A friend arrives late for an appointment. Your teacher criticizes you in public. Your cousin loses the book you lent her. An acquaintance passes a remark that ends up hurting your feelings. Yet, none of them say they are sorry. No doubt, you get upset at the fact that people do not realize their mistakes and apologize for them.
However, in all fairness, are they the only ones to blame or are we partially responsible as well? How often have many of us made it difficult for others to apologize? I mean, finally someone musters up the courage to admit ones mistake and then apologizes only to get bad reactions in return for their noble efforts. I once heard a woman say, “Sometimes, if you say sorry to someone, they think themselves superior and act haughtily.” Imagine it was you apologizing, wouldn’t you like your apology to be accepted and your mistake forgiven, instead of being jeered at?
It is equally important to learn to accept the apology of others as well as forgive graciously and humbly. We can actually cultivate such courteous behavior by recalling the rewards Allah (swt) has promised in the Quran to those who forgive: “Those who spend (in Allah’s (swt) Cause – deeds of charity, alms, etc.) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah (swt) loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (Al-Imran 3:134)
Allah (swt) the Almighty, the Creator of all things, with His infinite Mercy constantly forgives our sins, so why should not to forgive others?
Here are a few things for you to remember the next time someone apologizes to you. Know that it is not the time for digging up and settling old scores. You will only end up making things worse. If you need to clear misconceptions about the issue at hand, do not discuss it in an accusatory manner. Instead, provide constructive advice whenever possible. Indeed, some of us really do not know how to react or what to say, when somebody apologizes to us. Try saying something pleasant like: “Everybody makes mistakes,” or “I know you didn’t really mean it.” A smile at times is enough, or maybe a hug or pat on the arm or shoulder. By the way, a kind gesture goes a long way. And once you accept someone’s apology, let bygones truly be bygones. Neither dwell on it, nor talk about it with others.
We should strive to cultivate this noble trait from a young age. How? By responding to other peoples’ apologies with warmth and encouragement, making them feel comfortable about admitting their faults. If you do so, they will always be ready to admit their mistakes without shying away. And don’t forget to own up and apologize to them for your mistakes, too.
Finally, be sensitive to and recognize nonverbal apologies. Some people, like parents, older siblings, teachers, or elder relatives, find it difficult to make verbal apologies to those they consider their subordinates. Or maybe they just find it hard to do so. They usually prefer to make amends through kind deeds, praise, or nice gestures, such as, giving flowers or gifts. So, please recognize and accept both the conventional and unconventional forms of apologies.