Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Forgiving Others

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The Quran in many verses speaks of the forgiveness and mercy of Allah, but it also encourages the believers to themselves be forgiving to those who have wronged them. The concept of forgiveness in the Qur’an is expressed in three terms, pardon (عفو), excuse (صفح), and forgive (غفر). This is also a theme that appears in hadiths, including cases where Muhammad recommends that those entitled to retalliation choose forgiveness, as also is the preference in the Quran.


Forgive others

Who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people - and Allah loves the doers of good;
Say, [O Muhammad], to those who have believed that they [should] forgive those who expect not the days of Allah so that He may recompense a people for what they used to earn.
O you who have believed, indeed, among your wives and your children are enemies to you, so beware of them. But if you pardon and overlook and forgive - then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
And We have not created the heavens and earth and that between them except in truth. And indeed, the Hour is coming; so forgive with gracious forgiveness.
Many of the People of the Scripture wish they could turn you back to disbelief after you have believed, out of envy from themselves [even] after the truth has become clear to them. So pardon and overlook until Allah delivers His command. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.
So for their breaking of the covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard. They distort words from their [proper] usages and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded. And you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.
Say to those who have disbelieved [that] if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them. But if they return [to hostility] - then the precedent of the former [rebellious] peoples has already taken place.
Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.
And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.

Forgiveness as an alternative to retalliation (Qisas)

O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered - the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment.
And We ordained for them therein a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is legal retribution. But whoever gives [up his right as] charity, it is an expiation for him. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the wrongdoers.
And those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, and when they are angry, they forgive,

But if they turn away - then We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], over them as a guardian; upon you is only [the duty of] notification. And indeed, when We let man taste mercy from us, he rejoices in it; but if evil afflicts him for what his hands have put forth, then indeed, man is ungrateful.
And those who, when tyranny strikes them, they defend themselves,
And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it, but whoever pardons and makes reconciliation - his reward is [due] from Allah. Indeed, He does not like wrongdoers.
And whoever avenges himself after having been wronged - those have not upon them any cause [for blame].
The cause is only against the ones who wrong the people and tyrannize upon the earth without right. Those will have a painful punishment.

And whoever is patient and forgives - indeed, that is of the matters [requiring] determination.


This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Jarir b. 'Abdullah through different chains of transmitters and the words are: "That the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: He who shows no mercy to the people, Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, does not show mercy to him."
Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: The Compassionate One has mercy on those who are merciful. If you show mercy to those who are on the earth, He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you. Musaddad did not say: The client of 'Adb Allah b. 'Amr. He said: The Prophet (ﷺ) said.
Abu Darda said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: 'There is no man who suffers some (injury) on his body and forgives (the perpetrator), but Allah (SWT) will raise him one degree in status thereby, or erase from him one sin.'My own ears heard it and my heart memorized it.”
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Whoever has wronged his brother, should ask for his pardon (before his death), as (in the Hereafter) there will be neither a Dinar nor a Dirham. (He should secure pardon in this life) before some of his good deeds are taken and paid to his brother, or, if he has done no good deeds, some of the bad deeds of his brother are taken to be loaded on him (in the Hereafter).
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives Allah adds to his respect, and the one who shows humility Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).
'Abdullah bin 'Umar narrated: "A man came to the Prophet and said: 'O Messenger of Allah! How many times should the servant be pardoned?' The Prophet was silent. Then he said: 'O Messenger of Allah! How many times should the servant be pardoned?' He said: ' Seventy times each day.'"
Abu Abdullah Al-Jadali narrated: "I asked 'Aishah about the character of the Messenger of Allah. She said: 'He was not obscene, nor uttering obscenities, nor screaming in the markets, he would not return an evil with an evil, but rather he was pardoning and forgiving."
Narrated Ibn `Abbas: 'Uyaina bin Hisn bin Hudhaifa came and stayed with his nephew Al-Hurr bin Qais who was one of those whom `Umar used to keep near him, as the Qurra' (learned men knowing Qur'an by heart) were the people of `Umar's meetings and his advisors whether they were old or young. 'Uyaina said to his nephew, "O son of my brother! You have an approach to this chief, so get for me the permission to see him." Al-Hurr said, "I will get the permission for you to see him." So Al-Hurr asked the permission for 'Uyaina and `Umar admitted him. When 'Uyaina entered upon him, he said, "Beware! O the son of Al-Khattab! By Allah, you neither give us sufficient provision nor judge among us with justice." Thereupon `Umar became so furious that he intended to harm him, but Al-Hurr said, "O chief of the Believers! Allah said to His Prophet: "Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; and leave (don't punish) the foolish." (7.199) and this (i.e. 'Uyaina) is one of the foolish." By Allah, `Umar did not overlook that Verse when Al-Hurr recited it before him; he observed (the orders of) Allah's Book strictly.

Legal punishments

Narrated Anas ibn Malik: I never saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) that some dispute which involved retaliation was brought to him but he commanded regarding it for remission.
It was narrated from Ans bin Malik that a man brought the killer of his kinsman to the Messenger of Allah and the Prophet said: "Forgive him." But he refused. He said: "Take the Diyah," but he refused. He said: "Go and kill him then, for you are just like him." So he went away, but some people caught up with the man and told him that the Messenger of Allah had said: "Messenger of Allah had said: "Kill him for you are just like him." So he let him go, and the man passed by me dragging his string.
Narrated 'Aishah: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): "Avert the legal penalties from the Muslims as much as possible, if he has a way out then leave him to his way, for if the Imam makes a mistake in forgiving it would be better than making mistake in punishment."

Forgiving or postphoning debts

Abdullah b. Abu Qatada reported that Abu Qatada (Allah be pleased with him) demanded (the payment of his debt) from his debtor but he disappeared; later on he found him and he said: I am hard up financially, whereupon he said: (Do you state it) by God? He said: By God. Upon this he (Qatada) said: I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: He who loves that Allah saves him from the torments of the Day of Resurrection should give respite to the insolvent or remit (his debt).