Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Forbearance and forgiveness|
|08/28/01 at 01:22:46|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
[center]Forbearance and forgiveness
Dr Muhammad Kamal Al-Shareef[/center]
Aggression is not instinctive in man, but the urge to retaliate to aggression is natural. Should a person experience a strong desire to pay back in kind for an insult or an injury, this does not mean that he or she are evil persons. Indeed it is only to be expected that a person who has been at the receiving end of an aggression or injustice should want to retaliate or avenge himself.
Indeed exacting revenge is one of the traits God attributes to Himself. But God is fair, and He has forbidden Himself injustice. Furthermore, He has forbidden us to be unjust to one another. God has permitted us to avenge ourselves against aggression, but He has emphasised that one must not, on any account, carry his retaliation beyond what is fair. Justice must be maintained in all situations. However, Islam repeatedly urges believers to forbear and forgive those who have wronged or offended them.
Although Islam attaches a superior value to forbearance and forgiveness, it deals with human nature as it is, with all its feelings and motives. It recognizes the desire of the oppressed to retaliate against oppression, and the one who is wronged against the wrongdoer. God says in the Qur'an: "If anyone commits aggression against you, attack him just as he attacked you, and fear God, and be sure that God is with those who fear Him." (2: 194) This is a reminder for believers to remain always God-fearing. This is further encouraged by God who assures the God-fearing that He will always support them. When a believer is reassured of God's support, his urge to retaliate is less, even when his sense of injury or injustice is strong. He realizes that He only needs to maintain his God-fearing attitude to be sure of God's support. He will then feel that he is in a better position even though he forgoes his rights and refrains from retaliation.
God stresses the need to be fair even when retaliating to an injury, and recommends what is better, which is patience: "If you have to respond to an attack, retaliate only to the extent of the attack levelled against you, but to bear yourselves with patience is indeed far better for (you, since God is with) those who are patient in adversity." (16: 126)
A passage in the Qur'an tells us much about the attitude believers should maintain: "Remember that whatever you are given now is but for the (passing) enjoyment of life in this world, whereas that which is with God is far better and more enduring. (It shall be given) to all who attain to faith and place their trust in their Lord; who shun the more heinous sins and abominations; and who, whenever they are moved to anger, readily forgive; and who respond to their Lord and are constant in prayer; and whose rule (in all matters of common concern) is consultation among themselves; and who spend on others out of what We provide for them as sustenance; and who, whenever tyranny afflicts them, defend themselves. But (remember that an attempt at) requiting evil may, too, become an evil. Hence, whoever pardons (his foe) and makes peace, his reward rests with God. He certainly does not love the evildoers. Yet indeed, as for any who defend themselves after having been wronged, no blame whatever attaches to them. Blame attaches but to those who oppress (other) people and behave outrageously on Earth, offending against all right. Grievous suffering awaits them. But if one is patient in adversity and forgives - this is indeed a matter (requiring) strong resolve." (42:36-43)
In the final analysis, unlike retaliation, forbearance and forgiveness are matters to be highly praised. There are indeed three ways to deal with irritation and the desire to retaliate when one is subjected to aggression. The first, which is nearest to human nature, is to retaliate and punish the offender, but with justice at the same time. The second is to bear the offense with patience and to forgive the offender. This is a superior approach to that of retaliation. The third, which shows the personality of a believer at its best, takes a believer's attitude far higher than the level of reaction and retaliation. This method relies on repelling an evil deed with a better one, which means to respond to an offense with a good turn.
[i]When one does that sincerely, trying in no way to assert his virtues and superiority to the offender, he will undoubtedly make a good impression on the latter.[/i] He may even be able to turn his aggression into friendship. To ensure that, he needs to be sincere and serious in repelling injustice with what is better. God says in the Qur'an: "Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel you evil with something that is better, and (you will see) him between whom and yourself was enmity (may then become) as though he had always been close to you, a true friend. Yet (to achieve) this is not given to any but those who are wont to be patient in adversity. It is not given to any but those endowed with the greatest good fortune." (41: 34-35)
Retaliation will remove one's annoyance and irritation and whatever ill feelings such irritation may lead to. But forbearance and forgiveness will achieve the same results. They will purge the soul of all irritation and ensure that it will not accumulate and develop into hatred and hostility. In the Qur'an, God describes a certain group of believers in the following terms: "And so, those who come after them pray, 'Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, as well as those of our brethren who preceded us in faith, and let not our hearts entertain any unworthy thoughts or feelings against those who believe. Indeed, You are compassionate, merciful'." (59: 10)
Indeed, the reward a believer expects to receive from God for forgiving an offense or injury, caused him by another believer or an unbeliever, more than compensates him or her for whatever they had to bear as a result of such injustice. Indeed, that reward ensures real gain. For no one who deals with the Lord of the universe will ever be in a situation of loss. He will always be a winner.
[i]"Islam in Perspective" - Arab News - 11 September 2000[/i]
[color=Red]A polite reminder to those who stand to benefit by these posts:[/color]
[color=Blue]Please include the author and his family in all your supplications. Jazakumullahu Khaira.[/color]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
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