There are varying meanings of forgiveness. However, forgiveness can easily be described as an uncommon reaction to hurt, whereby an individual who has been unjustly treated recognizes the injury and decides to lessen the feeling of anger and bitterness, and choose to institute a sincere effort to offer come understanding and sympathy towards the wrongdoer (Toussaint, Owen & Cheadle, 2012; Wade & Worthington, 2005; Exline, Worthington, Hill, & McCullough, 2003). Makinen & Johnson (2006) further described this state as a ‘response to an impactful experience in interpersonal relationships’. They further highlighted that this critical process allows for ‘the healing of emotional wounds, the rebuilding of trust and the fixing of relationships’. Forgiveness is also defined by some as an unconditional gift of acceptance or response towards the offender’s act of violation (Enright 1994) whereby “the victim chooses to change his or her assumptions, motives and attitudes, from the hostile emotions and desires for revenge and retribution towards a more positive outcome”(McCullough et al, 2013; Wenzel & Okimoto, 2010; Fincham & Beach, 2002). Gordon & Baucom (1998) theory of forgiveness view forgiveness as a process that is made up of three separate elements : (a) impact, (b) a search for meaning, and (c) recovery, whereby, within each stage there occurs specific cognitive, behavioural, and emotional components. This theory reinforces the importance of cognitive tasks in moving through these stages.
As a result, as highlighted by Lawler-Row et al (2011), Toussaint et al (2011) and Rye & Pargament (2002), forgiveness will bring about positive impact on the psychological wellbeing of individuals in which the victims will experience a decrease sense of resentment, anger, sadness, bitterness, hostility, thoughts of revenge, verbal aggression or even the tendency to avoid any contact with the offender. It is important to note that some research studies have concluded that forgiveness is not possible without love, compassion, benevolence, sympathy and pity to name a few (North, 1987, Enright, 1996; Fincham, 2000; Sells & Hargrave, 1998; Wade &Worthington, 2005). The act of forgiveness promises the forgiver a possible experience of healed relationship and thus leads to inner peace.
Looking from a different perspective, forgiveness is a critical aspect in all religion such as Confucianism, Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity and can be seen in their scriptures and traditions. Let me approach the issue from the Islamic ontological point of view. Muslims believe that Allah is the Most Merciful and Forgiving. For the soul to be at ease, both Allah’s and human forgiveness are needed. Human are never free from making mistakes in their relations to Allah as well as their relations with each other. Hence, in Islam, recognizing mistakes, commitment to repent and seeking forgiveness are needed. Leveraging from this religious paradigm, to be able to forgive, individual have to choose to overlook the offense and mistake of a person who has purposefully or mistakenly victimize themselves without even the slightest thought of vengeance even when an individual has the power or capacity to do it. In the Al Quran, it asserts that to please Allah, one has to be able to forgive sincerely :
Who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good [Al Imran 03:134]
Forgiving in Islam to a great extent correspond to the concept of patience in which an individual has to totally believe that Allah is the Best Planner and totally leave everything in His hand (redha and tawakkul) with the only intention to please Him. Only when individuals are able to allow themselves to be detached from the need to be in control of all situation, then they are able to take the first steps towards forgiveness. Detaching oneself from hope and expectation from another human being, and realigning the hope and expectation only from the Creator allows a person be aware of the need to release their self-control. Redha and tawakkul will thus allows a person to be patient hence ease the forgiveness process.
Salam Aidilfitri. Maafkan segala kekhilafan saya.
p.s. this is an element extracted from of Abiding Marriage Model (AMM © CRLY00009263) & Marital Strength Scale (MSS © CRLY00009262) , A.Mahdzir