Forgiveness as A Virtue
Men and women are creatures with faults as well as exceptional qualities. No other living creature carries such inborn opposites. Only humanity has the qualities that allow its individuals to fly in the firmaments of Heaven or, by leaving the right path, fall into the bottom of the deepest pits. Looking for any relation between these frightening ascents and descents is meaningless, for they are the results of the process of cause and effect occurring on very different levels in each individual.
Human beings are likely to lean toward certain circumstances in life. Sometimes individuals are like fields of crops that bend with the wind; at other times they are like large trees that have fallen over and rise again, despite their outward dignity and strength. Individuals give the angels many reasons for envying them; unfortunately, they also do things that sometimes cause even the devils to feel shame.
Although not desired, human nature makes sin inevitable. Given this, forgiveness is everything.
However beneficial it is for us to ask for and expect forgiveness, to moan and groan for what has escaped us, forgiving is a much greater attribute and virtue. Forgiveness cannot be separated from virtue, just as virtue cannot be separated from forgiveness. There is a very common, yet very profound, saying: “Errors from the small, forgiveness from the great.” How well this is said! Being forgiven means being repaired, returning to an essence, and finding oneself again. Given this, the most pleasing action in the view of the Infinite Mercy is the one—seeking forgiveness—pursued amidst the palpitations of this return and search.
All of creation was introduced to forgiveness through humanity. Just as God showed His attribute of Forgiveness through us, He put the beauty of forgiving into our hearts. While Adam and Eve dealt a blow to their human essence through falling, which was somehow a requirement of their human nature, it was forgiveness that came from the Heavens in response to the remorse they felt in their consciences and pleadings.
For centuries, we have preserved this Divine gift received through the first couple as a hope and a consolation. Whenever we sin, we can mount on the magic transport of seeking forgiveness and surmount the shame and despair caused by sin. We attain to Infinite Mercy and show our generosity by covering our eyes to the sins of others.
Thanks to this hope of forgiveness, we can rise above the dark clouds invading our horizon and see light in this world. Those fortunate ones who are aware of the uplifting wings of forgiveness live amidst melodies that gladden their spirits.
Those who devote themselves to seeking forgiveness cannot help but think of forgiving others. Just as we like to be forgiven, we also like to forgive. How can we not forgive when we know that salvation from the fire of suffering in our inner worlds, caused by our own mistakes, is possible only by drinking from the river of forgiveness? And even more so, if we know that the road to being forgiven passes through forgiving?
Those who forgive are honored with forgiveness. Those who do not pardon cannot expect or desire to be pardoned. Those who close the road of tolerance are beasts who have lost their humanity. Such brutes, who have never felt inclined to take themselves to task for their sins, will never experience the high solace of forgiveness.
Jesus said to a crowd with rocks in their hands, as they were taking a sinner to be stoned:
“Let one who has never sinned throw the first stone” (John 8:7)
Can anyone who understands this binding, fine point even think of stoning someone else when there is already a head to be stoned—namely, his or her own? If only those unfortunate ones who spend their lives putting the lives of others to a litmus test could understand this!
It is true that a criminal deserving punishment will be punished. However, no one cannot say that there is a sentence for stoning those upon whom our malice and hatred have passed judgment. Unless we destroy the idol in our ego as courageously as Abraham did, we will never be able to make a correct decision in the name of our ego or in the name of others.
Forgiveness emerged with humanity and reached perfection through humanity. In this respect, we witness in the greatest people the greatest forgiveness and impeccable tolerance.
Malice and hatred are seeds of hell scattered in society by evil people. In contrast to those who encourage malice and hatred and turn the land into a pit of hell, we should run with forgiveness to rescue those who have uncountable troubles and are being pushed into the abyss. The excesses of those who do not forgive or show tolerance made the past one or two centuries the dirtiest and most unpleasant in history. It is impossible not to be chilled by the thought that these unfortunate ones may rule the future.
For this reason, the greatest gift today’s generation can give to its children and grandchildren is to teach them how to forgive even the crudest behavior and the most upsetting events. However, thinking of forgiving those monstrous, ill-natured people who enjoy making others suffer would involve showing disrespect to the very idea of forgiveness. As we have no right to forgive them, forgiving them would be showing disrespect to humanity. I do not believe that anyone would consider as acceptable an act that shows disrespect to forgiveness.
Members of a generation raised in an environment characterized by hostility always saw horror and brutality in the arenas of the dark world into which they were pushed. They saw blood and pus even at daybreak. What could be learned from a society whose voice, breath, thought, and smile were tainted with blood?
Everything presented to them was exactly opposite and contrary to what they needed and desired. Such people have assumed a second nature due to years of neglect and wrong suggestions, and the disorder and sedition they made has become a flood. If only at this moment we could understand them. Alas! Where is such insight?
Forgiveness and tolerance will heal most of our wounds, but only if this celestial instrument is in the hands of those who understand its language. Otherwise, the incorrect treatment we have used until now will create many complications and continue to confuse us.
Know the illness, then set out to treat it medically:
Do you think any ointment is a cure for any wound?
By M. Fethullah Gulen