Forgive, forget: an Islamic perspective

I wanted my first proper post to be about Allah alone, but seeing the WordPress’s daily prompt for today inspired me to take a different approach.

“Forgive, forget”. We’ve all heard it, we’ve all said it. Few of us ever do it.

Even when we do manage to forgive someone, we rarely forget such instances. And always, the temptation to remind the person who wronged us of their pardon stalks sulkily in the background.

Islam is often seen as a war-like, eye-for-an-eye religion. There is no forgiveness, just brutal justice.

I couldn’t think of anything more incorrect.

113 of the Quran’s 114 chapters begin with the following introduction:

“Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem” . . .

In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

Allah’s mercy is greater than any of us could ever truly appreciate – it enwraps us in everything that we do and experience. Just writing this post is a mercy from Allah to me – it is a gift, an opportunity to remember my Creator and worship Him by spreading information about His beautiful attributes.

Again and again in the Quran, Allah mentions His Mercy in conjunction with His forgiving qualities – here, here and here are just a few examples. In fact, of the 99 names Allah uses to describe Himself in the Quran, three of these deal explicitly with forgiveness – Al Gaffar (The Very Forgiving One), Al Ghafur (The Most Forgiving One) and Al Afuw (The Forgiver).

Of these, i think Al Afuw is the most relevant to the topic of forgiving/forgetting. Translated literally, Al Afuw actually means to obliterate.

Picture a blackboard covered in messy, scrawling, crossed-out writing. Then imagine it being wiped clean – without a trace of what was there before. The one that obliterates the mistakes remembers where they were, but for all intents and purposes it’s as if they never existed.

In this way, Allah is Al-‘Alim; the All-Knowing. Although He remembers our sins, He doesn’t continue to hold them against them – alhamdulillah! (all thanks and praise belongs to God.)

Think back to the last time you were wronged – i bet it won’t take you long to remember! That’s humans – we’re quick to wrong others, and slow to forgive when we are ourselves are wronged.

But subhannAllah, we wrong Allah all the time. 


Even our good deeds are riddled with short-comings. Nothing i ever write on any blog will ever be up to Allah’s standards – He will always deserve better. No matter how hard i try, i can’t capture the immensity of my Lord’s attributes; His love, His kindness, His pardoning.

Allahu Akbar. God is greater.

And so, i rely on the forgiveness of Allah. I pray for His continued mercy.

This morning, Allah allowed us to awake once again. Slowly the memories of yesterday’s activities came back to us; what we did, where we did it. And perhaps for some, what others unfairly did to us.

I challenge myself before i challenge others, to think of one instance when we were wronged. Try to recall that moment as clearly as you can. Recall your feelings during it and consider how you feel now towards the one who wronged you.

Then recall one instance in which you wronged another person. Recall one instance for which you feel regret. For which you never got to apologise, let alone ask for forgiveness.

As long as we are still breathing, we have time to ask Allah for forgiveness. We have time to humble ourselves – physically, intellectually, spiritually  – and say those words that, on the Day of Judgement, could make all the difference.

Forgive me Allah, for verily i have wronged myself. 

So does Allah forget? No.

Does Allah forgive? Absolutely. Again, and again and again.

We just need to keep asking Him to.

Inspired by Daily Prompt:


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