Heal Yourself with the Power of Forgiveness
فَمَنْ عَفَا وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ
“…but whoever pardons and makes reconciliation – his reward is [due] from Allah…” [42:40]
Everyone, at some point in their life, has been hurt by the words or actions of others. Forgiveness is your choice and truly a source of empowerment. We all know forgiveness doesn’t come easily, whereas resentment and not forgiving seems to come easily. Forgiveness takes work; it rarely comes instantaneously, however its worth the effort and reward is great. So many of us are reluctant to forgive others because it feels like if we do we are validating other people’s wrongdoings upon us or letting them feel justified with what they did, and we feel like we might lose our honor and our dignity. However, forgiveness is not about validating other people’s wrongdoing to you. It’s about giving yourself permission to let go, to not allow that person to control your emotions, to break free from the shackles of pain, and giving up that valuable space in your heart for something far better.
Our beloved Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Sadaqah does not decrease property and Allah increases the honor of him who forgives and no one will humble himself for Allah’s sake except that Allah raises his status.” [Sahih Muslim]
Forgiveness is not something we do for the person who hurt us and it is not because they necessarily deserve it. First, and foremost, we do it for Allah swt, and then for ourselves. All so that we can find peace, move on, and gain the pleasure, forgiveness, and reward from Allah swt. Forgiveness is the best emotional gift you can give yourself. Heal yourself with the unparalleled power of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not only about forgiving others.; it also entails allowing you to forgive yourself. Many times we question ourselves for what we may have caused or what we may have done. If we’ve done any form of injustice towards anyone else, we need to first seek their forgiveness so that we can lift that dark veil that might have enveloped our hearts. Ultimately, it is our opportunity to ensure that we clear ourselves so that it does not haunt and burden us on the Day of Judgment. We need to remember that if Allah swt can forgive us, then we need to be willing and able to forgive ourselves. Self-forgiveness is equally important and a necessity for paving a path to allow ourselves to move forward and not bury ourselves in the past.
When someone hurts you, forgive them and thank Allah swt. Forgive them not for their sake, but for the sake of Allah swt and as a sign of gratitude to Allah swt. Why? Be grateful that Allah swt made you a victim and not the oppressor. There is no crime in being a victim. It actually brings you closer to Allah swt and purifies you of your sins. But as for the oppressor, they’ll have to face Allah swt. The oppressor has created a situation where they have pushed themselves to becoming a victim of their own injustice. Don’t forget that Allah swt is aware.
What gives many victims comfort and closure in this world? For many, it is having their day in court knowing they will be able to make an appeal to the judge for justice to be served and that their oppressor will be held accountable. However, even with that, there is room for details to be left out and misinterpretations of the truth and, quite possibly, unfair judgment. The judge in this world does not know you, truly care for you, or have the ultimate knowledge of the truth. But comfort should arise knowing that with Allah there is not an action, nor detail, nor any tear, that goes unnoticed and undocumented. Justice, in its highest and truest form, will be served and everyone will be compensated accordingly.
3 REASONS TO FORGIVE
1. Your Spiritual Health
• Allah swt will forgive you
“Let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [24:22]
• Have your deeds presented to Allah swt
The deeds are presented on every Thursday and Monday and Allah, the Exalted and Glorious. grants pardon to every person who does not associate anything with Allah except the person in whose (heart) there is rancor against his brother. It would be said: Put both of them off until they are reconciled. [Sahih Muslim]
• Be a person of Jannah
Remember the man at the time of the Prophet (ﷺ) who walked into the masjid for three days in a row and the Prophet (ﷺ) said that he was from the people of paradise. Abdullah bin ‘Amr (radi Allahu anhu) wanted to know what quality this man possessed that made the Prophet (ﷺ) say that about him, so he spent three nights with that man. He noticed that the man did not pray the optional night prayers during any of these nights, but if he woke up during the night, he would simply mention Allah. So before he left, he asked him what he did that was so special that the Prophet (ﷺ) identified him as a man of Jannah. The man replied: “My deeds are nothing more than what you saw.” When Abdullah (radi Allahu anhu) left, he called him back in and said: “My deeds are nothing more than what you saw, but the only thing I do is that I do not hold any grudge against any Muslim or envy anyone for what bounties Allah has granted them”; thereupon ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr (radi Allahu anhu) said to him: “This difficult quality to obtain is what granted you this rank.” [Ahmad]
2. Your Psychological Health
• Reduce stress, anxiety, sadness
A wise person once said, “To have a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Holding on to grudges harms your own health by acting as a chronic stressor.
• Healthier relationships
Research has proven that the inability to forgive causes a person to repeatedly bring anger and bitterness into their relationships and experiences.
• Increase happiness
Many studies have shown that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who don’t.
3. Your Physical Health
• Stop stress-related back and stomach aches
Studies have shown that people who focus on a personal grudge increase muscle tension and physical symptoms, such as stress-related backache, insomnia and stomach aches.
• Lower blood pressure and decrease heart attacks
Studies of forgiveness have found it good for your heart. It lowers heart rates, blood pressure, and stress. Holding a grudge acts as a chronic stressor and stress increases heart attack risks by 21-fold.
• Stronger immune system
Research has found that letting go of negative emotions and harboring positive emotions can help boost your immune system.
So what does forgiving actually mean? Forgiving means not carrying a grudge in your heart against the person that hurt you. It means letting go and not harboring all of those toxic emotions. Forgiving means that if you were given the chance to retaliate, you would choose not to do so for the sake of Allah and for yourself. Forgiving is giving your heart to Allah swt and asking Him to mend it.
However, forgiveness does not mean that you cannot learn and grow from such an experience. Let go, learn, grow.
Oprah Winfrey said that: “True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘Thank you for that experience.’”
If you were ever betrayed or hurt by someone else, forgiveness does not mean that you have to trust that person again if they haven’t given you a reason to and rebuild that trust. But forgiveness means that you’re able to let go of the resentment that you have in your heart.
Forgive and set yourself free in this life and the next insha’Allah, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” -Lewis Smedes
Start forgiving today, as this will lead to better spiritual, psychological and physiological health and, ultimately, a happier life and Jannah, insha’Allah!