Sister Faiza Munshi conducted a panel discussion on the topic of forgiveness. The Panel guests included Apa Zaakirah who works at Radio Islam and is involved in numerous Islamic projects, including a higher learning programme which she teaches The other guest was Sister Tasneem Basha, a life coach who is trained in holistic therapy. The topic was aptly chosen for the first day of the month of Shabaan.
The question of forgiveness seems quite simple, sister Tasneem was asked whether she thought it was simple or complex. To which she responded “it is complex but if you break it down it will become simple. When it comes to forgiveness, you need to look firstly at what feelings does it bring about in you. Do you feel vulnerable, angry or uneasy, when you think about it? This is the most important thing.”
Apa Zaakirah was asked the same question and her response was: “I think that if we ask what does Ramadan have to offer us. The first part of Ramadan brings about, the mercy of Allah (SWT); the second part of Ramadan brings about, the forgiveness of Allah (SWT) and the last part brings about emancipation from the fire of Jahannam. If we look at all of these elements, together or alone, we see that during Ramadan we would want to be ready to accept what Allah (SWT) has to offer us. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by fixing our interactions with human beings. So that we can go into Ramadan ready for what Allah (SWT) has to offer us. I wouldn’t say it is something that is easy but if you work on it, in sha Allah it will become easy. But it is something we should work on before the month of Ramadan.”
Sister Tasneem was asked about the levels of forgiveness and how does the way we ask each other for forgiveness impact on the person who is being asked to forgive.“ The way you ask has a very big impact on forgiveness. The behaviour you model is taken into account by the person you ask for forgiveness. Often you need to be specific on what you want to be forgiven on, with an understanding of what you did wrong and your hopes of redemption. And one should forgive because they wish to be forgiven.” she explained.
There are times when our children are wronged by us. At times we could be doing the wrong thing. How do we let go of our egos and apologise to those younger than us, Apa Zaakirah was asked. To which she responded, “it is never below you to say sorry, and recognise that you were wrong.” When we connect ourselves to the Qur'an we realise that Allah (SWT) has given us the ability to forgive. When you choose to be humble enough to say sorry or forgive, Allah (SWT) raises your status.
Sister Tasneem was asked, how difficult it was for someone to ask their little ones for forgiveness and what was the process to follow? “I think it is a very difficult process, it feeds into the ego when you don’t admit that you are wrong. It takes a lot to make yourself humble and to apologise. You have to be able to lower yourself because it will higher your status in the eyes of the child. It allows them to understand that even adults make mistakes and this is the road to forgiveness and making up.” Sister Tasneem responded.
For some people, it is difficult to talk about the topic of forgiveness. Where they say they will never forgive so and so. What are the effects of resentment and anger sister Tasneem was asked? “Resentment and anger affect the liver and is very draining on a physical level. By staying angry at someone it will affect your health and wellbeing,” Not letting go and holding on will only affect you negatively. We are holistic beings, everything affects everything, they all feed into each other. We are completely connected in ourselves and to each other. Headaches and bad breath are common symptoms in the physical domain that arise from holding on to anger and resentment.
When someone decides that they will never forgive, and they believe they have done nothing wrong. What happens when someone gets to this point, what are some of the aspects we might see in them? Apa Zaakirah was asked. “It is a very sad thing when we see people at this point, they will become very angry and resentful. Their hearts become hard. The characteristics you will see are anger and lashing out instantly, the person might also detach themselves from ibadaah. In the person’s heart, there is something missing. They might forget that they have to stand before Allah (SWT). They need to remember that they will not be answerable for what that person has done, rather they will only be answerable for what they have done.” Apa Zaakirah explained.
Sister Tasneem was asked, what is the process, or what is it that happens to us from a mental perspective when we choose to forgive. How does it affect our well-being? “You free up so much of energy, the electricity that is present in your body is freed. You become more aware of your purpose in this Dhunya, you become more aware of Allah (SWT). You will feel mentally and physically lighter. All the bad emotions of holding on will be released. Negative health elements might also leave.” Sister Tasneem explained
How much pride and ego is included in the topic of forgiveness? It is related to an idea of what life is supposed to be, and when one feels someone has hindered that and caused bad things to happen in their life. People often believe this and think in this way. Instead, the person should ask, what can I do to forgive, what can I learn what are the Islamic benefits for me if I choose to forgive instead of hold a grudge.
As we approach the 15th of Shabaan many people will send out messages asking for forgiveness. Sometimes in order to make ourselves feel better people just send out these messages. Often to people, we know that we have wronged. And people don’t go up to the person to admit that they are wrong and ask for forgiveness. How impactful are those mass messages and how harmful can they be to society and relationships. Because in these instances, people are asking for forgiveness but are not admitting that they have done something wrong, what is the better way of doing it. Apa Zaakirah was asked. “when one sends out these messages you make it seem like forgiveness is a one size fits all item. If someone doesn’t know that you did wrong unto them, you are doing a disservice to yourself because their sins will move onto your scale and your good deed moved to theirs. If you know that something is not going to harm them you don’t have to ask for forgiveness. But if you know that you did something that has harmed them, then you need to explain what you did, admit that you are wrong and then ask for forgiveness. It is really important to go through this process instead of just asking for forgiveness without specifying.” Apa Zaakirah explained.
Forgiveness is a topic that is really important all year round and it involves a person checking themselves and realising the impact of your actions. It helps people understand that they need to take responsibility for everything they say. May Allah guide us all.