Zikr-e-Habib: Forgiveness and forbearance


This series, Zikr-e-Habib, explores the life of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, and his sayings, shedding light on his noble character and the impact of his teachings on his followers and the world at large.

M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi

Prophets have been venerated throughout history as models of forbearance and forgiveness. Their lives and teachings shed light on how forgiveness can heal wounds of hatred, unite people, and bring about harmony in the world.

Generally, one who possesses the attributes of forgiveness and forbearance is viewed as weak, but when somebody forgives and forebears despite having the power to give punishment or exact vengeance, these qualities become high morals and signify the greatness of one’s character.

Explaining how attributes become moral qualities, the Promised Messiahas said:

“Morality does not only mean to speak gently or use soft words. Not at all. In fact, courage, generosity, and forgiveness – all the abilities granted to man, are in actuality moral abilities. Their appropriate use is what makes them moral qualities. […]

“Forgiveness, for example, is a moral strength. In this context, one must see whether a certain person is deserving of forgiveness or not. There are two categories of offenders. The first kind is of those who happen to commit a deed that does rouse anger, but they are worthy of being forgiven. There are others, however, who, when forgiven and turned a blind eye to, become further emboldened and cause further harm.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 1, pp. 150-52)

Consequently, the Promised Messiahas set prime examples of forgiveness and forbearance. He practised what he preached and taught mercy and kindness to God’s servants throughout his life.

Forgiveness by covering one’s faults

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahibra writes:

“On one occasion, a woman stole some rice from the home of the Promised Messiahas. A thief knows in their heart the fault of their own action and for this reason, the restlessness in their posture and the manner in which they look here and there is distinct in nature. A sharp-sighted person noticed her and then apprehended her. A huge clamour arose. She was caught with a sack of rice under her arm, some 15 kilogrammes in weight. From every direction, people were scolding and rebuking her. Huzooras happened to pass by for some reason and inquired about what had happened, and the entire incident was related to him. The Promised Messiahas said: ‘She is in need, give her some rice and do not shame her. Follow God Almighty in the way that He covers up the faults of His servants.’” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, pp. 41-42)

Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ismail Sahibra narrates:

“[On certain occasions], the Promised Messiahas repaid in kind as well. He also gave deserved punishment. He also strictly reprimanded when it was absolutely necessary [for one’s moral well-being]. […]

“However, it should be noted that the aspects of kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and humility were very dominant over other characteristics of the Promised Messiahas, so much so that in normal circumstances, the rest of the attributes of his personality would be overshadowed by the aforementioned qualities.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 3, narration 975)

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahibra states:

“No matter how great a loss, caused by the error of a servant, the Promised Messiahas will forgive them and will not reprimand them even slightly. Once, he gave Hamid Ali some envelopes and postcards to take to the post office. The forgetful Hamid Ali became busy with something else and lost sight of the responsibility that was entrusted to him. After one week or so, Mahmudra, who was still a child, came running with some envelopes and postcards, and said, ‘Father, we have found some letters in a pile of rubbish.’ When the Promised Messiahas saw the letters, they were the same letters just mentioned. Some of these letters were registered mail, for which he was awaiting a response. The Promised Messiahas called Hamid Ali, and showed him the letters, whereafter he very gently said to him, ‘Hamid Ali, you have become quite forgetful. You should do your work carefully.’” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, pp. 91-92)

Overlooking unwarranted interference

Hazrat Maulvi Muhammad Ibrahimra Baqapuri Sahib narrates an incident of the unpretentiousness and forgiveness of the Promised Messiahas. He relates that once, while Maulvi Muhammad Ahsan Sahibra was proofreading the Arabic section of the book of the Promised MessiahasHaqiqatul-Wahi, he asked the Promised Messiahas, “Why have you crossed out this word, as this is correct.” The Promised Messiahas replied that he had not marked any such word. Maulvi Sahibra then asked who had made that mark. The Promised Messiahas said that it was possible that Mir Mahdi Hussain Sahibra might have made that mark. Maulvi Sahib asked the Promised Messiahas what right Mir Sahibra had for doing such a thing. The Promised Messiahas smiled and said, “He does have a right. It is called dakhl-e-bay-ja [unwarranted interference].” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, narration 450; Al Hakam, Vol. 4, Issue 158, p. 24)

Forgive and forget

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahibra states:

“On one occasion, he [the Promised Messiahas] said, ‘It is my belief that any individual who makes a vow of friendship with me even once, I have such regard for this vow, that irrespective of their nature and no matter what they become, I cannot sever my ties with them. If the individual cuts off their ties with me themselves, in that case I am helpless. Otherwise, my belief is that if one of my friends had collapsed in the market after consuming alcohol and there was a crowd of people around him, I would pick him up and take him away without fear of reproach by any critic.’ Then, he said, ‘The bond of friendship is a most valuable gem. One must not waste it away easily. No matter how unpleasant a friend may be to you, one ought to forgive and forget.’” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, pp. 78-79)

In his book, Kishti-e-Nuh, Prophet Ahmadas says:

“God desires a complete transformation in your being and He demands from you a death, whereafter He should revive you. Hasten to make peace with one another and forgive your brethren their sins. For he who is not inclined to make peace with his brother is wicked and will be cut off, because he is the cause of dissension. Part with your ego in every way and do away with mutual grievances. Be humble like the guilty, though truth be on your side, so that you may be forgiven. […]

“The one who most forgives the transgressions of his brother is the more honourable among you. Unfortunate is the one who is obstinate and does not forgive. Such a person has no part in me.” (Noah’s Ark, pp. 20-21)

Patience and forbearance

The Promised Messiahas was subjected to verbal attacks, debasing assaults, and death threats. People sent him unstamped abusive letters, and he used to pay for their postage, but no matter the content of the mail, Prophet Ahmadas would always show patience and forbearance.


Honour of God Almighty

Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Deen Mahmood Ahmad Sahib, Khalifatul Masih IIra said:

“The prophets are never strict for any personal reason, but only to establish the authority of Allah the Almighty in the world. If they ever show strictness and become impassioned, it is only for this reason. With regard to their own being, they show the utmost humility. Regarding this, there is an incident of the Promised Messiahas; once in Lahore, while passing through a street, a person pushed the Promised Messiahas owing to which he fell to the ground. The Promised Messiah’sas companions became enraged and it was nigh that they would beat him, but the Promised Messiahas said, ‘He became enraged in support of the truth.’ (Meaning that after listening to the clerics declaring Mirza Sahib to be a liar, he thought that he would exact revenge, and so he has done this because of what he considered to be the truth.) Therefore, the Promised Messiahas told them not to harm him.

“Thus, prophets never say anything with regards to their own beings, in fact, they only speak out to establish the honour of God Almighty. Therefore, one should not think that Allah’s prophets also act in this way. (That is if they ever act in a strict manner.) There is a huge difference between them and ordinary people. They only act in this way for the sake of Allah the Almighty, whereas ordinary people act harshly for their own sake.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmood, Vol. 18, pp. 141-142; Friday SermonAl Hakam, Vol. 5, Issue 214, p. 25)

Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Dardra MA states:

“In all [of the Promised Messiah’saa] journeyings – under every species of insult, opposition and misrepresentation – he most perfectly illustrated the precepts and principles of the religion he taught. His love and compassion; his forbearance and forgiveness; his meekness and wisdom; his simplicity and purity; his equanimity and self-possession can find a parallel only in Jesusas or the Holy Founder of Islam, [Prophet Muhammadsa]. It is true that the people did not recognise their promised Teacher, for he came not in a manner corresponding to their vain and worldly anticipations. If he had appeared in conformity to the views which the Christians and Muslims entertained of a temporal Messiah, it would have been direct evidence that he was an impostor; because their conception of his character and reign was selfish, ambitious, imperfect and partial.” (Life of Ahmadas, p. 327)

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra cites the following incident as evidence of the Promised Messiah’s remarkable patience and forbearance:

“[…] I have observed hundreds of times that he [Prophet Ahmadas] will be sitting alone in the courtyard upstairs, writing or in reflection. It is a long-standing practice of the Promised Messiahas to sit with the door closed. On one such occasion, his son knocked on the door loudly and said: ‘Father! Open the door.’ The Promised Messiahas immediately stood up and opened the door. The innocent [child] stepped in, looked here and there, and then left at once. The Promised Messiahas, then closed the door as he generally does and perhaps after two minutes, the child returned again and began pushing and hitting the door, and screaming: ‘Father! Open the door!’ The Promised Messiahas stood up again with the same patience and calmness, and opened the door. Even this time, the child did not come into the room, he merely poked his head in, murmured a few things and then ran away. With great patience, the Promised Messiahas cheerfully and in good spirits closed the door, and sat down to continue his very important work. After some five minutes, the child was back again, with the same urgency and noise, ‘Father! Open the door!’ The Promised Messiahas, stood up again with the same dignity and calmness, and opened the door. He did not say a word of displeasure. He did not say: why do you come here and what do you want; after all, what is the meaning of this constant pestering and disturbance in my work? And this did not occur just once. This must have occurred twenty times, and in every instance, not a single time did the Promised Messiahas scold or rebuke his child.” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, pp. 55-56)

Forbearance and forgiveness

In 1897, the Christian clergy filed a completely false case of murder against the Promised Messiahas. The most laborious among them was Dr Henry Martin Clarke, who accused him of an attempt on his life. However, God revealed the truth in court, and despite the best efforts of Aryas, along with Christians and some non-Ahmadi opponents, to persuade the judge into giving a severe punishment, Prophet Ahmadas was honourably acquitted.

In this regard, Hazrat Maulvi Abdur Rahim Dardra MA states:

“Not only was Ahmadas discharged in this case as he had prophesied, but people were also impressed by his magnanimity and greatness. He forgave those who had prosecuted him. Colonel Douglas told him that he was at liberty to prosecute the witnesses if he so desired, but he replied that he desired to prosecute nobody and forgave them all. Even in the middle of the proceedings he forbade his counsel to put a question in cross-examination to one of the prosecution witnesses, who was also a big priest, which related to the mother of the witness and the answer to which would have humiliated him. ‘For,’ said he, ‘I do not desire to put shame on him.’ This endeared Ahmadas still more to the people.” (Life of Ahmadas, p. 561)

Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalvi was one who went beyond all limits in his opposition to the Promised Messiahas and declared Prophet Ahmadas to be an infidel and disbeliever, God forbid. He ignited flames of hatred all over the country against the Promised Messiahas. However, in spite of all that, when in a court case the lawyer of the Promised Messiahas wanted to ask deriding and disparaging questions about the family of Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalvi, the Promised Messiahas very strictly prohibited his lawyer from doing so. The lawyer was a non-Ahmadi, and his name was Maulvi Fazl Din Sahib. He would say, “Mirza Sahib (i.e., the Promised Messiahas) is a person with amazing morals. An individual attacks Mirza Sahib’s honour and even his life, yet when certain questions are asked to try and weaken the testimony of the opponent – Mirza Sahib immediately stops this and says that he absolutely forbids questions of this nature to be asked.” Regarding the same individual, Maulvi Muhammad Hussain, the Promised Messiahas writes in one of the couplets of his poem:

قَطعتَ وِدادًا قَد غَرسْنَاہُ فِي الصَّبَا

و لَيسَ فُؤَادِيْ فِي الوَدادِ يُقَصِّرُ

“You cut with your own hands the tree of love we embedded in our hearts during childhood. Yet my heart never fails to display love and compassion in any matter.” (Sirat-e-Tayyiba by Mirza Bashir Ahmadra, pp. 57-59; Friday SermonAl Hakam, Vol. 1, Issue 1, p. 10)


On one occasion, the Promised Messiahas was experiencing a severe headache. The women and children around him were making noise and commotion nearby. Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahibra submitted: “Your holiness, this noise does not cause you pain, does it?” The Promised Messiahas said: “Yes, it gives me relief when they quiet down.” Maulvi Sahib said: “Why does his holiness not instruct them then?” The Promised Messiahas responded: “You tell them in a gentle manner; I cannot.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 2, p. 180)


Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ismail Sahibra said:

“The first time I saw him [the Promised Messiahas], I was only two years old. After that I saw him when I was a young man of 27 years. I declare it on oath that I have not, in the whole of my life, seen a more courteous, better, and more pious man than him. I had not seen anyone who could be more devoted than him in respect to love for God and the Holy Prophetsa. He was indeed a light that had been sent to this world for the benefit of mankind. He was, no doubt, a shower of mercy that Allah had sent to the earth after a long drought and that caused the earth to become green again. About the Holy Prophetsa, his distinguished wife, Hazrat Aishara had stated that his whole life was the true reflection of the teachings of the Holy Quran. Similarly, I could unhesitatingly declare that the Promised Messiahas was deeply immersed in the love of the Holy Prophetsa and he followed him most devotedly.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 3, narration 975)

The incidents and sayings presented above are only a drop in the ocean of the topic under discussion. As a matter of fact, the standards of forgiveness and forbearance set by the prophets are as relevant today as they were in the past. Countless people are still being influenced by their examples to choose forgiveness over revenge and to approach difficulties in life with patience and forbearance.

Thus, we must follow in the footsteps of Prophet Ahmadas who was the servant of “Mercy for all the worlds” – the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.

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