Prophet Muhammad - An Example of Complete Forgiveness
Dr. Gasser Hathout, October 1, 2006

Whether thou ask for their forgiveness, or not, (their sin is unforgivable): if thou ask seventy times for their forgiveness, Allah will not forgive them: because they have rejected Allah and His Messenger. and Allah guideth not those who are perversely rebellious. (Quran 9:80)

This verse is instructing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that as far as hypocrites go, ask for forgiveness for them or do not ask forgiveness for them. If you ask forgiveness for them seventy times, Allah will not forgive them those
who have chosen evil and unrighteousness.

The verse seems to be sending a very clear message but look how Muhammad used it in an example of complete forgiveness. An example of the utter white-heart that the person with true faith has.

An incident came up, where Abdullah ibn Ubayy who was known to the Muslims as the leader of hypocrites in Medina, who would say very lowly things about Muhammad. During a time of battle, Abdullah ibn Ubayy said, we are going to go back to medina referring to himself and his group of hypocrites because he wanted to be the leader of Medina and the honorable 'Us' are going to throw out the lowly ones, meaning Prophet and his true believers.

This reached the ears of Prophet and the companions wanted to kill Abdullah ibn Ubayy and the Prophet told them absolutely not. So he established one principle, which is the complete freedom of speech.

Secondly, when Abdullah ibn Ubayy became sick and was on his death bed, his son also named Abdullah ibn Abdullah came to the Prophet and asked Prophet to pray for his father, to pray over his father after his death, to pray for his soul, and the Prophet accepted the request and in fact gave his own shirt to Abdullah ibn Abdullah for his father to be buried in.

Umar ibn Khattab (Ra) became outraged and one story says that Umar grasped Prophet's arm and said, "Prophet of Allah, your Lord has forbidden you to pray for them. They are the hypocrites who have been promised hell fire".

And so the Prophet referred to this verse and NOT in the meaning that you and I would take it at the surface and it does not matter if you pray for them one time or seventy times, Prophet said, "Allah told me I could pray for them. Allah says pray for them or don't pray for them, if you pray for them seventy times Allah will not forgive them. There is permission for me to pray for them and I would pray for him more than seventy times, perhaps Allah will forgive him". Several variants of this Tradition are to be found in Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Hanbal, on the authority of Ibn `Abbas; Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Ibn `Umar;

What an example of generosity and magnanimity from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Excerpts from Dr. Gasser Hathout's lecture at the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles on October 1, 2006.