We often hear the phrase "to err is human", yet few people know that the phrase goes on to say "to forgive is divine". Human beings were not created to be perfect. We all have our inherent weaknesses and penchant for making mistakes, yet, we are also much harder on each other than necessary. It is said that Allah is more merciful to His creations than a mother is towards her children. He has created us to find our way in this world and the right path to Him. This journey cannot be accomplished without mistakes.
In Islam, there are two kinds of forgiveness that are often talked about: forgiveness from Allah and forgiveness of fellow human beings. Whenever we become aware of our mistakes, we must repent and ask for forgiveness, as Allah is merciful and all He asks for is that His subjects learn from their mistakes. After making such mistakes, we must also then realise how easy it is for anyone else to make these mistakes, and we must be ready to forgive them easily, as we cannot expect forgiveness from Allah if we do not forgive others as well.
God Almighty says in His Holy Book: "Say: 'O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of God: for God forgives all sins (except shirk): for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Quran, 39:53)
It has been recorded in Hadith that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that Allah has commanded him of nine things, and one of these was that he forgive those who do him wrong. The Prophet was known to be not only the most generous of men but also the most forgiving. Throughout his journey to spread Islam, he was ridiculed, beaten and run out of his own home, and yet he always treated his enemies with as much mercy as possible. One of the most striking examples is of how he forgave Hind, a person who called herself 'the eater of livers' after murdering the Prophet's favorite uncle Hamza and chewing on his liver.
We despair when we make mistakes or commit sins, yet we have in our own hands the opportunity to ask for forgiveness, to repent and to redeem ourselves. We must also remember, however, that we cannot expect to be forgiven so readily when we cannot bring ourselves to forgive each other.
(Written by Lubna Sohraab, special to Times of Oman)