Repentance and forgiveness

GOD granted intellect to humans and that entails responsibility.  

Children are not held responsible as their intellect isn’t yet fully developed. The same goes for the insane who have lost their mental capacity.  

Being human, we make mistakes. “Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.” (Prophet Muhammad PBUH). 

In the last couple of weeks, there have been discussions about royal pardons. 

To grant pardon there must be an admission of guilt, repentance, and the ability to forgive. There are two elements of forgiveness, God’s and human forgiveness. 

God, Al-Ghafoor (The Ever Forgiving) and Al-Afuw (The Pardoner) will pardon believers who have done wrong if they seek Allah’s forgiveness and make a sincere tawbah (repentance). “Whoever suffers an injury and forgives (the person responsible), Allah will raise his status to a higher degree and remove one of his sins.” (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). 

In the Quran, there is a complete surah (chapter) titled At-Tawbah, which means “The Repentance”.  

Tawbah is a direct matter between a person and God—no intercession. It is the act of being repentant and atoning for those misdeeds, with a strong determination to abandon sin and set a good example. 

If someone sins against others, restitution is required. 

Christianity teaches that God will forgive a person who genuinely repents, but this person should also be prepared to forgive others. “Repent therefore and be converted, so that your sins will be blotted out, and the times of rest from before the face of the Lord Jehovah will come to you” (Acts 3:19—Aramaic Bible in plain English). 

However, forgiving someone’s evil deeds is not obligatory but encouraged, while not forgiving is not reprehensible. “The reward of an evil deed is its equivalent. But whoever pardons and seeks reconciliation, then their reward is with Allah. He certainly does not like the wrongdoers.” (Quran: 42:40). 

Those who have been wronged will surely be grappling with pain and the desire for justice but have to be forgiving.  

Thus, there should not be any stigma towards those who choose not to forgive and demand rightful punishment for a convicted criminal. What is reprehensible is seeking punishment through extrajudicial means. 

Islam is realistic, practical, and humanistic. We feel hurt when we are wronged and would need time to overcome the pain in order to forgive and more time needed to forget. “Be gracious, enjoin what is right, and turn away from those who act ignorantly.” (Quran: 7:199). 

We should strive to be a noble servant of God and instill it in family members, the community, and political leaders.  

I think Malaysians would welcome views from ‘ulama’ and religious leaders of all faiths in this matter. 

In the context of the royal pardon, the one seeking the pardon must recognise his misdeeds, confess, be remorseful, and atone.  

If the person feels his conviction and sentence is erroneous and no offence was committed, why ask for a pardon?  

Truth always wins in the end. – September 19, 2022. 

*Saleh Mohammed reads The Malaysian Insider.  

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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