"Let them Forgive and Overlook"

By Sumayya bint Khalid
Posted: 6 Jamad-u-Thani 1430, 1 May 2009

MADINAH-AL-MUNAWARRA, THE CITY OF THE PROPHET Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, IS ABUZZ with rumors. Ever since the Muslims returned from the battle of Bani al-Mustaliq the hypocrites have been busy spreading lies against Aisha radi-Allahu anha. These stories have become the topic of every gathering, the subject of discussion in every household in Madinah. Though most of the sincere Muslims are confident in the innocence of Aisha radi-Allahu anha, they are still quiet, waiting for this to be ascertained by the ProphetSall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. The ProphetSall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam is also quiet, waiting for Allah to inspire him towards the truth. Thus, the hypocrites led by Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salool have advantage over the seemingly confusing situation and gear all their energies in spreading the lies. Unsuspectingly influenced by the hypocrites' rampage, a few Muslim thus begin to believe this false story. Some of these Muslims even actively help propagate it.

Among them is Mistah bin Uthatha radi-Allahu anhu, a cousin of Abu Bakr radi-Allahu anhu. He is an extremely poor man with no money except that which Abu Bakr radi-Allahu anhu regularly gives him. Mistah's endorsement of the hypocrites' story adds somewhat more weight to it, as he is a man with a fine reputation. It can be no longer said that belief in this story is limited to the circle of hypocrites.

And so a trying and gruesome month passes before Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala reveals the innocence of Aisha radi-Allahu anha. The Muslims finally exhale a sigh of relief and a sense of normalcy returns to Madinah.

Hurt and angered by Mistah's previous allegations, Abu Bakr takes an oath that he will never spend on Mistah again. Considering Abu Bakr's perspective, this is a perfectly justifiable, even expected, position. Here is a person wholly dependant on Abu Bakr and yet is willfully spreading and endorsing wild, enormous rumors about Abu Bakr's beloved daughter. How else could Abu Bakr react in such an ironic situation? How else can he treat a person who slandered his daughter, the Mother of the Believers, with the worst of slander?

And then Allah reveals: And let not those who are good and wealthy among you swear not to help their kinsmen, those in need and those who left their homes in Allah's Cause. Let them forgive and overlook. Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? Verily! Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." (24.22)

Abu Bakr radi-Allahu anhu, despite his anguish and hurt feelings, immediately responds by exclaiming, "By Allah, I would love it that Allah forgives me!" He promptly returns to his previous habit, and swears that he will never cease spending on Mistah.

This was the mercy and forgiveness the Qur'an teaches, the mercy and ties of kinship that Allah is pleased to see in His servants.

Now let's think ... what would one of us do in the same situation? What would YOU do? Here's someone you've always helped, been good to; someone who absolutely depends on you. And now when you're going through some tough times yourself, that person, instead of being thankful for all what you've done and using this opportunity to make it up to you, gets up and stabs you in the back. Instead of telling the world of your goodness, goes on to spread tales. Would you go on enjoining ties of kinship?

Conflicts, trivial and great, arise between friends and families all the time. But the question is: how are we supposed to react in the face of such? Should we defend ourselves to the end because we are in the right? Should we refuse to forgive the other and overlook his/her faults, because we were wronged? Should we cut off relationships, shun one another due to a petty or even great argument? How can we let go of our ego and just forgive and overlook despite the great misdeed targeted against us?

A glance at Abu Bakr radi-Allahu anhus life will tell us that no matter what the sin, no matter how grave the misdeed is, there should always remain a window leading to reconciliation and forgiveness. In the Qur'an we are time and time again reminded to forgive each other and live with each other in harmony and love. Regardless if the squabble is wholly the fault of the notorious "other" it is vital to realize that greatness is not in raising our head high and stomping off, rather it is in bending down and seeking to reconcile; in forgiving and overlooking. There is  no attitude that can ever bring about the most reward and pleasure than that of unhesitant forgiveness. Being oft-forgiving is an attribute Allah uses to describe Himself, and indeed we should aspire to build this lofty description within us, even with our limited capabilities. We beg Allah to forgive our transgressions, our faults when we are entirely at fault; can we not forgive pettier mistakes directed at us!?

There will, of course, always be times when forgiving may seem the hardest pill to swallow. It may sometimes seem impossible to simply dispense with all the frustration and anger and move on. We may be more willing to move a mountain than forgive a person who has wronged us, to overlook his insults, to overcome our bad feelings. Abu Bakr, radi-Allahu anhu, despite being faced with attacks that were entirely unprovoked, did not hesitate to forgive once he was enlightened with the virtues of forgiveness. In his zeal, he produced the most sublime example of forgiving, in response to one of the most vicious attacks perpetrated.

As differences and conflicts arise and pollute the atmosphere, there needs to be this window present to ventilate it. The window makes it possible to blow away the charged feelings and allow fresh air in one's life. It may be hard to open it and push it back along its rusty railings. But we must remember, that this very window is the same window which has been promised to lead to the forgiveness and mercy of Allah Himself.