PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S ﷺ FORGIVENESS TO NON-MUSLIMS
One of the greatest quality of Prophet Muhammadﷺwas that he never took revenge on anyone for personal reasons and always forgave even his staunch enemies. The people of the Quraish rebuked him, taunted and mocked at him, beat him and abused him they tried to kill him. The tolerance and kindness of our Prophet Muhammadﷺ, was remarkable and not even his worst enemies could deny it. His life was full of incidents that represent tolerance in its clearest definition.
The recipients of this quality were not limited to just the Muslim nation, but it also extended to non-Muslims, some of who spent all their effort trying to harm the Prophet and his mission. This mercy and forgiveness is clearly demonstrated in the fact that the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, never took revenge on anyone for personal reasons and always forgave even his staunch enemies. Aisha said that the Prophet never took revenge on his own behalf on anyone. She also said that he never returned evil for evil, but he would forgive and pardon. This will, God willing, become clear after a deep analysis of the following accounts of his life.
The Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was described as a “Mercy for all the Worlds”, as God said in the Quran:
In the earlier portion of his mission, the Prophet traveled to the city of Taif, a city located in the mountains nearby to Makkah, in order to invite them to accept Islam. The leaders of Taif, however, were rude and discourteous in their treatment of the Prophet. Not being content with their insolent attitude towards him, they even stirred up some gangs of the town to harass him. This riff-raff followed the Prophet shouting at and abusing him, and throwing stones at him, until he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard. Thus the Prophet had to endure even more obstacles in Taif than he had had to face in Makkah. These ruffians, stationed either side of the path, threw stones at him until his feet were injured and smeared with blood.
Aisha(R) asked: Messenger of Allah, has there come upon you a day more terrible than the day of Uhud? He said: I have experienced from thy people and the hardest treatment I met from them was what I received from them on the day of 'Aqaba. I betook myself to Ibn Abd Yalil b. Abd Kulal with the purpose of inviting him to Islam, but he did not respond to me as I desired. So I departed with signs of (deep) distress on my face. I did not recover until I reached Qarn al-Tha'alib. Where I raised my head, lo! near me was a cloud which had cast its shadow on me. I looked and lo! there was in it the angel Jibril who called out to me and said.: God. the Honoured and Glorious, has heard what your people have said to you, and how they have reacted to your call. And He has sent to you the angel in charge of the mountains so that you may order him what thou wish (him to do) with, regard to them. The angel in charge of the mountains (then) called out to me, greeted me and said: Muhammad, God has listened to what thy people have said to thee. I am the angel in charge of the mountains. and thy Lord has sent me to thee so that thou mayest order me what thou wishest. If thou wishest that I should bring together the two mountains that stand opposite to each other at the extremities of Mecca to crush them in between, (I would do that). But the Messenger of Allah (may peace he upon him) said to him: I rather hope that God will produce from their descendants such persons as will worship Allah, the One, and will not ascribe partners to Him. Sahih Muslim 1795 ( Book 19, Hadith 4425)
His mercy and compassion was so great that on more than one occasion, God, Himself, reprimanded him for it. One of the greatest opponents of Islam and a personal enemy, was Abdullah bin Ubayy, the leader of the hypocrites of Medina. Outwardly proclaiming Islam, he surreptitiously inflicted great harm to the Muslims and the mission of the Prophet. Knowing his state of affairs, the Prophet Muhammad still offered the funeral prayer for him and prayed to God for his forgiveness. The Quran mentions this incident in these words:
Abdullah bin Ubayy worked all his life against Muhammad and Islam and left no stone unturned so as to bring him into disrepute and try to defeat his mission. He withdrew his three hundered supporters in the battle of Uhud and thus almost broke the backbone of the Muslims at one stroke. He engaged in intrigues and acts of hostility against the Prophet of Islam and the Muslims. It was he who tried to bring shame to the Prophet by inciting his allies to falsely accuse the Prophet’s wife, Aisha, of adultery in order to discredit him and his message.
The mercy of the Prophet even extended to those who brutally killed and then mutilated the body of his uncle Hamzah, one of the most beloved of people to the Prophet. Hamzah was one of the earliest to accept Islam and, through his power and position in the Quraishite hierarchy, diverted much harm from the Muslims. An Abyssinian slave of the wife of Abu Sufyan, Hind, sought out and killed Hamzah in the battle of Uhud. The night before the victory of Makkah, Abu Sufyan accepted Islam, fearing the vengeance of the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. The latter forgave him and sought no retribution for his years of enmity.
Ikrama, son of Abu Jahl, was a great enemy of the Prophet and Islam. He ran away after the victory of Makkah and went to Yemen. After his wife embraced Islam, she brought him to the Prophet Muhammad under her protection. He was so pleased to see him that he greeted him with the words: “O emigrant rider, welcome.”
Safwan bin Umaya, one of the chiefs of Makkah, was also a great enemy of Muhammad and Islam. He promised a reward to Umair ibn Wahab if he managed to kill Muhammad. When Makkah was conquered, Safwan ran away to Jeddah in the hope of finding a berth that would take him to Yemen by sea. Umair ibn Wahab came to Muhammad and said, “O Messenger of God! Safwan ibn Umayya, a chief of his tribe, has run away from fear of what you might do to him and threatens to cast himself into the sea.” The Prophet sent him a guarantee of protection and, when he returned, he requested Muhammad to give him two months to come to a decision.. He was given four months, after which he became a Muslim by his own will.
The tribe of Quraish they were archenemies of Islam and, for a period of thirteen years while he was still in Makkah, they would rebuke the Prophet, taunt and mock him, beat him and abuse him, both physically and mentally. They placed the afterbirth of a camel on his back while he prayed, and they boycotted him and his tribe until the social sanctions became unbearable. They plotted and attempted to kill him on more than one occasion, and when the Prophet escaped to Medina, they rallied the majority of the Arab tribes and waged many wars against him. Yet, when he entered Makkah victorious with an army of 10,000, he did not take revenge on anyone.
The Prophet said to the Quraish:
Rarely in the annals of history can we read such an instance of forgiveness. Even his deadliest enemy Abu Sufyan, who led so many battles against Islam, was forgiven, as was any person who stayed in his house and did not come to fight him. The Prophet was all for forgiveness and no amount of crime or aggression against him was too great to be forgiven by him. He was the complete example of forgiveness and kindness, as mentioned in the following verse of the Quran: “Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.” (Quran 7:199)
He always repelled evil with the good of forgiveness and kind behavior for, in his view, an antidote was better than poison. He believed and practiced the precept that love could foil hatred, and aggression could be won over by forgiveness. He overcame the ignorance of the people with the knowledge of Islam, and the folly and evil of the people with his kind and forgiving treatment. With his forgiveness, he freed people from the bondage of sin and crime, and also made them great friends of Islam. He was an epitome of the ayath of the Quran: