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Islamic Society (17 Jun 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Patience and Forgiveness in the Quran

By Maria Khan, New Age Islam

17 June 2017

Muslims observe day-long fasting during the month of Ramadan. This annual month of spiritual training is designed to develop, among other things, the quality of patience. The nature of the world is such that it necessarily requires an individual to cultivate patience. For one inevitably faces instances of loss, unpleasant experiences from others, disadvantages of various kinds, and so on. Enduring these situations with fortitude is what builds strong character, one that can go through life without succumbing to hardships or turning negative.

This is why the Quran attached utmost importance to patience and in one of its verses it promises “reward without measure” to the patient. (39:10). In this month, it is useful to reflect on those verses of the Quran which enjoin patience on its followers and understand how they have been interpreted by classical commentators of the Quran. The Prophet of Islam began his missionary career, he had to face stiff opposition and hostility from people who found his message detrimental to their worldly interest. Throughout his missionary life, the Quran guided the Prophet on the behavior he should adopt towards those who had developed enmity for him.

In Chapter 15, the Quran mentions the previous messengers who came with the divine message to their communities. Their people, however, poured scorn at them and denied their prophecy. The context of these verses is the similar treatment that the Prophet Muhammad is facing at the hands of his community. In response, he is advised to “behave with seemly patience” (70:5) and to “overlook [their faults] with gracious forgiveness.” (15:85). The theologian al-Maturidi explains that the Prophet is told to avoid people’s denunciation without seeking to requite them verbally or in deed.

Some are of the opinion that verses which counsel the Prophet to bear with insult have been abrogated, implying that if Muslims today face similar circumstances, they must not follow the way of avoidance and patience. But the philosopher al-Razi, in his Great Commentary running into 32 volumes, points out that the injunction given in these verses is still valid, as what is intended here is adherence to noble conduct – a command that by its very nature cannot be revoked.

The Prophet is required to not respond in like manner to those who pass derogatory remarks and to be large-hearted enough to pardon the offences of his fellowmen. The reason for this can be understood in the light of the mission that the prophets are tasked with. A prophet is charged with the responsibility of people’s moral and spiritual reform. Muhammad ibn Ahmad writes that the nature of this duty demands that the Prophet be forbearing towards those who wrong him and become friendly with those who have developed animosity for him, because he is like a doctor and not a commander or a tyrant.

The widely regarded Syrian Islamic scholar Wahhab al-Zuhayli notes that wisdom demanded that the Prophet adopt a peaceful and reconciliatory course of action with those he had to convey religious teaching. This is why the Quran repeatedly exhorts the Prophet to not get enraged at people’s improper conduct, as in this verse: “Bear patiently with what they say, and ignore them politely.” (73:10). The Prophet is instructed to avoid his belittling and disparagement. This advice, according to Sayyid Qutb, was given by God to all of His prophets, and by extension, is also applicable to the followers of these prophets. For Qutb, keeping patience is jihad – a struggle against one’s tendency to thirst for revenge when provoked.

The Quran aims to put an end to the actions that lead to intolerance and violence. At one place it guides Muslims: “If you want to retaliate, retaliate to the same degree as the injury done to you. But if you are patient, it is better to be so.” (16:126). In the Quran, the solution to the problem of enmity is not by way of revenge, but through good behaviour: “Do good deed in return for bad deed; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.” (41:34)

Al-Tabari, in his influential commentary on the Quran, argues that the command for patience is not meant solely for certain special circumstances, rather patience was meant for every situation, both before God gave permission for war and even after that. In al-Razi’s view, verses of patience cannot be regarded as abrogated by verses that allow fighting because the virtues of patience, kindness and tolerance were exhibited by the Prophet and his Companions even during days of war.

It is said that when the Quran began to be revealed to the Prophet in 610 AD, it was the month of Ramadan. For this reason, reading the Quran is one of the important forms of worship for Muslims. But this is not meant only in the sense of recitation of the words of the Quran, instead one must delve into the message of the Quran. While reading the Book, one must reflect on whether one is following the principles laid down in the Quran in one’s own life. In this sense, Ramadan is a month for introspection of our thoughts and deeds.


Maria Khan is an Islamic Scholar at Jamia Hamdard University and CPS International member.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-society/maria-khan,-new-age-islam/patience-and-forgiveness-in-the-quran/d/111579

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  • Quran 42:43 mentions that Allah has a high preference for Muslims to show patience and forgiveness to others.  The following is the extract:
    (سورة الشورى, Ash-Shura, Chapter #42, Verse #43)-Mohsin Khan translation:
     And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.
    By zuma - 6/22/2017 8:25:55 PM

  • Maria Khan has rightly pointed out the Quranic verses on Patience and Forgiveness in the Quran. The primacy of forgiveness (marhama) over retaliation (malhama) was also clearly evidenced at the conquest of Makkah (Fath-e-Makkah) when the Prophet (pbhu) granted general amnesty for even his avowed and intense enemies, the pagans of Makkah who oppressed, attacked, mocked and tortured him for years. Today, the historical Islamic event of Fath-e-Makkah or conquest of Makkah should be recalled to remind Muslims of the Prophet’s infinite compassion for humanity and his deep concern for the lives and property of even his enemies. The event which happened on the 10th of Ramadan (11 January 630 AD) is a special reminder for the radical self-styled Islamists and jihadists who are inciting Muslims to engage in a continued Malhamah (revenge on enemies) to change their extremist attitudes and adopt the noble policy of Marhamah (forgiveness) enjoined by the Prophet of Islam (pbuh).
    By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi - 6/18/2017 4:54:52 AM

  • An excellent exposition of Qur'anic emphasis on patience and forgiveness. People whom we remember as Imams and scholars merely offer their own views, speculations and explanations. We are not bound to read the Qur'an wearing their lenses and say such and such verses are abrogated. The abrogation hypothesis draws on the verse 2:106 that obviously points to the divine scheme of sending fresh revelations across long historical periods in order to preserve the essential features of divine message that get obscured with time.

    Those who suggest that God Almighty changed his mind with the changing context of the Qur'anic revelation simply do not use reason as God cannot be God is He were to change His mind while sending His message to humanity in an infinitesimally small span of time in cosmic scale. And this is what the Qur’an says about those who do not use reason:


    “Indeed the worst of creatures in God’s sight are the deaf and dumb, who do not use reason (8:22).

    By muhammd yunus - 6/17/2017 11:59:03 PM

  • Quran 2:192 supports that Allah does not hate non-Muslims.

    (سورة البقرة, Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #191)-Yusuf Ali translation:

    ‘And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.’ 

    The phrase, unless they (first) fight you there, is mentione3d in Quran 2:191 implies that Quran only instructs Muslims to fight only if non-Muslims are the first to fight with Muslims.

    (سورة البقرة, Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #192)-Yusuf Ali translation:

    ‘But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.’

    As the phase, if they cease, is mentioned in Quran 2:192 with the phrase, Allah is Oft-forgiving, it implies that Allah would forgive non-Muslims if they would cease fighting or oppression against Muslims.  As Allah would forgive those non-Muslims would cease fighting with Muslims, do you think Allah would hate them?  The reason why Quran 2:191 demands Muslims to kill non-Muslims wherever they find them is due to they are the first to fight with Muslims.

    (سورة البقرة, Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #193)-Yusuf Ali translation:

    ‘And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.’

    As the phrase, tumult or oppression, is mentioned in Quran 2:193 with the phrase, if they cease Let there be no hostility, it implies that Quran demands Muslims not to have hostility against those non-Muslims who cease fighting against Muslims.  The phrase, except to those who practice oppression, in Quran 2:193 implies that the phrase, no hostility, does not apply to those non-Muslims who still keep on practising oppression against non-Muslims.

    By zuma - 6/17/2017 3:07:17 PM

  • Allah is the projection of what is best in us. Hence poor Hats Off deserves our pity.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 6/17/2017 1:10:47 PM

  • allah does not forgive or forget.

    he hates kufr, shirk, bida and a whole lot of very very common things. he hates idol worshipers. he hates the munafiqeen. he hates the mushriqs. he hates the murtads. he hates those who associate others with him. he hates a hell of a lot of others whom he has created. and he has written down everything in his loh e mahfouz so as not to forget whom he hates.

    nothing forgiving about anyone who hates freely and gratuitously - especially after creating them and pre-destining their lives.

    By hats off! - 6/17/2017 10:45:11 AM

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