Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
Some time ago, I forgave someone for their wrongdoings, but have since then contemplated whether I should take back the forgiveness, as the one who has wronged me is not remorseful at all; I am considering taking the forgiveness back, in the hopes of that Allah then would deal with them with complete justice and hopefully teach them a lesson in this life so to not repeat such serious oppression again towards another soul, and to gain some kind of compensation, as I have received nothing of that kind, not even remorse, despite it being my right.
But – is it even valid to take back forgiveness you already gave them and informed them that you indeed forgave them?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
Once you have forgiven someone, they are absolved of that sin in regards to you. Whether they are forgiven by Allah Most High is a different story and depends on Divine discretion.
Forgiveness Is for Allah
It is of vital importance to recognize that your forgiveness of someone who wronged you is not for that person’s sake. It is an act of worship that you are doing for the sake of Allah Most High alone.
With this outlook, one realizes that forgiveness is not only given to those who deserve it or on condition that they are remorseful – it is given as an act of worship to Allah Most High.
We can see this in the life of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) very clearly. When he was chased out of the city of Taif by the riffraff of the city chasing and stoning him – what did he do?
Even though he was given complete permission from Allah Most High to destroy them, he forgave them and prayed, “It is my hope that Allah will bring forth from their loins those who will worship Allah, alone.”
In another similar situation, he prayed, “O Allah, guide my people, for they know not.”
In neither of these cases did the people have any remorse for their actions, rather, they persisted in them.
Forgiveness is Honor
The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “… Allah does not increase a servant when they pardon except in honor, and whoever is humble for Allah’s sake, He raises their rank.”
Forgiveness Is a Means to Be Forgiven
Allah Most High says, “Do not let the people of virtue and affluence among you swear to suspend donations to their relatives, the needy, and the emigrants in the cause of Allah. Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love to be forgiven by Allah? And Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Quran; 24:22]
This verse was revealed about Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (Allah be pleased with him) when he refused to continue financially supporting his cousin, Mistah, who accused his daughter Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), of fornication.
Allah Most High advised him and us to forgive as a means of seeking Allah’s forgiveness for ourselves.
A close friend and respected scholar gave a beautiful point of advice:
“Beware of being majestic (jalali) with people, lest Allah be so with you.”
We should treat people the way we want Allah to treat us. We would not be able to take Allah’s complete justice for ourselves. We need Allah’s mercy, so we should live with mercy.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Those who show mercy will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Have mercy on the inhabitants of the Earth, and the inhabitants of the Heavens will have mercy on you.” [Tirmidhi; Abu Dawud]
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom Seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences.
He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he studied for three years in Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most outstanding scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib.
In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.