How often in our lives do we use the phrase “it’s too late”? It’s too late to forgive, it’s too late to repent, it’s too late to make things better again, it’s too late to apologize, and the list continues. Is it really too late though? Perhaps not.
The only time that this infamous phrase is legitimate is after our last breath, after death has overtaken us. It’s not too late to apologize to someone. It’s not too late to ask Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) to forgive me for all the sins I have committed, for every act of ungratefulness and for every disobedience to Him. It’s not too late to forgive others who might have wronged us. Maybe we are still breathing because we have been given a chance to realize that it’s not late for anything. The fact that we are still here is a sign strong enough to make us realize that we can still undo our mistakes, still forgive the unforgiven, still ask for forgiveness from our Lord, and still mend the hearts we broke.
Sometimes we are too arrogant to forgive someone. Irrespective of whether we receive an apology for their hurtful actions or not, do we really have the authority to withhold forgiveness? If we can be hard hearted enough to not forgive the people in our lives, why then do we expect our Lord to forgive us? Especially when we continue ignoring Him by not fulfilling our basic responsibilities as a Muslim. No doubt He is all All-Forgiving, the Ever Merciful—but if we fail to adopt even a small fraction of mercy in our daily lives then we have no right to expect the same from others.
In a hadith (record of the words or actions of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him) the Prophet ﷺ states: Allah the Almighty has said: “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as its.”
The Qur’an says:
“[…] Pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves those the doers of good.” (Qur’an 5:13)
“[…] who restrain anger and who pardon the people—and Allah loves the doers of good.” (Qur’an 3:134)
Ja’far ibn Muhammad (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “For me to regret after having pardoned someone is more beloved to me than to feel regret after punishing someone.”
Many a times we feel that since we have sinned so much there is no way that Allah (swt) is going to forgive us (it’s too late). But such thoughts are the work of the devil who entices us into believing that we are not worthy of forgiveness. This misconception moves us away from Allah (swt) and His worship as we tend to believe that no amount of worship can now undo what we did. Hence we give up on all our attempts at seeking forgiveness and we also give up on whatever worship we were previously involved in. Led astray by the devil at work, we tend to forget that Allah (swt) loves it when His creations comes to Him repenting and begging for forgiveness.
“Say: “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Qur’an 39:53)
Allah’s mercy is vast and deep, beyond human comprehension. But it’s the human aspect of forgiveness that needs to be reformed. Blinded by our arrogance, we hold grudges and threaten people with statements like “I will never forgive you.” Many times we don’t even mean it and we forgive immediately after our anger subsides but sometimes we may make it a point to forgive only when asked for forgiveness. This is not a trait liked in the servants of Allah (swt). We should learn to forgive others with an open heart that our gesture of mercy will inshaAllah (God willing) shower Allah’s (swt) Mercy on us.
Apologizing does not indicate that we are subservient to the one we apologize to. It does not stain our reputation or our worldly status, rather it’s a simple action that signifies our fear of our Lord Whose ultimate Mercy we seek while heeding that our humble attitude with His people will win us His Pleasure. But we need to remember that this belief in Allah’s Mercy does not mean that we keep on displeasing Him with the assurance that He will forgive us.
Brothers and sisters, let’s all apologize to our parents, friends, siblings, spouses and anyone else on whom we have inflicted pain with both our tongue and actions. Let’s all seek the forgiveness of each other in order to attain salvation and the Mercy of our Lord. Let’s not keep the forgiveness limited to texts and facebook statuses during Ramadan and in the last 10 days of Ramadan. Instead, let’s keep the spirit of forgiveness flowing all year around. Insha’Allah we will be rewarded for it, if not in this world, then in the next one.
Remember, as long as we are alive, it’s never too late for ANYTHING. It’s never too late to make things right and it’s never too late to make several wrongs into one right.
May Allah bless us with the trait of forgiveness and shower His Mercy and Forgiveness on us all. Ameen.