قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
Understanding the Forgiveness in Islam
Throughout the Holy Qur’an, the Mercy of Allah and His Forgiveness has been mentioned a great many times and we can understand through the many examples that are given, that we must strive to be forgiving to each other as well. The beauty of Forgiveness in Islam can be understood from the verses of Surah Nuh:-
فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا
And said, ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver.
We must realize the depth of Allah Almighty’s Forgiveness by understanding the word “Ghaffara” غَفَّارًا here. Ghufoor is the one who forgives and Ghafaara is the one who continues to Forgive. Imagine the sins we commit in our daily lives, yet the Mercy of Allah is such that He would continuously provide Forgiveness. We often find ourselves in a place where we question if Allah will at all Forgive us for the sins we have committed but we must ask Allah to forgive us repeatedly, no matter how many times the sin is done. What we must carry in our hearts is the purity and the sincerity that we would avoid the sin at all costs while at same time seeking Allah’s Forgiveness, so that once our sins are forgiven, the sins that we have not yet committed, will be forgiven. Such is the Mercy of Allah Almighty!
Forgiveness for a New Muslim
Imagine the beauty of Allah’s forgiveness that when a non-Muslim enters the fold of Islam, Allah forgives all the bad deeds but leaves behind all the good deeds, and these good deeds would be taken into account on the Day of Judgement. It is as if one were to be born again but carrying years of good deeds with them. An example of this can be understood from the story of Khalid Ibn Al-Waleed (RA) who fought from the side of the polytheists in the Battle of Uhud and brought victory to his side. Later, Khalid (RA) arrived at Madinah and announced his acceptance of the Faith of Islam and the first thing he asked the Prophet (PBUH) was to pray to Allah seeking forgiveness for him. The Prophet (PBUH) replied by telling him that his acceptance of Islam meant that all his past sins were forgiven by Allah Almighty. Such is the Mercy of Allah!
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The Pathways to Forgiveness
The pathways to forgiveness are many and all that is needed is our travelling of those paths. The bearing of good character and conduct results in forgiveness, if a person is truthful and upright with what they speak, they will be forgiven for their sins. Even when we turn to Allah and just do good deeds, Allah will not only forgive us for the sins we may have committed, but will also turn all our bad deeds into good deeds and on the Day of Judgement, the goodness of our repentance will be shown to us.
There is mercy even for those who commit immorality and adultery. There are times when we commit such sins and find it even more difficult to repent, and at that moment if we turn to Allah for Forgiveness, not only will our sins be forgiven, but the Gates of Paradise will be opened for those who found it in them to finally seek Forgiveness. In this aspect of forgiveness lies an answer for Shaytan itself, who pushes us to believe that there is no scope for forgiveness left for us, yet however in the hands of The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful, there is always a place for Forgiveness.
The idea is not only to seek forgiveness when you have sinned, but to seek it even if you haven’t. Imagine that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was instructed by Allah to seek the Forgiveness of Allah even though the Prophet (PBUH) had never committed a sin. But, nonetheless, he sought Forgiveness multiple times, though he didn’t need it at all. How often do we let days go by without seeking Allah’s Forgiveness even once? How often do we sit in our prayers seeking Forgiveness? If the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) sought Forgiveness then where do we stand?
Seeking Forgiveness by Forgiving
The Power of Forgiveness in Islam not only lies in seeking the great Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah Almighty, but it also lies in being forgiving to each other as well. We must learn from the forgiving nature of Prophet Yusuf (AS) who looked upon his brothers and said Allah is Most Forgiving and never spoke about the wrong that they had committed against him. Prophet Yusuf (AS) was one of the most powerful men who could have sought retribution, but he chose to forgive and leave us all an example to learn from. No matter how a high position of power we may be in, the characteristic of forgiving one another should always be within us.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was someone who’s patience and forgiving nature is an example for all of humanity. The wrongs that were committed against him were never held in his heart. Imagine that the man who assassinated the Uncle of the Prophet (PBUH) was informed by the Prophet (PBUH) himself, that Allah is ready to Forgive him, if he were to accept Islam. This was a time when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was crying over the loss of his Uncle after the Battle of Uhud. The pain that he must have felt cannot be put into words or the length of emotions we feel today. Yet, the Prophet (PBUH) remained forgiving.
The woman who hired the assassin was Hind Bint Uthbah and she mutilated the body of Hamza (RA) to express her hatred against the Prophet (PBUH). But after the victory in Makkah, The Prophet (PBUH) held no grudge and Hind Bint Uthbah accepted Islam. There are many stories of those who hated Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and were later embraced by him with open arms.
The need of forgiveness and the need to be forgiving is what makes us Muslim. In order to achieve peace and harmony, we need to forgive one another and hold no grudges against one another because surely these grudges are but chains that tie us down. We need to realize that there is great Mercy and Forgiveness in Allah Almighty and all that is required of us is to ask for it either through our words or through our actions. The power of forgiveness needs to be earned through the power of forgiving and by never losing hope in Allah’s Mercy.
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