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The true Muslim who adheres to the teachings of his religion is tolerant and forgiving. Tolerance is a noble human characteristic which is highly commended in the Qur’an, where those who attain this virtue are viewed as the supreme example of piety in Islam and are included in the group of those doers of good who have succeeded in earning the love and pleasure of Allah. Allah (swt) said:” Who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men – for Allah loves those who do good.” (Qur’an 3: 134)

Such people have retrained their anger and refrained from bearing grudges. They have freed themselves from the burden of hatred and entered a brave new world of tolerance and forgiveness. They have gained purity of heart and peace of mind and, more importantly, they have won the love and pleasure of Allah.

Tolerance and forgiveness are sublime attitudes that none can attain except those whose hearts are receptive to the guidance of Islam and its noble teachings. They prefer forgiveness, reward and honour from Allah to their ego’s desire for revenge.

In the most brilliant fashion, the Qur’an motivates the human soul to attain this difficult, high level. It allows the one who is oppressed to defend himself and resist that oppression and aggression. It allows recompense for injury (an eye for an eye) but it does not allow the man who has been wronged to be overtaken by the desire for self-defence and revenge. Rather, it gently leads him towards the level of patience, tolerance and forgiveness, and states that this is something that takes a great deal of determination and willpower.

When Abu Bakr was overwhelmed with sorrow because of the slander he had heard uttered by some against his daughter Aishah (ra), he vowed to himself that he would cut off his help to those ungrateful recipients of his bounty who had joined in the sinful gossip. But Allah (swt) revealed:” Let not those amongst you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: Let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 24: 22)

Interactions between individuals in a Muslim community are not based on blaming, censure and seeking revenge for every major or minor issue. Rather they are based on tolerance, overlooking faults, forgiveness and patience. This is the teaching of Islam, and this is what is encouraged by the Qur’an:” Nor can goodness and evil

 

be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better: then will be between whom and you was hatred becomes as if he were your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint – none but persons of the greatest good fortune.” (Qur’an 41: 34-35)

If evil is always repaid with evil, the result will be intense hatred and bitter grudges. But evil is repaid with good, it will extinguish the fires of hatred, calm people down, and remove their grudges. The two who are enemies will become true friends when one of them speaks a kind word or smiles compassionately at the other. This is a great victory for the one who repelled evil with something better, and no one attains this but persons of the greatest good fortune, as the Qur’an states. Such a person responds to the evil he faces with a measure of patience, and repels it with something good.

This is the attitude of a believer in a community of believers. Many verses of the Qur’an reinforce this message and seek to instil this attitude in believers’ hearts. So the Qur’an tells believers to restrain their anger in such situations, to be forgiving and to graciously overlook the faults of others, so that no trace of hatred, resentment of malice will remain. Allah (swt) said:” So overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Qur’an 15: 85).

The hadiths are no less concerned with this noble human attitude of forgiveness and tolerance. They also encourage it to be established in Muslim hearts, and describe the practical way in which it should affect one’s behaviour. This is the example of the Prophet (saw), the leader and educator of Muslims, which is to be followed and adhered to.

Aishah (ra) said:” The Prophet (saw) never struck any person, woman or servant with his hand, except when he was fighting in the way of Allah, and he never took offence at anything and sought revenge for it, except when one of the laws of Allah had been violated, and then he would take revenge for the sake of Allah.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (saw) was a unique example of this sublime attitude, which encompassed all people. He did not repay their evil with evil, rather he repelled it with an attitude of forgiveness, commanding what is right, and turning away from the ignorant. He always repelled evil with something better.

(to be continued)

 

(Prepared by Ustad Abdul Muhaemin Karim)