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Repel evil with good and win the hearts of enemies

August 28, 2013

Reconcile and forgive others in Islam

By Abu Amina Elias

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

Allah has praised those who respond to evil with good deeds. Those who repel evil with good will find that their enemies will become their friends.

Allah said:

وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ

Not equal are the good deed and the bad deed. Repel evil by that which is better, and then the one who is hostile to you will become as a devoted friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient and none is granted it except one having a great fortune.

Surah Fussilat 41:34-35

Ibn Abbas commented on this verse, saying:

أَمَرَ اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ بِالصَّبْرِ عِنْدَ الْغَضَبِ وَالْحِلْمِ عِنْدَ الْجَهْلِ وَالْعَفْوِ عِنْدَ الْإِسَاءَةِ فَإِذَا فَعَلُوا ذَلِكَ عَصَمَهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ وَخَضَعَ لَهُمْ عَدُوُّهُمْ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ

Allah commands the believers to be patient when they feel angry, to be forbearing when confronted with ignorance, and to forgive when they are mistreated. If they do this, Allah will save them from Satan and subdue their enemies to them until they become like close friends.

Source: Tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-‘Aẓīm 41:34

Allah has commanded the believers in several verses to repel evil with good by being patient, merciful, and forgiving when confronted with mistreatment.

Allah said:

وَالَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِمْ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنفَقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ سِرًّا وَعَلَانِيَةً وَيَدْرَءُونَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ

Those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them, secretly and publicly, and repel evil with good, for those will have the good end.

Surat ar-Ra’d 13:22

And Allah said:

أُولَٰئِكَ يُؤْتَوْنَ أَجْرَهُم مَّرَّتَيْنِ بِمَا صَبَرُوا وَيَدْرَءُونَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and they repel evil with good, and they spend from what We have provided them.

Surat al-Qasas 28:54

And Allah said:

ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ السَّيِّئَةَ نَحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَصِفُونَ

Repel evil with what is better. We are most knowing of what they describe.

Surat al-Mu’minun 23:96

And Allah said:

الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

They are those who spend in charity during ease and hardship and who restrain their anger and pardon the people, for Allah loves those who are good.

Surat Ali Imran 3:134

The Prophet has taught us to respond with good deeds to those who are evil to us.

Aisha reported:

لَمْ يَكُنْ فَاحِشًا وَلَا مُتَفَحِّشًا وَلَا صَخَّابًا فِي الْأَسْوَاقِ وَلَا يَجْزِي بِالسَّيِّئَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ وَلَكِنْ يَعْفُو وَيَصْفَحُ

The Prophet was not indecent, he was not obscene, he would not shout in the markets, and he would not respond to an evil deed with an evil deed, but rather he would pardon and overlook.

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2016, Grade: Sahih

Abdullah ibn Amr reported that Allah has described the Prophet as follows:

سَمَّيْتُكَ الْمُتَوَكِّلَ لَيْسَ بِفَظٍّ وَلاَ غَلِيظٍ وَلاَ صَخَّابٍ فِي الأَسْوَاقِ وَلاَ يَدْفَعُ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ وَلَكِنْ يَعْفُو وَيَغْفِرُ

I have called you a trustworthy man who is neither rude nor loud in the markets, nor does he return evil with evil, but rather he pardons and forgives.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 2018, Grade: Sahih

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ ظُلِمَ بِمَظْلَمَةٍ فَيُغْضِي عَنْهَا لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِلَّا أَعَزَّ اللَّهُ بِهَا نَصْرَهُ

No servant is wronged by an oppressor and he forgives him for the sake of Allah except that Allah the Exalted will support him.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 9411, Grade: Sahih

Uqbah ibn Amir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

صِلْ مَنْ قَطَعَكَ وَأَعْطِ مَنْ حَرَمَكَ وَأَعْرِضْ عَمَّنْ ظَلَمَكَ

Reconcile with whoever cuts you off, give to whoever deprives you, and turn away from whoever wrongs you.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 16883, Grade: Sahih li ghayri

In another narration, the Prophet said:

وَاعْفُ عَمَّنْ ظَلَمَكَ

And forgive whoever wrongs you.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 16999

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَدِّ الْأَمَانَةَ إِلَى مَنْ ائْتَمَنَكَ وَلَا تَخُنْ مَنْ خَانَكَ

Fulfill the trust of those to whom they are due, and do not be treacherous to the one who betrays you.

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 1264, Grade: Hasan

We should try to maintain good relations with those who severe ties with us, to give to those who do not give to us, and to forgive those who oppress us. The truly virtuous person is not the one who is good to those who are good to him, but rather the one who is good to those who are evil to him.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَيْسَ الْوَاصِلُ بِالْمُكَافِئِ وَلَكِنْ الْوَاصِلُ الَّذِي إِذَا قُطِعَتْ رَحِمُهُ وَصَلَهَا

The one who keeps good relations is not the one who recompenses the good done to him. Rather, the one who keeps good relations is the one who does so despite having been cut off by them.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5645, Grade: Sahih

Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

لَيْسَ الْوَصْلُ أَنْ تَصِلَ مَنْ وَصَلَكَ ذَلِكَ الْقِصَاصُ وَلَكِنَّ الْوَصْلَ أَنْ تَصِلَ مَنْ قَطَعَكَ

The one who reconciles is not the one who maintains relations with those who are good to him, for that is merely reciprocation. Rather, the one who reconciles is one who maintains relations with those who cut him off.

Source: Shu’b al-Imān 7467

There are many instances in the life of the Prophet in which he would be good to those who were evil to him.

Anas ibn Malik reported:

كُنْتُ أَمْشِي مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَعَلَيْهِ بُرْدٌ نَجْرَانِيٌّ غَلِيظُ الْحَاشِيَةِ فَأَدْرَكَهُ أَعْرَابِيٌّ فَجَبَذَ بِرِدَائِهِ جَبْذَةً شَدِيدَةً قَالَ أَنَسٌ فَنَظَرْتُ إِلَى صَفْحَةِ عَاتِقِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَقَدْ أَثَّرَتْ بِهَا حَاشِيَةُ الرِّدَاءِ مِنْ شِدَّةِ جَبْذَتِهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ مُرْ لِي مِنْ مَالِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي عِنْدَكَ فَالْتَفَتَ إِلَيْهِ فَضَحِكَ ثُمَّ أَمَرَ لَهُ بِعَطَاءٍ

I was walking with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, while he was wearing a Najrani sheet with a thick border. A desert Arab overtook the Prophet and forcibly pulled his clothes. I looked at the shoulder of the Prophet and I saw that the edge of his shirt had left a mark because of the strength of his pull. The man said: O Muhammad, order them to give me something from Allah’s wealth which you have! The Prophet turned and he smiled, then he ordered that he be given charity.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5738, Grade: Sahih

On one occasion, the Prophet was cursed by a group of Jews and he reacted with patience and forbearance.

Aisha reported: A group of Jews asked permission to visit the Prophet and when they were admitted they said, “Death be upon you.” I said to them, “Rather, death and the curse of Allah be upon you!” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

يَا عَائِشَةُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ رَفِيقٌ يُحِبُّ الرِّفْقَ فِي الْأَمْرِ كُلِّهِ

O Aisha, Allah is kind and he loves kindness in all matters.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 6528, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

In another narration, the Prophet said:

يَا عَائِشَةُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْفُحْشَ وَالتَّفَحُّشَ

O Aisha, Allah does not love obscenity and immorality.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2165, Grade: Sahih

Al-Bukhari cited this tradition as evidence that the Prophet did not punish non-Muslims who blasphemed against him.

On another occasion, the Prophet was asked to invoke curses upon the idolaters who were persecuting the Muslims and he refused to do so.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was told, “O Messenger of Allah, pray against the idolaters!” The Prophet said:

إِنِّي لَمْ أُبْعَثْ لَعَّانًا وَإِنَّمَا بُعِثْتُ رَحْمَةً

Verily, I was not sent to invoke curses, but rather I was only sent as mercy.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2599, Grade: Sahih

Allah has mentioned that it is the practice of the prophets to patiently the abuse of those who wrong them.

Allah said:

قَالَتْ لَهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ إِن نَّحْنُ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَمُنُّ عَلَىٰ مَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَمَا كَانَ لَنَا أَن نَّأْتِيَكُم بِسُلْطَانٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نَتَوَكَّلَ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَقَدْ هَدَانَا سُبُلَنَا وَلَنَصْبِرَنَّ عَلَىٰ مَا آذَيْتُمُونَا وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُتَوَكِّلُونَ

Their messengers said to them: We are only men like you, but Allah confers favor upon whom He wills of His servants. It has never been for us to bring you evidence except by permission of Allah, and upon Allah let the believers rely. Why should we not rely upon Allah while He has guided us to our ways? We will surely be patient against whatever harm you cause us, and let them depend upon Allah those who would rely.

Surat Ibrahim 14:11-12

In order for Muslims to emulate these beautiful examples, the Prophet would tell stories of others prophets in the past who asked Allah to forgive their people even as they were being beaten and harmed by them.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: I saw the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, tell the story of a prophet who was beaten by his people and he wiped the blood from his face, saying:

‏ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِقَوْمِي فَإِنَّهُمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ

My Lord, forgive my people for they do not know.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 6530, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

An-Nawawi comments on this tradition, saying:

فِيهِ مَا كَانُوا عَلَيْهِ صَلَوَاتُ اللَّهِ وَسَلَامُهُ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنَ الْحِلْمِ وَالتَّصَبُّرِ وَالْعَفْوِ وَالشَّفَقَةِ عَلَى قَوْمِهِمْ وَدُعَائِهِمْ لَهُمْ بِالْهِدَايَةِ وَالْغُفْرَانِ وَعُذْرِهِمْ فِي جِنَايَتِهِمْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ بِأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

In this tradition is what the Prophet practiced of forbearance, patience, forgiveness, and compassion for his people, his supplication for them to receive guidance and to be forgiven, and for them to be excused for their sins as they did not know.

Source: Sharh Sahih Muslim 1792

Hence, we should strive to practice patience, mercy, and forgiveness whenever we are confronted with abuse. We should control our anger, pardon people, and supplicate for Allah to guide those who have gone astray. If we do so, we will win the hearts of our enemies and turn them into our close friends.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.