Sahil Sharifdin Bhat
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – MK Gandhi
Forgiveness holds a profound significance in the character of a great person. While a small person seeks revenge, greatness is exemplified in forgiveness. By choosing to forgive, we do not diminish ourselves, but rather, we elevate our souls. A forgiving person stands as a winner on multiple fronts. Firstly, he attains the pleasure of his Creator, for, God in His benevolence, cherishes forgiveness. Secondly, he frees himself from the burdensome weight of vengeful emotions or the tormenting recollections of severed relationships. Lastly, he triumphs over others through his act of forgiveness. The beloved Prophet Muhammad [PBUH], through his teachings and actions, emphasized the virtues of kindness, forgiveness and gentleness. He transformed the entire world forever with his profound wisdom and compassionate nature. Indeed, the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] is the epitome of forgiving nature. Alas! We (Muslims) love the prophet [PBUH] but neglect his teachings. We take profound pride in being unforgiving.
Once upon a time, in the vast Arabian desert, there lived a powerful and proud ruler named Thumamah ibn Uthal. He was the leader of a mighty tribe, respected and feared by many. Thumamah’s life took a dramatic turn when a letter asking him to embrace Islam arrived at his palace. The letter was sent by none other than the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] himself.
Thumamah’s initial reaction was not one of curiosity or interest, but of anger and defiance. He saw this invitation as an affront to his authority and a threat to his way of life. Filled with rage, he hatched a sinister plan to murder the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH].
His plan unfolded with brutality, as he succeeded in killing a few companions of the Prophet [PBUH]. His heart was consumed by vengeance. He was strong and bold. He made up his mind to harm the mission of the prophet Muhammad [PBUH] to the best of his ability, even if it meant risking his life.
However, fate had other plans for Thumamah. In a twist of destiny, he was captured by a group of the Prophet’s companions and brought to the mosque in Medina. There, he was tied to a pillar of the mosque and forced to wait for the Prophet [PBUH] to decide his fate.
On the first day of his captivity, he was given the opportunity to look at the face of the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH], who approached him with kindness and patience. But Thumamah, still burning with anger, refused to even acknowledge the Prophet’s presence and insulted him in the very presence of his numerous companions . The companions of the Prophet were ready to take revenge, but the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH], exemplifying forgiveness and mercy, stopped them.
On the second day, Thumamah was encouraged to engage in conversation with the companions, but he remained obstinate, hurling insults at them. Again, the Prophet’s mercy intervened, preventing any harm from befalling Thumamah.
On the third day, Thumamah was offered a tour of the beautiful city of Medina, built by the Prophet [PBUH] himself. Yet, he declined, mocking the city and its Muslims. The companions were at their limit, wanting to behead him, but the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] restrained them once more.
Thumamah knew that his days were numbered, for, he had murdered a few innocent Muslims. However, to his astonishment, the Prophet [PBUH] forgave him and ordered his release, instructing him to return to his wife and children.
As Thumamah rode away on his camel, the weight of his actions and the profound mercy of the Prophet [PBUH] weighed heavily on his heart. After covering a few miles on his camel, he stopped near a water body to water his camel and wash his own face and in that moment of reflection, his conscience stirred. His inner voice reminded him of the incredible forgiveness and compassion shown to him by the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH], who had every reason to punish him (Thumamah) for his evil actions and arrogant behaviour. He (Thumamah) realized that it was not he who was the big man but the Prophet [PBUH] who , despite having might and main set him unconditionally free. He felt that a man like the prophet Muhammad [PBUH] would never be a liar and he must be definitely a messenger of God. Therefore, he must go back and accept Islam without further delay. Turning his camel around, Thumamah retraced his steps to the Prophet [PBUH]. With tears in his eyes, he apologized for his past behaviour and accepted Islam. The once-proud ruler had been humbled, not by force or punishment, but by the boundless forgiveness and love of the prophet who was an exemplar of compassion for all of humanity. Thus, forgiveness transformed a big enemy of Islam into a great Muslim.
Forgiveness holds numerous benefits for people in general. It frees us from the heavy burden of grudges. It reduces stress and promotes emotional well-being. Forgiveness fosters healthier relationships by resolving conflicts and building empathy. It contributes to improved mental health, potentially lowering symptoms of depression and anxiety. It makes us good human beings, nay, it makes us great human beings. Additionally, forgiving may even have positive effects on physical health. Overall, forgiveness paves the way for personal growth, enhanced relationships and a more fulfilling life. Forgiveness transforms our sworn enemies into our lifelong companions.
To sum up, the Messenger of Allah [PBUH] said: “Charity does not decrease wealth. No one forgives, but Allah increases him in honour, and no one humbles himself before Allah but Allah raises him in status.”
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