~ Inspired by the Prophet's Legacy: Forgiveness~


HasbunAllahu wa ni`mal Wakil '
The compelling conditions of our time
offer human society two paths to choose
from. We will either continue past
enmities and stereotypes, or we will learn
how to live in peaceful coexistence.
It is a world of global connectedness, and
in order to make peace sustainable, we
need to develop new paradigms of
peaceful engagement.

The example of the Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him) presents us with
many such paradigms that we can adapt
to our current circumstances.

Like all of his predecessors did before
him, the Prophet showed utmost mercy
and forgiveness to everyone, so much so that even his staunch enemies sought refuge under
his wings of compassion. After he began to call his people to belief, Prophet Muhammad had to
face all kinds of torment during his peaceful mission for thirteen years in Makkah. After
numerous grievous incidents, he had to leave his town and reluctantly immigrated to Madinah.

From most people's point of view, the Makkans were absolutely to be declared as "the enemy"
or "the other."

However, the Prophet did not behave inimical
to anyone. He always treated people
humanely, no matter what lethal traps they
set for him. He never failed to extend his
tender hand with a candid clemency and
compassion. Even during many inexorable
combats, he always prayed to his Lord,
chiefly for those who smashed his helmet
off, broke his tooth, and left his face covered
with blood in battles like Badr and Uhud.
Not only did he hinder his followers from
bearing any oppugning attitude against their merciless foes, he also blocked maledictions and
imprecations to any adversary, even those who, for instance on the battle of Uhud, had ripped
the bodies of nearly 70 beloved ones into pieces beyond recognition with an incredible
brutality. Although his opponents were bloodthirsty and yearning for war, his sword was never
besmeared by red hot blood; he never killed anyone. He did not represent anything other than
loving compassion in the world.

Prophet Muhammad never broke off his previous social
connections. He did not approach anyone with a bias. He
always held the door open in order to mildly flatter their
vanities. He never hurt anyone's pride deliberately. While his
sworn enemies took the gloves off for any opportunity to
assassinate him, he treated everyone amicably by taking into consideration the potential
positions they would likely to hold in the near future. Because he knew that every individual
had a respectable essence, he thought the most appropriate action was to awaken this divine
kernel. He took action in this direction, though horrid provocations did not cease, and he did
that with a worthy perseverance.

Glad Tidings

The Prophet dealt with every one of his opponents with utmost care, and he took strategic
measures not to destroy them but to conquer their hearts. Giving the glad tidings of a coming
peace, the following verse was revealed right after the Battle of the Trench:

{(When you obey God in His commands and prohibitions,) it may be that God will bring
about love and friendship between you and those of them with whom you are in enmity.
God is All-Powerful, and God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.} (Al-Mumtahanah 60: 7)

Peace was so close, just at their threshold. Having received this good news, the Prophet
initiated immediate action by demanding to marry the daughter of Abu Sufyan, who was then
the political leader of the Makkans.
Establishing bonds of kinship with him would be a plausible step in order to eradicate hostility.
Umm Habiba, Abu Sufyan's daughter, was among the group of Muslims who had fled the
Makkan torture and sought refuge in Ethiopia. However, her husband died there, and she was
left alone with her child without any protection.
By marrying her, the Prophet would not only save this devoted Muslim woman from despair
and honor her, but would also form a connection with Abu Sufyan that would not be possible
by any other way. This marriage was realized soon, and afterwards everything changed
dramatically. Abu Sufyan, who was one of the staunch enemies of the Prophet until that day,
could easily enter the Prophet's home to visit Umm Habiba, his daughter.

Now, Abu Sufyan could learn more about Islam through his daughter Umm Habiba. He began to
realize soon that Muslims were not as he had believed. In a short period of time, the
difference in Abu Sufyan's attitude became more and more obvious. He turned out to be more
moderate, more cautious, and more candid in reciprocal dialogue attempts. Prominent figures
of Makkah, Khalid ibn al-Walid, Safwan ibn-i Umayya, Suhayl ibn Amr and Ikrima ibn al-Jahl
were exerting pressure on Abu Sufyan to take drastic actions against the believers.

Despite all of their intolerable pressure, Abu Sufyan resisted their aggressiveness, having
realized that they were the ones who were unfair, not those on the Prophet's side.

Making Peace

Even in the most critical conditions, Prophet Muhammad did
not give up. Despite all the provocations of evil-doers and his
own fellow tribesmen's objections, he made agreements with
his crucial adversaries and fulfilled peaceful commitments
with them. The radical change of Abu Sufyan was an explicit
hope for others. The Prophet tried his best to take advantage
of every single opportunity to get in touch with any of them. After his immigration to Madinah,
the economic and social conditions of Makkah had gradually deteriorated. The Makkans were
suffering from drought, famine, hunger, and misery.
For sure, Prophet Muhammad could not have remained indifferent to this heart-rending
situation. He sent them food and other needed aid; he literally inundated them with an
immense benevolent contribution on the back of hundreds of camels. But, unfortunately the
Makkans rejected all of it. Then he sent all the aid directly to Abu Sufyan. Afterwards Abu
Sufyan distributed everything to the poor and needy Makkans.

The Prophet those days gave weight to free commerce and trading with other communities,
particularly with Makkans. He knew that business trading was an excellent opportunity to get in
touch with others. Thus they could have found so many new ways to maintain peaceful
relations. Regrettably, all the peaceful attempts made by God's Messenger were either repelled
or responded to with brutal violence by the Makkans. They once attacked a Muslim tribe in the
pitch dark of midnight and slaughtered 23 civilians in a village near Madinah. By committing
this crime, the Makkans also violated the Hudaybiyah peace treaty.

Following this brutal attack, the Messenger of God sent envoys to Makkah, offering them various
options to solve the problem peacefully, rather than an immediate retaliation: he asked them
to pay the blood money and cut their relations with other warring tribes that participated in
this crime. Failing to obey these conditions would mean the Hudaybiyah treaty was violated as
well as a declaration of war. But the Makkans refused every amicable offer. The only option left
for the Prophet was to march to Makkah. Realizing that they would not be able to resist, some
of the eminent Makkans fled in confusion to distant towns of the Arab Sahara. God's
Messenger sent someone in pursuit of every missing Makkan.
Umm Haqim, Ikrima's wife, who had fled all the way to Yemen, went after him. She dared all
dangers on the way to find her husband, another relentless enemy of the Prophet and the son
of Abu Jahl, and to introduce him to the Prophet's mercy.
Umayr ibn Wahb, once a hit man hired by Safwan ibn Umayya to kill the Prophet, went after
Safwan twice, reaching him in Jeddah en route to Ethiopia, and convinced to him to return to
Makkah. Suhayl ibn Amr was brought back by Abdullah, his own son whom he tortured for
years. He wrote letter after letter to Wahshi, who had murdered Hamza, the Prophet's uncle,
and invited Hind, who had hired Wahshi for this murder, to come in peace and that she was
forgiven. The Prophet called them back home promising to forgive all their past assaults and
guaranteed their protection. Makkah became a land of peace and serenity, thanks to the
Prophet’s efforts and merciful invitation.

The Prophet's immense forgiveness is an example for us today as to how we should engage
with past atrocities. It is a message of self-reformation that teaches us that we can subdue
feelings of revenge and hatred and build a society in compassion and love.

Source: Fountain Magazine - http://www.fountainmagazine.com/