Pardon and Forgiveness
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have emphasized pardoning and forgiving evildoers, especially when one can punish them or regain one’s violated rights. As a result of pardoning the evildoer, many advantages are gained; some are material that are gained in this worldly life, others moral, and others in the Hereafter. Those will be great and abundant. For each advantage, there are many traditions reported from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a).
As for the worldly advantages, Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported through a valid chain of authority that Ibn Fadhdhal quoted Imam al-Ridha (‘a) as saying: Whenever two parties meet, victory shall definitely be for the more forgiving.¯1
Similarly, Shaykh al-Kulayni reported Isma’il ibn Ziyad al-Sakuni to have quoted Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying that the Messenger of Allah (S) has said: Adhere to pardoning, because it increases in the servants (of Allah) nothing but dignity. Therefore, pardon each other so that Allah will confer dignity upon you.¯2
Shaykh al-Saduq has reported the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: The forgiveness of kings perpetuates their kingdoms.¯3
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: Pardon is the tax of victory.¯4
As for the moral results of pardoning, Sharif al-Radhi, in Nahj al-Balaghah, has quoted Imam ‘Ali (‘a) as saying: If you overpower your enemy, then pardon him by way of thankfulness to Allah, for being able to subdue him.¯5
The most capable of pardoning is he who is the most powerful to punish.¯6
These two words demonstrate the items of self-perfection that are gained due to pardoning others while there is power to punish them. Pardoning others is a sort of thanking Almighty Allah for bestowing the pardoner the power to punish. It is also a feature that distinguishes the pardoner from others and gives him preference over the others.
As for the great reward and return of pardoning, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have explained the abundant reward that shall be given exclusively to the people of forbearance and forgiveness on the Day of Resurrection. In this respect, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) has quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: On the Day of Resurrection, a caller will call out in such a loud voice that the last ranks will hear as clearly as the first ranks, “Where are the people of preference?” A group of people will then stand up. While receiving them, the angels will ask, “What is this preference that distinguished you from the others through this call?” They will answer, “In our worldly lives, we used to endure the annoyance that was directed to us and we used to pardon those who maltreated us.” Then, a caller from the side of Almighty Allah will call out, “True are My servants! Make them a way to enter Paradise without calling them to account.”¯7
Acceptance of Apologies
To accept the apology of an individual who had committed an offensive deed and then apologized is an act of kindness and an expression of relinquishing rights.
Shaykh al-Saduq, in man-la-yahdhuruhu’l-faqih, has reported that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), on the authority of his fathers, reported the following statement within the Holy Prophet’s instructive will to Imam ‘Ali (‘a): O ‘Ali, he who rejects the apology of any one apologizing, be he truthful or untruthful, will be deprived of my Intercession (on the Day of Resurrection).¯8
In his instructive will to his son Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: Do not desert your friend due to suspicion and do not leave him before you tell him why. Perchance, he has an excuse for your annoyance. Accept the apology of any one apologizing, be he truthful or untruthful, so that you will win the Intercession.¯9
In Rawdhat al-Kafi, Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported that Imam al-Ridha (‘a) quoted Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (Zayn al-’Abidin) (‘a) as saying to his son, If one reviles you while on your right side, and then turns to your left side and apologizes, you should accept his apology.¯10
It is noticeable that the three previously mentioned traditions have come in the form of instructive wills by the Holy Infallibles (‘a) to their sons or family members. This may prove that the deed of accepting apologies is considered the highest rank of self-perfection.
1. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:518, S. 112, H. 1.
2. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:519, S. 112, H. 2.
3. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:519, S. 112, H. 5.
4. - Nahj al-Balaghah, Saying No. 211.
5. - Nahj al-Balaghah, Saying No. 11.
6. - Nahj al-Balaghah, Saying No. 52.
7. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:520, S. 112, H. 10.
8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:533, H. 1.
9. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:553, H. 2.
10. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:553, H. 3.