Can we gain thawabs if we forgive the people who have violated our rights?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Allah Almighty forgives his sinful slaves; so, believers should also forgive one another. It is not a deed that fits a believer to bear a grudge against others. For, the Prophet (pbuh) forgave those who afflicted him in Makkah, who fought against him in the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq and who wanted to eliminate Islam after they became Muslims.

Allah Almighty states the following in the Quran, expressing the virtue of forgiving.

"Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Allah is free of all wants, and He is Most-Forbearing." (al-Baqara, 2/263)

He also states the following:

"Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; But turn away from the ignorant." (al-A'raf, 7/199)

The Prophet (pbuh) states the following regarding the issue:

"Try to remove the penalties of Muslims as much as you can. If there is a way out, release him. It is better for the president to make a mistake by forgiving than to make a mistake by punishing." (Ahmad b. Hanbal, V 160)

In the era when Islam emerged, the people of Jahiliyya definitely wanted to punish a person who committed a crime. They forgave only chiefs of tribes and their relatives. The other people were definitely punished. It is stated that the Quran advises people to forgive the criminal related to personal violations (Aal-i Imran, 3/124; al-Maida, 5/13).

"…And the remission (of the man´s half) is the nearest to righteousness..." (Bakara, 3/237)

Thus, forgiving is a necessity of Islamic brotherhood; it will help develop the feeling of gratitude among Muslims and pave the way for Muslims to approach one another with the feeling of gratitude. As a matter of fact, a person who has the right to punish but who prefers to forgive is always appreciated by the community. This is a manifestation of Islamic ethics. Forgiving a criminal is not injustice. For Allah Almighty states that He can forgive any crime except unbelief and polytheism if He wishes:  

"Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed." (an-Nisa, 4/48)

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