Forgiveness: The Mark of the Muslim

Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah

An emotionally uplifting reply from Ibn Taymīyyah to his detractors, students, and the common-folk.
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Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (رحمه الله) mentioned:1 In the Name of Allāh, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy. Indeed Allāh – 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 ṣabr (patience) in times of ease more so than in times of hardship. Allāh – the Most High – said:

وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ نَعْمَاءَ بَعْدَ ضَرَّاءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ ذَهَبَ السَّيِّئَاتُ عَنِّي ۚ إِنَّهُ لَفَرِحٌ فَخُورٌ ‎﴿١٠﴾‏ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ ‎﴿١١﴾

“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 Allāh, except for those who observe patience and perform righteous deeds, for them will be forgiveness and a great reward.”
[Hūd, 11:10-11]

And you all know that Allāh – the Most Perfect – has blessed this affair2 with such blessings which contain the means to aid His Religion, raise high His Word, aid His Army, and grant honour to His Awliyāʾ‘ (pious and righteous servants). It is also the cause for strengthening Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jamāʿah 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 Allāh can enumerate. It is also a cause for the masses to begin to accept the way of the Sunnah and the Jamāʿah; as well as countless other favours. All of this must therefore be accompanied by immense gratitude to Allāh, 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 Allāh – the Most High – said:

فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَصْلِحُوا ذَاتَ بَيْنِكُمْ ۖ ‎﴿١﴾‏

“So fear and obey Allāh, and reconcile the matters of difference between yourselves.”
[al-Anfāl, 8:1]

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ ‎﴿١٠٣﴾‏

“And hold fast together to the Rope of Allāh and do not split-up.”
[Ālī ʿImrān, 3:103]

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُوا وَاخْتَلَفُوا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ ۚ وَأُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ ‎﴿١٠٥﴾

“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. ”
[Ālī ʿImrān, 3:105]

And other examples like this from the texts (of Revelation), which order us with the Jamāʿah (upon the way of the Companions) and coming together, and prohibit splitting and differing. And the people who most exemplify this principle are Ahl al-Jamāʿah (the people of the Jamāʿah), 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 (ﷺ) said, “Indeed Allāh is pleased with three things: That you worship Allāh alone without associating any partner along with Him; that you hold fast altogether to the Rope of Allāh and not to become split-up; and that you give sincere advise to whomever Allāh put in charge of your affairs.”3

And in the Sunan collections from the ḥadīth of Zayd Ibn Thābit and Ibn Masʿūd – who were both great fuqahaa‘ (Scholars of deep understanding) – who relate that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “May Allāh 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 Allāh in one’s action; sincere advice to those in authority, and clinging to the Jamāʿah.”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 Allāh 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 ijtihād (striving to ascertain the truth), and is forgiven and excused for his error. As for the third, then may Allāh 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 Allāh.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 Allāh will forgive him – if He wills – and indeed Allāh 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 Allāh 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. Allāh – the Most High – said:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ جَاءُوا بِالْإِفْكِ عُصْبَةٌ مِّنكُمْ ۚ لَا تَحْسَبُوهُ شَرًّا لَّكُم ۖ بَلْ هُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۚ لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُم مَّا اكْتَسَبَ مِنَ الْإِثْمِ ۚ وَالَّذِي تَوَلَّىٰ كِبْرَهُ مِنْهُمْ لَهُ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ ‎﴿١١﴾

“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.”
[al-Nūr, 24:11]

So though such trials, Allāh 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 Allāh in this affair, then they should seek tawbah (repentance). So if they turn to Allāh in repentance, then Allāh will turn to them in forgiveness, otherwise, the Judgement of Allāh 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

Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah

However, Allāh 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 Allāh that He turns to them in forgiveness. And you all know that this is from my nature and character.

Likewise, you all know that Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu), concerning the matter of al-Ifk (the lie against ʿĀʾishah, his daughter, the wife of the Prophet), about which Allāh revealed some āyāt of the Qurʾān, so he swore that he would not give anymore charity to Mistāh Ibn Athāthah, because Mistāh was one of those who participated in the Lie. So Allāh 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 Allāh. Rather, let them pardon and be forgiving. Do you not love that Allāh should forgive you? And Allāh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Sūrah al-Nūr 24:22]

So when this āyah was revealed, Abū Bakr (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu) said, “Rather, by Allāh! I love that Allāh should forgive me.” So he continued to give to Mistāh the aid and charity that he used to give before.6 So with forgiveness and kind treatment towards one another, and carrying out Jihād (striving) in the Path of Allāh, then it is a must that:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَن يَرْتَدَّ مِنكُمْ عَن دِينِهِ فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِي اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ يُحِبُّهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَهُ أَذِلَّةٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَعِزَّةٍ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ يُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا يَخَافُونَ لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ ‎﴿٥٤

“Allāh 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 Allāh, and never afraid of the blame of the blamers. That is the Grace of Allāh that He bestows upon whomsoever He wills. And Allāh suffices for the needs of His creation, the All-Knower. Indeed your Walī (protector and guardian) is Allāh, His Messenger and the Believers; those who offer the Prayer correctly, and give Zakāt, and who bow down in obedience to Allāh. And whoever takes Allāh, and His Messenger, and the Believers as protectors and guardians, then it is the party of Allāh who will be victorious.”
[al-Māʾidah, 5:54]

Wa-al-salāmu ʿalaykum wa-raḥmatullāhi wa barakātuhu.

Endnotes:

  1. Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá(28/50-57), slightly abridged
  2. The affair being referred to is the first of Ibn Taymīyyah’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 Aḥmad (2/367)
  4. Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Aḥmad (4/80) and Ibn Mājah (no. 320). It was authenticated by al-Albānī in al-Ṣaḥihah(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 Taymīyyah 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 Allāh.
  6. Related by al-Bukhārī (no. 4757)
Published: July 5, 2007
Edited: February 23, 2022

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