Can My Forgiveness Be Conditional?

Question

We will all have to face our Lord and be held accountable for any wrong we have done. In my understanding, the actions we do that violate others’ rights require that we seek forgiveness in this life or need to make amends to them from our deeds in the hereafter.

Can I stipulate that I will forgive only those actions that the perpetrator confesses?

Furthermore, can that forgiveness be for the sake of the hereafter only? Am I coerced to remain in the marriage if I have granted forgiveness for a serious transgression? Those actions cannot be excused and violate any trust needed for a healthy relationship.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him.

Thank you for your question. When we violate the rights of others, we must seek forgiveness. When our rights are violated, forgiveness is better but not compulsory. Seeking justice is equally valid in Islam. Since forgiveness is not obligatory, stipulating a condition should not be a problem, Allah knows best.

Forgiving someone “for the sake of the hereafter” is valid and in line with the way Allah motivates us to do good and stay away from evil in the Quran, namely with promises and warnings related to the hereafter.

If you have forgiven a transgression, you are not compelled to continue a close friendship/relationship with the transgressor unless it is a relationship that is generally considered close family ties.

Forgiveness is Better, and Justice is Valid

First, after the conquest of Mecca, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) forgave the Arab population of Mecca except for a few individuals who were sentenced to death for their crimes.

Second, the hadith mentions the story of a person who is bankrupt in the Afterlife:

“The real bankrupt one of my people would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers, fasting, and charity, [but he will find himself bankrupt on that day as he will have exhausted those good deeds] because he reviled others, brought calumny against others, unlawfully devoured the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and beat others; so his good deeds would be credited to the account of those [who suffered at his hand]. If his good deeds fall short of clearing the account, their sins would be entered in his account, and he would be thrown in the [Hell] Fire.” [Muslim]

If forgiving is obligatory, those who seek retribution in the Afterlife should be reprimanded for not forgiving others who had wronged them in this life, and Allah knows best.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.