The culture of Apology

السيد علي فضل الله

The first Sermon

 Allah says in His Glorious Book: And hasten to the forgiveness of your Lord and to a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the God-fearing.

who spend in the way of Allah both in plenty and hardship, who restrain their anger, and forgive

These are the ones who, when they commit any indecency and wrong against themselves, instantly remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins – for who will forgive sins save Allah? – and who do not willfully persist in the wrong they did. Allah, the Most Exalted, speaks the truth.

 These Ayats call on the believers to hasten to seek forgiveness from their Lord and a Paradise that God prepared for the pious, who are, as described by these Ayats, those who spend in the way of Allah both in plenty and hardship, who restrain their anger, and forgive when someone wrongs them and meet the bad deed with a good one … However, they enjoy another trait, we should highlight; which is they might make mistakes, but, if they do, they would soon ask their God for forgiveness: These are the ones who, when they commit any indecency and wrong against themselves, instantly remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins – for who will forgive sins save Allah? – and who do not willfully persist in the wrong they did.   And this is what Allah, The Most Exalted, urged man to do when He said: Turn to Allah in repentance all together.

The Messenger said: There is nothing that Allah, The Most Exalted, loves more than a repenting believer. Allah, The Most Exalted, has promised the one who repents to forgive him no matter how great his sin is: ˹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. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 Moreover, just as Allah wanted this attitude to govern the relation with Him, He wanted it to be the norm in people’s relations among one another. Allah wants the believer, in case he commits a mistake and wrongs others, be they his/her children, spouse, colleague, schoolmate, or even his/her colleague  in work or school  regardless of his/her  age or status and even if he/she is his junior in work or younger in age , to hasten to apologize  and not to let anything stand in the way of his/her apology  , for Allah, The Most Exalted, has warned those who wrong others that He will not accept their repentance until they apologize from those whom they have wronged ,as the positive effect the apology creates is obvious. It vents the anger, contains the tension and restores the dignity. The apologizer would thus avoid any negative effects his mistake might have initiated. It is also the way one should follow to attain Allah’s satisfaction. For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.

That is why the Hadith says that the most rational among people is the one who is the most understanding to the excuses of others. This is because the rational person is he/she who seeks to end any tension that might occur as a result of a mistake. Not accepting the excuse would mean closing the door in the face of the one who came to apologize and telling him that you do not want to continue the relation and that you want the tension between you to persist. Islam has refused the mentality of those who consider apologizing a kind of submission, humiliation or insult that offends their dignity, especially if it is made to those who are younger or of a lesser position and status…That is why we now witness a mother advising her daughter not to apologize to her husband so that he will not become more “hardheaded”, and the father telling his son not to apologize to his wife because he is the “man of the house”. The manager, too, should not apologize to his/her employees and the teacher should not apologize to his/her students and the housewife should not apologize to her maid. The doctor should not apologize to his\her patient when he/she commits a mistake in his/her treatment for this will damage their reputation… Even the cleric should not apologize if he commits a mistake in one of his opinions or stands, to safeguard his religious position

We also find this attitude prevailing among those who hold political, economic, and security positions … They would commit crimes, but they would not be prepared to apologize to those whom they undermined their present and their future, and threatened their life, for they believe that they are too great to apologize. And as if this is not enough they also justify their mistakes and deeds.    Nevertheless, Islamic morals consider apologizing a demonstration of strength and boldness, because he/she who apologizes triumphs over his/her own demons, and over Satan who wants to create tensions among people, as Allah, The Most Exalted, said:  Indeed, Satan induces [dissension] among them. Indeed Satan is ever, to mankind, a clear enemy. He/she will also be protecting himself/herself on the Day of Judgment when the wronged will ask God for their rights from those who wronged them.

Moreover. one should be sincere in his apology which should be coupled with love and affection, as well as the willingness to fix what was damaged. Yet, this apology remains insufficient and would not achieve its goal except when the one apologized to accepts it…  That is why the Hadiths urged us to accept the apology and warned against not responding to it. The Hadith says that if a man insults you on your right, then turns to your left and apologizes to you, accept his excuse (And do not hesitate).

The Messenger(p.) even disavowed those who do not accept apology and declared that he/she who would not accept the apology of his/her brother/sister whether he/she is right or wrong he/she will not meet him in heaven….

Imam Zein Al-Abidein(a.s.)  even apologized to God concerning any one who apologized to him and he did not accept his apology .

 The result is as the Hadith says: accept the apology of people, you will enjoy their brotherhood

This has been considered a sign of wisdom and maturity on the part of the one who accepts the apology, since he/she would be concerned to end the tension that might occur by mistake.

We do not aim here to justify or encourage committing mistakes. On the contrary, we ask the believer not to commit mistakes and not have to apologize.

 Dear loved ones: life needs those who stand up and say we have made a mistake, when they make one and then hasten to correct it. Those are the ones that build life, the ones that increase the scope of forgiveness and tolerance, not those who insist on their mistake or justify them.

We should educate our children on the value of apology, so that it would become a culture  that  we do not hesitate to practice without any feeling of weakness or humiliation

The second sermon

Worshippers of Allah, The Most Exalted, I advise you and myself, to follow the advice of the Commander of the Faithful: Beware, surely you are in the days of hopes behind which stands death. Whoever acts during the days of his hope before approach of his death, his action would benefit him and his death would not harm him. But he who fails to act during the period of hope before the approach of death his action is a loss and his death is a harm to him…

Beware, surely I have not seen a coveter for Paradise asleep nor a dreader from Hell to be asleep. Beware, he whom right does not benefit must suffer the harm of the wrong, and he whom guidance does not keep firm will be led away by misguidance towards destruction. Beware, you have been ordered insistently to march and been guided how to provide for the journey. Surely the most frightening thing which I am afraid of about you is to follow desires and to widen the hopes. Provide for yourself from this world what would save you tomorrow.

Dear loved ones: this world offers us a chance to provide for ourselves what will make us earn the Hereafter. Let us not lose this chance so that we will become more aware responsible and capable of confronting challenges.

We begin by Lebanon, which witnessed last week an international, regional and domestic movement to form a government to prevent collapse and chaos which everybody is afraid of its consequences domestically and abroad, after it had become clear that the formation of the government is the only way to put a halt to the collapse and prevent chaos. But in spite of all these developments that reached the extent of threatening those who are hindering the formation of the government with sanctions and the compromising ideas presented by some of the Lebanese leaders, it is still being hampered by the intransigence of those in charge of forming it, as well as their unwillingness to offer any concession to the other parties. Moreover, their reasons are not known. It could be the blocking third or the number of the ministers or not wanting the Prime Minister-designate or waiting for a foreign development or all these reasons together. If this continues, it will make the period of waiting a long one, leaving the country in a state of vacuum that has negative consequences on both the country and the citizens. Faced by all this, we renew our call to all those who are delaying the formation to take into consideration the repercussions of their stances on the goals they seek to achieve with respect to their positions, sects and political future, for this is not the way that preserves their positions and sects or secures their political future.

The Lebanese will not have mercy on those who tamper with their daily living, medicine and future.  Moreover, the rights of the sects will not be preserved with hegemony or inciting strives in each sect or between the sects. It can only be done through mutual understanding and balance.

That is why we say to all parties to have some pity on yourselves, your sects and your future and meet and reach a mutual understanding and offer concessions to the benefit of a collapsing country. You should show the Lebanese that you are concerned with this country and its citizens.

It has become evident as to forming the government that no one is capable of cancelling the other or making him change his position or forming the government alone.

 Thus, save for the country and its citizens this lost time that negatively affects its security, economy, and   its image abroad.

The foreign powers cannot do anything for you. And they will do nothing unless  those responsible in this country do their part in saving it.

In the meantime, the country remains under the mercy of those who are tampering with the price of the dollar, basic commodities, medications  and fuel , and the responsibles are  giving the glad tidings of complete darkness while  the Governor of the Central Bank is  saying that he cannot  continue to subsidize the food  items, medications and fuel for more than two months …  Meanwhile, corruption continues to run loose, while the laws enacted by the parliament from time to time are merely ink on paper, for those in charge will not take any step that might condemn them or lose their privileges.

Therefore, the Lebanese have no choice, but to continue their fight against corruption and waste and strive to return their plundered money and raise their voice against all the corrupt, regardless of their sects and positions.

We would also like to renew our call to return to dialogue and stop the public debate and rows about everything that has to do with the country’s strength and security, for it weakens its immunity at a time we are in a dire need to preserve our points of strength that has proven its efficiency against terrorism and the Zionist enemy.

On another level, we would like on earth day that passed without any observing in the Arab and Muslim worlds, with the exception of Palestine, to salute the Palestinian people who continue their struggle against Judaizing their country and call on them to continue and to strengthen their unity …