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Forgiveness: The Mark of a Muslim

By Ibn Taymiyyah

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.  Indeed Allaah – to whom belongs all praise – has bestowed upon me immense grace, great favours and generous blessings which necessitates immense gratitude, being firm upon obedience to him, and becoming accustomed to having beautiful patience in that which He ordered.  Indeed, a servant is ordered to have sabr (patience) in times of ease more so than in times of hardship.  Allaah – the Most High – said:

But if we let man taste the good favours after poverty and harm have touched him, he is sure to boastfully say: Harm has departed from me.  Indeed he is exultant, boastful and ungrateful to Allaah, except for those who observe patience and perform righteous deeds, for them will be forgiveness and a great reward.” [Soorah Hood 11:10-11]

And you all know that Allaah – the Most Perfect – has blessed this affair [2] with such blessings which contain the means to aid His Religion, raise high His Word, aid His Army, and grant honour to His Awliyaa‘ (pious and righteous servants).  It is also the cause for strengthening Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah and causing humiliation to the people of innovations and sectarianism.  Likewise, it is also the cause of affirming that which has been affirmed by yourselves from the Sunnah (regarding the truth of this matter), and a cause for increasing this by opening up the avenues of guidance, victory and proofs; such that the truth becomes known to the people, who none but Allaah can enumerate.  It is also a cause for the masses to begin to accept the way of the Sunnah and the Jamaa’ah ; as well as countless other favours.  All of this must therefore be accompanied by immense gratitude to Allaah, as well as having patience – even if this patience is in times of ease.

And you all know that from the great principles which sum up the Religion is: Uniting the hearts, unifying the word, and reconciling between each other, as Allaah – the Most High – said:

So fear and obey Allaah, and reconcile the matters of difference between yourselves.” [Sooratul-Anfaal 8:10]

And hold fast together to the Rope of Allaah and do not split-up.” [Soorah Aali-’Imraan 3:103]

And do not be like those who split-up and differed after clear proofs came to them.  For those there will be a severe punishment.” [Soorah Aali-’Imraan 3:105]

And other examples like this from the texts (of Revelation), which order us with the Jamaa’ah (upon the way of the Companions) and coming together, and prohibit splitting and differing.  And the people who most exemplify this principle are Ahlul-Jamaa’ah (the people of the Jamaa’ah ), just as the people who most exemplify leaving it are the people of sectarianism.

And that which sums up the Sunnah is: obedience to the Messenger.  This is why the Prophet ( sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam ) said, “Indeed Allaah is pleased with three things: That you worship Allaah alone without associating any partner along with Him; that you hold fast altogether to the Rope of Allaah and not to become split-up; and that you give sincere advise to whomever Allaah put in charge of your affairs.” [3]

And in the Sunan collections from the hadeeth of Zayd Ibn Thaabit and Ibn Mas’ood – who were both great fuqahaa‘ (Scholars of deep understanding) – who relate that the Prophet ( sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam ) said, “May Allaah enliven whosoever hears my words, memorizes them and conveys them to others.  Many a carrier of knowledge does not understand it, and many a carrier of knowledge carries it to one who has better understanding.  There are three things which the heart of the Believer has no malice about: Sincerity for Allaah in one’s action; sincere advice to those in authority, and clinging to the Jamaa’ah .” [4]

And his saying, ‘...has no malice,’ means not having any contempt for them.  So the heart of a Muslim does not have these characteristics.  On the contrary, it loves and is pleased with them.

So the first thing which I shall begin with regarding this principle is what is connected to myself.  So you all should know – may Allaah be pleased with you all – that I do not desire any harm at all – inwardly, nor outwardly – for anyone from amongst the general masses of the Muslims, let alone our colleagues and companions.  Nor do I harbour any ill-feeling towards any one of them, nor do I blame them for anything at all.  Rather, to me they are deserving of nobility, love, honour and respect, over and over – each in accordance to their level.  And a person cannot be except (one of three types): Someone who sincerely strives to ascertain the truth; and is correct, or one who sincerely strives to ascertain the truth; but errs, or a sinful person.  As for the first, then he is rewarded and thanked.  The second is rewarded for his ijtihaad (striving to ascertain the truth), and is forgiven and excused for his error.  As for the third, then may Allaah forgive us, and him, and all the Believers.

So we should try not to dwell upon the words of those who opposed this fundamental; by saying that so and so is deficient, or so and so did not act, or so and so was the cause of harm to the Shaykh, or was the reason why all this occurred, or so and so used to speak about the plots of so and so; and other such similar statements which contain criticism of some of our colleagues and brothers.  For indeed I do not allow them to harm the brothers and colleagues in this manner, and there is no might, nor power, except with Allaah. [5] Rather, the likes of this criticism usually returns to the one who said it in the first place, unless he has good deeds by which Allaah will forgive him – if He wills – and indeed Allaah does forgive that which has preceded.  And you also all know about the harsh treatment that was given to some of the brothers in Damascus, and that which occurs even now in Egypt.  This – in reality – is not due to a deficiency or shortcoming in the brothers, nor has it occurred because we have changed our views and hate them.  Rather, such people, after receiving such harsh treatment, increase in the status, love, and respect that we have for them.  For indeed, the likes of these trials are beneficial to the Believers, because Allaah corrects and improves them due to it  Since the Believer to another Believer is like each of a pair of hands, each washes the other.  However, it happens that sometimes happens that dirt cannot be removed except with a certain amount of roughness, but that brings about cleanliness and softness, for which that roughness is praised...

You (also) all know that much of what has occurred in this matter were lies, false accusations, false suspicions, and the following of false desires, the likes of which cannot be described.  So all those lies and false accusations that were directed against me, were actually a source of goodness and blessing for me.  Allaah – the Most High – said:

Indeed those who brought forward the lie are a small group amongst you.  However, do not think that it is an evil for you.  Rather, it is good for you.  And every person from amongst them will be paid the sin of what they earned.  And as for the one who took on the leading role in this, his will be a severe punishment.” [Sooratun-Noor 24:11]

So though such trials, Allaah manifests the light of truth and its clear proofs, which repel the falsehood and lies.  So I do not take revenge upon any of those who lied against me, oppressed me, or showed enmity and hatred towards me.  For indeed I forgive every Muslim, and I love only the good for them, and I desire for every Muslim the good that I desire for myself.  And as for those who lied and did wrong, then I have excused and forgiven them.  However, whatever is connected to violating the Rights of Allaah in this affair, then they should seek tawbah (repentance).  So if they turn to Allaah in repentance, then Allaah will turn to them in forgiveness, otherwise, the Judgement of Allaah will apply to them.  So if a person were to be thanked for his evil actions, then I thank all those who were the cause for this (trial) to happen to me – for it entails all the good of this world and the Hereafter.  However, Allaah is thanked for His good blessing and favour by which no affair happens to a Believer, except that, there is good for him in it.  And the people of good intentions are thanked for their intentions, and the people of good actions are thanked for their actions.  As for those who did evil – then we ask Allaah that He turns to them in forgiveness.  And you all know that this is from my nature and character.

Likewise, you all know that Aboo Bakr as-Siddeeq ( radiyallaahu ’anhu ), concerning the matter of al-Ifq (the lie against ’Aa‘ishah, his daughter, the wife of the Prophet), about which Allaah revealed some aayaat of the Qur‘aan , so he swore that he would not give anymore charity to Mistaah Ibn Athaathah, because Mistaah was one of those who participated in the Lie.  So Allaah revealed:

And let not those amongst you who have been blessed with grace and wealth swear not to give any wealth or support to their relatives, or to the poor and needy, or to those who migrated in the Path of Allaah.  Rather, let them pardon and be forgiving.  Do you not love that Allaah should forgive you?  And Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Sooratun-Noor 24:22]

So when this aayah was revealed, Aboo Bakr ( radiyallaahu ’anhu ) said, “Rather, by Allaah!  I love that Allaah should forgive me.”  So he continued to give to Mistaah the aid and charity that he used to give before. [6] So with forgiveness and kind treatment towards one another, and carrying out Jihaad (fighting and striving) in the Path of Allaah, then it is a must that:

Allaah will bring a people whom He will love, and love Him; soft, humble and gentle with the Believers, stern towards the unbelievers, fighting the Path of Allaah, and never afraid of the blame of the blamers.  That is the Grace of Allaah that He bestows upon whomsoever He wills.  And Allaah suffices for the needs of His creation, the All-Knower.  Indeed your Walee (protector and guardian) is Allaah, His Messenger and the Believers; those who offer the Prayer correctly, and give Zakaat, and who bow down in obedience to Allaah.  And whoever takes Allaah, and His Messenger, and the Believers as protectors and guardians, then it is the party of Allaah who will be victorious.” [Sooratul-Maa‘idah 55:53]

Was-salaamu ’alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu .


[1] Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (28/50-57), slightly abridged

[2] The affair being referred to is the first of Ibn Taymiyyah’s unjust imprisonment – a period of one and a half years, in the year 705H – which occurred due to some lies and false accusations against him.

[3] Related by Muslim (3/1340) and Ahmad (2/367)

[4] Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (4/80) and Ibn Maajah (no. 320).  It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no. 404)

[5] This is in reference to some of their colleagues and brothers in Damascus, who weakened during this ordeal, and did not remain firm upon the correct methodology.  So Ibn Taymiyyah is prohibiting any of his students and colleagues from harming them in any way, and he makes an excuse for them, and explains that he bears no ill-feeling or hatred in his heart towards any of them.  Rather, he makes it clear that he has respect for them, and that he loves them for the sake of Allaah.

6] Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 4757)