When You Forgive, You Live

Valley of forgiveness

In ancient Chinese thought, the state of broadmindedness and forgiveness is like a wide, deep valley.

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Forgiveness is not for the weak. Being able to forgive those who have wronged you is a mark of spiritual strength and confidence. When you forgive, you grow, your heart begins to heal, your back straightens up, your eyes clear so that you can see the road ahead. Anger is a spiritual sickness; but when you forgive you live.

I know this isn’t easy. In an earlier article I mentioned my time in Fort Worth. There was one particular person there who treated me quite badly. It’s very difficult for me to hold an image of that person in my mind and say, “I forgive you.” It’s almost frightening in some strange way. But in doing it, I feel something in my chest let go, and I find tears in my eyes, and a smile on my face. SubhanAllah.

It doesn’t matter if the other person deserves forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. If someone has hurt you, don’t worry about receiving an apology or explanation, or making them understand you. You’ll rarely get an explanation that makes sense. In fact, if you want to move on, the best way to do that is to forgive. Resentment is a chain that binds you to the other person, but forgiveness breaks the chain, so that you can release that person along your anger.

Not to mention, as the poet Oscar Wilde said, “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.”

In ancient Chinese thought, the state of forgiveness is like a wide, deep valley. That’s because it opens your mind and allows your thoughts to flow freely, while anger constricts your mind and makes you blind.

“Hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant.” (Qur’an, 7: 199)

In other words be constantly forgiving but don’t give up your principles (“command what is right”). If you’ve forgiven the ignorant and they persist in their hurtful ways, then move on and leave them behind. Separate yourself from those who are negative, and seek the company of people who are supportive and kind. Hold no rancor. When you lay your head on the pillow, sleep in peace, and you’ll wake with tranquility.

I admit that I’m working on this. It’s easy to say, “I forgive you.” The hard part is getting to a place where my heart is clear, where I have no resentment or fear. At times I hold conflicting emotions: I might love someone, but mistrust them. I think I should take a lesson from my daughter Salma. I make mistakes with her, but her love flows like a mountain stream. No one forgives with more grace than a child, and no one forgives more fully than God.

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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 259 articles by
11 Comments Post a Comment
  1. SisterZ says:

    When I think of any wrong anyone has done to me, it soon becomes very minute when I think of my own wrongs. I need others to forgive me, this thought humbles me and makes it easier or necessary for me to try to forgive others.

    As you rightly said, to truly forgive is not something for the weak. And Allah is the Most Merciful. He(swt) shows the most Rahma, its unconditional. On a human level, our parents usually show rahma unconditionally. Or even better, children do, because their minds are so pure and unpolluted and easy going.

    Maybe this is what truly forgiving others will bring back to us: purity, clarity and ease of heart.

    Your article is lovely Wael. It gives a remedy for one of the biggest diseases of the heart: dis-ease, dis-comfort, bitterness, revenge, anger, hatred. Theres no place for it when you swallow the pill of forgiveness.

    ***

    I’m laying here, typing from my phone, head on my pillow and I’m thinking ‘is there anyone I need to forgive?’ Is there anyone I need to release from having to stand opposite me on Yawm al Qiyaamah? Because I want to be released of the same inshaAllah.

    SisterZ

  2. Muhammad1982 says:

    Assalam O Alaikum brother Wael,

    Great article Masha Allah. I totally agree with you and also I would like to say that an even bigger challenge is to forget that what someone did to us and not hold the grudge. There is a famous saying on this;
    “People may forgive what you did to them but they will never forget.”
    The problem I see here is that, even if we forgive them but still we will have flashbacks of what they did to us and in order to move on and treat them like a normal person (better someone we never met before) makes it slightly more difficult but obviously being patient and seeing positive things in that same person helps to forgive and forget. It sure requires a lot of practice and doesn’t come easy, it could take years at best to master the art of forgiveness.
    The best example for us Muslim is the life of our beloved Holy Prophet (PBUH); whose life is full of trails in the hand of his relatives and people around him and his journey to Taaaeef to preach people about Islam and their treatment is the best example. He had Allah (swt) on his side when there was no one and on countless occasion he practised patience and forgiveness. As someone who practice martial arts, I am sure that how much some of the cultures teach to forgive people. This article gave me the opportunity to see IP MAN (teacher of Bruce lee, upon whom they made two movies) in a different perspective where he shows compassion, forgiveness and patience at several occasions.

    Any ways great article Masha Allah, keep it up:)

    Also what sisterZ said in her first paragraph is PRICELESS and absolutely true; something we desperately need in today’s world. Always great to read her Masha Allah, May Allah keep her around us forever so that we can benefit from her knowledge Insha Allah (Amin)

    Wasalam,
    Muhammad1982.

  3. Muhammad1982 says:

    Assalam O Alaikum brother Wael,

    Great article Masha Allah. I totally agree with you and also I would like to say that an even bigger challenge is to forget that what someone did to us and not hold the grudge. There is a famous saying on this;
    “People may forgive what you did to them but they will never forget.”
    The problem I see here is that, even if we forgive them but still we will have flashbacks of what they did to us and in order to move on and treat them like a normal person (better someone we never met before) makes it slightly more difficult but obviously being patient and seeing positive things in that same person helps to forgive and forget. It sure requires a lot of practice and doesn’t come easy, it could take years at best to master the art of forgiveness.
    The best example for us Muslim is the life of our beloved Holy Prophet (PBUH); whose life is full of trails in the hand of his relatives and people around him and his journey to Taaaeef to preach people about Islam and their treatment is the best example. He had Allah (swt) on his side when there was no one and on countless occasion he practised patience and forgiveness. As someone who practice martial arts, I am sure that you know; how much some of the cultures teach to forgive people. This article gave me the opportunity to see IP MAN (teacher of Bruce lee, upon whom they made two movies) in a different perspective where he shows compassion, forgiveness and patience at several occasions.

    Any ways great article Masha Allah, keep it up:)

    Also what sisterZ said in her first paragraph is PRICELESS and absolutely true; something we desperately need in today’s world. Always great to read her Masha Allah, May Allah keep her around us forever so that we can benefit from her knowledge Insha Allah (Amin)

    Wasalam,
    Muhammad1982.

  4. SisterZ says:

    Wael, I thought of your article again today as I was sitting in my Tafsir class.

    We all have the ability to forgive and being able to forgive and be humble and kind etc is a step bringing us back to our pure fitrah – the one upon which we were born. We cannot compare our traits or abilities to Allah(swt), although the names may be the same. For example, we talk of our ability to forgive, but Allah(swt)’s Forgiveness is on a different level completely.

    If someone swore at us and cursed us and never thought anything nice of us, the ‘majority’ of us would turn away from this person, and never want to help them again. There are though ‘some’ who manage to rise above and forgive, for Allah’s sake, like Abu Bakr did when his daughter was falsely accused of adultery (astagfirullah). That must have been very difficult indeed. He proved this by continuing his financial aid to him.

    Much deeper than our human level of forgiveness though is Allah’s ability to Forgive. We fail to worship Him(swt) as we should and some go as far as denying His(swt) existence altogether (astagfirullah). But yet, He(swt) never stops forgiving or giving. He(swt) continues to allow our senses to work, our eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to feel; He(swt) still sends us rain from the skies, plants from the earth, our families, our loved ones and everything we need to live. Its truly amazing.

    SisterZ

    • Faith says:

      Lol sisterZ, just saw your message and realised you have already said the same thing I just posted.
      SubhanAllah at how the same thoughts crossed our mind. 🙂

      Was’salaam

  5. Faith says:

    Beautiful post brother. Jazakallah khair.

    We should and try to forgive always, and many a people are forgiving and are blessed with a soft and generous enough heart to do that.

    BUT – only and only Allah swt can forgive with your account starting from 0 with him again. No matter what, humans are humans and we forgive but we do not forget..as forgiveness can be optional but forgetting isn’t…But only with Allah do we realise what it means to be truly “Ar-Rahmaan”..where he forgives like nothing, nobody and noone can. Where you know your account will truly start from scratch again once he forgives you. Even parents, who are probably the finest example of the most forgiving nature on earth, will remember and bring back the wrongdoing to your face, were you to slip again. Yet we continously slip on our path to Allah, we disobey him day and night, but he keeps forgiving and calling us back towards Him. Who can be generous and forgiving the way our Rabb is towards us?

    Subhan Allahi wa bihamdihi.

  6. Arafat says:

    Yeah u r right, we should learn to forgive no matter what. Afterall we are all a sinner.
    This remind me of a person i always said to my self ” hell no, i can never forgive her” but as times goes on i come to realise that two wrong can never make a right.. If this woman can not come to me and say am sorry due to some reasons, than i should learn how to forgive even without telling the person, because forgiveness is from heart. May Almighty Allah leard us to the right part.

  7. Saima says:

    This is a really beautiful and honest post, Wael.

    What is hard to deal with is seeing someone you care about unable to separate themselves from those negative people who haven’t repented 🙁

  8. Sarah says:

    salam

    To brother Wael

    I would be very grateful if you could let me know if you are a counselor or psycholoigst or you give only advise for the sake of ALLAH.

    Do you advise muslimvia e-mail aswell or only through forum.

    Brother please if you provide help via email could you kindly send your email, really need some advise.

    • wael says:

      Sarah, I’m not a counselor or psychologist and although I have given out advice occasionally on this website, that’s not really the purpose or direction of this site. I suggest that you submit your question at IslamicAnswers.com. – Wael

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