Faith, Life

Understanding the generosity of forgiveness

A popular Arab saying suggests that a forgiving person is karim, generous. The essence of karram (the root word of being karim), is to be generous and noble and the name Al-Karim is one of the names and divine attributes of Allah (swt). In a description of this attribute, we can see that the name Al-Karim holds the following:

  • The One who is the most generous, both physically and spiritually.
  • The One who is continually giving forth the grandest and most precious of bounties.
  • The One whose kind, noble and generous essence is most esteemed, valued and honoured.
  • The One who endlessly gives all manner of precious gifts, including support and refuge.
  • The One who is eternally giving, even unto those who may not seem (to us) to be deserving.

As such, we can see the grandeur of possessing such a quality and this can all be achieved with the act of forgiveness. But how does the Holy Quran describe forgiveness?

وَلْيَعْفُوا وَلْيَصْفَحُوا ۗ أَلَا تُحِبُّونَ أَن يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Let them pardon and overlook. Would you not love for Allah to forgive you? Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Surat An-Nur [24:22]




الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

The believers are those who spend in charity during ease and hardship and who restrain their anger and pardon the people, for Allah loves the doers of good.

Surat Aale Imran [3:134]

There are many more examples from the Holy Quran that describe Allah (swt) forgiving people of their wrongs, of the Angels praying to Him to forgive His creations, amongst others. However, what these verses give us are apt instructions as to how one should behave and the rewards granted upon doing so. For example, the verse from Surat Aale Imran suggests that one of the attributes of the believers, which is a status that is of the hardest to achieve, is to be someone who pardons people. The reward of doing this is that they are rewarded by love from Allah (swt).

The verses thereafter continue with instructions of how to behave but then end with the following: “As for these [people], their reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and gardens beneath which rivers flow in which they will abide, and excellent is the reward of the labourers.” Therefore, those who are forgiving are not only granted the status of a believer but are also rewarded the forgiveness from Allah (swt) and eternal life in paradise with the greatest of bounties in this life and the hereafter.We have all

We have all been in some kind of situation where we forgive others or hope that we can be forgiven. However, as humans, we tend to find it incredibly difficult to forgive a person who wrongs us, and it is this which can end up ruining relationships between friends, families and couples. At times it can be small things or huge ones, but we are shown the best way to deal with this from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his Ahlulbayt through their dealings with others and how they forgave some of the greatest of injustices against them.

For example, the Prophet (pbuh) was often insulted, had rubbish and stones thrown on him during the initial years of his Prophethood, however, there are numerous examples of his forgiveness, including the incident in which he visited a neighbour who constantly threw things on him. Allah (swt) instructed the Holy Prophet to ‘Take forgiveness, to enjoin in good and turn aside from the ignorant,” and that’s exactly the way in which he behaved. [7:199]

The generosity of his forgiveness can be seen carried on through his bloodline through the Holy progeny whereby his grandson, Hussain the son of Ali forgave Hurr ibn Yazeed Alriyahi in the battle of Karbala; in this instance Hurr had blocked the route in order to force Hussain and his family to head towards Karbala and his inevitable death. With this, when he realised the grandeur of his mistake, he asked the Hussain for his forgiveness, which granted right away, embracing him as a brother and comrade in arms.

Hussain’s son, Ali Al-Sajjad, in his compilation of supplications, asks Allah (swt) of the following:

“Oh God, I ask pardon from Thee for the person wronged in my presence whom I did not help, the favour conferred upon me for which I returned no thanks, the evildoer who asked pardon from me and whom I did not pardon, the needy person who asked from me and whom I preferred not over myself.” [From Al-Sahifa Al-Sajjadiyya]

If someone of his status or that of the Prophet himself can ask for forgiveness from Allah (swt) or can forgive the wrongdoing of others, who are we to not do the same? Forgiveness should not be seen as a sign of weakness, nor should it be seen as the lessening of one’s status. Rather, granting forgiveness elevates the rank of an individual and refines their character, bringing them closer to the attributes of someone who is karim, and is granted the highest levels of paradise and forgiveness from Allah (swt).


Read more: Forgiveness – An Islamic Perspective.

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