Forgiveness: the Glue for a Broken Heart


Crash.

Bang.

Smash.

‘What was that?!

That was the sound of a once sound heart, shattering into a million pieces. Imagine you are the person carrying that heart: covered in pain and soaked in tears. Maybe you don’t have to imagine, because maybe that is your heart.

We are the broken-hearted.

Betrayal, oppression, deception, whatever it may be that happened to us—the result is the same, a broken heart at the hand of a human. A broken heart that feels like it can never be fixed, and it was entirely someone else’s fault. It would be enough if they had just hurt us, and all we had to do is deal with the pain that came from their actions, but no. Rather, the hurt, the pain, the brokenness…it brought out the worst in us, allowing us to see our own faults, and painful ones at that. How do we go on? How do we move on with life and shift our focus back to the One who deserves it? How do we stop obsessing over the wrongs that occurred and start focusing on the only One who should be obsessed over? One word: Forgiveness.

When a person is soaked in sin and wants to return to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), they begin with repentance. The person whole-heartedly turns to Allah, asking Him to forgive utterly and completely, even though the asker may not be deserving. Likewise, the path back to Allah (swt) after a severely broken heart, at the hand of a human, is forgiveness.

When it comes to forgiveness, the key is shifting how we see forgiveness. As always, Allah (swt) has given us a beautiful tool to make this shift, and that is the story of Prophet Yusuf `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him).

Of the many fruitful parts of the story of Prophet Yusuf (as), is that of his being wronged by the wife of his master. She attempted to seduce our beloved Prophet Yusuf (as). Not only did she attempt to seduce him, but she landed him in jail by blaming him of the unthinkable instead of taking the blame! IMAGINE! This is a woman whom, as the wife of his master, he was supposed to be able to trust. This was a woman whom he served during the day. Yet when her desires took over, she wronged him many times over!

Despite all of this, Prophet Yusuf (as) did not act wrongfully, nor did he hold a grudge. Why? Prophet Yusuf (as) knew the reality of forgiveness. When all was exposed and the truth revealed, Yusuf (as) made a revolutionary statement. He said: “I do not free myself from all blame. Truly, the nafs (base self) is inclined to evil, except for those who my Lord grants His Mercy. Truly, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Allahu Akbar! (God is Greater!) A huge, humbling, life-changing lesson we can take from his statement is: You are not the oppressor in this situation only because Allah (swt) has blessed you with His Mercy. Every soul has the ability to wrong others, every soul has the ability to be the oppressor, and only Allah’s mercy prevents that.

The next time we begin to feel this immense and absolute anger towards the person who has harmed us—let’s make that shift, and forgive. Forgive the one who has wronged us not because that person deserves it; rather, forgive them as a sign of gratitude to Allah (swt). Forgive as a symbol of our thanking Him for blessing us to be of those who have never thought of hurting a person in the manner that we have had to endure. Forgive as a symbol of our thanking Him for making us the oppressed and not the oppressors. There is no sin in being the oppressed; rather, Allah tells us that He is with the one who has been wronged and is constantly answering their du`a’ (supplication). But what of the oppressor? They have the anger of Allah (swt) and the displeasure of Allah (swt). And realize that the one who has oppressed you has oppressed themselves more. For it is that person who will have to stand in front of Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgment and have their oppression accounted for, if they are not of those who have repented. So on that Day, they will be their own greatest victims.

Forgive as a statement that says, ‘Oh Allah I’m not forgiving them for their own sake, rather I am forgiving them as a sign of gratitude to You for steering me clear of those desires. I’m forgiving them out of my love for You. I’m forgiving them because I know You love it when a slave of Yours is merciful to others and I want to be of the ones that You love. My desires tell me to wish evil for them and to hold this grudge, but I put You over my own desire and I forgive them.’

Pray for those who hurt you. Pray for those who do not accept you. Love them for the sake of God. Pray that they realize their wrongs before they face their Lord. Pray that no one ever has to go through the same thing you did at the hands of this person. Love your oppressor for the sake of God, because love is the only emotion that is strong enough to penetrate a hardened heart, but know it will take time. Perhaps years, but you will be a better person because you chose to take the higher route: Forgiveness. 

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45 Comments

  1. UmmSarah says:

    Thank you so much for this. This article is an answer to my dua!! JazakAllah Khairan

  2. Khadijah says:

    It is unfortunate many a time the oppressor is oblivious to the fact that he or she is oppressing an individual by his or her actions or words. May Allah guide them and put it in their hearts to correct themselves.
    Alhamdulillah from experiences I realize that being patient through these trials only makes one a better person, on the condition that he or she can stop playing the victim role in life, forgive the inapparent oppressor and play a proactive role in life.

    JazakAllahkhair for sharing Reehab :)

  3. Yasmin says:

    Mashallah, this was a beautifully written and very insightful post! One point that reall touched me was when thr authr mentioned that the one who has oppressed you as really oppresssed themselves even more because if they don’t repent they will have to stand before Allah (swt) with this sin! This is indeed very true!

  4. umme kawsar says:

    O Allah! you are great pardoner.
    teach us to pardon,
    help us to be forgiving to others …

  5. Radwa says:

    Nice article :) but I have a question about this part :” it will take time. Perhaps years, but you will be a better person because you chose to take the higher route: Forgiveness.”

    What will take time? to forgive?

    • Reehab says:

      yes :). It will take time to forgive at first, it will take time to come to terms with this concept…but we should keep trying.

      • Sobia says:

        First of all, thank you and JazakAllah for this awesome article. All this time I’ve believed myself to be a forgiving person. But I was wrong! Now I realise that I may still be harbouring resentment in some recesses of my heart?! I think it’s because I used to say it without really meaning it… At the back of my mind there was always this question of why should I forgive when the other person is not ashamed? Your article has clarified all my doubts of the ‘utility’ of forgiveness.

        And now, my 2 cents :) “love is the only emotion that is strong enough to penetrate a hardened heart” <— I think you meant *that* will take time..!

        Thanks again!

  6. Sumaya says:

    such a brilliant article..
    Unfortunately, some times the oppressor doesn’t be aware that he\she did something wrong, so they don’t repent or they keep doing the same wrong actions.
    May Allah (swt) guide us and show us the right way.
    JazakAllah Khair

  7. Chaos says:

    “Forgive as a statement that says, ‘Oh Allah I’m not forgiving them for their own sake, rather I am forgiving them as a sign of gratitude to You for steering me clear of those desires. I’m forgiving them out of my love for You. I’m forgiving them because I know You love it when a slave of Yours is merciful to others and I want to be of the ones that You love. My desires tell me to wish evil for them and to hold this grudge, but I put You over my own desire and I forgive them.’” This alone brought tears to my eyes for all the times in my life that the anger over took and stirred chaos in my heart. And all the negativity it brought out instead of taking the road that led me to my Lord I took the road of self pity which leads to nothing good. The peace and release that forgiveness has given me in my life, in my soul i described perfectly in your article. It’s like the 12 step program for forgiveness without actually having 12 steps ;). Thank you Sr Rehab

  8. UmNoor says:

    Masha’Allah, JAK for this article. I always criticized those who frogave their oppressors so easily and I took it as a sign of weakness. I never realized that forgivness could be a sign of gratitude to Allah swt. I am Allah’s slave, and therefore I shall forgive.

  9. saodahajil says:

    very nice post. jazakallah khair. hope can share this with friends.

  10. Assad says:

    Good article ! :)

  11. hassan says:

    one question, at what point do you forgive.? should you forgive when the oppressor has realized his mistreatment or should you forgive while the oppressor continues to carry on with impunity? personally i feel that the oppressor should be made to held accountable for the deeds and once he or she has realized the mistreatment and i sorry than should he/she be forgiven? what do you think?

    • Reehab Ramadan says:

      Forgiving doesn’t mean to allow the injustice to continue to go on. If action needs to be taken it SHOULD be taken, but the intention should be to stop the injustice and prevent any future harm…*not* to take revenge or make the person suffer.

      With that in mind, forgiveness can come even when the person is still committing their injustice! Because we are not forgiving for their sake, we are forgiving as a sign of gratitude to Allah. We are forgiving because we know that we have committed many wrongs and we need Allah to forgive us as well, even if we dont think that our sins are as big as the other person. A man once said to ibn Al Mubarak, ‘I see myself as being in a better state than someone who killed a person wrongfully.’ He said to him, ‘Indeed the security you feel for yourself (and have given yourself) is worse than a person who killed another wrongfully!’

      We are always in need of the forgiveness of Allah which is why we seek to forgive the person who has wronged us and we make dua for him/her that they realize that what they have done is injustice and that they turn back to Allah and repent.

      So in summary, forgiveness can come before he or she has even stopped his injustice…but if it is still on-goiong, and one is able–one should take the means to stop it.

      Hope that helps in sha Allah

      -Reehab Ramadan

  12. UmFawzan87 says:

    Asalaamu’alaykum

    Sometimes it’s so hard to forgive. An in-law of
    Mine did something really evil (major sin and illegal) with a close relative of mine and I find it hard to get over because it was such a shock, it hurt badly and it was so dreadfully haram that I wondered if it was even allowed for me to forgive them… What do I do, because it has caused a rift because of the shocking nature of the incident, and everytime I think about it I get angry all over again.

    • Reehab Ramadan says:

      wa Alaykum Asslam Sister,

      I’m sorry to hear that you have been through such pain. From my perspective, even though it is very difficult, forgiveness is better. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you don’t take action if action is needed–rather it means that you dont wish ill for the person. Realize that no matter how large this sin was that this person committed, the have wronged themselves more than anyone else because they will have to stand before Allah on the day of Judgement when all secrets are exposed.

      Know that when we harbor anger, really we are only hurting ourselves. Our anger eats us up inside and distracts us from some of the most important things in this life.

      Forgiveness doesnt mean you return to normal activity with the person…nor does it mean that you ignore the situation completely. A muslim never gets stung from the same whole twice. Rather, it means turn to Allah, tell Him that you dont want to dwell on this anymore…you dont want to be angry at this person anymore…you want to learn to hate the sin not the sinner…because we know that when WE forgive the creation, Allah forgives us!

      A tool that I have found to work is to make dua for the person that has wronged us, no matter how difficult that may be. Make dua that Allah allow them to realize how hurtful their actions were…make dua that they dont ever hurt anyone else in the same manner and make dua that Allah forgive them. It will be difficult at first, but when we fight our nafs and push against our own desires…we’ll see immense benefits.

      I hope that helps in sha Allah.

      - Reehab

  13. Dinda says:

    Masha Allah. May Allah always bless you for writing this beautiful article.amen
    I had tears in my eyes while reading this. No doubt it’s difficult to forgive the one that hurt us, but Allah is All Knowing. He sees our struggle in forgiving them because of Allah. Thus, be sure that Allah will make it easy for us and that Allah will reward us hugely for all the effort and struggle we put forth only for Him. Insha Allah. Amen

  14. umm zakaria says:

    Bismillahi rahmanir Raheem alhumdulillahi RabeeAalameen. Jazakallahu Khairun for this article.
    Fi emaanillah
    umm zakaria

  15. SARAH says:

    asalamalaikum. it was a pleasure to read this beautiful article.

    i do have one question/comment to add though, when you wrote:

    “Yusuf (as) made a revolutionary statement. He said: “I do not free myself from all blame. Truly, the nafs (base self) is inclined to evil, except for those who my Lord grants His Mercy. Truly, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” ”

    i was under the impression that was said by the wife of Aziz based on verse 53 of the surah here:
    http://www.harunyahya.com/Quran_translation/Quran_translation12.php

    i could be wrong however.
    and just to reiterate, this was a lovely article!

    • Reehab Ramadan says:

      wa Alaykum Asalam,

      Thank you for your kind words :).

      No actually it was Yusuf who said it, if you notice in the translation it is a continuation of his first statement “This (say I), in order that He may know that I have never been false to him in his absence, and that Allah will never guide the snare of the false ones.”

      :) wa Allahu Alam!

  16. Masha Allah. Thank you very much. Last week i’ve some sort of problem with someone. He really made my heart aches with them. I told myself don’t forgive them forever and ever. Hope Allah will punish them with something horrible. But your article has change me. Once again, thank you.

  17. Hanisah says:

    MashaAllah, this is so meaningful! I love this endlessly :’) and I’ve been practicing to forgive people that hurt me for years cse one told me that we have to be the bigger person by forgiving others. mashaAllah :’) inshaAllah He will make things easier for us..

  18. Hijab says:

    Well forgiveness is the greatest ability when some is really at very high rank the place near to ALLAH when any other fear have no impact on one person and the person has one fear fear of ALLAH. Quran is the only lovely book that all the time say every Muslim to stay calm and with patience and forgive others. As forgiveness is the greatest quality of ALLAH.

  19. Ahmed says:

    Ma’sha’allah, beautiful piece Br. Reehab. I think many find it difficult, but I think if we can work our way towards this state of being, it will go a long way in bringing peace to our lives/our hearts and of course, as you pointed out, closer to Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) make it easier for us to forgive those who hurt or harm us in this life. Ameen!

  20. Mohamed says:

    assalaam alaikum.
    this was an excellent article that would help us all to know the value of forgiveness.
    thank you for publishing such a beneficial article.

  21. uwale-inuwa jibril says:

    Aslm Alykm,i am pleased to have come across this piece it was as if you were directly counselling me.actually someone hurt my feelings more than a year ago but last week when it came back fresh in my heart i wept as if that was the day it happened,i have forgiving him and prayed for him as i always do to anyone that made me feel bad,but the problem here is i have been trying to foirget is not going away from my mind.i need your prayers to help me at least feel less hurt than i use to now i know it can’t be normal like before it is just not easy/i hope Allah will forgive my short comings here.as for you may Aljannatu firdaus be our meeting point,JAK…Uwa-inuwa

    • 'Usfoor says:

      Wa alaikum assalam,

      What I found helped me was helping the oppressor for the sake of Allah. This required a lot of persistence! Then, once they changed, I built happier memories to overshadow past mistakes.

  22. sazgar says:

    jzzzakallah for this enlightening article.
    but ihave a question ,what if those horrible oppressors or harmers are non muslim do you still forgive them or wish evil for them?
    like if a schoolteacher says “im getting my belt out this morning for a beating for you (i know i thought WTH aswell),when your completely innoccent
    and what about if someones backchatting you constantly

  23. heedh says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    SubhanAllah this article was beautiful.

    its true so very true,when someone wrongs another – they only wrong themselves!!!
    ashamed to say but i am of those who once, wronged sum1. at the time u dont think about it, but when u do……………………… the pain of REGRET is so painful. i have to live with myself for as long as i live knowing that i have wronged sum1 to the extent that i did. i tried to make emends,but it didnt work-justified he was in everything he said and done!
    we are all in need of Allahs forgivness,but especially me and those who have wronged.

    those of you who are oppressed honestly u dont know how lucky u are! with time and the help of Allah u will heel inshallah. but the oppressor will live as long as he lives until he meets his lord with this self hate, and not knowing if Allah has excepted his repentance.

    May Allah swt guide us all on this Deen, except all our duas and enter us in Jannatul-ferdous. Ameen

    • 'Usfoor says:

      Wa alaikum assalam,

      May Allah accept your repentance and grant you Jannatul Firdous.

      As Muslims, we are to accept apologies. Inshallah he can overlook your past mistakes, because everyone of us makes them. :)

  24. Mahammed says:

    As salam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    This article brought a lot of relief to me today. Betrayal from a person who is closest to you is extremely terrible, fills you with so much hatred for the other person, never wanting to forgive at all. But this article has melted me completely. I am a brother, and I must say that there are a lot of brothers who have pain inside them but they never share because they want to show that they are strong, they go inside their caves and cry in front of their Lord.

    May Allah Subhanahu wa Taala grant us mercy and forgive us for our shortcomings.

  25. f. wahab says:

    Alhamdulillah….. Jazakhallah… Your article on fogiveness is so emotional that I could not suppress my tears> I hold no grudge on anyone who has hurt me but there have been moments that I get reminded of unpleasant episodes in my my life…. This I know is shaiythan’s way of causing pain…. your article has given way for reflection of these nasty feelings and by Allah SWT the Greatest Pardoner for all that we do I intend to forgive all those who have hurt me and as my gratitude for Him the most High I will never hold any malice on anyone.Aamin.

  26. naz says:

    Very nice article! Had tears in my eyes while reading this, no doubts its difficult to forgive theone who hurt us, especially closest one, ….realy this article melted completely, showed me the rite way to deal with the oppresors…just praying for them to realise their deeds soon bfr they turn back to Allah..Aamin….

    Ya rahim!

  27. Dee says:

    MashaAllah…. Alhamdulillah.. Thanks to Allah for showing me this article in a time that i need to…

  28. Amir says:

    Truly Allah is the supplier of everything: all our characteristics come from Him. But He doesn’t put mercy or evil in our hearts randomly – He only does so because he knows the state of our hearts. We have to be very careful when we say things like evil and mercy is from Him because everything is from Him, but that doesn’t mean we are faultless otherwise why would we be questioned on the Day of Judgement? Why would we be punished for something that He put in our hearts and had no control over? So I disagree with the statement that the lesson to take from Prophet Yusuf’s (ra) words is that it is only because of Him that we are not the oppressor and so forgive because it could have been us if it wasn’t for Allah’s mercy – that makes it sound as if the oppressor had no control over his/her actions. The sin came from the sinner, they chose to do that sin, you can’t separate the two which is what you’re saying.

    Secondly, yes forgiveness is better no doubt, but I feel as if you have really simplified it in this article. We should have a forgiving nature, no doubt, and forgive those who have wronged us but sometimes someone does something so terrible that forgiveness is just too difficult. But I still agree that forgiveness is better, but if we don’t forgive that person then it doesn’t mean Allah won’t forgive our sins. However, yes if that person seeks forgiveness in this life or the next from us and we do not forgive and Allah feels as if we are being the oppressor by not forgiving them then we will be held accountable too.

    Also, praying for someone is a huge step after forgiveness – it shows your love and care for that person. We should pray for all Muslims but praying for someone directly, after the incredible amount of mental torture you have been put through is sometimes just not possible, even after forgiveness. You said yourself in one of the comments that forgiveness doesn’t mean things return to normal – you can go your separate way.

    But I do agree that if you have so much anger inside you then it isn’t good for you and you should seek Allah’s help to alleviate the pain.

    Yes the oppressor has wronged themselves more than anybody but someone said that being the oppressed is much easier…I completely disagree with that, the pain and torture that you have to face for the rest of your life is immense. The oppressor only feels pain when they regret it which may be very late on or never and even with deep sincere regret we know that the human heart is such that constant regret 24 hours a day never happens but for the oppressed, the damage done to their lives, the mental scars and underlying pain is always there.

    Furthermore, if we forgive the oppressor, and they seek repentance from Allah and say they are forgiven then they get away with it all. This might sound odd, but when the oppressed have suffered so much, they want justice, How can justice be delivered if we forgive them ourselves? If you forgive then fine that’s great but if you want justice then that’s fine too. All I’m saying is that you can’t have both. If you forgive them and that person has repented then that is it, they will only receive Allah’s mercy. This also leads on from praying for them – if you truly want justice then you can’t pray for Allah to forgive them at the same time – its contradictory.

    At the end of the day I truly believe that Allah is the Best Judge and that if we can forgive, we should forgive. We should forgive people regularly and cleanse our heart of any ill feelings towards people. And we should never wish bad upon anyone, we can pray for justice in a way that Allah sees fit but never directly wish for people to suffer. But there are things which are so terrible that forgiveness is extremely difficult like when someone rapes your family member, kills your children etc etc. Umfawzan87 also referred to a truly devastating act that might be impossible to forgive for the partner of that person. However, Allah is the Best Judge. If He feels their repentance is worthy of forgiveness and that our refusal to forgive them is unfair then what we want will have no effect. But the very fact that it is stated that if they do not seek repentance and/or we do not forgive them, then their good deeds will be put on our scale, shows that Allah allows such situations where we do not forgive another person.

    And so in my humble opinion, the best thing to do is ask Allah for help – ask Allah for justice and ask Allah to help forgive that person if you are committing a sin by not forgiving that person.

    Alla good is from Allah and anything incorrect is from myself and myself only. Forgive me if I have said anything wrong. Allah knows best.

  29. Sym says:

    Aslaam Aleykum,

    I am at this moment in time hurting from someones actions and misdeeds. I feel my heart is full of anger against that individual. For years I have prayed to Allah SWT to give me strength to stop hurting by this individual. But over the years the hurt and pain has increased and I feel my heartt is blackened with hate towards this person. Despite my prayers I felt I was falling deeper in anger towards this person but I have todate not wished ill upon them but simply prayed that Allah (SWT) grants me strength to overcome the pain.

    Having had read this article today I feel enlightened and I feel a little light is still in my heart from which I shall draw strength to forgive this individual and pray that they learn of the pain they inflict upon me daily. Inshallah.

    Jazakhallah Khair.

  30. Kirana says:

    it really hurts when someone promises you a lot, and you take a major life step with them on the strength of those promises, and then they backtrack from it when it gets a bit hard. someone you looked up to turned out to be weaker than you, less resilient, and less able to do what it takes to keep promises.

    i know in my mind that nothing that happens could not *not* have happened, and i know as a Muslim that it is better to be the one who has/has learned patience, perseverance, the one who does the right thing and the one who contributes more even when it becomes hard and things are not as easy as you expected, even though you’re the wife and not even the husband. though i’m not angry anymore, on some days i still feel resentment for the lost years and effort, and disappointment over his lack of will. i hope God will make His counsel clear to me throughout my difficulty.

    you can try your best to seek someone with a deep native faith with which he lives his life, but sometimes you just can’t know for sure until after the marriage. it just seems that there are so few admirable men these days.

  31. Salma says:

    Thank you!!!

  32. haseena says:

    mashaAllah thank you so much for writing this. it has brought me great comfort and clarity. May Allah swt make it easy for all of us.

  33. Ayesha says:

    The article is great but I do have a query. What if the oppressor asks for forgiveness and I do forgive. But what if he/she doesn’t change their actions and behaviour. Maybe their intent at the time of asking for forgiveness was true but they can’t seem to change or control themselves. What are you to do then?? Thank you

  34. Shuhena says:

    Why should u forgive someone who has oppressed you and broke u and made u cry endless nights of tears? It’s is ur right to not forgive them. It’s better for u if u forgive but if u have been oppressed in such a way u can’t then don’t feel guilty! It’s is ur right from Allah. I will never ever forgive my oppressors and I will never make dua that they change. The more people they oppress the more duas they will get from those they oppressed and the oppressors life will be in tatters. And so it should be. They need to get punished for the things they have done. And those are such filthy oppressors that they don’t realise what they have done nor do they care. I hope Allah makes me laugh the day I hear that they or a member of their family goes through what I went through – what goes around comes around. Whatever good or bad u do u shall see it.

  35. Saleema says:

    ASAK,

    Thank you so much for showing the righteous path of Islaam but can you imagine the pain of hurt that someone can give you. Sometimes, people destroy the families that leads to people’s lives as well. Does all their deed deserves forgiveness….. So, the person who hurts others is always happy, do wrong and still be happy and receive greetings from all sources.

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