Forgiveness- a special blogpost by Rashdah Hameed

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“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody” Maya Angelou

Since I have learned to forgive for me life has become a much more beautiful place, I have no burden to carry and I have become more productive! Boiling rage and bitter resentment of being wronged or harmed would make me want to hurt or punish the person that had caused me that pain but not anymore.

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness, is the act of letting go of the burden you carry from another person who has hurt you out of their own pain, ignorance or confusion. Forgiveness is when you don’t wish any evil on anyone despite being harmed by the actions or words of others but decide to move on with your life.

When you first think about forgiving, it can seem like a weak or wimpy thing to do but it is indeed a sign of strong character!

There is a reason why so many videos of parents forgiving the murderers of their son have gone viral on social media in the last few years. Forgiveness is a practice of freeing up your energy to focus on things that help your own health and well-being, even the heath and well-being of others instead of harbouring anger, bitterness- all the things that harden our hearts and make it difficult for us to connect with the very people will do love.

 

Forgiveness – The path to success

 “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover the real prisoner was you” Lewis B. Smedes”

Forgiveness is for our own growth and happiness. When we hold on to hurt, pain, resentment, and anger it harms us far more than it harms the person that has caused us hurt or pain.

Forgiveness lets us regain our own power by allowing you to control the situation by the way you react to it. We maintain anger, regret, hatred, or resentment towards someone and give up our power to others when we refuse to forgive- we allow ourselves to become weak. 

 

 

Religion & Forgiveness

 Islam

Have mercy on those on the earth, and the One in Heaven will have mercy on you – Prophet Muhammad (saw)

The Prophet (saw) said:

“Anas ibn Malik reported: We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, “Coming upon you now is a man from the people of Paradise.” A man from the Ansar came whose beard was dishevelled by the water of ablution and he was carrying both of his shoes with his left hand. The next day the Prophet repeated the same words, and the man came in the same condition. The third day the Prophet repeated the same again, and the man came in the same condition. When the Prophet stood up to leave, Abdullah ibn Amr followed the man and he said, “I am in a dispute with my father and I have sworn not to enter my home for three days. May I stay with you?” The man said yes.Abdullah stayed three nights with the man but he never saw him praying at night. Whenever he went to bed, he would remember Allah and rest until he woke up for morning prayer. Abdullah said that he never heard anything but good words from his mouth. When three nights had passed and he did not see anything special about his actions, Abdullah asked him, “O servant of Allah, I have not been in dispute with my father nor have I cut relations with him. I heard the Prophet say three times that a man from the people of Paradise was coming to us and then you came. I thought I should stay with you to see what you are doing that I should follow, but I did not see you do anything special. Why did the Prophet speak highly of you?” The man said, “I am as you have seen.” When Abdullah was about to leave, the man said, “I am as you have seen, except that I do not find dishonesty in my soul towards the Muslims and I do not envy anyone because of the good that Allah has given them.” Abdullah said, “This is what you have achieved and it is something we have not accomplished.” (Musnad Aḥmad 12286)1”

Allah/God can multiply blessings or punishment on us depending on how we are with others. Someone may harm us, but we don’t know how deliberate their actions were. When we retaliate by hurting the person back we are doing it with a deliberation.

 As a true believer and a good human being the focus should not just be on how much as a religious person you are praying. You should focus on gaining the pleasure of Allah and that involves understanding that people’s wrongs against us are insignificant in the bigger picture.

Christianity

In Christianity, it is said that forgiveness is a choice made by the individual person through a decision of their will in obedience to God and his command to forgive.

Luke 17:3-4 says, Pay attention to yourselves!  If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, “I repent”, you must forgive him. 

 Christians follow the Bible, and in the Bible, it is made clear that if repentance is genuine then the person must be forgiven, even if it is the same sin over and over again. Human nature will want to push us to not forgive but we need to believe in the person and that they want to change. If God does not give up on people that ask him for forgiveness, then we as humans should also not up!

Judaism

In Judaism, the Torah explicitly forbids us to take revenge or to bear grudges (Leviticus 19:18) It also commands us, “Do not hate your brother in your heart” (ibid. 19:17).

 

Science on Forgiveness

Not being able to forgive can have a psychological impact on a person as well. The hurt and pain caused can fester not allowing us to move onto other relationships.

 Although we might feel that by not forgiving we are somehow gaining satisfaction, we are in reality building resentment over time.

Psychologists do not say that you should condone the behaviour of someone that has done you wrong, but we should reflect on the pain caused, why it hurt and what the motives of the person may have been. From there we should learn from their mistakes and then move on. 

It is well known that forgiveness will keep us healthy, keep away negative emotions and energy so that we can focus on concentrating on our health, life and building good relationships.

In a recent study, psychologists observed 71 people. For the first 15 seconds everyone in the study was shown triggering images meant to evoke feelings of resentment, followed by five seconds of images meant to soothe the mind. Those focusing on resentment had a collective increase in heart rate and blood pressure up to 250 percent after just four seconds. Four seconds later, as they redirected their thoughts toward empathy and forgiveness their heart rate and blood pressure dropped by 200 percent. Those who consistently focused on empathy and forgiveness had heart rate and blood pressure levels 150 percent lower than those focusing on resentment and hate.

It is easy to deduce from this that such negative emotions would lead to problems such as tension headaches, high blood pressure and heart disease amongst other illnesses.

Strangely enough some people tend to be more forgiving then others. People that are generally more kind, sympathetic and warm in character tend to find it easier to forgive as opposed to those who tend to become quickly distressed, anxious or angry. They will not forgive as easily and will hold a grudge for a longer period of time. However, like anything in life, time and patience can help you learn to forgive.

Tips on forgiving

1.     Make the intention to forgive

Don’t think along the lines that you are allowing someone to get away with something. Instead think of it as an act of freedom that will allow you to get on with your life positively. You will be able to do things you want without having to think about the person that hurt you as you will finally be free.

2.     Learn your own self-worth

Often not being able to forgive can be all about you and not the other person. Now don’t misunderstand what is being said, but sometimes we measure other people by what we think of ourselves and often our own self-worth will be really low therefore we lash out and hold onto our resentment in order to feel better.

3.     Surround yourself with positive vibes

People around you with negative energy often push you not to forgive, sometimes due to their own weaknesses. Their outlook on life can be harsh therefore they feel they need to push their thoughts and behaviours onto others. It is very important to be able to make your own decisions and forgive others without taking into account what people may think. Surround yourself with people who believe and understand the importance of forgiveness.

4.     Put yourself in their shoes

Consider where the other person might be coming from. What were they thinking? How much must be it be impacting them to think like that? If you have a thoughtless or hurtful person in your life they are probably dealing with a lot of pain that needs to be healed. When they say or do something they might truly believe themselves to be correct…don’t we all at times think we just cannot be wrong? Think about this first before deciding not to forgive, you'll probably find forgiveness is made far easier.

5.     Life is short

Yes, it truly is! There is so much to do and you can be so much more, why waste your time thinking about things that rob you of your energy and keep you feeling sad, hurt, lonely? The longer you choose to hang on to those feelings of sadness, hurt and loneliness to further away happiness is. Think about it: doesn't the resentment tire you out? We should count our blessings whether as religious people or not and learn to forgive for the sake of being happy.

6.     Speak to yourself or write it down

If you are able to stand in front of a mirror or put pen to paper, write down everything that you have gone through and then make a repeated attempt to forgive the person. Write or say I forgive you until you actually feel ready to forgive the person. You don’t have to say it to the person, you can rip the paper afterwards. This activity is not done to set the other person free but to set YOU free!

7.     Remember the good times

We forget all those loving, good things that the same person might have done for us. We can forget the good times and focus on one bad thing. It is amazing, how as humans we can amplify one bad thing to such an extent that we begin to carry resentment and hatred in our hearts and destroy our relationships, don't choose this. Try to take something good from the situation and magnify it. You will see things in a different light! 

8.     Take it as a lesson

Yes, it may sound crazy, but see yourself as a student learning something new. Whatever is happening to you is like a test. Look at forgiving someone as your test. It tests your level of resilience, your compassion and your open-mindedness. Learn to develop this and you will find that you become a very happy person!

9.     Meditate

I have always been fascinated with meditation. Now you must be thinking what does this have to do with forgiveness? Two words: Grey Matter. In 2008, researchers examined a particular part of the brain and discovered that the more grey matter the person had, the more likely they were to forgive those who have made a serious mistake. Scientists detected significantly larger grey matter volumes in meditators in the right hippocampus. Both orbitofrontal and hippocampal regions have been implicated in emotional regulation and response control. More grey matter in the brain accounts for meditators' ability to cultivate positive emotions, emotional stability, and engage in mindful behaviour. Try and it down in a quiet environment, pick an issue that has been bothering you. Relax and start to breath in and out, focus on the issue and review it as a third person, similar to seeing something at bird’s eye. Look at the situation, assess it and

 10.   Get revenge…. positively!

Often the best revenge, if someone has truly hurt you, is to live a happy successful life. Learn to consistently be loving and forgiving in your thoughts and actions. This will in turn attract positive people in your life. Positive thoughts and positive energy allow you to say focused and to ultimately be free and at peace As Albert Einstein said, "You can't solve a problem by staying in the same energy in which it was created."

 

Are you now ready to let go and be free?

This blog post was written by the incredible Rashdah Hameed. It is so incredibly important to me to have individuals of different faiths helping people to overcome the pain points in their life from where they are at. As an empowerment coach I feel truly blessed to have Rashdah come on board as a guest blogger to share such a powerful message. I cried when I first read this post she submitted. In a world where her faith is being criticized so freely and without any real reason I find Rasdah's strength and purpose so incredibly beautiful. Please take a read of her blurb and check out her incredible business Hidden Pearls. You may not be of Islam faith but if you like travel like me, you enjoy widening your mind and being respectful when you travel, for that Hidden Pearls has the perfect attire. Check it out here (click the link).

 

Rashdah Hameed
A dedicated entrepreneur determined to make a difference in the Muslim world. We want to let people know that there is more to Muslims then meets the eye. Our aim to show people that we are not just a fashion brand but also humans that value all the messy feelings and issues that come with like. As an individual, I have been through a lot of problems that have strengthened me, I was offered partnership in Hidden Pearls and what started as a way out from other problems grew into a desire to be successful in promoting modest fashion in the best light possible and to being involved with people one to one rather than just selling, selling and selling! 

 

 

Footnotes

 

1.     https://abuaminaelias.com/dailyhadithonline/2011/11/23/hadith-on-envy-the-man-went-to-paradise-because-he-purified-his-heart-from-malice-and-envy/

2.     (http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2005/10/12/is-forgiving-good-for-your-hea/)

3.     https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811909000044)