Hudhayfa (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “The angels received the soul of a man who lived before you. They said: Have you done anything good? The man said no. They said: Try to remember. The man said: I used to give loans and I would order my servants to give respite to those in difficulty, and to overlook the faults of those in ease. Allah Almighty said: Overlook his faults.” — Bukhari and Muslim

 And in another version of the same hadith:  

Abu Mas’ud (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “A man from the time before you was called to account in the Hereafter. Nothing good was found with him except that he was lenient in his business with people and he would order his servant to relieve the debts of those in hardship. Allah Almighty said: We are more worthy of such actions, so overlook his sins.” — Bukhari and Muslim

And yet another version:

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “A man would give loans to the people and he would say to his servant: If the debtor is in hardship you should forgive the debt that perhaps Allah will relieve us. So when he met Allah, then Allah relieved him.”
— Bukhari and Muslim

The believer asks Allah for forgiveness on a regular basis and we are reminded many times in the Quran that Allah is indeed forgiving. Allah says in the Quran:

Say, ˹O Prophet, that Allah says,˺ “O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins.1 He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah Az-Zumar 39:53-54)

In addition, the Prophet (PBUH) asked Allah for forgiveness over 70 times a day and he (PBUH) is our example of conduct. The mindful and observant Muslim is always aware of personal shortcomings and sins and knows the only hope of salvation is Allah’s forgiveness. 

One means of obtaining Allah’s forgiveness is to be lenient and forgiving toward others. And this is the central message of the above prophetic narrations.

A man passed away and was brought before Allah and he could not think of anything of good that he did during his lifetime other than being lenient and forgiving toward those who owed him money. If they could not pay he would give them more time. And if they were unable to pay at all due to real hardship he would totally forgive them of their debts. And then  Allah Almighty said: “We are more worthy of such actions, so overlook his sins.” In other words, Allah is more worthy to forgive than we human beings are. For the man’s simple act of leniency and forgiveness, Allah forgave him and he was admitted into paradise. 

In another hadeeth Jabir (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “May Allah have mercy on a man who is lenient when selling, buying, and seeking repayment.” — Bukhari

We too, if we want to receive Allah’s forgiveness, should follow the same course of action. Be easygoing with people who are in your debt, who you work with or who are in your employment. Be lenient with them when they are going through a difficult time, and outright forgive them when they are not in a position to pay you back at all. 

Even as we want Allah to be lenient and forgiving toward us, we need to work on being lenient and forgiving toward others. This is a means of obtaining forgiveness from Allah. And the month of Ramadan, which is so full of blessings, is the best time to do this. 

[Br. Shawn is a trained minister and former assistant pastor. He embraced Islam in 1993, Masha Allah.]