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Forgiveness as a Way of Life

Learning to Be Forgiving

One clear obstacle to being forgiving is our tendency to want to hold a grudge against people. As stated earlier, sometimes holding a grudge ends up being years spent apart from a family member or a friend.

The question to ask then is: What do we gain by holding a grudge and not wanting to forgive? What could be so painful to us that we are unwilling to give the person who hurt us a second chance?

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Of all the people in Islamic history, there is no one else who suffered more, was harmed more, was insulted more, and in general, experienced more emotional and spiritual pain than Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). His own tribe, the people of Quraish, turned against him and conspired to kill him.

When finally Allah Almighty granted Prophet Muhammad victory over the Quraish, history captures for all of time to come, the merciful and forgiving manner in which the Prophet dealt with them. At the conquest of Makkah, Prophet Muhammad posed the following question to the Quraish:

“How do you think, I am going to treat you now?”

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They replied,

“You are a generous brother and the son of a generous brother. [We expect only charity and forgiveness from you.]”

He said, “I will tell you what Joseph told his brothers, {There is no blame on you today.” (Yusuf 12:92)

Prophet Yusuf (PBUH)

Recalling the forgiving attitude of Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) towards his brothers, who had also conspired to kill him, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went beyond the imagination of the Makkans and inclined to forgive them when in fact the right to exact retribution was entirely his. Should we not aspire to imitate Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)? Can we not find it in our hearts to forgive our family and friends and to strive to strengthen the bonds of family and friendship? Learning to be forgiving is not something one can achieve overnight. It takes a lifetime of practice and reflects the height of self-restraint.

Final Thoughts

Growing up, you might have heard again and again that Islam is a way of life. You might wonder, as I and so many others have, just what it means to say that Islam is a way of life. One way to think about it is that every aspect of our lives has to be lived in accordance with the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad.

Another way to think about it is that in addition to living our lives according to the Islamic teachings, we have to aspire to internalize as many as possible of the sublime qualities as compassion, love, mercy, forgiveness and so on. We must daily practice being compassionate, loving, merciful, and forgiving, for example.

Are you ready to incorporate forgiveness as a way of life? Who will be the first person you e-mail or call to tell them that he or she is forgiven?

Who will you walk up to and say, “Listen, I’m sorry for holding a grudge against you for so long.” Imagine how relieved you will feel knowing that you are no longer carrying around with you the burden of anger and frustration!

Knowing that you have released all of that negative energy from your body will be refreshing and make it easier for you to be forgiving of others and to be forgivable by others. Indeed Allah is the Forgiving and our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) mastered forgiveness as a way of life. Are you up to the challenge?

First published in 2007

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