After loads of research, editing and experience, I can finally address the topic of Human forgiveness, What is forgiveness, seeking it, the do’s, steps, benefits and rewards of forgiveness.
Life is full of pains that we suffer due to others and sometimes due to our own faults. One makes an embarrassing joke, another throws an insult. Some make you care for them and trust them, sometimes even fall in love with them, then they hurt you. Some betray you in worse ways.
Many people intrude into others private matters, others argue in public gatherings, others have different viewpoints and opinions and so on. Some lack integrity, the thing about them is that they can never hide their true intentions; eventually they break your spirit. Sometimes we are hurt by the people who are closest to us so it’s natural for the wound to go deeper than the hurt you may endure through a stranger. Largely because you don’t expect hurt to come from their direction.
Some of us exaggerate matters in the mind and are unwilling to forgive, Some of us are too proud or can’t accept people’s excuses and forgive them. Some people punish themselves by not forgiving others. Some allow the pain to consume them. Their hearts are often filled with envy that keeps their thoughts busy and constantly torment them. In the day they so consumed with anger and the night they are burdened with grief.
Holding a grudge is like drinking poison yourself and hoping the other person gets affected by it. It feels like carrying a heavy burden of negativity & feelings of resentment. The problem with grudges, besides the fact that they are a drag to carry around is that they don’t serve the purpose that they are there to serve. They don’t make us feel better or heal our hurt. At the end of the day, we end up as proud owners of our grudges but still without the experience of comfort that we ultimately crave, that we have craved since the original wounding.
We turn our grudge into an object and hold it out at arm’s length as a proof of what we have suffered, a way to remind others and ourselves of our pain and deserving-ness. But in fact our grudge is disconnected from our own heart; while born out of our pain, it becomes a construction of the mind, a story of what happened to us. Our grudge morphs into a boulder that blocks the light of kindness from reaching our heart, and thus is an obstacle to true healing.
Sadly, in its effort to garner us empathy, our grudge ends up depriving us of the very empathy that we need to release it. So How fair is envy! It begins with the one who harbours it and ends up killing him.
Therefore, do not torment yourself. There are certain things in the world that you simply can’t punish anyone over and there are people that should face the consequences of their actions but seeing them getting what they deserve doesn’t suddenly stop your anxiety attacks, insomnia or you go back to been the physically and mentally healthy person you were – so have a big heart, a soft one but a firm one. I’m not asking you to forget the past but learn from these little tragedies and continue to live your life. You deserve peace. Let it go, free your heart, ease your mind.
Forgive. Let go of your anger and disappointment. Do not worry about getting even. Do not hold onto bitterness and resentment. When you hold onto anger about the past or the present, You only hurt yourself. Forgiveness does not mean that what they did was right or justified; it means that you no longer punish yourself with sadness and frustration for what they did. It means you accept the past for what it is, so that you can move forward. It might be hard to forgive sometimes, but it is much harder to keep carrying the weight of anger and sadness. Forgive even when they are not sorry, don’t tie yourself to small mindedness and human err, it will steal your well being.
Contrary to popular belief, Happiness will not suddenly find your life when they beg for your forgiveness and acknowledge their wrongs, or you watch justice prevail but it’s when you learn to love yourself enough to forgive them and yourself. It’s when you stop re-living in that moment of pain and honour yourself, you will feel a whole weight lift off your soul.
Forms of Forgiveness
You could either let go of revenge but never forget OR you could forgive with such conviction that you forget it eventually as well after the time has healed your wounds.
In Qur’an, there are two phrases used for forgiveness, coming from root words:
1) ﻍ ﻑ ﺭ
The meaning of the Arabic word “ghafara” is to cover, to hide and from it comes the meaning “to excuse,” “to pardon,” “to remit” and “to forgive.”
2) ﻉ ﻑ ﻭ
Al-‘Afuw is another part of forgiveness. This name is mentioned in the Quran five times. Literally the word ‘Afw means “to release,” “to heal”, as well as “to restore, to remit.”
Steps to Forgive Even When It Feels Impossible
A grudge usually indicates a dramatic mismatch between our expectations of others and the reality; an acknowledgment that someone disappointed us deeply and, often, doesn’t even realize it. When someone apologizes to us, we also feel validated and justified for being upset. The apologizer is taking responsibility at some level for the result of their actions, intended or not. And when that happens, our insides relax; we don’t have to fight anymore to prove that our experience is valid, that we are entitled to our hurt, and that it matters.
When hurt by another, our bodies are hardwired to need an apology to relax, move forward, and let go of the hurt. But sometimes when we can’t get the “I’m sorry” we think we need, we have to learn to relax on our own, without the other’s help. Trusting and knowing that our pain is deserving of kindness — because it is — and that our truth is justified and valid — because it’s our truth — is the beginning of our independent healing process.
I’ll help you with a few reasons why you should forgive them:
- The act of forgiveness is greatly rewarded by Allah (The most forgiving).
- You hope that the mercy you are showing them and yourself (by not causing harm or seeking revenge) will cause Allah (The most merciful) to gaze upon you with mercy.
- American scientists recently discovered that stress-related backache, insomnia and stomach aches were significantly reduced among individuals who had the habit of forgiving others. So forgiving others improves your physical and mental ability and lightens your heart.
- If a Muslim wants to attain piety and reach the level of the pious, let him follow the way of pardoning and adopt the quality of pardoning.
- “Forgiveness is the crown of greatness”.
- This is a test, a lesson from Allah and was written in one’s Taqdeer. One now has a choice how to react and it is better to forgive.
- Nabi (saw) said: Musa (a.s) once asked, “oh my lord! Who is the most honorable of your slaves?” And he replied, “The person who forgives even when he is in a position of power”.
- For the pleasure of Allah.
- Al-Baihaqhi reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: “A caller will shout on The Day of Judgment saying: Whoever has a reward on Allah should enter Paradise”. It is then said: “Who are the ones whose reward is on Allah?” Then the forgivers stand up and enter Paradise without trial”.
- Abu Naim mentioned a Hadith or a tradition from Ali Ibn al-Hussein about the merit of forgiveness saying: “On the Day of Judgment a caller will say: ‘Who amongst you are the people of kindness?’ Then some people stand up. It is then said to them: ‘Go into Paradise’. The Angels meet them and ask them: “Where to”? They reply: “To Paradise”. The Angels say: “Before being judged”? They reply: “Yes”. The Angels ask: “Who are you?” They reply: “We are the people of kindness”. The Angels ask: “And what was your kindness?” They reply: “We used to be clement when oppressed and be patient when aggressed and forgive when offended”. The Angels then say: “Enter Paradise how excellent a reward for the (pious good) workers!”.
- Uqbah ibn Amir reported: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “O Uqbah, reconcile whoever cuts you off, give to whoever deprives you, and pardon whoever wrongs you”.
- And Allah said, “Verily, the hour is coming, so forgive them with gracious forgiveness”. (Surah Al-Hijr 15:85)
- Anas ibn Malik reported: I never saw a case involving legal retaliation being referred to the Messenger of Allah except that he would recommend pardoning the criminal. (Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 4497, Source: Sahih) i.e Anas ibn Malik reported: A man came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, with the killer of his relative.
The Prophet said: “Pardon him”. But the man refused.
The Prophet said: “Take the blood money”.
But the man refused.
The Prophet said: “Go and kill him, for you are like him”.
Anas said: “So the man let him go”. (Source: Sunan An-Nasa’i 4730, Grade: Sahih)
From a Psychology Perspective:
If you decide you are willing to forgive (because your willingness to move on matters), try following these four steps to forgive even when it feels absolutely impossible that you’d be able to move past all the hurt you endured:
Run a recap of that incident in your mind. Accept that it happened. In order to forgive, you need to acknowledge the reality of what occurred and how you were affected.
Acknowledge the growth you experienced as a result of what happened. What did it make you learn about yourself, or about your needs and boundaries? Not only did you survive the incident, perhaps you grew from it.
Begin to picture your life without holding on to that anger and hurt. Would it feel lighter? Would you feel more content within? The health of your heart and mind should belong to you. If you give it in someone else’s hand, what are your chances of peaceful survival?
- SHARE YOUR FEELINGS
A grudge can form when an issue isn’t fully confronted. Without being judgmental about yourself or another, clarify your feelings on the situation. Then, decide if this is something you will work on in your own heart or by contacting the other person involved. Only when you are ready, communicate with the other person about the issue.
The path to freedom from a grudge is not so much through forgiveness of the “other” (although this can be helpful), but rather through loving our own self or bringing in a loving presence of someone else into the suffering that crystallized into the grudge. If it feels like too much to go directly into the pain of a grudge, we can move toward it with the help of someone wise we trust.
The idea is not to re-traumatize ourselves by diving into the original pain but rather to attend to it with the compassion that we didn’t receive. Although our heart contains both our pain and the elixir for our pain, but sometimes the pain can be too difficult to deal on our own and an outside help can be needed.
- SEE THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN
To say I’m sorry is to say that I did something wrong. For some people, admitting that they did something wrong is not possible, even when they know it was wrong, and even when they feel bad about doing it. This never-sorry person can actually be sorry and still refuse to utter the words that would both acknowledge their remorse and right their wrong.
To be able to admit that we’ve done something wrong requires a certain level of self-esteem or ego strength. People who are deeply insecure can find it challenging to say I’m sorry; in part because they think that a single mistake has the power to obliterate their self-worth.
The idea that they could make a mistake and still be a valuable and good person is unthinkable for someone whose self-esteem is severely lacking. And then there are those who refuse to say I’m sorry because they lack empathy. They believe that an apology is only appropriate for situations in which they purposefully caused you harm. There’s no sorry deserved or indicated when the pain you felt was not intentionally caused, and thus not technically their fault.So think about the other person. Where is he or she coming from? He or she is flawed because all human beings are! When you were hurt, the other person was trying to have a need met.
What do you think this need was and why did the person go about it in such a hurtful way?
Finally forgive yourself for your mistakes. Don’t be hard on yourself, the whole world is already doing that, why should you?
Forgive yourself for allowing them to hurt you because you were blinded with love.
Forgive yourself, you could have never known their true intentions.
Forgive yourself for being naive and gullible.
No more beating yourself up. No more going over and over it again in your head and torturing yourself with the past. What happened, happened, and all the shame and self-hatred in the world won’t undo that.
Today, you’re starting over. Today, you’re moving forward with the new knowledge and experiences you have. Today, you can be the person you want to be and live the life you want to live. Today, if possible you fix your wrongs.
Besides seeking forgiveness from the Creator and yourself, you need to seek forgiveness from the creation, first apologize for what ever you have done and then see if you can make it up to them.
Some people might argue that what has been is now past. that they do not have the means to compensate their victims. or that they cannot trace them after these years. They are wrong. Islam has suggested a way out for this too. These people may be traced and asked to forgive the oppressor either personally or by letter. If they do not forgive them they may be requested to give time during which their rights would be repaid. If they die before the rights are repaid, then their heirs may be repaid. If these victims or their heirs are not traced. then whatever in due to them of monetary wealth may be given away in charity.
You should do your best to compensate the person and resolve never to repeat the same mistake. If you do so, you can expect the forgiveness of Allah.
- THE STRUGGLE. THE REWARD.
Our journey to the Hereafter is full of difficulties and tests – this is our way to prove who we are and this process includes injustice being done to us at the hands of others. If we truly want Allah’s love and forgiveness we must remember that the hurts of this world are only temporary.Look at this beautiful treasure: “I guarantee a house in Jannah (Paradise) for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a house in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners”. [Imam Abu Dawud]
To motivate us to be the first in showing our good behaviour, there is a beautiful hadith. How many of us know that it is not allowed to be in an argument and keep away from another Muslim for more than three days?The Prophet salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said: “It is not permissible for a man to forsake his Muslim brother for more than three days, each of them turning away from the other when they meet. The better of them is the one who gives the greeting of salaam first”. [al-Bukhari, 5727; Muslim, 2560].
Forgiving others is crucial for our success in the Hereafter; one forgives to seek forgiveness. But forgiving others also brings lots of physical and spiritual benefits.
Move on. It takes time to heal and forgiveness is the first step, it will leave a scar but your scars make you unique. You might get many more scars along the way; those that are self inflicted and those that are by others, strangers behind masks of deception or even loved ones. It’s bound to happen and it’s okay, the more pain you go through the greater and wiser you become. (Inevitably in a way the closer you get to Jannah, Nabi salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said: “Shall I not tell you who will be forbidden from the Fire, or from whom the Fire will be forbidden? It (the Hell Fire) will be forbidden for every gentle, soft-hearted and kind person.” – Tirmidhi )
Life is beautiful, chaotic but still beautiful and you caught up in a moment that doesn’t exist anymore, The past can’t be changed nor does it define you. Go out there with courage and hope and live with a pure heart.