Concept of Forgiveness:
How many times has it been that we hurt someone unintentionally? It is not necessary that the harm inflicted by physical. It can be spiritual or mental. Either way, it is not worthwhile to be the cause of somebody’s grief. That is why, not just Islam, but every other religion too emphasizes the need to ask for forgiveness.
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It does not make one a smaller person to ask for forgiveness from another one. However, Islam gives special importance to the fact that humans are imperfect and make mistakes every now and then. With this very argument at the crux, Islam puts special emphasis on forgiveness. Be it forgiveness from another human being, or from Allah, humans must constantly ask for forgiveness. When it comes to discussing the concept of forgiveness in Islam, the two most important considerations are what the Holy Quran says about it and what the Sunnah and Hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) teach us. Following some importance of the concept of Forgiveness in Islam in the light of Quran & Sunnah:
Forgiveness in Islam through the Quran:
Surah Rehman is an entire Surah in the Quran that repeatedly talks about the quality of Allah of being al Rehman meaning gracious. The Surah repeatedly reminds humans of the favors of Allah that they are not thankful for. The entire Surah focuses on the mercy of Allah. Not just that, the words “mercy” and “forgiveness” are found in the Quran 200 and 100 times respectively, highlighting the importance of forgiveness.
Furthermore, even on War or Jihad, the Quran talks about aggression as being undesirable. For instance, in 5:87, the Quran states: “O you who believe, do not prohibit good things that are made lawful by GOD, and do not aggress; GOD dislikes the aggressors.”
In another verse of the Holy Quran, Allah says: “And let them forgive and forget, would not you love Allah to forgive you, and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 24:22). This motivates us Humans to not only ask for forgiveness but also be forgiving because Allah will reward you for it.
Forgiveness In ٰIslam in the Light of Sunnah:
There is no shortage of examples of forgiveness in the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) either. The most prominent example of forgiveness in the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was when he went to preach Islam to the city of Taif. In response, he was pelted with stones and injured badly. As he bled profusely and sat down to rest, the Angel Gabriel came to him and asked him for his orders and he would crush the valley of Taif between two mountains.
However, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) prayed for Allah to bring them on the right path and prayed for their forgiveness. Some years later, the entire city of Taif accepted Islam. The Holy Prophet (PBUH), according to the Musnad of Ahmed, has said “Be merciful to others and you will receive mercy. Forgive others and Allah will forgive you”.
Benefits of Asking for Forgiveness from Allah:
It is not just that it is great to forgive, asking for forgiveness from Allah has its own benefits. Here are some benefits of doing Istighfaar routinely:
- It releases your stress. Asking for forgiveness from Allah Almighty relieves you of your stress and gives you peace of mind. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has said: “If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” If there is anything that we need in our stressful lives today, it is a relief after all.
- Allah is all-forgiving and asking for forgiveness from Allah erases your sins. In the Quran (2:58) Allah says “And say, ‘Relieve us of our burdens.’ We will [then] forgive your sins for you, and We will increase the doers of good [in goodness and reward].” This itself is one of the reasons why asking for forgiveness from Allah relieves your stress.