The power of forgiveness

Updated 13 December 2012
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The power of forgiveness

God has granted intellect to human beings. The intellect entails responsibility. The more intellect a person has, the more he/she is responsible.
When the intellect is missing, the responsibility is also not there. Little children are not held responsible, because their intellect has not yet developed. The insane are not responsible, because they have lost the intellectual capacity. However, part of our being human is also that we make mistakes. Sometime we make mistakes without deliberation and intention. But sometime we knowingly and deliberately sin and do wrong to others.
It is said: “To err is human and to forgive is divine.” Both parts of this statement are very true. As human beings we are responsible, but we do also make mistakes and we are constantly in need of forgiveness. Islam speaks about two elements of forgiveness: a) God’s forgiveness; b) Human forgiveness. We need both, because we do wrong in our relations to God as well as in our relations to each other.
There are many names of God given in the Qur’an. They are called “Most beautiful names” and they indicate many different and diverse attributes and qualities of God. Some of these names are related to His mercy and forgiveness. Let us look at some of these names:
1. Al-Ghafoor (The Most Forgiving): This name occurs in the Qur’an more than 70 times. There are other names from the same root, such as Ghafir and Ghaffar. The meaning of the Arabic word “ghafara” is to cover, to hide and from it comes the meaning “to excuse,” “to pardon,” “to remit” and “to forgive.” God does all these things. In the Qur’an, it is mentioned that God does not forgive the Shirk (without repentance) but He may forgive every other sin for whomsoever He wills. (4:116) We must turn to God to seek His forgiveness.
2. Al-Afuw: This has another part of forgiveness. This name occurs in the Qur’an five times. Literally, the word ‘Afw means “to release,” “to heal,” “to restore,” “to remit.” Thus in relation to God it means “to release us from the burden of punishment due to our sins and mistakes; to restore our honor after we have dishonored ourselves by committing sins and making mistakes.” Sometimes in the Qur’an both names, Afuw and Ghafoor, come together.
3. Al-Tawwab (The Acceptor of Repentance): This name of God is mentioned in the Qur’an about 11 times. Allah accepts repentance of those who sincerely repent and turn to him. The word “tawwab” gives the sense of “oft-returning,” which means that He again and again accepts the repentance. We make sins and mistakes then we repent, He accepts our repentance. Then again we commit sins and make mistakes and when we repent, He again very kindly accepts us and gives us another chance.
4. Al-Haleem (The Clement): This name is mentioned fifteen times in the Qur’an. This means that God is not quick to judgment. He gives time. He forebears and is patient to see His servant return to Him.
5. Al-Rahman and Al-Rahim (The Most Merciful and Compassionate): These names are the most frequent in the Qur’an. Al-Rahman is mentioned 57 times and al-Raheem is mentioned 115 times. Al-Rahman indicates that God’s mercy is abundant and plenty and Al-Raheem indicates that this is always the case with God. God is full of love and mercy and is ever Merciful.
The Qur’an teaches that God is a Judge and He also punishes, but God is not bound to punish. The justice of God, according to Qur’an is that God does not and will not inflict undue punishment on any person. He will not ignore the good of any person. But if He wishes to forgive any sinner, He has full freedom to do that. His mercy is unlimited and His love is infinite.
There are many verses in the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. In one of the prayers that the Prophet taught, he said: “O God, You are most Forgiving One, You love to forgive, so forgive me.” (At-Trimidhi & Ibn Majah). We need God’s mercy and forgiveness all the time. It is wrong to assume at any time that one will find eternal salvation without the forgiveness of God.
Just as it is important to believe in God’s mercy and forgiveness, it is also necessary to base human relations on forgiveness. We cannot expect God’s forgiveness unless we also forgive those who do wrong to us. Forgiving each other, even forgiving one’s enemies is one of the most important of Islamic teaching. In the Qur’an, God has described the Believers as: “those who avoid major sins and acts of indecencies and when they are angry they forgive.” (42:37)
In the same chapter, God says: “The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon God.” (42: 40) In another place the Qur’an says: “If you punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, indeed it is better for the patient. Endure you patiently. Your patience is not except through the help of God…” (16:126-27)
In one the famous sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) it is reported that he said that God commanded him about nine things. One of them he mentioned was “that I forgive those who do wrong to me.”
Prophet Muhammad was the most forgiving person. He was ever ready to forgive his enemies. When he went to Ta’if to preach God’s message to its people, they mistreated him. They abused him and hit him with stones. He left the city humiliated and wounded. When he took shelter under a tree, God’s angel appeared to him and told him that God was very angry with the people of Taif and sent him to destroy them because they mistreated God’s beloved Prophet. The Prophet prayed to God to save the people of Ta’if, because what they did was out of their ignorance. He said: “O Allah, guide these people, because they did not know what they were doing.” (Al-Bukhari)
When he entered the city of Makkah after the victory, the Prophet had in front of him some of his staunchest enemies. Those who fought him for many years, persecuted his followers and killed many of them. Now he had full power to do whatever he wanted to punish them for their crimes. It is reported that the Prophet asked them: “What do you think I shall do to you now?” They expected nothing but retaliation and pleaded for mercy. The Prophet said, “Today I shall say to you what Yusuf (Prophet Joseph) said to his brothers: ‘No blame on you today. Go, you are all free’.” (Al-Albani)
Soon they all came and accepted Islam at his hands. He forgave even Hend who had caused the murder of his uncle Hamza. After killing him, she had his body mutilated and chewed his liver. When she accepted Islam, the Prophet even forgave her.
A very striking example of forgiveness we find in the Qur’an in reference to the most unfortunate event of “Slander of Aisha.” Some hypocrites of Madinah accused her. They tried to put dirt on her noble character. One of the slanderers turned out to be Mistah, the cousin of Aisha’s father Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr used to give financial help to this young man. After he slandered his daughter, Abu Bakr vowed not to help him anymore. But God reminded Abu Bakr and through him all the Believers: “Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want and those who migrated in the path of God. Let them forgive and overlook. Do you not wish that God should also forgive you. Indeed God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (24: 22)
Abu Bakr came out of his home and said: “Yes, indeed, I do want God’s forgiveness. He did not only continue to help him but he increased his allowance. Islam emphasizes justice and punishment of the wrong doers, but it equally strongly emphasizes mercy, kindness and love. Justice, law and order are necessary for the maintenance of a social order, but there is also a need for forgiveness to heal the wounds and to restore good relations between the people. We must keep in mind that as much as we need God’s forgiveness for our own sins and mistakes, we must also practice forgiveness toward those who do wrong to us. (This article first appeared at http://www.forgivenessworks.org)

n Courtesy of www.onislam.net


Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Updated 23 September 2016
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Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Brandon Yusuf Toropov gives a vivid account of his personal quest to study the most authentic verses of the Bible — the Q verses — and his coming into the fold of Islam. Thhis is the concluding part of his story.

I WAS interested in the research being done that indicated that the oldest strata of the Gospels reflected an extremely early oral source known as Q (the Q source: Q from German, Quelle, meaning ‘source,’ is a hypothetical written collection of Jesus’s sayings) and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it. This is because that narrative material was added many years later.

Wresting with the doctrine of the Trinity: The more I looked at these sayings, the more impossible it became for me to reconcile the notion of the Trinity with that which seemed most authentic to me in the Gospels. I found myself face-to-face with some very difficult questions. Where in the Gospels did Jesus use the word “Trinity”? If Jesus was God, as the doctrine of the Trinity claims, why did he worship God? And, if Jesus was God, why in the world would he say something like the following? “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark, 10:18) Did he somehow forget that he himself was God when he said this?

The Holy Qur’an: In November of 2002, I began to read a translation of the Qur’an. I had never read an English translation of the entire text of the Qur’an before. I had only read summaries of the Qur’an written by non-Muslims. (And very misleading summaries at that.)
Words do not adequately describe the extraordinary effect that this book had on me. Suffice to say that the very same magnetism that had drawn me to the Gospels at the age of 11 was present in a new and deeply imperative form. This book was telling me, just as I could tell Jesus had been telling me, about matters of ultimate concern. The Qur’an was offering authoritative guidance and compelling responses to the questions I had been asking for years about the Gospels.
“It is not (possible) for any human being to whom God has given the Book and wisdom and prophethood to say to the people: ‘Be my worshippers rather than God’s.’ On the contrary, (he would say): ‘Be devoted worshippers of your Lord, because you are teaching the Book and you are studying it.’ Nor would he order you to take angels and prophets for lords. Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to God’s will?” (Qur’an, 3:79-80)
The Qur’an drew me to its message because it so powerfully confirmed the sayings of Jesus that I felt in my heart had to be authentic. Below, you will find just a few examples of the parallels that made my heart pliant to the worship of God. Each Gospel verse comes from the reconstructed text known as Q, a text that today’s scholars believe represents the earliest surviving strata of the teachings of the Messiah. Note how close this material is to the Qur’anic message.

On monotheism: In Q, Jesus endorses a rigorous monotheism. “Get thee behind me, Satan: For it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” (Luke, 4:8) Compare: “Children of Adam, did We not command you not to worship Satan? He was your sworn enemy. Did We not command you to worship Me and tell you that this is the straight path?” (Qur’an, 36:60-61)

On Aqaba: Q identifies a right path that is often difficult, a path that unbelievers will choose not to follow. “Enter ye in through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there are who go in there. Narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew, 7:13-14) Compare: “The worldly life is made to seem attractive to the disbelievers who scoff at the faithful, but the pious, in the life Hereafter, will have a position far above them…” (Qur’an, 2:212)

On Taqwa: Q warns us to fear only the judgment of God. “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath the power to cast into Hell. Yea, I say unto you, fear Him!” (Luke, 12:4-5) Compare: “To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God’s retribution is severe. Should you then have fear of anyone other than God?” (Qur’an, 16:52)

Earthly life: In Q, Jesus warns humanity plainly that earthly advantages and pleasures should not be the goal of our lives: “Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received your consolation. Woe unto you who are full! You shall be hungry. Woe unto you who laugh now! You shall weep and mourn.” (Luke, 6:24) Compare: “The desire to have increase of worldly gains has preoccupied you so much (that you have neglected the obligation of remembering God) – until you come to your graves! You shall know. You shall certainly know (about the consequences of your deeds.) You will certainly have the knowledge of your deeds beyond all doubt. You will be shown hell, and you will see it with your own eyes. Then, on that day, you shall be questioned about the bounties (of God).” (Qur’an, 102:1-8)

Crucifixion: We are left then with an amazing early Gospel, a Gospel that (non-Muslim) scholars believe is historically closest to Jesus, a Gospel that has the following characteristics: Agreement with the Qur’an’s uncompromising message of God’s Oneness; agreement with the Qur’an’s message of an afterlife of salvation or hellfire ... based on our earthly deeds; agreement with the Qur’an’s warning not to be misled by dunya, the attractions and pleasures of worldly life. A complete absence of any reference to Christ’s death on the cross, resurrection, or sacrifice for humanity! This is the Gospel that today’s most advanced non-Muslim scholars have identified for us ... and this Gospel is pointing us, if only we will listen to it, in precisely the same direction as the Qur’an! I became a Muslim on March 20, 2003. It became obvious to me that I had to share this message with as many thoughtful Christians as I could.
Concluded
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