Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, let’s go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).
The believers’ notion of forgiveness is very different to that of those who do not live by the morals of the Qur’an. Even though many people may say they have forgiven someone who has offended them, it nevertheless takes a long time to free themselves of the hatred and anger in their hearts. Their behaviour tends to betray that anger. On the other hand, the forgiveness of believers is sincere. Because believers know that human beings are tried in this world, and learn by their mistakes, they are tolerant and compassionate. Moreover, believers are also capable of forgiveness even when they are in the right, and the other in the wrong. When forgiving, they make no distinction between large errors and small ones. Someone may cause severe losses to them by mistake. However, believers know that everything takes place under the command of Allah, and according to a specific destiny, and therefore, they surrender themselves to these developments, never acquiescing to anger.
Quranic Teachings On Forgiveness
The Quran emphasizes on forgiveness in several verses. Those who do not abide by the moral values of the Qur’an find it very difficult to forgive others because, they are easily angered by any error committed. However, Allah has advised the faithful that forgiveness is more proper:
Here’s a sneak peak:
There was also a sign for Saba in their dwelling place: two gardens – one to the right and one to the left. ‘Eat of your Lord’s provision and give thanks to Him: a bountiful land and a forgiving Lord.’ (Surah Saba, 15)
Those who are kafir will suffer a harsh punishment. But those who believe and do right actions will receive forgiveness and an immense reward. (Surah Fatir, 7)
And mankind and beasts and livestock are likewise of varying colours. Only those of His slaves with knowledge have fear of Allah. Allah is Almighty, Ever-Forgiving. (Surah Fatir, 28)
…that He will pay them their wages in full and give them more from His unbounded favour. He is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful. (Surah Fatir, 30)
Intention For Forgiveness
When sincerely asking for forgiveness, the intention should be not to knowingly repeat the same sin again. However, even if an individual does accidentally repeat the offense, forgiveness should be asked for again, for there is no limit to Allah’s forgiveness, according to the Quran. In a hadith, Allah tells His servants, “O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you.”
Part of our being human is that we make mistakes, nobody is perfect. Sometimes we make mistakes without deliberation and intention. But sometime we deliberately sin and do wrong to others. It is said, “to err is human and to forgive is divine.” Both parts of this statement are very true. As human beings we are responsible, but we do also make mistakes and we are constantly in need of forgiveness.
Islam states two aspects of forgiveness:
- a) Allah’s forgiveness;
- b) Human forgiveness.
Forgiveness From Allah
The words “Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful” are repeated many times throughout the Quran. In Islam, individuals who commit a sin ask for forgiveness directly from God; there is no intermediary. In the Qur’an it says, “God loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and He loves those who keep themselves pure.” It also says, “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
Human beings are not perfect. Everybody makes mistakes in life and unknowingly commits sins. So forgiveness is a critical aspect in Islam. Muslims believe that Allah is Merciful and Forgiving. There are two kinds of forgiveness in Islam: Allah’s forgiveness and human forgiveness. Human beings are in need of both since they make mistakes in their relations to Allah as well as their relations to each other. In Islam, all that is needed is to recognize the mistake/sin, rectify it and seek forgiveness.