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Pardoning and Forgiveness


There was a buzurg (a pious man) who once asked his servant for water for making ablution. The servant came up with hot water. Unfortunately, the water got spilled over the buzurg. The buzurg became angry, “You unfortunate! You have but burnt me. Be ready for punishment.” Hearing about punishment the servant became afraid and said terrified: “Hudur, you are an ideal for good characters. People take from you the lessons of high morals. Be kind enough not to hurry in my case. And remember the saying of Allah.”

Upon hearing the servant the anger of the buzurg faded a little and asked which saying of Allah he referred to. The servant said:

«وَ الْكٰظِمِیْنَ الْغَیْظَ» [آل عمران: 134]

Translation of Meaning: “Those who control their wrath.” [Aal Imran:134]

The buzurg said, “Ok, I have controlled my anger.”

The servant further read the verse:

« وَ الْعَافِیْنَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ؕ » [آل عمران: 134]

Translation of Meaning: “And [who] are forgiving toward mankind.” [Aal Imran:134]

The buzurg said, “Well, I have forgiven you.”

The servant read the last part of the verse:

«وَ اللّٰهُ یُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِیْنَ» [آل عمران: 134]

Translation of Meaning: “And Allah loves the doers of good (to others).” [Aal Imran:134]

The buzurg said, “Okay, I have set you free for the pleasure of Allah.”

A very good example of pardoning and forgiveness has been given in the holy Qur’an. In the story of Hadrat Yusuf (Alaihis Salam) and his brothers. The Qur’an tells us that Hadrat Yaqub (may Allah’s mercy be upon him) loved Yusuf very much and due to this, rest of his brothers became envious of him. Out of jealousy, they tricked him and pushed him into a dark and deep well. Allah saved Yusuf (Alaihis Salam) and ultimately, bestowed upon him the pomp and show. The Aziz of Egypt appointed him his minister. During the draught, these very brothers came to Hadrat Yusuf (Alaihis Salam) seeking grains. Yusuf (Alaihis Salam) recognized them but he hid this. In the meantime, the frequent visits of the brothers led them to recognize the Yusuf whom they had pushed into the dark well. They become anxious and feared they would be caught and avenged. They imagined the worst happening with them. But Hadrat Yusuf (Alaihis Salam) pardoned them and said:

« لا تَثْرِيبَ عَلَيْكُمْ الْيَوْمَ يَغْفِرُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَهُوَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ (92)» [يوسف:92]

Translation of Meaning: “Have no fear this day! May Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.” [Yousuf:92]

The Prophet () was sleeping under a shady tree when one of the polytheists came close to head of the Messenger of Allah () holding a sword in his hand, awakened him and said to him :”O Muhammad, who would protect you from me? Allah’s Apostle () replied quite peacefully and calmly: “Allah.” Hearing the name of Allah, he was overawed and the sword slipped from his hand. The Prophet () rose up from his place, took the sword into his hand and questioned him: “Now who will save you from my hand?” He said, “I expect goodness from you.” The Prophet () forgave him. [Bukhari & Muslim]

A Jewess gifted the Prophet () with poisoned mutton. He was the Prophet of Allah (), so Allah informed him. The Jewess was called and he asked her, “Why did you do so?” Whereupon she said clearly: “I was determined to kill you.” Thereupon he said, “Allah will never give you the power to do it.” The companions said, “Should we not kill her?” He, the mercy for the whole world, said, “No. Let her go.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Now, we mention a happening related to Hadrat Ma’n bin Zaaid. When he was going to kill the many people that were prisoners to him, one of them said, “We are your prisoners, hungry and thirsty. Don’t kill us in this situation.” Hadrat Ma’n ordered they be fed and drunk. When they had taken food and water one of them said, “Now we have become your guests. How will you treat your guests?” Hadrat Ma’n forgave all of them and let them go.

Forgiveness means not punishing anyone for any slip ups or errors and to pardon them. Allah  (Ta’ala) forgives the sins of those who repent. There is a famous prayer the Prophet () would make:

«اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عُفُوٌّ كَرِيمٌ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي » [ترمذي]

Translation: “O Allah, You are the Forgiving, the Benevolent, You love to forgive, so forgive me.” [Tirmizi]

Hadrat Aayisha (Radhi Allahu Anha ) reported about the conduct of Allah’s Messenger () that he never beat anyone with his hand, neither a woman nor a servant, but only, in the case when he had been fighting in the cause of Allah. [Muslim]

It has been narrated on the authority of Hadrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood who said, “It appeared to me as if I saw the Messenger of Allah () (and heard him) relate the story of a prophet who had been beaten by his people, was wiping the blood from his face and was saying. ‘My Lord, forgive my people, for they do not know.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Once, it was said to Allah’s Messenger (): “Invoke curse upon the polytheists”. Thereupon he said: “I have not been sent as the invoker of curse, but I have been sent as mercy.” [Muslim]

The brightest example of the Prophet’s forgiveness is found in his journey to Ta’if, for preaching Islam. People there exhibited the worst of treatment to him and his companion Hadrat Zaid bin Haritha (Radhi Allahu Anhu). They set the street urchins after him who stoned him. He was pelted at with stones. His whole body was covered with blood. In the meantime, the angel Jibra’il (Gabriel) (Alihis Salam) appeared to him along with an angel in charge of the mountains who said, “O, Prophet of Allah! I am at your service. If you wish, I can cause the mountains overlooking this town on both sides to collide with each other, so that all the people therein would be crushed to death.” But Allah’s Apostle () prohibited him saying, “Even if these people do not accept Islam, I do hope from Allah that there will be persons from among their progeny who would recognize Allah Alone and abstain from polytheism.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Another beautiful scene of the Prophet’s forgiveness was when he entered Makkah as the conqueror along with his companions. Makkah was the birth place of the Prophet (). But when he started inviting people to the oneness of Allah, its inhabitants harassed him in myriad ways and compelled him to leave. The prosecutors were after him. Recalling their crimes, they were frightened and waited what punishment the Prophet () meeted out to them as a conqueror. The Prophet () turning to the people said;

“O People of Makkah! What do you think of the treatment that I should accord you?” All of them said in a unanimous voice, “We expect nothing but good from you. You are a generous son of a generous father.” Thereupon the Prophet (ﷺ) forgave them all and said, “Go your way, for you are free.” [Seerah Ibn Hisham]

Virtue of Forgiveness:

Allah says about forgiveness:

« وَإِنْ تَعْفُوا وَتَصْفَحُوا وَتَغْفِرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (14)» [التغابن:14]

Translation of Meaning: “And if ye efface and overlook and forgive, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” [At-Taghabun:14]

« وَلْيَعْفُوا وَلْيَصْفَحُوا أَلا تُحِبُّونَ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (22)» [النور:22]

Translation of Meaning: “Let them forgive and show indulgence. Yearn ye not that Allah may forgive you? Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” [Al-Noor:22]

The Prophet () said, Translation: “One who controls his anger while he has the power to avenge, on Doomsday Allah (Ta’ala) will call such a person before Him and given him an option to select from among the houries.” [Tirmizi, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah]

Allah Almighty bestows greatness and bigness upon the person who forgives and pardons. He increases his status in the eyes of people; the guilty bows his head before him. Allah says:

« ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ (34) » [حم السجدة:34]

Translation of Meaning: “Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.” [Ha Meem Al-Sajdah:34]

Allah’s Messenger () has said, Translation: “Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives, Allah (Ta’la) adds to his respect, and the one who shows humility Allah (Ta’la) elevates him in the estimation (of the people).” [Muslim]