FORGIVENESS ACCORDING TO THE MORALS OF ISLAM AND
ITS BENEFITS ON HEALTH
of the moral traits recommended in the Qur'an is forgiveness:
Hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and
turn away from the ignorant. (Qur'an, 7: 199)
In another verse Allah commands: "
should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive
you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Qur'an, 24:22)
Those who do not abide by the moral values of the Qur'an find it
very difficult to forgive others. Because, they are easily angered
by any error committed. However, Allah has advised the faithful
that forgiveness is more proper:
The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent
to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward
is with Allah
. But if you pardon and exonerate and forgive,
Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 64: 14)
It has also been revealed in the Qur'an that forgiveness is a superior
moral trait: "But if someone is steadfast and forgives,
that is the most resolute course to follow." (Qur'an, 42:43)
For that reason, believers are forgiving, compassionate and tolerant
people who, as revealed in the Qur'an, "control their rage
and pardon other people." (Qur'an, 3:134)
Believers' notion of forgiveness is very different to that of those
who do not live by the morals of the Qur'an. Even though many people
may say they have forgiven someone who has offended them, it nevertheless
takes a long time to free themselves of the hatred and anger in
their hearts. Their behaviour tends to betray that anger. On the
other hand, the forgiveness of believers is sincere. Because believers
know that human beings are tried in this world, and learn by their
mistakes, they are tolerant and compassionate. Moreover, believers
are also capable of forgiveness even when they are in the right,
and the other in the wrong. When forgiving, they make no distinction
between large errors and small ones. Someone may cause severe losses
to them by mistake. However, believers know that everything takes
place under the command of Allah, and according to a specific destiny,
and therefore, they surrender themselves to these developments,
never acquiescing to anger.
According to recent research, American scientists established that
those capable of forgiveness are healthier in both mind and body.
Dr. Frederic Luskin, who holds a Ph.D. in Counselling and Health
Psychology from Stanford University, and his team, studied 259 people
living in the city of San Francisco. The scientists invited the
subjects to attend six one-and-a-half-hour sessions, and aimed to
instruct the subjects in forgiveness during their conversations.
The subjects of the experiments stated that they suffered less
after forgiving people who had wronged them. The research showed
that people who learned to forgive feel much better, not only emotionally
but also physically. For example, it was established that after
the experiment psychological and physical symptoms such as stress-related
backache, insomnia and stomachaches were significantly reduced in
In his book, Forgive for Good, Dr. Frederic Luskin describes
forgiveness as a proven recipe for health and happiness. The book
describes how forgiveness promotes such positive states of mind
as hope, patience and self-confidence by reducing anger, suffering,
depression and stress. According to Dr. Luskin, harboured anger
causes observable physical effects in the individual. He goes on
to say that:
The thing about long-term or unresolved anger,
is we've seen it resets the internal thermostat. When you get
used to a low level of anger all the time, you don't recognize
what's normal. It creates a kind of adrenaline rush that people
get used to. It burns out the body and makes it difficult to think
clearly-making the situation worse.69
In addition, Dr. Luskin says, when the body releases
certain enzymes during anger and stress, cholesterol and blood pressure
levels go up-not a good long-term disposition to maintain the body
An article called "Forgiveness,"
published in the September-October 1996 edition of Healing Currents
Magazine, stated that anger towards an individual or an event
led to negative emotions in people, and harmed their emotional balance
and even their physical health.71
The article also states that people realise after a while that the
anger is a nuisance to them, and wish to repair the damage to the
relationship. So, they take steps to forgive. It is also stated
that, despite all they endure, people do not want to waste the precious
moments of their life in anger and anxiety, and prefer to forgive
themselves and others.72
In another study involving 1,500 people depression, stress and
mental illness were observed to be less frequent in religious people.
Dr. Herbert Benson, who conducted the research, linked this to the
way religions encourage "forgiveness", and went on to say:
There's a physiology of forgiveness
do not forgive, it will chew you up.73
According to an article titled, "Anger is Hostile
To Your Heart," published in the Harvard Gazette, anger
is extremely harmful to the heart. Ichiro Kawachi, an assistant
professor of medicine, and his team scientifically demonstrated
this with various tests and measurements. As a result of their research,
they established that grumpy old men had three times the risk of
heart disease than their more tempered peers. "The tripling of risk,"
Kawachi says, "involves high levels of anger, explosive anger that
includes smashing things and wanting to hurt someone in a fight."74
Researchers believe that release of stress hormones,
increased oxygen demand by the heart's muscle cells, and added stickiness
of blood platelets, which leads to clots explain how anger increases
the chance of a heart attack.75
Furthermore, at times of anger, the pulse rises above its normal
level, and leads to increased blood pressure in the arteries, and
thus to a greater risk of heart attack.
researchers, anger and hostility can also trigger the production
of proteins linked to inflammation in the blood. The journal Psychosomatic
Medicine suggested that the emotion triggers the production
of inflammatory proteins, which may in turn be causing the hardening
of the arteries, causing heart disease and stroke.76
According to Associate Professor Edward Suarez of the Duke University
Medical Centre in North Carolina, the protein interleukin 6 (or
IL-6) is much higher in men who are angry and depressed. High blood
levels of IL-6 lead to atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty deposits
in the lining of the walls of arteries.77
According to Suarez, as well as factors such as smoking, high blood
pressure, obesity and high cholesterol, heart disease is also linked
to psychological states such as depression, anger and hostility.78
Another article, titled "Anger
Raises Risk of Heart Attack," published in The Times, stated
that a short temper might be a short cut to a heart attack, and
that young men who reacted to stress by becoming angry were three
times more likely to develop premature heart disease, and were five
times more likely to have an early heart attack.79
Scientists at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, found
that quick-tempered men are at risk of heart attack even if there
is no family history of heart disease.80
All the available research shows that anger is a state of mind
that seriously damages human health. Forgiveness, on the other hand,
even if it comes hard to people, is pleasing, an aspect of superior
morals, that eliminates all the harmful effects of anger, and helps
the individual to enjoy a healthy life, both psychologically and
physically. Forgiveness, of course, is one of a form of behaviour
by which a person can stay healthy, and a positive virtue everyone
should live by. However, the true aim of forgiveness-as in all else-must
be to please Allah. The fact that the features of this sort of morality,
and that the benefits of which have been scientifically identified,
have been revealed in many verses of the Qur'an, is just one of
the many sources of wisdom it contains.
69. Jennifer Desai,
“Stanford Forgiveness Project's Dr. Frederic Luskin studies
why learning to forgive might be good for the body as well as the
soul,” Almanac, 9 June 1999, www.almanacnews.com/morgue/1999/1999_06_09.forgive.html.
71. Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., "Forgiveness," Healing Currents
Magazine, September-October 1996, www.stanford.edu/~alexsox/4_steps_to_forgiveness.htm.
73. Claudia Kalb, “Faith & Healing,” Newsweek, 10
November 2003, http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3339654/site/newsweek.
74. William J. Cromie, "Anger is Hostile to Your Heart,"
Harvard Gazette, www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/1996/11.07/AngerisHostileT.html.
76. Peter Lavelle, “Anger trigger to heart disease found?,"
ABC Science Online, 5 August 2003, www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s915243.htm.
79. Mark Henderson, "Anger Raises Risk of Heart Attack,"
The Times, London, 24 April 2002, www.rense.com/general24/anger.htm.