One of the thorniest and most difficult things we humans are ever called upon to do is to respond to evil with kindness, and to forgive what we may perceive to be the unforgiveable. It’s much easier for us to think of ways to get someone back or inflict pain on them so they share some of our pain. Sometimes we call ourselves “helping” Allah (God) chastise someone, but all of this is out of our own pain and need for justice and healing. Brother Jabril Muhammad stated that “Revenge is the bastard child of Justice”. In the end, that’s all we seek when we have been wronged … Justice.
We may think that our offender doesn’t deserve our forgiveness especially if the impact of the pain was great. However, WE deserve to be free of that offense and the pain it caused by way of forgiveness. When we decide not to forgive, because forgiveness is a choice, we hold on to the pain of events that are long over with. It begins to eat away at us and we take on the “victim” role seeking the sympathy of others as opposed to taking charge and action of our healing. It takes more energy to hold on to the pain and hate a person then it does to forgive them and let go to move on with life.
So why is forgiveness important and to whom is the benefiter? Lewis B. Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” To forgive frees our mind of the event, the repercussions, and it prevents all of the above from taking root in our heart. Sister Ava Muhammad stated that our words, thoughts, and behavior carry energy strong enough to either bring life into the atmosphere or cause death—the diminishing of our immune system. Another wise person stated that hatred is poison we drink expecting the other person to die. Therefore, holding on to the offense and pain only inflicts more hurt done by our own hands. Thus we take the initial event and trauma and keep cutting ourselves over and over again, but we are still blaming the other person. To forgive is to heal, and to forgive can be viewed as the pursuit of happiness! We benefit from forgiveness! The other person doesn’t need our forgiveness. It would be nice, but they are not the ones who benefit.
Atonement is defined as: to do something good as a way to show that you are sorry for doing something bad. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said that atonement is seeking forgiveness and guidance from Almighty God. Recognizing the wrong, confessing to it, repenting, atoning, forgiving (yourself), reconciling, and perfect union with God.
Nowhere in any of those processes is it mandatory for there to be the offender and the one offended. However, both require the assistance of Allah (God)!
So how does one begin the process of forgiveness?
In 2nd Corinthians 2 verses 5-11 it reads: “Someone there among you has caused sadness, not to me, but to all of you. I mean he caused sadness to all in some way. (I do not want to make it sound worse than it really is). The punishment that most of you gave him is enough for him. But now you should forgive him and comfort him to keep him from having too much sadness and giving up completely. So I beg you to show that you love him. I wrote you to test you and to see if you obey in everything. If you forgive someone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven if I had anything to forgive I forgave it for you, as if Christ were with me. I did this so that Satan would not win anything from us, because we know very well what Satan’s plans are.”
What should one do if the offender doesn’t acknowledge the wrong or does not feel the need to atone? What if your offender is now deceased?
More to come in Part 2.
Ebony S. Muhammad