Is it Obligatory to Forgive Others? How to Deal with Abusive Family Members?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Aslamulaykum,
1. Is it obligatory to forgive family and friends for wronging you?
2. Could you please mention some narrations or proofs with some of the main virtues of forgiving someone?
3. When is it better to forgive and when is it better to take revenge?
4. What is the balance between answering parents back and having a discussion/ conversation with them? (is this considered answering back?)
5. What is the maximum amount of breaking a family tie allowed in the Sacred Law? For example if a family member has been hurtful to me can I just only give salaams to them and cut other relation with them?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
(1) Forgiving others is from the noble sunna of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). It is not a condition that others change their ways before you forgive them. You are responsible for your actions only.
(2) Abu Hurayra reported that a man said, “Messenger of Allah, I have some relatives with whom I maintain connections but who cut me off. I am good to them but they are bad to me. I am forbearing with them but they are hasty towards me!” He said, “If it is as you said, it is as if you were feeding them hot ash and you will continue to have a helper from Allah Almighty against them for as long as you act like that.” [Muslim] Abu ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported that a man said, “Messenger of Allah, I have some relatives with whom I maintain relations but they cut me off. I am good to them and they are bad to me. I am forbearing to them and they are impatient towards me.” He said, “If you are as you have said, then it is as if you are giving them hot embers to drink. You will continue to have a helper from Allah against them as long as you remain doing that.” [Muslim] Anas said, “I was walking with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he was wearing a Najrani cloak with a thick border. A bedouin came up to him and pulled the cloak violently. I looked at the Prophet’s shoulder and it had been marked by the border of the cloak due to the severity of his pull. Then he said, ‘Muhammad, allot to me some of property of Allah which you have.’ He turned to him and laughed and then ordered a gift to be given to him.” [Agreed upon]
(3) The prophetic example was in forgiving others.
(4) Be gentle with them. You can have a conversation, but don’t be rude or inappropriate.
(5) All that you have described is your test from Allah. Remember Allah, and that He will ask you about the way in which you behaved. Smile things off, forgive and forget, and gain some independence so you are not so reliant upon others. Allah is the one who will lift the trial, so ask Him to relieve you of your distress. Put up with things for His sake.
See: A Time to Build: How Believers Respond To Trials and Tests – Faraz Rabbani Eid Khutba at SeekersHub Toronto and: Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.