Understanding forgiveness and unity in Islam
The origin of Islam is generally accredited to the prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him) but to the sincere Muslim, Islam originated long before Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him) ever walked the earth. Islam originated from Adam (Peace Be upon Him) the first man on earth who was a Prophet. Belief in Prophethood is one of the basic fundamentals of Faith. Every Muslim must believe that Allah sent His Messengers, from time to time, with glad tiding of His reward for good deed and warnings of His punishment. Down through the ages, before Mohammad (PBUH) came Allah sent Prophets at different times. Prophets have come to all lands. To every nation Allah sent a Messenger. It is believed by Muslims that every prophet who came before Muhammad (peace be upon him) practiced and preached the religion of Islam. Like, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ismael, Younus, David, Jesus, Moses etc (Peace be upon them all). Mohammed (PBUH) was the Last Prophet. He was sent as a Messenger to whole mankind, to all men, until the end of this world.
And we certainly sent into every nation a messenger, [saying], “Worship Allah and avoid Taghut.” And among them were those whom Allah guided, and among them were those upon whom error was [deservedly] decreed. So proceed through the earth and observe how was the end of the deniers
Islam is around 1400 year’s old religion and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) began preaching Islam around 610 AD, Making it one of the world’s younger religions. Islam was developed in the Middle East in the 7th century C.E. Quran has mentioned many times about forgiveness and brotherhood among each other. Let us all understand these two words Forgiveness and Unity and its importance. To save myself not to get encountered by so many questions, i will give references only from Holy Quran. Prophet Muhammad Pbuh said we should live in harmony with each other and forgive others for their mistakes. Allah says i will pardon all your sin the moment you come back to me and seek forgiveness. So we have Almighty saying in Holy Quran and our Beloved prophet Muhammad pbuh about forgiveness and unity. To quote references from other Islamic books we may get into deep discussions as we witness different sects in Islam which may or may not agree with books other than Holy Quran.
Prophet Muhammad (S) was the last messenger of Allah. History shows that he was known to be truthful and trustworthy even before he received the divine inspiration and became the Messenger of Allah. His actions, decisions, relaying the Divine Revelation, method of inviting people to the straight path and implementing injunctions received from Allah, the Most Wise, are evidence of his absolute honesty, piety and spirituality.
Forgiveness in Islam and its Importance
|The Ummah is like a building with the Muslims as its bricks, brotherhood is the cement. Without forgiveness you cannot have brotherhood.
Do you hate someone? Do you really hate someone? You haven’t spoken to him for a while? You’ve been blaming him? You’re not the only one, the Muslim Ummah today is diseased with this to the extent that almost every Muslim knows another Muslim who he hates.
Ok then, he wronged you. He deceived you. He has backbitten you. He lied to you. But even in these extreme situations the Qur’an and the Hadith teach us that we have to forgive others (especially those who hurt us the most) if we wish to earn the forgiveness of Allah on the day of judgement. We have all committed many sins, made many mistakes and no doubt we have wronged others, we have deceived others, we have backbitten others and no doubt we have lied to others.
So what makes us focus onto brothers and sisters errors while we remain unconscious of our own? Not to forgive is like to live in arrogance, and ignorance of our own shortcomings. Forgiveness is linked with piety and God-consciousness, is there anybody who is not without sin? Is there anybody who can be arrogant enough to say that he does not need to forgive? Do we not know that Allah forgives those who forgive others? Therefore, we should realise the difficulties of others and forgive them. Allah says in the Qur’an:
”Be quick in the forgiveness from your Lord, and pardon (all) men – for Allah loves those who do good.” [Surah al-Imran; 3:133-134]
“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous”
“Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good”
And we know that Allah Himself is Ar-Rahmaan (the Most Compassionate) and Ar-Raheem (the Most Merciful) and that His Mercy is infinite, and that no matter the sin (except shirk) Allah is always willing to answer the person’s call for forgiveness. In fact Allah loves the tear drop that falls from the eye of one who sincerely seeks the forgiveness of his Lord.
And Allah loves us to have hearts that are ready to forgive.
The Prophet (Pbuh) once asked his companions;
“Do you know what will cause you to have high walled palaces in Paradise (as a symbol of great reward) and will cause you to be raised by God?” When they replied in the negative, he said, ”To be forgiving and to control yourself in the face of provocation, to give justice to the person who was unfair and unjust to you, to give to someone even though he did not give to you when you were in need and to keep connection with someone who may not have reciprocated your concern.”
Similarly the Prophet (Pbuh) said that the best of people are those who are slow to get angry and quick to forgive. On the other hand the worst of people are those, he said who get angry quickly but are slow to forgive.
The characteristic that makes a person most likely to forgive is the purity of his or her heart. Apologies must be accepted, the Prophet (Pbuh) said that.
”Whoever apologises to his brother and that apology is not accepted, then the person who refuses to accept the apology bears the sin of one who takes the property of another unjustly.
If we look at the example and the character of the Prophet (Pbuh) we can see that he was always forgiving and never showed enmity to anyone except those who waged war against him. There was an old lady who used to throw rubbish in his way every day, on one occasion she did not throw rubbish in the street, so he decided to go and see what was the matter. She was ill in bed, to her amazement, the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) came to see her and find out about her. She accepted Islam.
This is the example of the man whom we claim to follow. Thumamah, as the chief of his tribe had killed many Muslims. On his travels, he was caught by the Muslim soldiers and was taken to the Prophet’s masjid and tied to one of the pillars. The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) commanded his companions to untie him and give him the best food. The Messenger of God (Pbuh) was indeed a mercy for the worlds.
We should similarly be merciful with each other. First of all, we ourselves should not do anything to upset our brothers and sisters (because this is in itself a part of mercy) and then we should forgive those who have upset us or made us angry. We will never be a strong ummah if we are not able to forgive.
Some might say that to forgive is a sign of weakness and humiliation, and for them it is better to be strong and preserve their honour. But honour in the eyes of Allah lies in forgiveness.
”But indeed if any shows patience and forgives that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs.” [surah ash-shuraa42:43]
“And whoever is patient and forgives – indeed, that is of the matters [requiring] determination.”
If we are to be really strong then we have to be strong against Shaytaan and forgive our brothers and sisters, and in this way may be Allah will decide Insha Allah to forgive ourselves for our many mistakes.
As Muslims, our belief in Islam is not complete until we obey Allah and His Prophet (s). Allah commands us to do so in the same verse in the Quran:
“And obey Allah and the messenger (Muhammad (Pbuh) (Quran, Surah Al-Maeda:92)
Allah also told us about the excellence of the prophet’s (s) character in the following verse:
“And Verily. for you (Muhammad (S)) are on an exalted (standard of) character” (Quran, Surah Al-Qalam:4).
Prophet Muhammad pbuh always used to forgive others. He was sent to us and to the entire universe/mankind as Mercy.
We have only sent you as a mercy to the worlds (Surah Al-Anbiya, Verse 107)
We often hear that our mothers are too humble and kind to us and they forgive all our faults and mistakes. Whatever the child does whether he/she is right or wrong but the mother in almost all cases tries to forgive him/her. But have you ever thought that Allah Almighty is most forgiving and many many more times kind to us(seventy times more than a mother). Allah always forgive the faithful person who does sins but quickly repents and seeks forgiveness from Allah the merciful of all the most beneficent the forgiver. Below is a list of few selected verses from the Holy Quran about forgiveness.(Hood 11:52)
Whether you (mankind) disclose (by good words of thanks) a good deed (done to you in the form of a favour by someone), or conceal it, or pardon an evil,verily, Allah is Ever Oft-Pardoning, All-Powerful. Al-Nisa4:149
Unity Or Brotherhood in Islam
There is a popular modern saying: United we stand, divided we fall. This small phrase conveys a big message; the message of unity. Unity is very important in any society, any group and any organization Hajj in the lunar month of Dhul Hijjah is one of the greatest examples of unity being commanded by Islam.
Lack of unity among Muslims is one of the biggest issues that needs to be resolved by Muslim society. If a Muslim society is considered to be a body, then its unity is its health. And the reasons which do not let the unity stay firm are like the different diseases which attack the body and affect its health. There are lot of such diseases spreading at a rapid pace and if not treated at an appropriate stage, may prove to be fatal for the body (i.e. Muslim society). Almighty Allah has always given us messages through Holy Quran, not to get divided and fall weak. In today’s world Muslims all over the world have been divided in groups/sects and maslaq’s and practice Islam in their own ways. That is the irony why Islam and Muslims are not able to understand properly by others. Islam means peace, love, brotherhood among us and other religions and not hatred, revenge and disrupting peace.
in order to achieve the goals of that particular entity. And Islam stands atop when it comes to unity. Islam commands unity among its followers. Praying in congregation (and Friday prayers, Eid prayers etc.) is an example of advocacy of unity. Gathering of millions of Muslims every year in Makkah for performing
How unity and Brotherhood was started by Prophet Muhammad PBUH
.(Prophet in Makkah and Madinah)
About six months after the Muslims of Makkah had left their homes, livelihoods, and, in many cases, their families, for the sake of Allah and immigrated to Madinah, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) established a system that would bring together Muslims of two different cities and different tribes.
The Muslims who had left Makah were called Muhajirun, immigrants to Madinah; they had left their homes for the sake of Allah. They were now homeless and more or less penniless in Madinah. They needed help.
Enter the Muslims of Madinah. They became the Ansars (helpers) of their Muhajirun brothers and sisters in faith.
Thus Islam teaches us how to show unity among people you live in. How to quickly forgive others. I may conclude by giving an example.
“They Were Not Just “Roommates”
Bringing Muslims together (Mu’akhah), coming from the same root as akh “brother” in Arabic, means a system of making people brothers. The Prophet paired one Muhajir with one Ansar. They were not just temporary roommates. They became brothers in the truest sense. Not only did the Ansar Muslim provide the Muhajir Muslim with food, shelter, and clothing. He offered him consolation, support, and true Muslim fellowship.
Although there were no set rules, every one of the Ansar who got a Muhajir as his brother gave an equal share in his property and belongings to his Muhajir brother.
In the bad old days of Arab tribal enmity and prejudices, the mu’akhah system was truly revolutionary. It gave the Muhajirun a chance to rebuild their lives in their new home, while creating a deep bond of love and affection between Muslims of two very different cities.
The regional differences between people, languages, and culture, despite smaller distances as compared to today, were great.
So it was perhaps strange for people at the time to think of an Arab and a non-Arab living together as brothers.
For instance, Bilal ibn Rabah, an African Muhajir and an ex-slave, was paired as a brother with Abu Rawahah `Abdullah ibn `Abdul Rahman. And they were brothers, not mere roommates. A black man and an Arab. Who could have imagined this state of affairs in the pre-Islamic tribal Arabia?
“They Even Used to Inherit from Each Other”
This brotherhood was even more important than the blood relationship, since it was based on faith, not genetics or blood.
This existed to such a degree that initially, the Muslim brothers in mu’akhah would inherit from each other. However, later on, this practice was abrogated.
The mu’akhah system is clearly an example of Islam’s solid commitment to the establishment of a brotherhood based not on colour, language, race, or ethnicity, but purely on faith. Muslims today need to remember this system and our community leadership should be proactive to implement the Islamic ideals.
References from the Holy Quran about Unity Brotherhood
Surah: Al-anfal :8:46
And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.
Surah:Al- an’ am:6:159
Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects – you, [O Muhammad], are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah ; then He will inform them about what they used to do.
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.
Real Life Issue
A boy was asked to fill two bags of stones and put them on his back to the 5th floor. The boy who was standing at the ground floor of that building found it easy to reach 1st floor but by reaching the 3rd floor his energy was drained out. He somehow managed to reach the fifth floor and asked his master that i have completed the task. His master replied now continue the same thing twice with two full bags of stones weighing more than 20 kg’s each. The boy tried to do the same but very soon he surrendered and confessed his master in a deadful voice that he cannot do it anymore. The master replied, why? The boy Replied, My body is no longer supporting me anymore. The master replied, this is the situation of your heart soul and mind when you don’t forgive anyone. Your heart mind and soul carries the same burden. So this real life story tells us that we should always learn to forgive others and live in unity and peacefully.
Special Thanks to Shahid Nabi (Working as an analyst in Al-Madinah Al Munawarah)
Thanks to my Team for special efforts towards this piece.
(Muzamil Maqbool is a life skills specialist and has worked with many national and international organizations)