Essay No. 74:

To Err Is Human, To Forgive Is Divine: The maxim brings out a reality of life. A man by nature is a bundle of weaknesses. Consciously or unconsciously he makes lapses of serious nature, which cost him dearly in life. Certain lapses are intentional, which may aim at harming the interest of his fellow brings. Certain lapses are related to the instinctive behaviour of man. Every man is prone to this tendency.


Man commits certain sins in life. He commits some sins to gain his ulterior motives. An industrialist to increase his profits exploits labour and indulges in various vices, which cannot be supported on moral grounds. He can evade tax which is a crime. Such like acts are most reprehensible. Man, in order to swell his property, can usurp the rights of the poor, the orphan. These lapses are intentional which God would never forgive.


On the other hand, a person can kill some people if his speeding car not under control, runs over them. It is not a deliberate action. The person can be tried under the law. If the relatives of the deceased forgive him after getting ransom, then it is a different matter. God will forgive a person for making an unintentional lapse. Allah’s trait is forgiveness. He is kind and Forgiving.


Oscar Wilde in ‘De Profundus’ confesses that he made many serious lapses in life. He showed the highest moral courage in confessing the moral lapses that he made in life at different times. He was conscious of those lapses. Oscar Wilde, in the end, remarks that the only consolation he has in life is that ‘the sweet and pure rains of nature fall both on the just and unjust alike’. He makes mention of divine forgiveness. God loves His creatures, howsoever, ugly they may be. God’s rays of mercy and compassion fall on human beings. God does not abandon His ugly creatures.


Man being Allah’s vicegerent, should equally show mercy and passion to his fellow beings. If he displays this spirit, many of the conflicts would disappear from this earth. After all, man is a manifestation of His Being, and he must show those divine traits in his behaviour towards his fellow beings.

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If you are in a privileged position, you must show humane attitude to your co-workers. To be in a commanding position, one needs big hearts to accommodate the vagaries and caprices of one’s subordinates. If they make minor lapses, deliberate or otherwise, overlook them. Forgive them for their lapses. Man must show compassion, sympathy and forgiveness to others.


Man is vindictive by nature. He nurtures ill-will, malice towards his other fellow beings. A feudal lord would not forgive a poor hair if he casts his vote in favour of a candidate other than him in the elections. The landlord would hound and eject him out of his land. He does not have the capacity to bear a slightly aberrant behaviour.


Man unleashes forces of tyranny against his fellow beings. He does not spit out his anger rather harbours malice in his heart. He takes revenge against his foes. He does not demonstrate large-heartedness. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) showed a humane treatment to the Jews and his enemies. An old lady who threw rubbish on his head when he passed in front of her house, fell ill.


He moved into the house to enquire about her health. He was full of compassion. He taught Muslim believers to extend the best possible treatment to others. Man can bring out the best in himself to demonstrate godliness by subordination evil instincts to good ones.

“To Err Is Human, To Forgive Is Divine”