The Priority of Forgiveness

Eid al-Fitr has passed. For some Muslim communities, especially in Indonesia, this holiday is often used as a place to stay in touch and apologize among family, relatives, and friends.

Forgiving each other on Eid al-Fitr is an Indonesian Muslim tradition after fasting for a month during Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr momentum brings everyone to meet each other in a warm atmosphere to apologize for mistakes verbally and in actions, also physically and mentally. The recipient of forgiveness will also forgive voluntarily.

Therefore, it would not be an exaggeration if someone said that Eid al-Fitr is a massive and mass reconciliation that creates a peaceful and intimate atmosphere in society. This tradition can not only be interpreted as a theological event but also a cultural phenomenon that belongs to the Indonesian community.

The Islamic guidance for asking and forgiving one another is found in the Qur’an. For example, QS. An-Nisa [4]:149. “Whether you reveal or conceal a good or pardon an evil—surely Allah is Ever-Pardoning, Most Capable.

Surat Al-A’raf [7]:199. Be gracious, enjoin what is right, and turn away from those who act ignorantly.”

Surat Asy-Shura [42]:40. The reward of an evil deed is its equivalent. But whoever pardons and seeks reconciliation, then their reward is with Allah. He certainly does not like the wrongdoers.”

Surat Asy-Shura [42]:43. And whoever endures patiently and forgives—surely this is a resolve to aspire to.” Also, Surah Ali Imran [3]: 133-134. “And hasten towards forgiveness from your Lord and a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, prepared for those mindful ‘of Allah’ They donate in prosperity and adversity, control their anger, and pardon others. And Allah loves the good-doers.”

A human is a Sinner.

It is natural to be inseparable from mistakes and imperfections. However, humans are also equipped with the characteristics to correct their errors. One of the traits that we are encouraged to have is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is noble because not all humans can be heartened easily to forgive other people’s mistakes. Why is it easy for us to apologize and give forgiveness during Eid, but it’s so hard to do it on normal days? How does behavioral science explain this moment of asking and giving forgiveness as a psychological phenomenon?

Several studies have shown that a happy heart and similar social identities between the asker and the forgiver encourage a person’s heart to forgive mistakes. In social psychology, as reported by, scientists believe that humans are individuals who have not only a personal identity but also a social identity. Personal identity is the physical structure and personality features we have as individuals.

Mood Sway

This explanation of personal and social identity concepts is relevant to explaining the context of forgiveness in everyday life and special events such as Eid al-Fitr. In a day-to-day context, apologizing and forgiving a mistake tends to be more challenging because it results from an evaluation of a psychological reaction to what one feels and is closely related to self-esteem.

Furthermore, we will still need to go through various evaluations and make decisions to ask or give forgiveness to others. Everything is grounded on individual choices, which are the accumulation of the structures and features of our identity.

In an experiment conducted by Feng Jiang and a team of researchers from the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, China, they asked research participants to consider forgiving a wrongdoer.

This study found that the tendency to forgive was easier for participants who were in a happy mood. It shows that the decision to ignore highly depends on individual dispositions, including the attitude in everyday situations.

Meanwhile, the phenomenon of forgiveness in the context of holidays is forgiveness which involves social identity. That is, someone asks and gives forgiveness as part of his worship and responsibility as a follower of the religion he adheres to.

The literature on the dynamics of human psychology in carrying out religious teachings shows that religion also acts as a standard for the ideal behavior that adherents must lead. By having a solid social identity towards religion, an individual will evaluate all his attitudes and behavior following what is taught by faith, even if it conflicts with his moods and preferences.

In a study conducted by Chelsea L. Greer and her team from Virginia Commonwealth University, they set up an experiment about the degree to which study participants would forgive people who offended them.

In this study, Greer and his team designed a condition where the person they offended was a member of the same religious community as the study participants.

The results showed that the stronger the participants attached to their religion, the stronger the possibility that they would forgive community members who offended them.

Greer and colleagues believe forgiving followers of the same religion has a sacred dimension through relational spirituality. It causes adherents to react unintendedly when fellow believers from the same religious community offend them. Members of the religious community who offend the participants are still perceived as brothers (in-group members) and not enemies (out-group members).

The research above shows that understanding the similarity of social identity with people who offend us will help us ask for and give forgiveness and make reconciliation. The Eid al-Fitr moment makes us ask for and give forgiveness to other fellow Muslims as brothers and sisters in faith.

But we must remember that, in fact, we also have the same social identity as people of other religions. We are one nation, the Indonesian nation. Even above all that, we are essentially human beings who both desire peace and happiness for all creatures on earth. This awareness should lead us to have a forgiving heart in everyday life.

Humans, as social beings, of course, there are many things that we must pay attention to in our daily relationships. We are required to always pay attention to and maintain good relations. Sometimes because of busyness, we rarely say hello, just asking about the situation or news of the people around us.

It’s expected that we only care about our needs and interests. We make waste by buying things we don’t need but only because we want to have them. While there are other people or our neighbors who need it more, they can’t get it because they don’t have the money to buy it.

On the other hand, some spend their wealth extravagantly on things that are not too important. Or we show our pleasure excessively while other people around us, who we don’t know and don’t realize, are experiencing sadness.

For this reason, we must cultivate caring or empathy from now on so that it becomes a good habit in our daily lives what we have to do to improve ourselves to be better, as reported by dpi., is to realize our mistakes and immediately apologize.

Besides apologizing directly, we have to improve ourselves so we don’t make the same mistake in the future.

We also must establish friendly relations and good communication to show that we apologize seriously. Forgiveness from those we have hurt is essential to us, but it is not easy for someone to forgive what they have suffered. But we believe that if we mean it, the hearts of those we hurt will forgive us. (S. Rahmawati. Summarized from various sources)

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