To err is human, to forgive divine.
Allah loves forgiveness.
If you want Allah to show you mercy, show mercy to others.
These are all common sayings regarding the art and battle of forgiveness, and I am certain there must be about a hundred more. These all exist, to my mind, for one purpose: to encourage us to do one of the most difficult things in the human existence. They’re salves to the ego, when forgiveness is sought. When you are asked to forgive a slight, a crime, an injustice, you forego your chance for achieving retribution, or at the very least, working toward it. You give up the possibility of justice, at least in this temporary world. You are left to deal with the injustice in a way that seems, really, to tip the scales in favor of the one who has done you wrong.
Forgiveness is never a split-second decision. It’s a process, and a long-drawn-out one at that. The person who came for forgiveness may have taken a day, a month, a year, a decade, or a lifetime to do so. It took them that long to realize they might have done something that was not quite apropos. Is it not reasonable to expect that the person who must forgive might need a few hours to reconcile the denial of the promise of justice?
When the person who has committed some slight, great or small, against you comes to ask for your merciful and ever-willing forgiveness, all theories about forgiveness go out the window. Some will tell you that when you forgive another human being, you give yourself the chance to heal. Others will tell you all of the stories from Islam in which forgiveness transpired, and will make it seem like it was the easiest thing in the world for the ashaab kareem radiAllaahu anhum ajma’een to do, and if they could forgive such huge things as the slandering of Sayyida A’isha radiAllaahu anha, then who the heck are we to withhold forgiveness for minor, inconsequential nothings? Except that sometimes, they may not be so inconsequential, even though they certainly are when compared to other events. And perhaps, if we remember the saying, “On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear,” we might realize that our maximum capacity for pain may very well be less than another’s…but that does not make the pain any less burdensome.
I’m human, and a horrible one at that. I need time. So, if you ask for forgiveness after a year of pretending like the problem was all in my very own stupid little head, then give me the courtesy of expecting a year to forgive you. Or a few hours. Asking for a split-second, instantaneous, pre-notorized certificate of forgiveness is asking for way too much. I guess I’m not well versed in the art of forgiveness. For me, it really is a battle.