by: Imam Shamsi Ali*
Allah’s favors and blessings upon us are unlimited and uncountable to a point that the majority of mankind are ungrateful to Allah. Allah declares this in the Quran: “and a few of my servants are grateful”.
Above all blessings of Allah is His infinite mercy and compassion on His servants. He is Rahman-Rahim (Most Merciful and Compassionate). One of the manifestation of His mercy is in His infinite forgiveness for the sins or mistakes committed by His servants.
Allah’s forgiveness (magfirah) of His servants is possibly the most needed form of His compassion. The true fact is that none is immune from sins and mistakes. It’s popularly known: “Al-insan mahallul khato’ wan-nisyaan”.(The weakness of humanity is how easily we forget and how easily we can fall into mistakes).
In Islam, both in the Holy Quran and hadiths, we found many informations guaranteeing Allah’s forgiveness for those who seek for it. In fact, Allah obligates His servants to seek His forgiveness. This is surely not only for the sole purpose of forgiveness but also as away to get closer to Him, and a way to show one’s humbleness to the Almighty.
One of the verses, and many similar others, commanded the Muslims: “O mankind, seek repentance from Allah with true repentance (taubah nasuhah)”.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “O people, seek repentance from Allah. Verily I seek repentance from Him 70 times a day”. In another narration he said: “100 hundred times a day” (hadith).
Moreover Allah has given His guarantee to forgive all His servants sins: “Tell o Muhammad: O my beloved servants despair not from the mercy of Allah. Verily Allah forgives all sins”.
In many hadith the Prophet also guarantees Allah’s forgiveness. One of the hadith for example says: “verily Allah extends His Hand during the night to forgive those who commit sins during the day time. And extends His Hand during the day to forgive those who commit sins during the night”.
The Prophet also said: “verily Allah is open to forgive His servants before the sun rises from the west”.
Further he said: “verily Allah forgives a servant before the last breath passing his throat (maa lam yugargir).
What I would like to particularly underline at this time is the difference between our way to forgive and Allah’s way to forgive. Certainly the types are not equal nor similar. Allah’s sifaat (characteristics) and ‘amal (action) are unique and absolute in nature.
But as a way to easily understand and to take wisdom (lessons) I would like to compare between the way Allah forgives and our way of forgiving. It’s a comparison of the heaven and the earth.
A person or people can forgive. And there are different expressions in the way they handle the forgiveness. Americans for example say: “we forgive but we don’t forget”. While South Africans say: “we forgive and forget”.
And yes often times we can and may forgive the one or those who wrong us. But the reality is in our heart we say: “I forgive you but I will not forget”. Or even our mind says: “I forgive you but I don’t want to see your face any more”.
We forgive but we can’t deny the remaining existing anger and grudge in the hearts. Or at least we forgive but we don’t want to know and care anymore about the person or the people who wronged us.
But look at how Allah forgives. In several verses of the Holy Quran Allah connects His kind repentance of His servants and His infinite mercy:
“InnalLaha Tawwabun Rahiim” (verily Allah is oft Forgiving and all Merciful”.
In many other verses Allah connects His magfirah (forgiveness) with His Absolute compassion: “innahu Huwal ghafuur ar-Rahim” (Verily He is Allah the Forgiving and Most merciful).
This connection of forgiveness and infinite mercy is the core difference between our way of forgiving and the Almighty’s way of forgiving. For Allah while forgiving those who committed wrongs He also guarantees His continued love and care for them.
In other words, Allah in His forgiveness is characterized by two unique foundations that humans don’t have:
First, Allah forgives not only because those sinners are begging His forgiveness, but most importantly because Allah loves them. That’s the reason why Allah called the sinners “ibadiya” (my beloved servants).
Second, Allah doesn’t stop with forgiveness. But because He loves those who seek forgiveness Allah also guarantees them a special care.
In fact it is precisely because of His love for His servants that He has infinite mercy and forgiveness for us.
And that’s the absolute difference between us forgiving others and Allah, the Most Forgiving and Merciful, forgives His servants. So do you dare to be ungrateful to Him?
NYC Subway, 22 July 2022
* President of Nusantara Foundation & Director of Jamaica Muslim Center