Forgiving is to forgive who hurts you, to control the feeling of revenge or the feeling of hurting this person back inside you. Forgiving means forgiving this person in the Dunya, you don’t hurt him back, as well as on the Day of Judgement in front of Allah. It doesn’t mean you don’t punish him, but between you and Allah you don’t forgive him. It means you forgive him in all cases.
Forgiving doesn’t mean to not learn from your mistakes, rather you have to learn from this experience. The prophet peace be upon him said “A believer should not be stung twice from the same hole“. You should treat this person with cautious but not badly.
Allah described those who forgive as being good. He says: “Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; – for Allah loves those who do good” [Aal Emran 134]. He also says: “Whether ye publish a good deed or conceal it or cover evil with pardon, verily Allah doth blot out (sins) and hath power (in the judgment of values)” [Al Nisaa 149]. And in Surat Al Taghabun: “But if ye forgive and overlook, and cover up (their faults), verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Al Taghabun 14]
Allah also says: “Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah´s cause: let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Al Nur 22]. These previous Verse indicates that Allah may forgive those who forgive others. Forgive people so that Allah may forgive you.
Islam is a religion of peace that is why Allah encouraged people to forgive. The prophet peace be upon him said: “It is not halal for a Muslim to shun his brother for more than three nights, that is they meet, and this one turns away and that one turns away. The better of the two is the one who says the greeting first.” So shunning your friend for more than three days is forbidden. And to encourage Muslims to forgive the prophet peace be upon him described the one who will start greeting the other is the better.
Levels of forgiveness
There are three levels of forgiveness:
1st: to forgive while you feel angry. This is the lowest level. When someone hurts you on purpose, you feel angry and you have the opportunity to hurt him as well, but you chose to forgive him for the sake of Allah.
2nd: To forgive and don’t feel angry. You saw the act of the person who wants to hurt you, but you didn’t get angry, however you acted as if you didn’t see anything. In addition to forgiving him for the sake of Allah.
3rd: To forgive and to treat him with goodness. This is the highest level. You don’t only forgive and not only you don’t hurt him, but you also treated the one who hurt you with goodness. It needs a very strong faith to treat who hurts you with goodness.
Anas, a close Companion of Prophet Muhammad reported, “A Jewish woman brought a poisoned lamb to the Prophet, and he ate of it. When the woman was brought to him, people suggested, ‘Shall we kill her?’ The Prophet said, ‘No.’ I have recognized the effects of that poisoning in the Prophet’s throat ever since.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Ahmad, and others). This is how the prophet peace be upon him treated who wanted to kill him. Of course the person who will want to hurt you, don’t want to kill you, he wants something less. Although, the prophet peace be upon him forgave her. This is one story of the prophet regarding forgiveness, there are many other stories.
Why should a Muslim forgive?
The first reason why we should forgive others is to please Allah. We should have this intention in all of our deeds. When you forgive you forgive mainly for the sake of Allah. Also it trains you to deal with Allah only, you do what pleases him and stay away from what makes him angry. You don’t see people, you see only Allah. Whatever the people do you just don’t care as long as Allah is pleased
The second reason is to behave yourself. To learn how to control your emotions. Even if you feel really angry, you will control you anger and will kill the feeling of revenge that you have, so that you become stronger, and not easily broken. The first time you forgive you will feel really angry, after a while you will not have this anger and then when someone hurts you, you will just smile and say I don’t care and you will treat him with goodness.
The third reason, forgiving is a way of doing dawah without speaking. If people is dealing with someone who forgives, and always finds an excuse from who hurt him, they will definitely love him. Consequently they will knew that Islam is a religion of peace.
Forgiving is ruled so that hatred is not spread among people. If hatred is spread the society will corrupt. Islam is a religion based on love and peace between people, this is why Allah promised who forgive great rewards.