Anger, rage, and disappointment. I clamped my fists, held my breath, and looked at his face that showed no sense of guilt.
“You have cheated us again, haven’t you?!” my voice trembled.
“I have no idea what are you talking about,” he stuttered.
“Don’t lie to us! I know it was you! How can things get lost in the house? Are you that desperate? I’ll call the police, do you want that?!” This time, I screamed loudly. My head was starting to throb from all the shouting and I could feel my heart beat harder and faster. I glared at his face, hoping to see any sign of resentment or fear, but no, he wasn’t moved at all. He just sat there. Looking down at the floor as if thinking of a way to escape this situation with no damages. At that moment, I thought of all the painful things that I could do to him for his selfishness and carelessness. The moment I almost got overwhelmed with anger, I walked away and calmed myself down.
Sadly, this was a situation my family and I have faced with someone close to us, someone we trusted. This person wronged us. But should I remain angry at him for the rest of my life? How should I deal with this to move on with my life?
We can’t change people, and we certainly cannot change everyone overnight. But we can at least change our own selves, and the way we think and behave, to better deal with unfortunate situations that could come up in our lives. We’ve actually been taught the best example to deal with almost all sorts of situations through the life of our Noble Messenger , but oftentimes, we don’t apply these teachings.
There will be situations in life that will make you angry or impatient, but Prophet Muhammad taught us that true strength is when you can overcome your anger. He said,
“The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.” [Sahih al Bukhari]
We need to take this a step further by consciously forgiving someone, even when they may not necessarily deserve it. Being able to forgive and let go increases mental well-being and prevents negativity and resentment from harboring within the heart. Let’s explore a few ways we can become more forgiving towards people.
Empathize and understand
The person who did all those awful things to my family was having a hard time finding a job and had a problem managing his finances. This isn’t an excuse, but it gave me an insight as to why he did the things he did. When we understand, we become calmer – best thing to do is find the strength to make our compassion rule over our anger.
A great example shown by our Prophet was when he showed mercy and compassion for the people of Ta’if who injured him after he tried to tell them about Allah and the purpose of their existence.
Narrated `Aisha that she asked the Prophet , “Have you encountered a day harder than the day of the battle of Uhud?” The Prophet replied,
“Your tribes have troubled me a lot, and the worse trouble was the trouble on the day of ‘Aqaba when I presented myself to Ibn `Abd-Yalail bin `Abd-Kulal and he did not respond to my demand. So I departed, overwhelmed with excessive sorrow, and proceeded on, and could not relax till I found myself at Qarnath-Tha-alib where I lifted my head towards the sky to see a cloud shading me unexpectedly. I looked up and saw Gabriel in it. He called me saying, ‘Allah has heard your people’s saying to you, and what they have replied back to you, Allah has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.’ The Angel of the Mountains called and greeted me, and then said, ‘O Muhammad ! Order what you wish. If you like, I will let Al-Akh-Shabain (i.e. two mountains) fall on them.’ The Prophet said, ‘No but I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah Alone, and will worship None besides Him.’ ” [Sahih al Bukhari]
That was how compassionate our Prophet was. He forgave people and made dua for them, even when they were violent towards him. He had compassion for them and ultimately wanted them to be guided to Islam. So, the next time someone makes you angry, take a minute to ask yourself why it happened. Does the person have a deeper, underlying issue?
Remember that we too make mistakes
Anas ibn Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah said,
“Every son of Adam sins, and the best of the sinners are the repentant” [Jami at-Tirmidhi]
I admit that I myself am prone to making many mistakes. For example, I can tend to be unfocused, unreliable, and can show an apathetic type of behavior to most situations. It took me years to learn how to better myself. Many more years to realize that no matter how much effort I put, I won’t get over my carelessness and poor decision-making skills.
With that in mind, I have no right to judge or feel anger towards anyone for long, because I myself am in need of forgiveness. Instead, I try to make amends with those I have hurt. I do my best to value any sort of relationship I have with family, friends, and acquaintances alike.
Make it an opportunity to be forgiven for your own sins
Imagine if you’re a wealthy and charitable man who has been helping poor relatives for a very long period. One day, false rumors spread around the honor and chastity of your own beloved daughter. Instead of defending her honor, those relatives who are indebted to you start bashing your daughter’s honor. How would you feel?
This is what happened to Abu Bakr as-Siddiq . What he thought of in response to this situation was just cutting off his aid to these people. But then Allah revealed:
“And let not those of virtue among you and wealth swear not to give [aid] to their relatives and the needy and the emigrants for the cause of Allah, and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an: Chapter 24: Verse 22]
Allah did not only instruct him to forgive but to continue to show generosity to others hoping for Allah’s rewards only. That’s a key point, we’re not necessarily kind to people because they deserve it, but because we do every good deed for the sake of Allah alone.
“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous 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.” [Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verses 133 – 134]
This verse from the Qur’an always hits me hard.
When I was low on cash, especially after getting my money stolen, I asked myself; do I continue to help that person and donate to the mosque or do I keep the money for my needs?
Any other person would keep the money and spend it on meals for the rest of the day. It is not wrong. The money is his anyway. But, imagine that Allah emphasized that those who spend in charity in time of ease and hardship are loved by Him.
If I refrain from venting out my anger through my words and actions, Allah will love me too. And if I follow that action by an act of sadaqah, that is even better. Isn’t that great? It is a sure ticket to heaven, in sha Allah.
Maintain the relationship but don’t risk your trust
In the situation I mentioned earlier, my family and I did not cut the relationship with the person who wronged us. We still talk to him when there is a need and support him with his basic necessities.
In the end, we must remember that the Prophet said:
“Allah said, ‘I am the Merciful (ar-Rahman). I have created ties of kinship and derives a name for it from My Name. If anyone maintains ties of kinship, I maintain connection with him, and I shall cut off anyone who cuts them off.’” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]
Many scholars emphasized that we should try our best to treat unkindness with kindness, especially with our close relatives. The least we could do is:
- Treat them with respect and speak with kind words
- Help them financially and emotionally when needed
- Offer any sorts of service within your capabilities
- Visit them once in a while
- Pray for their well-being
By doing so, Allah will be with us and forgive our sins as well.
Lastly, we ought to remember that everything in this life is a test for us.
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 155]
The good and bad around us is there to teach us and test us. Bad things and bad people will show up in our lives, so it’s not about avoiding that completely, but about learning how to cope. What we need to do is be patient and steadfast in all circumstances. We should only focus on Allah and seek His Mercy, Forgiveness and eternal rewards because we’re only here on earth for a very short period of time – our eternal life is yet to come. With that in mind, the trials we go through in life should not get the better of us.
Have you forgiven someone who wronged you? How did it make you feel? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!