She frantically searched for the number and dialed. Her eyes were red and the inner veins were swelled up bearing the intense pressure she endured for days on end.
“Assalamu ‘alaikum, please I want to talk to my teacher, it’s Maria here.” She almost broke into tears when she heard her teacher’s sympathetic tone.
“What is the ruling for a mother in law who makes life unbearable and the husband gives no reaction to control his mother, to protect her wife’s dignity?”
Her teacher asked in a polite tone, “What other complaints do you have for your husband?”
“Nothing just this that he does not take a stand for me.”
“Then ignore your mother in law, consider her as a radio which heedlessly emits, don’t focus on her.”
“But … but, what about me? My right?” she murmured.
“Sweetie, even if you are thinking to divorce then remember you will divorce your husband and not your mother in law, forgive and forget is the rule that will comfort you and ease your marriage.”
Maria froze in her tracks. It echoed in her ears: “…forgive and forget…”
She was giving up on her marriage because of the abuse she was facing from her mother in law. But she was married to her husband and not her mother in law.
Is it easy to forgive the one who is constantly causing harm to our wellbeing? Indeed not, that is why it has great virtue and these trials are only given to the strongest warriors of Allah (SWT). In this era, we all have become hasty. We have low levels of endurance and we want to live the way we want, without any interference. The ratio of divorce is increasing because of various other factors, but our interpersonal state also has a hand. We are often stuck with people who are our blood relations, but we don’t give up on them as easily. Why do we start to think of divorcing our spouse over the third party people who are around?
I do not favor such scenarios, nor do I overlook the responsibilities that a husband owes to his wife. The decision must be made analytically depending on the available resources. If the husband is financially strong then he can provide his wife a separate accommodation to ease the tension, by this means both relations can be maintained and served. On contrary, if he cannot provide separate housing, then together the couple can come up with solutions to minimize the intensity of problem, such as a separate kitchen, outings without parents/in-laws, and healthy “mental vacation” techniques. Immediately calling for divorce is a big no, but husbands need to be aware this is a possibility if they refuse to work towards compromises.
Our history is full of such heroes who have preserved patience and forgave generously for the sake of Allah. When Abu Bakr (RA) decided to diminish his aid to Mistah bin Uthatha, who was part of those slandering Aisha (RA), Allah revealed Surah An-Noor: 22, “And let not those of virtue among you and wealth swear not to give [aid] to their relatives and the needy and the emigrants for the cause of Allah , and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” Abu Bakr then pardoned him for the sake of Allah, providing him again with same financial help.
On another account, the Prophet (SAW) pardoned all pagans of Makkah and entered with his head bowed down as a sign of peace after victory. He forgave them for all the verbal, physical, social, and psychological abuse. His beloved wife died during the time of social boycott, his uncle was brutally murdered and other atrocities were committed against his family and companions.
In our daily life, we often go through such situations which are not at the level of hurt our Prophet (SAW) and other Sahabiyyat had faced. We even boost our ego by becoming ‘hard’ when it comes to forgiving others. On the contrary, we expect others to give us the benefit of the doubt and moreover we demand favors of Allah (SAW) even when are wrongdoing.
They don’t deserve forgiveness?
By the way, forgiveness is given to those who do not deserve it and who do not ask for it. Instead supplicate for their hidaya and mercy. “If [instead] you show [some] good or conceal it or pardon an offense – indeed, Allah is ever Pardoning and Competent.” (An-Nisa: 149)
The prophet Yusuf (RA) showed mercy to his undeserving brothers even when he was in a position to take revenge by depriving them of food. Instead he thanked Allah for saving him.
Be like the people of ihsan (perfecting character)
When someone attacks you, everyone expects you to retaliate and burst with anger, but what is required is to swallow your anger so that it is not apparent in any way. Al ‘Imran: 134 reminds us: “Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good.”
Refraining from expressing anger via facial expressions or body language is one of the traits of those who excel. When our focus is on Allah and his pleasure, it is easy to break the norm of demanding eye for an eye, rather you turn the other cheek and show gentleness. The other point is to pardon people and not to plot any revenge or aim to make things ‘even’ later on. Ihsan means to worship Allah as you can see him before you or are aware of the fact that he sees you. Having ihsan is to be a person who goes beyond what is expected of him to please Allah. Ihsan is to excel
Forgiveness is for our own sake
Forgiveness is not about saying “forgiven” verbally and then holding a grudge for a lifetime. When we hold on to past hurts, we allow the wrongdoer to live in our head rent free as a potent poison. Don’t think that you are giving undue rights by forgiving. You are trading for your hereafter. It also has medical benefits to reduce the stress anger brings with it.
Be Allah’s beloved
Allah loves those who show mercy to others and He is merciful Himself. Compassion always outweighs hostility. Al-Baqarah: 195 reminds, “And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.”
Benefits in the later abode
- Let our target be the palace of the highest level of paradise.
“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous…. Those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers.” (Al ‘Imran: 132-134)
- A person will come to his friend on the day of judgment and will say “Hey, you used to call me bad names and I used to let it go but the offense was still taken. I am running short of some good deeds so let us make it even now.” Thus all his good deeds will be given to the offended.
- My mentor said when we will get our book of deeds and see the list of good deeds, we would wish that we had been hurt more and transgressed by people in the world for more years.
- Transgressed people will have their favours due given by Allah. When we all be on our knees, Allah will ask those who forgive and forget to stand up and take their favour. Subhan Allah.
So from now, when we feel that things are going in vain and all of our personal self and peace is being questioned, let us connect to Allah through prayers and Qur’an. Enhance spirituality rather than to fall prey to the hands of despair and depression. Keep the motivators right in front of our eyes so they will serve as reminders and boost us whenever we think we have had enough.
Since Maria’s phone call to her teacher, she has shifted her focus to hereafter. There are days when she feels fed up, but then she regains her faith in Allah and the hidden virtues she will get from her Lord. She listens to audio lectures of various scholars on such topics, she craves for her station in Jannah (paradise). She now lives by the notion that we are responsible for what we give and not what we get. Maria remains firm to the truth that this all will come to an end and what lies beyond this world is eternity, happiness, and peace. The love of her Lord has resides foremost in her heart.