? I will never forget our Sunday school shirt one year. On the back in bold letters it said, “God Gives and Forgives, Man Gets and Forgets.” It’s true, isn’t it? We forget who we really are sometimes, or think we’re something we are not.

Of course it is a hard process, but doing good things always has to be forced. Naturally, it is hard for someone to let go of the pain they are feeling due to someone else’s slip, mistake, or misunderstanding. The reasons are many, but we all know it is the right thing to do. It is what will prepare us for bigger trials and tribulations. For if we lose our brothers and sisters over minute infractions, mishaps, and situations, we do not understand the true message that Ashura has left us.

We need to be able to see the bigger picture. The stronger our ties are with our brothers and sisters, the stronger our communities and, insha’Allah, our Ummah. If we continue to hold grudges, spite, and dislike for our own people, whatever the reason, it will take us a long, long time to get anywhere as a progressing Ummah which will spread and teach Islam around the world.

Sometimes it is better to look at it in a different light. Instead of thinking “they hurt me so bad, how can I forgive them?”, we need to think of it in a manner as to why did the situation occur. This will then allow us to go back to the narration which states: “Ubayy ibn Ka’b said, ‘When you see a quality which you disapprove of in one of your brothers, then give it seventy interpretations and see if your heart can be at peace with one of them. If it is not, then blame yourself if you cannot excuse him. If you yourself have a quality which will easily make for seventy interpretations, then you should disapprove of yourself more than you do of him.'” (Excerpt from Lantern of the Path, “On Pardon”)

Seventy excuses! Wow. Let us all think back to how often we have done so. My point being, that instead of crying “poor old me”, and thinking “why would my own brother/sister do this to me”, will create a thought process in which we begin to realize that everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes, and we are in this world to make it a better place, not to dislike each other. There really are bigger fish to fry!

Insha’Allah in this blessed month, but not only in this month, we will take the time to sit back, look at ourselves, and also try our best to be patient and strong when it comes to our situations and scuffles.

Forgiveness: one small step for you, one huge step for the Ummah – be the first!

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  • otowi

    Forgiveness is hard to learn, harder to live, but worth all the effort. Beautiful article, thank you.

  • fizzi

    what if the person to whom we have to forgive never admits hisher mistake?

  • otowi

    I don’t think that matters; forgiveness isn’t so much about the other person and what they did, whether they repented, etc., it is about letting go of something inside you that really isn’t good for you.

    Forgiving someone doesn’t mean forgetting; you can learn from the experience and take reasonable steps to avoid it in the future. But you can let go of the grudge, the feelings of revenge, those poisonous negative feelings, etc. You can step out of yourself and view the situation from above from a perspective that is bigger than you and the other person, overlook the wrong in the sense of allowing yourself to still hope for the best for them, feeling generosity of spirit toward them, wanting good for them, not hating them, being willing to see them in a bigger, less judgmental picture, etc.

    • abaidurrahman

      very clever and useful wat u just said

  • otowi

    Here, someone had this in a forum, very well-stated and applicable here:

    Bitterness and an unforgiving spirit can be likened to
    you taking poison and expecting that someone else would die from the effect.

  • Brother

    “For if we lose our brothers and sisters over minute infractions, mishaps, and situations, we do not understand the true message that Ashura has left us.”

    ^^^ Very well said, thank you!

  • Beenish Syed

    Well-written!! I really like the way you look at the bigger picture and the necessity of the Ummah to be one; however, there are ayats in the Qur’an about Forgiving, but are there ne ayats in the Qur’an about forgetting it? From your quotes it depicts that accepting a wrongdoing is the message of Islam rather than forgetting it!! U can argue it both ways though looking at the example of Ashura. Hur repented and was forgiven by Imam Hussein(A.S); however, Yazid never repented and to date people pray lannat upon him. Every majalis we recall the inhumane character of Yazid and his army towards Imam Hussein(A.S) and His kafila. Therefore, it can be argued both ways and depends on the degree of inhumanity or wrong done upon someone and it also depends on the status that person holds in one’s life. Undoubtedly, repentance plays a crucial role in forgiveness as well as forgetting. As far as I know asking for forgiveness for even the person you have backbited about is a necessity in order to receive forgiveness from Allah. Ne way it was a good read!! thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  • Booger

    I question what things are to be considered small and what things should be considered large.

    Definitely there are a lot of things that happen daily that we can forgive and perhaps forget.

    Unfortunately we currently have a lot of issues that are not so small and are actually part of the scourge of the ummah. Let us not forget that we have a responsibility to cure these diseases.

    I really liked this article, I just hope we are clear when we identify problems and label them as small or large…we need to be precise.

  • otowi

    You can forgive a large thing as well as a small – that doesn’t mean forgetting or approving or failing to learn or strive for improvement, etc. Forgiveness does not mean you are accepting the wrong behavior. It means you are not letting it blacken your heart or close your ties, etc. It means you are moving forward in spite of the behavior with a magnanimous heart. imho

  • Abdul Latheef

    No word to express, people should go forgiveness and forget policy, if we cant, just unite- smile- help, and take care- do not continue to being cheated again