Tolerance and Forgiveness
Nura’s eyes blurred with tears as she heard the Imam proclaim, “The Prophet, (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) said, “Do not sever relations. Do not indulge in mutual enmity. Do not entertain rancour and jealousy against one another, and not be jealous of others. Be brethren among yourselves and become Allah’s slaves. It is not permissible for a man to have severed his relations with any of his brethren for more than 3 days.” (Bukhari)
She realized then that almost six months had passed since the last time she spoke to Aisha, and now she could not even remember what their fight had been about.
We all have had disagreements with our brothers and sisters, but why is it so wrong to harbour animosity? Why does Islam emphasize freeing the heart from hatred and enmity?
Even more dangerous is that harbouring hatred will eat away at our faith. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) said, “Listen, may I not tell you something more important than Salaah, fasting and charity?” The companions requested him to do so. He said, “To keep the mutual relationship on the right footing, because the defect in the mutual relationship is the thing which shaves a thing clean. I do not mean that it shaves the hair, but that it shaves (removes) the religion.” (Tirmithi)
Hatred consumes the heart, so much that we forget Allah Ta’ala’s justice and mercy. Our gratitude to Allah Ta’ala is repelled by resentment of others. That is why Satan’s favourite method for destruction is instilling enmity in the believer’s heart. He uses this weapon to weaken the Muslim community and make it vulnerable to both physical and spiritual enemy attacks.
Our physical enemies do not stand a chance against the Muslim Ummah unless disunity has weakened it. Our spiritual enemies, Satan and our lower desires, do not stand chance against our faith unless animosity has weakened it. Most importantly, however, we should purify our hearts continuously to attain Allah Ta’ala’s forgiveness, a blessing we all desperately need. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) , assured us that, “Every Monday and Thursday men’s acts are placed before Allah. On these days, Allah forgives the sins of everybody, except the polytheists. However, if there is a person who has spite and hatred against his bother, he says about them, ‘Leave these two alone in their condition till they reconcile.” (Muslim)
Clearly, purity of heart is a quality we must acquire, and so Allah, the Merciful, has given us the means to attain it. We should begin by keeping our hearts free from jealousy. The Last Messenger (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) , warned us, “Keep away from jealousy, for jealousy eats up virtues in the same way as fire eats up wood.” (Abu Dawud)
We must realize that all blessings are from Allah Ta’ala, which He gives to whom He wills without measure. Failure to accept this and be grateful is rebellion against the will of Allah. This, in fact, was the crime of Satan when he refused to submit to Allah’s ordinance to make Adam Allah’s Khalifah on Earth!
Maintaining our brotherhood also means to never sever relations. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam), admonished us against this serious sin, “There are three persons whose prayer does not rise even a fist above their heads. One is that man who leads the prayers of others who do not like him. Second is that woman who spends her night in such a way that her husband is displeased with her. And third are those two brothers who have severed their relations with each others.” (Ibn Majah)
While it may seen that severing relations is just a result of harbouring hatred, and not a cause, it actually prolongs and hardens angry feelings by allowing them to go unresolved. Even worse is that severing relations distorts our perception of the incident and causes us to become more bitter.
Instead, we should rush to resolve disagreements. If our brother wronged us, we should give him sincere advice. If we wronged our brother, we must race to seek forgiveness from him and from Allah.
We see the wisdom in the Prophet’s words when he said, “None of you should convey to me any hurtful thing about my companions, for I want that as long as I may come to you my bosom should be clean in respect of every one of you.” (Abu Dawud)
Let us all then hearken to the call of Allah when he ordered us to “And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah, and do not separate.” [Qur’an 3: 103]
May Allah Subhanahu grant us all the serenity to accept what we cannot change, Change what we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
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