Let Go of Grudges, for Your Own Sake

Sunrise over the prairie

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

“Pardon them and overlook – Allah loves those who do good.” (Qur’an 5:13)

If we hold grudges, our spirits get stuck like trapped birds. We can’t fly the way we’re supposed to, because our own resentments bind us and hold us down. When you hate someone, they don’t feel it. Only you do. It affects only your own heart, until your heart hardens and your vision narrows, and life loses its joy and zest.

We must forgive each other and forgive ourselves. Let go of resentments from the past. Do it for your own sake, because letting go and forgiving is the only way to be happy.

Whatever others have done against you, let it go. Consign it to Allah, then forgive. Whatever you have done against others, apologize and ask forgiveness, and ask Allah’s forgiveness as well.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was seated in a gathering with the sahabah (his companions) when he looked towards the entrance and said, “A man of Paradise is coming.” At that instance someone who seemed to be very ordinary entered the masjid where they were seated. One sahabi was curious as to why the Prophet had said such a thing about this man, so he followed the man to his house. The sahabi told the man of Paradise that he was a traveler, and was invited to stay as a guest. For three days the sahabi watched the man of Paradise, but he saw nothing unusual in the man’s character or worship. Finally he told the man what the Prophet had said and asked him what was so special about him. The man thought for a long time and said, “There might be one thing — before going to sleep every night I forgive everyone and sleep with a clean heart.”

Mr. Evatt

I went to high school in Saudi Arabia, and I had an American teacher who I really liked. He was my English teacher for two years and his name was Mr. Evatt. He was from Georgia and had long hair and a heavy Southern drawl. He lived in an old neighborhood of Riyadh that was situated on a dusty, rocky hilltop. Every morning our school bus would pick him up, and I always found it amusing when we’d pull up and he’d be standing in the dirt road, smoking a cigarette, his shirt already plastered with sweat at 7 am , and a herd of goats climbing on the rocks all around him. He used to call us students, “wallets”, which was his version of “walad“, which means boy in Arabic. He’d come into the classroom and shout, “Siddown, little wallets!” But was a good teacher and I respected him.

Sometime during the second year, I was passing by the teacher’s lounge and the door was open. I heard a few of the teachers talking about Arabs. I paused outside the door to listen, and I heard Mr. Evatt refer to his students as “sand-ni****s.” I was very hurt. I think it also fueled the beginning of a deep resentment and intolerance in me that lasted for many years. I returned to the USA for college, and for a long time, if I ever found out that one of my non-Muslim friends harbored the least bit of bigotry against Muslims or Arabs, I would cut that person off forever. I had no patience for it.

I also had an increasing sense that I did not belong in American society. I had always been proud of being an American, but while I loved America, America did not seem to love me back. I was turned down for a job because of my religion, openly mocked on a few occasions, visited at home by the FBI, stopped at the airport for questioning and invasive searches… I became restless and unsatisfied with life in America. None of that had anything to do with Mr. Evatt of course, but that insult that he cast on us students represented my first awareness of bigotry; it became, in my mind, a symbol of racism.

My most satisfying times were my trips abroad to Mexico or Costa Rica. Finally I left the USA and emigrated to Panama.

I was happy in Panama. It was a peaceful, beautiful place. The people there had no preconceptions about Arabs and Muslims. I think I was able to finally relax, and breathe easily. I came back to the USA in late 2008 for family reasons, but I’ve realized that somewhere along the road, I let go of the grudges I was holding. I’m more easy going with people now. I have a martial arts teacher who has some anti-Arab ideas, but I am patient with him. Who knows, maybe his interactions with me will help to dispel his stereotypical beliefs. People need to be educated, not condemned. It’s the only way forward. “Pardon them and overlook – Allah loves those who do good.”

It’s so much simpler to extend love to people, and show them the way, rather than react with anger. And it’s better for my own soul. I feel calm now, and balanced. Alhamdulillah. If I could see Mr. Evatt now, I would thank him for being a good teacher. He must have cared about us, or he would not have made the effort. And maybe I would ask him about the statement he made. But I wouldn’t blame him or get angry. I wish him well.

Forgive Yourself

This is important. Forgiveness needs to extend in all directions, even to yourself. Whatever you’ve done against yourself, forgive yourself. Don’t hold grudges against yourself. We humans all make mistakes. “Pardon them and overlook – Allah loves those who do good.”

Don’t call yourself names. You are not stupid, shameful, or useless. Just the opposite! You are bright, special and unique, with a special mission in this life. If you feel that you have been corrupted by sin, then the glory of Islam is that innocence can be yours again, with tawbah. We Muslims don’t believe in original sin. All human beings were created pure, on the fitrah. That is your birthright.

That’s why ‘A’isha reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as having said: “None of you should say: ‘My soul has become evil,’ but he should say: ‘My soul has become remorseless.'”

In other words, your soul has not turned into an evil thing. It is not totally lost. It is just at a point when it is not feeling remorse or sorrow for its actions. But that can be changed! The soul can be softened through prayer, dua’, dikhr (remembrance of Allah), fasting, reciting Quran, doing good to others, and other acts of worship, until your soul once again feels remorse, and can return to a state of purity. SubhanAllah!

Allah knew exactly what He was doing when He made you. If you don’t trust your own judgment, then trust Allah’s.

Tonight, let go of your grudges and sleep with a clean heart. Tomorrow the day is new, and life goes on. You have far to go and much to do. Look ahead, with a sunrise in your eyes.

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Article by Wael

Wael Abdelgawad is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including Zawaj.com and IslamicAnswers.com, and also of various technology and travel websites. He is a writer and poet, and has been a web developer since 1997. This project, IslamicSunrays.com, is very dear to his heart, as it has allowed him to express ideas that have growing inside him for many years. Wael is divorced and has one lovely young daughter. He practices and teaches martial arts (somewhat obsessively), and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and vanilla fudge ice cream. Wael is an advocate for human rights and blogs about these issues at AbolishTorture.com. He is also a volunteer with the MyDeen Muslim youth organization in Fresno. Wael tagged this post with: , , , , , Read 266 articles by
12 Comments Post a Comment
  1. María M says:

    As salamu alaykum, Wael,

    Masha´Allah, tolerance, unconditional respect, forgiveness, unconditional love, patience, …Alhamdulillah. Today this message could be said louder to me but not clearer.

    Jazak Allahu Khairan.

    We´ll get it Wael, little by little, we muslims we´ll make all this preconceptions to dissapear, insha´Allah, drop by drop, with our effort, with our own example following Quran and Sunnah, insha´Allah, striving for excellence as muslims, insha´Allah, as brothers and sisters, being a living example of the values and principles of the Religion of Peace, we have all the same foundations.

    The circulatory system of all muslims as one are lines of Light that melts the Heart of one with the other, Alhamdulillah. In the last day, I will answer for what I´ve done, but won´t be ever enough if one of my brother or sisters still struggles in this life lost and hopeless, because my little body maybe an corpuscle inside of a cell of the whole Lightfull body that all of we muslim shaped, then to fulfill my task it is important for the rest of us, insha´Allah, Alhamdulillah.

    There is one thing I disagree, when we hate others, we damage ourselves the worst, but we do damage others too, because even unconsciously our thoughts, sooner or later, if they are not healed will materialized on words or acts, and this will bring suffering to the person, I pray Allah(swt) that everyday we are more and more conscious that all this suffering can be avoided, insha´Allah.

    I would like to give the message to all of us that we are One, all of us together melted in the same intention, melted trying to soften our Hearts, melted one on the other trying to help to solve situations, because if you don´t have to eat I save from my plate for you, if you don´t have iman to pray today, I will show you the shining Light waiting for you to strengthen your hope, when we choose the straight Path we are helping many in the way that are doubting, we strengthen the bonds with those that follow our same Path, and we are able to shine stronger for those that still lost, insha´Allah, Alhamdulillah.

    Thank you very much for listening.


    • María M says:

      I was just sharing thoughts.

    • wael says:

      Maria, wa alaykum as-salam. Your thoughts are beautiful, thank you. It deserves to be an article on its own. If all Muslims thought like you, we would truly be a shining example for humanity.


      • María M says:

        Wael, Jazak Allahu khairan, I´ve known many shining Lights since I met you, they are spread all over the world, everytime we do our salat we tune our energies and we become a strong Light for the ones in need, whoever and wherever they are, insha´Allah, Alhamdulillah.

  2. SisterZ says:

    “I have realized that it’s not the bigots’ fault that they are ignorant. They only need to be educated. Just the fact of knowing me can go a long way toward dispelling stereotypes.”

    Your article is so interesting and coincidential Wael, as just a few days ago, I was experiencing similar things. I was amongst people who were not Muslim and had grown up in a very politically influenced christian society. They knew only what they knew about Islam through the distorted media. But I feel that my meeting them helped dispel stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam. So much so, that I wished I could have stayed there longer. Before I left the hotel, I wrote exactly that in the guest book.

    I also mentioned though that the people in that region had such warm characters, as they smiled and greeted strangers with no hesitation and I liked that – and that those were Islamic etiquettes.

    I feel that my presence there showed Islam in a positive light Alhumdulillah.


    • María M says:

      As salamu alaykum, Sister Z,

      True christian etiquettes aren´t very different from Islamic etiquettes. Nobody noticed anything different in me the last year, because my way of behaving is staying because the principles and the values, I was grown up are the same principals and values that I have now, Alhamdulillah. It makes me very happy to know you have appreciated it thanks to the beautiful people you have met, Alhamdulillah. I would hope that many people from both sides were able to appreciate it and break the walls of stereotypes and misconceptions, but this is only in Allah(swt) ´s Hands.

      This trip has been good for them, but has been good for you too, it has been growth from both sides, both of your Hearts have opened to each other, Alhamdulillah.


    • wael says:

      SisterZ, it sounds like it was altogether a positive experience, Alhamdulillah; I can’t imagine a better ambassador for Muslims to Amalfi, than you.


  3. SisterZ says:

    Thanks Wael 🙂 It definitely was an eye opening experience. To be in a beautiful land with opportunity to spread deen and do dawah, what more could one ask for. Oh I could live there! InshaAllah :0)

  4. Halima says:

    You know, I think maybe this Mr Evatt liked you guys too, despite his hurtful language.

  5. San says:

    Salamu 3alaikom

    Can anyone please share any lengthy lectures about this? This article is great but I would love to hear more. I’m talking about long video/youtube lectures, or maybe written articles.

    Thank you

  6. Gabbey says:

    Thank you for writing this very inspiring and hopeful piece filled with love. It lightens my heart in so many ways. God bless.

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