يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجِكُمْ وَأَوْلَادِكُمْ عَدُوًّا لَّكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُمْ ۚ
وَإِن تَعْفُوا وَتَصْفَحُوا وَتَغْفِرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿١٤﴾
Yā ayyuhalladhīna āmanū innā min azwājikum wa-awlādikum ‘aduwwal-lakum faHdharūhum, wa-in ta‘fū wataSfaHU wataghfrū fainnallāha ghafurur-raHīm.
O you believers! Indeed among your spouses and children you have enemies; beware of them. And if you excuse, forbear and forgive, then Allah is indeed all-forgiving, all merciful (Sūratut Taghābun, No. 64, Āyat 14)
Human beings being the representatives of Allah need to deal with others in the way God would deal with them. That is the true task of a representative. One who represents others puts aside his own feelings and opinions, honoring the feelings and opinions (or wishes) of the one he represents, and then acts accordingly. Anything else cannot really be representation.
It is for this reason that the human being has been told: takhallaqū bi-akhlāqil-llāh, i.e. Take on the manners of Allah. Allah is All-kind, All-merciful, All-compassionate, All-forgiving, etc. to His creatures. That is how we should be to others.
In the verse above, Allah, ‘azza wa-jall – the Mighty and Sublime, after warning believers that sometimes we have enemies within us, tells us that whoever pardons, forbears and forgives, then He [too] is All-forgiving and All- merciful. To forgive others is to follow the path of Allah. But what exactly does it mean to forgive? When a wrong is done to us, how is it possible to achieve full forgiveness, the way God would like us to do?
In this verse Allah talks about three stages of forgiveness;
a) Ta‘fū – excuse and overlook the wrong
b) TaSfaHū – do not remind or taunt the person about it through forbearance
c) Taghfirū -conceal the wrong and forget that it was done
Forgiveness is a process and cannot happen very quickly, at least not fully. To achieve full forgiveness with a healing of the relationship (especially with those around us) we have to be able to do what Allah tells us at each of the above stages. We start with overlooking and excusing, proceed to not holding it against the other person, and then advance towards the peak of forgiveness, to erase all memory of the wrong from the heart and mind.
Forgiveness is often uncomfortable. It differs from person to person and can be slow. When you find yourself having a hard time forgiving someone, remember this verse and be patient with yourself. It is a process, so go through the stages of forgiveness and you will reach your goal.
Sources: Aytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirazī (ed), M. I. Sadr al-Dīn Shirāzī, SharH Usūl al-Kāfī