Forgive and Forget
Sheikh Muslim Bhanji (Dodoma, Tanzania)
Whether it is personal, family, or communal, grudges hold us back from so much progress. Forgiving someone, and being able to reunite, is a fight against the ego.
It’s that time again: the month of forgiveness, the month of blessings, the month of Ramadhan. We are constantly told that this is the special month in which Allah has invited us to beseech His forgiveness for all of our wrong actions and that we will be forgiven. How awesome is that? We have a whole month to cleanse out our past year of slips and mistakes, and Allah is going to be cool with us! He really is Merciful. It is a shame that we cannot take those qualities into our own lives.
We are told that one who knows himself knows his Lord. And when one begins to know himself and his Lord, in which we can refer to His 99 names, one begins to adopt those qualities in his/her life. For example, if a person begins to know himself and his/her stance, or “level of”, generosity, introspection will allow the person to realize how beautiful a characteristic generosity is, as we see in the Grace of Allah.
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) says in Lantern of the Path, “‘They should pardon and turn away. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is forgiving, merciful.’ (24:22) If you do not pardon another mortal like yourself, how can you hope for the pardon of the Compelling King?”
Whether it is personal, family, or communal, grudges hold us back from so much progress. Forgiving someone, and being able to reunite, is a fight against the ego. When we do not feel like, or are not willing to forgive someone, we are placing ourselves very high above. If Allah forgives His creations for their every mistake, how can we not forgive our own brother or sister for a mistake against us? Are we comparing, or placing, ourselves on the same level as Him? I will never forget our Sunday school shirt one year. On the back in bold letters it said, “God Gives and Forgives, Man Gets and Forgets.” It’s true, isn’t it? We forget who we really are sometimes, or think we’re something we are not.
Of course it is a hard process, but doing good things always has to be forced. Naturally, it is hard for someone to let go of the pain they are feeling due to someone else’s slip, mistake, or misunderstanding. The reasons are many, but we all know it is the right thing to do. It is what will prepare us for bigger trials and tribulations. For if we lose our brothers and sisters over minute infractions, mishaps, and situations, we do not understand the true message that Ashura has left us.
We need to be able to see the bigger picture. The stronger our ties are with our brothers and sisters, the stronger our communities and, Insha’Allah, our Ummah. If we continue to hold grudges, spite, and dislike for our own people, whatever the reason, it will take us a long, long time to get anywhere as a progressing Ummah which will spread and teach Islam around the world.
Sometimes it is better to look at it in a different light. Instead of thinking “they hurt me so bad, how can I forgive them?”, we need to think of it in a manner as to why did the situation occur. This will then allow us to go back to the narration which states: “Ubayy ibn Ka’b said, ‘When you see a quality which you disapprove of in one of your brothers, then give it seventy interpretations and see if your heart can be at peace with one of them. If it is not, then blame yourself if you cannot excuse him. If you yourself have a quality which will easily make for seventy interpretations, then you should disapprove of yourself more than you do of him.’” (Excerpt from Lantern of the Path, “On Pardon”)
Seventy excuses! Wow. Let us all think back to how often we have done so. My point being, that instead of crying “poor old me”, and thinking “why would my own brother/sister do this to me”, will create a thought process in which we begin to realize that everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes, and we are in this world to make it a better place, not to dislike each other. There really are bigger fish to fry!
Insha’Allah in this blessed month, but not only in this month, we will take the time to sit back, look at ourselves, and also try our best to be patient and strong when it comes to our situations and scuffles.
Forgiveness: one small step for you, one huge step for the Ummah – be the first.