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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Forgiveness; the Price of Life

Posted by Sara at 2:54 PM
O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? Great is hatred in the sight of God that you say what you do not do. (61 [As-Saff ]:2-3)

I wrote before about 'Embracing Change', and I preached a lot and thought that I am wise and strong enough to give advice to others. I know now that it is utter arrogance and ignorance. I thought that when change comes knocking next time that I would be ready and prepared to implement all the things I have been saying, which though seemingly right and beautiful, are definitely very hard to actually do. Very soon afterwards, I was sent a test by God, which I’ve totally failed! It was like, here you go, you talk so well, prove it! And I could not prove it, I admit. I was humbled by knowing how easy it is to talk while you are not in the midst of the struggle.

So, this time, I will not be as foolish as before, and I will descend the podium. I will not say what I cannot do. Allow me this time to talk about the concept of forgiveness, without preaching.

Forgiveness; such an easy word to say, it passes on the heart with a soothing effect that is so pleasant. It is very tempting to advise others to forgive and forget; don't we all want God to forgive our sins? Then this is a very good reason to start forgiving others ourselves. Yes, true, I agree. I kept on reading about forgiveness in the Qur'ān, and although I was very convinced, yet I still could not bring my heart to do it. A particular verse, in An-Nūr chapter (the light), moved me deeply,:
"...and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that God should forgive you? And God is Forgiving and Merciful." (24 [An-Nūr]:22)
However, when you have been deeply hurt, you will not find this in any way possible to do, even if you desperately seek God's forgiveness. Sometimes anger stiffens the heart and gives you an illusionary feeling of strength that allows more fire to burn inside and bitterness to fester and totally take over your thinking. With more anger, disappointment, and lack of relief, we harbour more darkness and negativity. Sometimes we choose not to forget, to keep the pain alive, we choose not to forgive, as a silent way of avenging for our wounds.

It is so sad to watch how we sometimes make the wrong choices, carrying such heavy hearts loaded with bitterness and an inability to forgive. Despite being ordinary people who are inherently good, we allow dispute to break us apart and ruin even the good memories that used to be. We start to feel paralyzed, unable to make things better, because of the great pain, wronging, and abuse we've been exposed to. Sometimes, we might wish things were not as bad as they were, yet remain crippled with our wounds. I have seen when death approaches, how every angry memory just fades away. How foolish it is when life is that short to give up on people and surrender. But when you can do nothing, when words lose their meanings and promises lose their glow, when you are the one who has been wronged, what shall you do? You will have to go on and work on your heart. If you are a strong person, you will not surrender to the destructive thought of revenge. Yet, you stand in a fork, with two paths ahead. In both roads life will go on, as it always does. So, you can either walk on thorns that you keep watering, or save yourself.

For a while, I have chosen the first thorny path. I became so different from the one I used to be, like a butterfly that cannot fly anymore after her wings had been touched. I could no longer have the ability to embrace life with open arms or be the joyous person I used to be, I felt so incomplete. Even after getting over the sense of loss, something inside seemed to have been broken. It is no more the wronging that keeps nagging; it is this precious lost part of me that hurts the most. It is when I lost trust, when beauty became colourless, because I am no longer… myself. With a New Year unfolding, I wished I could start with a clear heart that has no memory. Yes life goes on, in whatever shape or form, but even when it does go on, we continue to keep our wounds bleeding by stepping barefooted on the poisoned wreckage of our own hearts. Then I discovered that for me to lead a normal life, I have to get rid of the bitterness that is darkening my heart. It keeps growing pushing away all the light in its way, making everything looking bleak and colourless. I realized that for me to go on, I have to forgive first. I have to shatter the bitterness that is ruining me. Such darkness is smothering me, and I cannot carry it anymore. I choose to save myself. I do not want my heart to dry out. I do not want to end up with a heart of stone. I do not want Satan to win over me in this battle. I do not want any more loss.

"Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of God" (57 [Al-Hadīd]:16)

"Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing." (6 [Al-An'ām] :43)


Forgiveness is very hard to reach. It takes more strength than love does. It is easy to be angry; fire can eat up a whole forest in seconds, but it takes so long to put it out, and takes much longer to grow the forest back. We should learn how to reconcile with ourselves. If others do not appreciate you, learn to appreciate yourself first. If they have wronged you, do not wrong yourself by allowing bitterness to ruin your heart. Forgive others, for your own sake; for the light to befriend your heart again, for warmth to replace coldness, for beauty to overcome ugliness. God is Merciful, yet He is Just. Nothing goes down the drain, when things are left totally for Him to judge. I have learnt that anger is not strength. What takes more courage is to conquer your fear and beat your anger; to truly believe in God's comforting light, and that He will guide us throughout the journey.

"And be patient, [O Muammad], for the decision of your Lord, for indeed, you are in Our eyes. And exalt [God] with praise of your Lord when you arise." (52 [At-Tūr]:48)

"If you pardon and overlook and forgive - then indeed, God is Forgiving and Merciful."
(64 [At-Taghabun]:14)

2 comments on "Forgiveness; the Price of Life"

Lobna Hussien said...

MsA, this is such a beautiful article.It touched me a lot especaily that very recently, i went thorigh all these phases you are talking about in your article.I was astonished that in many sentences, you were able to describe my exact feeling, this bitterness that fills your heart;or lets say your broken heart. This feeling of revenge that overwhelms you and urges you neither to forgive those who have wronged you nor to forget the wound they caused you.This bitterness that starts to have its effect on your life and that suddenly turns you to another person completely different from what you have always been.By time, you start to find out that it is turning so hard, you started to lose your ability to forgive because the wound is severe and you were deeply heart.You keep on wondering, how come you have turned to be so cruel, how come you have totally lost your ability to forgive.You read more and more about the forgiveness of the Most Merciful, you read about Lailat Alkadar and you know well that for Allah to Forgive you on this blessed night and to free you of all your sins, you have to really forgive all those who have wronged you. You try hardly and you exert a great effort to do it and you soon realize that the wound is still so deep and you find out that you cant do it, you just cant fogive and forget. This is not because you are a bad person, but its just that the wound was severe,its just that you have been overwhelmed with this feeling of anger and with the need of revenge thinking that not forgiving those who wornged you will satisfy this feeling within you.However,and as mentioned in your beautiful article,it just stiffins your heart and allows more fire to burn inside.

Me too, for a while i chose the thorny path you talked about in your article,i walked on thorns and watered them. This was because the wound was so deep and i was really hurt.Life started to turn to be bleak and colorless as well.But, i didnt want satan to win this very fierce battle.

You start to struggle and fight to return to what you have always been, to reagin this purity of heat that you have always been know for.You become so sure that this will not happen unless you do these two simple things : Forgive and foregt!you start step by step and you exert some effort to do one of them, you start to forget and realize that you cant forget and the battle turn to be more fierce.You soon relize that forgetness is also very hard to reach. But, by time, and with a strong will and faith within the heart, you just do it and you are finally free and you can fly again and you realize that its not anger that reflects your strength...its the ability to forgive and foregt that reflects this strength..

Le Mystique on February 17, 2009 at 6:08 PM said...

Its a beautiful piece which might bring tears in the eyes of all those who had once shed tears for or because of someone or something.

But I don't totally agree with the content. You tried to show revenge as a totally wrong idea; but there exist - even in our Islamic history - clear proofs of the times when revenge was taken and when it was totally justified and allowed to take it.

And then again, if one's revenge nothing but just to not to do the only thing the other party would want one to do (i.e. to forgive) then why not just continue taking this revenge?

Secondly, regarding 'forgiving peopole so that the Creator may forgive me on the judgement day'... well I do want God to forgive me, hence, I always remain committed to this fact in my heart that on the day of judgment I will forgiven anyone and everyone. But in this world, in this temporary life, there is are few people I will never forgive.

Keeping in mind how short and temporary this life is, it should not be a big deal right?

And I do agree that forgiving is not a show of strength. I am not in favor of using it as a show of strength either.

For me it is like practicing the art and craft of revenge even if it makes me feel bitter at times. Hazrat Noah had to see his beloved son die. Principles are more important at times than that tiny little bit of bitterness one might feel at times or most of the times.

And you suggested we need to forgive others for our own sake if not for others. Well, in my humble opinion, it would be really selfish and mean of me to forgive others not because I really want them to feel good but to just make myself feel better.

I am not that good to make the other party feel good - at least till I am told the full story, and the reasons behind the story and till I hear that 5 letter magical word which washes away all sins, crimes and wrongdoings (namely 'sorry') at least once.

Sorry for showing a totally different side of the picture and that too with a bit of . I know you would assume that one day I too would take the other so-called rosy path.

I won't.

I guess I am in the process of a defining a third path, which may be similar both to the rosy and the thorny path. I would continue staying loyal to this path even if it takes a decade to define it, a century to travel without a like-minded companion on it, and a millennium to reach my destiny through it.

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2009 THEME: Islam in the West and Our Children (Discussion & Resources regularly updated)

There is increasing concern that second and third generation Muslims in the West are mostly no longer Muslims so they actually end up adding to the Christian or Atheist population of the West, albeit racially from a non-Western origin. Accordingly, the ratios mentioned in the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU) would be correct in regards to race or ethnicity but not necessarily to religion.

It is a grave danger facing our children and grand children from a real life stand point as statistically only 1/5 of the second generation stay really Muslims when they grow up and are independent and almost non from the third generation are Muslims. And that is why the Western authorities are still permitting the immigration of Muslims inspite of the figures provided in the above video. They know that on the long term the descendants of Muslims in the West leave Islam because their parents raised them up with an Eastern mentality in a Western society instead of an Islamic mentality that encompasses all cultures.

You can see more about that by Jeffrey Lang; an ex-atheist American Mathematics University Professor who reverted to Islam in 1982. He has also written 3 books that I highly recommend; "Struggling to Surrender", "Even Angels Ask" and "Losing my Religion; A Call for Help".
Now I will leave you to enjoy 2 short excerpts from one of his lectures followed by links to his most important full presentation regarding our children.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmqN75NI0xg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT1KGyxBXC0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMANKaX8khw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgivQJKtQME
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga2rIUWcPPs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYb2v3Yx1LY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhMN_TZavW0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHeM0H0EMAw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD-YefJH9x0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2eVOKjOqHE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBQp7aZjxjc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4_xxQVGU44

Here is a solution that is yet to be implemented.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geRM4AlFBOU&NR=1

Raising children here is not an easy task ofcourse but if we do it the right way they will be true Muslims in shaa Allaah who are "Informed Muslims" rather than "Muslims by inheritance" like their counterparts in the East. Hopefully they will then be a much better generation than ours.

Quickly, I do believe that the best 4 authors (for example, there are many others but these are my favorite) who could guide us through this difficult process are Yahiya Emerick, Jeffrey Lang, Jamal Badawi and Dalia Mogahed.

Here are some links for future reference and for an ongoing learning process that I have started collecting slowly.
Please spread the below information to all your Muslim contacts in the West.

Jeffrey Lang:
http://meccacentric.com/jeffrey_lang.html I highly recommend the lecture titled "The Purpose of Life". It has true meanings that I have not come across in any Arabic literature.

Yahiya Emerick:
Articles:
http://www.islamicedfoundation.com/articles/articles.htm
http://www.islamfortoday.com/yahiyaemerick.htm I highly recommend reading and spreading the last article in this link by the name of "The Confusion of the Scholars"
Books:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_b/?search-alias=stripbooks&unfiltered=1&field-keywords=&field-author=Yahiya+Emerick&field-title=&field-isbn=&field-publisher=&node=&url=&field-feature_browse-bin=&field-binding_browse-bin=&field-subject=&field-language=&field-dateop=&field-datemod=&field-dateyear=&sort=relevancerank&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.x=29&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.y=8 There are only 14 books, about half for adults and the other half for kids. The extra are just repetitions.

Jamal Badawi:
Many products including books, articles and lectures mostly for adults. You can find them by searching his name online. My favorite is;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMfWURGcvBI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HXGRYaUy6g
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyMD_tE6U68
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AixgiXpAFTY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WUgbgLgMXM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3VLRoQ3qUw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5UvvkCDrm4

Dalia Mogahed: (Obama's adviser)
Has one book so far but has a great potential. "Who Speaks for Islam".
You can watch her debate with Irshad Manji (an openly Lesbian Canadian Muslim who is distorting the picture of Islam in the name of "Progressive Islam")http://fora.tv/2008/07/01/Irshad_Manji_and_Dalia_Mogahed_-_Who_Speaks_for_Islam

Finally here is a website for a store that sells lots of Islamic products including Islamic cartoon DVDs in English and Arabic for kids.
http://www.astrolabe.com/category/17/Cartoons_and_KidVid.html?sid=ceb7c5cf8de15b8f1cb92ad29e183a44
 

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