“I don’t forgive people because I’m weak. I forgive because I’m strong enough to know that human beings make mistakes” (Quote by Unknown)
By Fatima Ariadne
“Forgive and forget” – you heard it all the time. But talk is cheap. How can we act like nothing ever happened when someone had heartlessly torn us apart, without ever considering our position, struggle, and feelings at the time? How can we be kind back when they had treated us with such unlovingness?
Personally, if there is one thing I struggle almost all my life, it must be exercising forgiveness. If I ever interacted with people who wronged me severely (emphasis in “severely”), yes maybe I can act kindly to them. But to expect me to forgive or forget until they ask forgiveness…… Man it’s different story.
So, Ariadne – why do you write this article if you can’t even help yourself to forgive?
Nice question. I realize my dark side. I’m not a person who easily forgive. But I’m on my way in exercising forgiveness, to let go and trust that Allah will never be unjust. (Still need some works here and there!). And basically if you follow my style at Decoding Eden, I don’t just write to you like I’m some kind of Master — “hey Ariadne sayz you should do bla bla bla”. I also write as a reminder to my own soul, God-willing. =)
So many of us are reluctant to forgive because it only feels like we’re validating other people’s wrongdoing upon us.
Forgiveness is not about validating other people’s wrongdoing upon you. Forgiveness is about giving yourself permission to let go of the past, to move on from the shackles of pain, and giving that inner space in your heart so something more positive – the better future possibility, can enter. I call it shackle because the poison of pain, will only stuck you in the past, barred your feet from ability to move on to the future.
Because only by letting go of what you’ve been through, you could become what you might be.
Forgiveness is about giving up all hope for a better past. Forgiveness is not something we do for that particular person, it is something we do for ourselves so we can move on. We forgive, not because that person deserve it, but because we deserve peace.
In the end, forgiveness is the best gift you’d ever given to yourself.
Imagine you have a house, and there are some dirts inside, and old rusty unused furniture. But instead you clean it or toss them to the garbage bin, you keep them. For years and years. What’s gonna happen? You live with the old dirts. But then you try clean them up, see what the difference it’s gonna make?
“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” (Louis B. Smedes)
Forgiving Others’ Fault – Islamic Stance
Take a look at these Islamic commands on forgiving others’ fault :
1) “Forgive and let go. Don’t you like it if God forgives you? God is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Qur’an, Suraa 24 : 22)
2) “Kind words and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury” (Qur’an, Suraa 2 : 263)
Note : “ukhuwah” means brotherhood and unity
3) “And hasten to earn forgiveness of your Lord and a Paradise as wide as heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous who spend both in prosperity and in adversity, for those who curb their anger, and those who forgive” (Qur’an, Suraa 3 : 133 – 134)
4) The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever suffers an injury and forgives (the person responsible), God will raise his status to a higher degree and remove one of his sins.” (Hadith Tirmidhi)
5) Regarding the verse, “Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant” (Suraa 7:199), the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) asked : “what does it mean, Gabriel?”.
And the Archangel Gabriel answered “It is command of God to forgive those who wronged you, to give to those who deprived you, and to tie relations with those who severe theirs with you” (Source : Ibn Kathir)
6) Narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated : “Show mercy and you shall be shown mercy. Forgive others and you shall be forgiven by God.” (Musnad Ahmad)
7) “Verily, the Hour is coming, so forgive them with gracious forgiveness.” (Qur’an Suraa 15 : 85)
8) “Say to those who believe that they should forgive those who expect not the days with God, as it is for Him to recompense people for what they have earned.” (Qur’an Suraa 45:14)
How to Start Exercising Forgiveness
1. Seeing the Other Side of the Story
A lot of times when people do something that tear you apart, in their minds, it’s not about you. It’s just about them and themselves only. Their wrongdoings are mostly just reflecting THEIR own inner state, not your actions.
Sometimes a person is not their state (read : having a bad day). Sometimes a person is just a vampire in nature and shows no remorse. But they have their own sides of stories, which is different from that of ours. Their own thoughts, feelings, and events that culminates and triggered them to do what they do.
A kid who bullied you at school was probably treated like crap in his house and seek a cure to feel superior. A person who’s disgustingly sexist possibly was wrongly educated or either got bad influence. A Western person who stared at you in hatred because you wear hijab is most likely got his mind influenced by media who grossly pictures Islam the wrong way.
This is not to stereotype people at all, only to begin understanding them. By knowing this other background, this other version of story from those who are different from our side — we could start transforming hatred into pity and/or empathy.
(Read this post : on how to turn judgmental thoughts to empathy, and increase the compassion for people)
2. What Kind of Gift Behind the Storm They’ve Given You?
One of an ancient Mayan proverb is “In Lak’ech, Ala K’in” which means, “I am another you, and you are another me”. This works like the greetings of assalamu ‘alaikum (i.e. may peace be showered upon you). So if you say “in lak’ech”, I will reply it “ala k’in”. Meaning? Sometimes, realize it or not, other people reflects back something within us that still needs a further resolution.
Forgiveness is also about mindfulness to see the bigger picture that everything happens in your life, happens by the will of Divine. One of our forgotten purpose of life is to learn lesson and grow our soul. The Divine arranges you to cross path with people, places, and things, so you can extract lessons with them – including from the bitter ones.
Forgiveness is about releasing yourself from the position of being victimized; releasing the responsible person from the blame as you realize Divine make them come here only to fulfill their role : to enrich yourself in return. (Though packaged in disaster!).
But that is the brutal truth, folks.
You cannot change things that happen outside your control. But you can control how you react and perceive it.
So what you can ask yourself is, “if I let go of this resentment from clouding my mind, how can I see the bigger picture? What is this event or person trying to tell me in return?”
Only when we’re able to make peace with the past, we’ll be able to move on. Wisdom is born from a healed wound.
For example, there was this guy in my teenager who used every single chance to slander me for no reason. His motive wasn’t clear. But knowing and feeling how hurtful the effect of his actions, only made me promised myself I’ll never treat other people the way he treated me.
Another chance, an ultra-religious person slandered me “deviant polytheist” (“mushrik” for you muslim peeps) because the person totally lost and misunderstood the (ahem, metaphysics) topics we’ve been debating hotly about. Then it just made me learned that sometimes you can’t be too open about certain things to those who are ignorant about it lest you’ll be scrutinized. I have totally forgiven the person and amend peace with her.
3. Know that God pays your pain with a greater reward
The key here is the hadith : “Whoever suffers an injury and forgives, God will raise his status to a higher degree and remove one of his sins.” (Hadith Tirmidhi)
Once, a man was passing by and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) announced to his companions, “behold and look, a man of paradise came by”. Out of curiosity, one companion came to the man as a guest to search himself what kind of extraordinary thing he did that gained him title “a man of paradise”.
Upon observing this man, there’s nothing outstanding he did – the guy did his prayers regularly, a bit of night prayer (tahajjud) – just like every muslims do in Prophet’s time, and then he just did his mundane activities. So this observing companion couldn’t help himself asking – “What did you do in particular that makes the Prophet said you are the ‘man of paradise’?”
He answered : every single night prior to sleep, I clear my heart with forgiveness. I forgive every single person who have wronged me.
So my dear readers, sell your pain to God with forgiveness to beget His forgiveness.
“And why should we not put our trust in God while He indeed has guided us our ways? And we shall certainly bear with patience, all the hurt you may cause us, and in God alone let those who put trust, put their reliance” (Suraa 14 : 12)
Wonderful saying for us to ponder upon :
“When someone hurts you or harms you, even if it is a deep wound, forgive them. Forgive them NOT for their sake, but as a sign of gratitude to Allah. Why you ask? For making you the victim and not the oppressor.
“There is no crime in being a victim, rather it brings you closer to Allah and rids you of sins. But as for the oppressor, they’ll have to face their Lord one day. So in reality, they are their own greatest victims.” (Suhaib Webb)
4. Give Your Heart a Time
I’m disagree with proverb “time heals all wound”. If you never do anything about it, it will always linger there, like a phantom who dances and lives rent-free in your head. But undeniably, the wound pains the most when it’s still fresh. Give your heart a time, and you can welcome forgiveness instead of unwillingly forcing it.