Ramadhan Lesson 1- Forgiving Others

We are all children of Adam (alayhi salaam) and so we all err. When we have wronged someone, we should ask for forgiveness from that person, and likewise, when we are wronged, we should forgive those who have wronged us. But some of us find it harder than others to forgive.

Image <– I love this quote but allow me to change it up a little bit because I believe everyone deserves to be forgiven. I will get to that point soon. My version of it: “Forgive others not solely because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”

..And it’s true. Even though God has given us that right to withhold forgiveness, He certainly does not encourage it! It torments you!- refusing to forgive another is like holding on to hot coal! It disturbs your inner peace. It haunts and torments you. It is painful.

It takes a certain kind of humility to be the bigger person. What good lies in not forgiving that other person anyway? It just indicates the amount of pride and arrogance you have in you, withholding something of which you’re not a rightful owner to in the first place. I’m talking about ‘forgiveness’; this is not our forte. This is not something we humans are experts of. Don’t act like we’re bosses, choosing who we like to forgive and who not to forgive. Therefore, give. it. up. We’re already losing the fight even before it started. Since only Allah is Al-Ghafour, the All-Forgiving, it is He who forgives. It is His attribute. It is a Godly one. Since we do not have that capacity in the first place, let’s not pretend we do and start punishing people more than they deserve to be punished.

Those who wrong you have the duty to ask for Allah to forgive them for this wrongdoing of theirs and it is a responsibility upon them to ask for you whom they have wronged, to forgive them. Unfortunately, this is the harder part. Since Allah is the All-Forgiving and He loves to forgive, He is most likely to forgive this person (provided that they are sincere in their repentance and show that they are remorseful for their wrongdoing). But us..? We have the cheek to not pardon a fellow human being who by the way eats, sleeps, and sins just like us, in front of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). What reason, what excuse, what’s our justification for refusing to forgive them? Do we think we’re able to refuse them Jannah if we impose on them this ‘debt’ that will extend until the Day of Reckoning? Then by Allah, you must think who you will answer to! Allah, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and all in between forgives this person. And us, who are unable to guarantee other people, let alone ourselves, Paradise, have the cheek to refuse a person entry to Jannah..? Are you for real?

We need to seize every opportunity of doing good, as much as we can. My mother taught me that whenever I’m finding certain good deeds very difficult to do, look at them as Jannah access cards. Applying this to the issue at hand, I then realise that since forgiving is a good deed that I find hard so to do, then struggling to do it for the sake of the value and weight it carries on my scales in the Hereafter just makes it sweeter, easier to do. Who knows that our sincerity in forgiving that person who has wronged us will manifest into a prize for us on the Day of Judgment? Yes, I know that that person might have betrayed us, hurt us badly, slandered us etc., but us forgiving them even though they don’t deserve it, is for our ownselves. It is an investment for our own Aakhirah :)

When Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was rejected by the people of Tai’f, there he was pelted with stones and driven out of their village, bleeding till his sandals filled with blood, still he forgave them. He was the Nabi! A prophet! So he could have asked for Allah to destroy them but he forgave them and even prayed for them, and for himself. He forgives his enemies. He forgives those who harm him physically and verbally. With hands raised towards the heavens, he says, “…So long as You are not angry with me, I do not care. Your favour is of a more expansive relief to me.” Still in such a position, he does not even think about sending harm their way, or holding grudges. Instead he wanted to confirm if Allah is pleased with him or not. Such humility, subhanAllah!

If you’re not even dealing with that big of an issue i.e. not with an ‘enemy’, …fair enough. Let me relate to you about a man during the time of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) who was given the glad tidings of Jannah. When a Sahabah heard this, he observed that man from the time he wakes up until he sleeps for 3 days. And he didn’t find anything which the man did that made him stand out from the rest of the Sahabah who were in fact, seemed to be doing more good deeds. The Sahabah then gave up and asked the man directly who then finally revealed a virtuous act which he never fails to do every night; “Every night, before I go to sleep, I forgive whoever has wronged me. I remove any bad feelings towards anyone from my heart.”

Forgiving others results in you finding peace within yourself. You will thank that person for the experience. I know I’ve stopped holding grudges when I look at that person who had wronged me 5 years ago, and feel nothing against them. I know I’ve forgiven a person when I see it has not affected them (outwardly at least), the fact that I haven’t forgiven them. Just looking at them go by life so easily, my intentions of wanting to torment and hurt them by not forgiving them failed miserably. It backfired on me instead. They know their duty is to seek forgiveness from Allah and He has forgiven them and that gives them peace enough. Allah is enough for them. They ought to ask for my forgiveness too, but when I turn them away, they know they’ve done their best. Still Allah remains enough for them.

So Allah should be enough for me too.

I deserve peace. Others deserve peace.

I surprise myself.

Howdy! That is sooo weird. Who says ‘Howdy’?!

Anywho. It is a well-established fact that I am not known for my generosity in giving out ‘forgiveness’ cards for those who have wronged me. But due to my fear of Death, thankfully, I have started to realise that it is easier to forgive at times where your mind lets you think that your life is on the line. Which is quite true, in a way. I have forgiven this person. (cue applause and standing ovation please. This is a great achievement). I am going to maintain the quality of my forgiving by asking Allah to make pure my intentions. I want to be sincere in forgiving this person. So I shall. Fear of dying means I am afraid that I’ll die without ever having the chance to make amends and also to put the ones who’ve wronged me out of their misery since I know one day I’m going to have to forgive them anyway. So just to cut out the time period in which my heart would normally have taken to ‘heal’ and come to a decision to forgive, I’ll just forgive now because Death can come and take me away any time. I am the bigger person. I want to stay that way. I want to forgive first and ask for forgiveness first.

It does feel weird to be too nice like this. But I guess it’s not wrong to feel that way. Baby steps. The road to Heaven is treacherous, afterall. If you don’t toughen up and break that wall of ego, you’ll never be able to forgive or seek forgiveness for yourself and that only leads to more trouble.

So is this the new me? Forgiving and non-egoistic? A change in my personality! I sorta like it. A bit awkward but  I hope it stays. Its for the better anyway. Worth the discomfort.