Importance of forgiveness

Fethullah Gulen wrote a very inspiring and thought-provoking article in the 30th Issue of a bimonthly magazine Fountain. In this article titled Forgiveness he elaborates on the importance and beauty of forgiveness. I advise everyone to read this article, because it makes you realize how important forgiveness is for the peaceful state of our mind and soul.

Fethullah Gulen starts the article by describing the nature of human beings. Making mistakes is in the nature of human beings, and no one can guarantee that his/her life will be free of sins. Only God is perfect, and only God holds the authority for the forgiveness of human beings. Thus when person commits any mistakes he should ask for forgiveness from God.

I would like to share two very beautiful hadithes that describe the beauty and importance of forgiveness from the Islamic perspective. On the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say:

Allah the Almighty said: ‘O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. 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. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.’ [AtTirmidhi (also by Ahmad ibn Hanbal)]

Another hadith about forgiveness says:

“Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than anyone of you is pleased with finding his camel which he had lost in the desert.” (Sahih alBukhari, 8:75:321)

In Islam, all the person needs to be forgiven by Allah is recognizing the offence, asking the forgiveness and making the sincere commitment not to repeat it anymore. When the offense is committed against other person, additional requirement is added to the above mentioned ones. This requirement is to ask the forgiveness from the person who was offended and do whatever needs to be done in order to rectify the offense  If the intentions of the person who committed the offence in seeking the forgiveness are sincere, then he is considered as if he had never done this sin before.

Gulen refers to forgiveness as a ‘celestial instrument’ that heals the wounds of broken hearts. Many times during our life we become offended and unhappy by actions of other people towards us. Only forgiveness can help to get rid of this unhappiness and make our heart light and empty again. Unfortunately, as Gulen says, not all the people can properly use this ‘celestial instrument’.

I would like to quote one very influential paragraph from the article.

Those who forgive are honored with forgiveness. Those who do not pardon cannot expect or desire to be pardoned. Those who close the road of tolerance are beasts who have lost their humanity. Such brutes, who have never felt inclined to take themselves to task for their sins, will never experience the high solace of forgiveness. Jesus said to a crowd with rocks in their hands, as they were taking a sinner to be stoned: “Let one who has never sinned throw the first stone” (John 8:7) Can anyone who understands this binding, fine point even think of stoning someone else when there is already a head to be stoned-namely, his or her own? If only those unfortunate ones who spend their lives putting the lives of others to a litmus test could understand this!

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