Islam Stresses on Tolerance and Forgiveness

Among moral teachings: self-restraint, forgiveness and tolerance are sternest one for a human being to adopt, Islam has conquered this hard tract of human nature very easily.
Islam lays great stress on tolerance, self-restraint forbearance and forgiveness. It exhorts Muslims to adopt these high moral qualities. Holy-Qur’an and the prophets Hadiths are full of injunctions which excite them to forgive and forbear.
The Holy-Qur’an says,
"Who restrain anger and pardon (all) men for Allah loves those who do good." (Aal-e-Imran 134)
It further says,
"Let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful".
Islam is based on Monotheism. Besides having deep faith in the presence of one Allah (God) it tries its best to set His greatness and glory in the hearts of people. Yet it exhorts its followers to abstain from abusing idols of polytheists for it might excite them to abuse Allah in retaliation out of ignorance. The Holy Qur’an stresses on the point, when it says,
"Revile not ye those whom they call besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance." (Ana'am 108)
Teaching of tolerance has far-reaching effects in maintaining communal harmony and co-existence. In the concept of co-existence in society depends completely on tolerance and forbearance. Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked to bear and forgive patiently the oppression and abuses of polytheists. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) founded an exemplary society by eradicating the instincts of intolerance, ignorance and violence from the Bedouins who were deep in the abysmal position of moral degradation. He succeeded in his mission only through suppressing the rebellious desires and preventing mischief. Therefore, Muslims have been advised to avoid conflict, friction, violence, abuses and misbehaviour with non-Muslims in retaliation to their denigrating and oppressive measures. The Holy Qur’an lays stress on it and says "Hold to forgiveness: command what is right but turn away form the ignorant. If a suggestion form Satan assails thy mind (of taking revenge etc.) Seek refuge with Allah, for he hearth and knoweth all things". (Araf 199-200) The forgiveness in effectiveness increases when one is in anger. The Holy Qur’an emphasizes on the same point, it says in the praise of Prophet's companions "And when they are angry even then forgive".
No doubt those who suppress their anger and forgive the people who commit mistakes demeanour and misbehaviour they are loved by one and all and become Allah's favourite. Such people win hearts of offenders as well as of others. In another place the Holy Qur’an guides those who insist to take revenge, it says,
''And if ye punish, let your punishment be proportionate to the wrong that has been done to you. But if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient". (Nahl-126)
Mohammad Al-Ghazali explains it in his famous book. 'Muslims character' when Islam came it removed the intensity of feeling and emotionalism and introduced the practice of pardon and forgiveness in the society. If one could not pardon, then one was given the command to act justly. This objective could be achieved only when anger and wrath could be kept under the control of the intellect.
Let us examine the prophet's tradition regarding forgiveness. Ibada bin Samit narrates that Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said, "May I not tell you those qualities for which Allah will give you tall buildings in the Paradise and he may raise your rank?" The people said: "certainly tell manner of an uneducated person, you behave with him with tolerance, forgive the oppressors, and give to those who deprive you and he who cuts away form you, try to join him." (Tibrani)
It is reported from the prophet that once he was requested to invoke God's wrath against the Polytheists and to curse them. He said; I have been sent as a blessing (Rahmat), I have not been sent as a rebuker and reproacher. (Muslim)
Ibn Masood has narrated a Hadith from the prophet. He asked: whom do you call a sandow, People replied, one who is not knocked down by any body is called a sandow among us." He said; No, sandow is one who controls his self in his anger."
A man requested the prophet: Give me some advice but not such a lengthy one that I may forget." The prophet said: "Do not be angry." (Malik)
All these Qur’anic verses and prophet Traditions reveal that much a person would control his self, as well as well as anger and pardon others errors, in the same proportion his rank will be raised before Allah.
Today when individuals, peoples groups, societies and civilizations are at loggerhead with one another, the importance of tolerance and forgiveness increase manifolds, especially in the present scenario of International Politics. The growing intolerance is really posing a serious threat. We can overcome it only with the weapon of tolerance, forgiveness and non-violence.
Alongwith these injunctions of the prophet regarding tolerance and forbearance his ideal character is a role model for us. What a model of tolerance he offered when angels came to him asking for the destruction of Taif people who had stoned him severely, till blood started oozing outs form his sacred feet. Prophet said to the angels, "Don't destroy them. May Allah forgive my people because they are ignorant”.
The second example is that of the old woman who used to throw rubbish on the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), when she failed to do it one day prophet asked for her well-being and went to enquire her welfare. The best example is that of Fath-e-Makkah. The day Makkah was conquered". When the prophet along with his companions entered the Makkah city victoriously, where they had been tortured badly. He as well as his companions adopted the method of forgiveness, tolerance and non-violence. He forgave all the bigwigs of the Quresh who had harassed, humiliated and inflicted them, and compelled them to leave Makkah when they were weak. Above all he (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) forgave the most formidable enemy of Islam and Muslims Abdullah Bin Ubai. Now he was in full power and could easily take revenge form his enemies but he forgave them all. History is unable to offer such grand examples of tolerance, forgiveness and forbearance.
No doubt these were the Islam's traits which won hearts of people across the world and bound all humans with the bond of love and brotherhood, unmindful of their religion, caste, and creed. With the force of good manners and morality it spread all over the world not by sword as some people allege and propagate. Jawahar Lal Nehru describing the dynamic energy of Islam with which it spread from Spain to border of Magnolia, writes in his famous book, “The Discovery of India”, “They (Muslims) carried with them the brilliant culture. The triumphant career of a people whose homelands were the deserts of Arabia and who had thus far played no notable part in history is most remarkable. They must have derived their vast energy form the dynamic and revolutionary character of their Prophet and his message of human brotherhood”. .