Discourse 37: Forgiveness And Pardon

بَيْـنَا رَسُولُ اللٌّهِ جَالِسٌ، إِذَا رَأَيْنَاهُ ضَاحِكاً حَتّى بَدَتْ ثَنَايَاهُ فَقُلْنَا: يَا رَسُولَ اللٌّهِ، مِمَّا ضَحِكْتَ؟ فَقَالَ: رَجُلاَنِ مِنْ أُمَّتِـي جِيئَا بَيْنَ يَدَى رَبِّي فَقَالَ أَحَدُهُمَا: يَا رَبِّ خُذْلِي بِمَظْلِمَتِي مِنْ آخَرَ، فَقَالَ اللٌّهُ تَعَالـى: أَعْطِ أَخَاكَ مَظْلَمَتَهُ. فَقَالَ: يَا رَبِّ، لَمْ يَبْقَ مِنْ حَسَنَاتِي شَيْءٌ. فَقَالَ: يَا رَبِّ، فَلْيَحْمِلْ مِنْ أَوْزَارِي. ثُمَّ فَاضَتْ عَيْنَا رَسُولِ اللٌّهِ وَ قَالَ: إِنَّ ذٌلِكَ الْيَوْمَ لَيَوْمٌ تَحْـتَاجُ النَّاسُ فِيهِ إِلـى مَنْ يَحْمِلُ عَنْهُمْ أَوْزَارَهُمْ. ثُمَّ قَالَ اللٌّهُ تَعَالـى لِلطَّالِبِ بِحَقِّهِ: إِرْفَعْ بَصَرَكَ إِلـَى الْجَنَّةِ، فَانْظُرْ مَاذَا تَرى؟ فَرَفَعَ رَأْسَهُ، فَرَأْى مَا أَعْجَبَهُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَ النِّعْمَةِ. فَقَالَ: يَا رَبِّ لَمِنْ هٌذَا؟ فَقَالَ: لَمِنْ أَعْطَانِي ثَمَنَهُ. فَقَالَ: يَا رَبِّ، وَ مَنْ يَمْلِكُ ثَمَنَ ذٌلِكَ؟ فَقَالَ: أَنْتَ، فَقَالَ: كَيْفَ بِذٌلِكَ؟ فَقَالَ: بِعَفْوِكَ عَنْ أَخِيكَ. فَقَالَ: قَدْ عَفَوْتُ. فَقَالَ اللٌّهُ تَعَالـى: فَخُذْ بِيَدِ أَخِيكَ، فَادْخُلاَ الْجَنَّةَ. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللٌّهِ : فَـاتَّقُو اللٌّهَ، وَ أَصْلِحُوا ذَاتَ بَيْنِكُمْ

“One day the Messenger of Allah (S) was sitting down and we saw him laugh until you could see the whiteness of his front teeth. We said to him, 'O' Messenger of Allah! Why are you laughing?'

The Prophet replied, “Two men from my nation were in the presence of My Lord when one of the two men said, 'O' Lord! Take my rights (that the other person owes me in this world) from the other person.' Allah, the Most High, said (to the other person), “Give your brother back his rights (which you took from him in the world).'

Then the second man said, 'O' Lord! There are no more good deeds remaining (for me to give him) in place of the oppression that I did to him.' The first person (who had been wronged) then said, 'O' Lord then place all of my sins on his back.' At this point, the Prophet began to cry and said, 'Today is the day which the people will be in need of a person to place their sins on.'

Allah, the Most High, then told the person who was trying to get his rights back, 'Lift your eyes up towards the Paradise and tell me what you see?' So the person lifted his head and saw that which amazed him from amongst goodness and blessings. The man then said, “O' Lord! Who is this for?' Allah replied, “This is for the person who gives his worth over to me.” The person questioned, 'O' Lord! And who is the one whose worth is that?' Allah said, 'You.' The man then said, 'And how is that possible?'

Allah replied, 'By you forgiving your brother (you have given your worth over to me).' The man then said, 'Surely I have forgiven him.' At this time, Allah, the Noble and High, said, 'So then take your brother by your hand and both of you enter into Paradise.' The Messenger of Allah (S) then said, 'Have consciousness of Allah and sort out the disagreements between yourselves.'”1 and 2

In this tradition, there are two very important points which we must pay attention to:

1. In the next life, there will be no other way to repay the debts which were left over from the material world and there will not be a way to become absolved from any responsibilities that one was under (in this world). Thus, the material rights which are on a person will be transformed into spiritual rights (in the next life).

For example, if in this world a person does not pay back his loans, then according to a verse of the Qur’an:

يَوْمَ لاَ يَنْفَعُ مَالٌ وَ لاَ بَنُونَ

“On the Day when neither wealth nor sons will profit anyone…” (26:88).

On this day (Day of Judgement), one must repay his debts through his good deeds. If a person does not have any good deeds to give out, then one will have to accept the other person's sins on his record.

This is a very important issue that no matter how many good deeds a person possesses, when he enters into the field on the Day of Resurrection, he may end up as a penniless beggar - what else does he have to give to other people except his deeds?

No matter how few sins a person may have on his record, here, in that great location, his sins may be increased. A question which may arise is how is it possible for a person to take on the responsibility of the sins of other people?

It is for this reason that while in this world, we account all our actions and pay back any debts that we have on us since. If for example, Allah forbid, we insult a person then we must seek his forgiveness since that which is even more important than the wealth of a Muslim is his honour and dignity.

It has been mentioned in Bihar al-Anwar that:

إِنَّ أَرْبـى الرِّبَا عِرْضُ الرَّجُلِ الْمُسْلِمِ.

“Surely the worst form of usury is the destruction of the dignity of a Muslim for no reason.”3

If we destroy the honour and dignity of a person in this world and do not make amends for it, then the compensation will be taken from our good deeds (in the next world) and if we do not have any good deeds with us, then we will have to take upon their sins. Thus, not only will we have to bear the weight of our own sins on our shoulders, but we will also have to bear the sins of others, just as it is mentioned in the Qur’an:

وَلَيَحْمِلُنَّ أَثْقَالَهُمْ وَ أَثْقَالاً مَعَ أَثْقَالِهِمْ وَ لَيُسْئَلُنَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَمَةِ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ

“They will bear their own burdens and (other) burdens along with their own, and on the Day of Judgement they will be called to account for their falsehoods.” (29:13).

The next part of the hadith mentions the station of foriveness, and what a great status it is for the one who forgives others! It has been mentioned in the traditions that:

ثَمَنُ الْجَنَّةِ الْعَفْوُ.

“The price of Paradise is forgiveness”

It is not an honour or distinction for a person that if he sees another person doing a bad deed that he keeps this in his heart such that one day he can take revenge on that person, because this act of taking revenge is for the animals.

There are some people who consider taking revenge as being a proof of their courage and bravery and are of the belief that if a person was to strike a blow to someone, then one must strike an even harder blow to that person, however the opposite of this is true in Islam. If a person strikes a blow upon you, and you forgive him, then this is a sign of your courage and that you have complete control over your soul and thus, a hostile and revenge-seeking person is not one who is truly successful.

In this relation, not only should we forgive another person, rather even greater than this is that we must try and destroy the difference that exists amongst the believers and if we are able to do this, then we should then and convert the entire society into one that is built upon forgiveness of others and not seeking revenge.

If this characteristic does not take shape within a society, then surely its opposite will eventually become more and more common in a society which will result in the entire population being in disharmony, disunion and dissension. Such issues may never come to an end but the only way that they can be put to rest is through forgiving one another!

  • 1. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, pg. 180.
  • 2. In this tradition we see that the issue of the Day of Resurrection is mentioned in the past tense and this may have been done because the present tense verb is used to denote an event that will for sure happen in the future; or it may also be done as a form of revelation which came to the Prophet (S).
  • 3. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 72, pg. 222.