‘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.