Emperor Marcus Aurelius shows clemency to the vanquished after his success against tribes. (Capitoline Museum in Rome)

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.[1][2] Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).[1]

In certain contexts, forgiveness is a legal term for absolving or giving up all claims on account of debt, loan, obligation or other claims.[3][4]

As a psychological concept and virtue, the benefits of forgiveness have been explored in

  • Forgiveness at DMOZ
  • The Enright Forgiveness Inventory for Research

External links

  • Balancing the Scales of Justices with Forgiveness and Repentance, Randall J. Cecrle, 2007, ISBN 1-60266-041-7
  • The Power of Forgiveness, Marcus G. 2011, Sapients.Net
  • Radical Forgiveness: Making Room for the Miracle, Colin Tipping, 1997, ISBN 0-9704814-1-1
  • Forgiving and Not Forgiving: Why Sometimes It's Better Not to Forgive, Jeanne Safer, 2000, ISBN 0-380-79471-3
  • Forgiveness: a Philosophical Exploration (Cambridge University Press, 2007), by Charles Griswold. ISBN 978-0-521-70351-2.
  • Hein, David. "Regrets Only: A Theology of Remorse." The Anglican 33, no. 4 (October 2004): 5-6.
  • Hein, David. "Austin Farrer on Justification and Sanctification." The Anglican Digest 49.1 (2007): 51–54.
  • Konstan, David, Before Forgiveness: The Origins of a Moral Idea (Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
  • Kramer, J. and Alstad D., The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, 1993, ISBN 1-883319-00-5
  • Lampert, K.(2005); Traditions of Compassion: From Religious Duty to Social Activism. Palgrave-Macmillan; ISBN 1-4039-8527-8
  • Fred Luskin, Ph.D. Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness (Harper, 2002)
  • Murphy, J. and Hampton, J. Forgiveness and Mercy (Cambridge University Press, 1988).
  • Norlock, K. Forgiveness from a Feminist Perspective (Lexington Books, 2009).
  • Pettigrove, G. Forgiveness and Love (Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • Schmidt D. (2003); The Prayer of Revenge: Forgiveness in the Face of Injustice; ISBN 0-7814-3942-6
  • Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life, Susan Forward, 1990.
  • The Railway Man: A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality, and Forgiveness, Eric Lomax,


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ What Is Forgiveness? The Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley
  3. ^ DEBT FORGIVENESS OECD, Glossary of Statistical Terms (2001)
  4. ^ Loan Forgiveness Glossary, US Department of Education
  5. ^
  6. ^ Cordova,J., Cautilli,J., Simon, C. & Axelrod-Sabtig, R (2006). Behavior Analysis of Forgiveness in Couples Therapy. IJBCT, 2(2), Pg. 192 BAO
  7. ^ Dr. Robert Enright, Forgiveness is a Choice, American Psychological Association , 2001 ISBN 1-55798-757-2
  8. ^ Maltby, J., Wood, A. M., Day, L., Kon, T. W. H., Colley, A., and Linley, P. A. (2008). Personality predictors of levels of forgiveness two and a half years after the transgression. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 1088-1094.
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  10. ^ Van Oyen, C. Witvilet, T.E. Ludwig and K. L. Vander Lann, "Granting Forgiveness or Harboring Grudges: Implications for Emotions, Physiology and Health," Psychological Science no. 12 (2001):117-23
  11. ^ S. Sarinopoulos, "Forgiveness and Physical Health: A Doctoral Dissertation Summary," World of Forgiveness no. 2 (2000): 16-18
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  14. ^ Fred Luskin, Ph.D. Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness (Harper, 2002)
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  19. ^ a b Abu‐Nimer & Nasser (2013), Forgiveness in The Arab and Islamic Contexts, Journal of Religious Ethics, 41(3), pp 474-494
  20. ^ a b c d Oliver Leaman (2005), The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415326391, pp 213-216
  21. ^ a b Mohammad Hassan Khalil (2012), Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question, Oxford University Press, pp 65-94, ISBN 978-0199796663
  22. ^ Shah, S. S. (1996), Mercy Killing in Islam: Moral and Legal Issues, Arab Law Quarterly, 11(2), pp 105-115.
  23. ^ a b c d Amanullah, M. (2004), Just Retribution (Qisas) Versus Forgiveness (‘Afw), in Islam: Past, Present AND Future, pp 871-883; INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON ISLAMIC THOUGHTS PROCEEDINGS, December 2004, Department of Theology and Philosophy, Faculty of Islamic Studies Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
  24. ^ Gottesman, E. (1991), Reemergence of Qisas and Diyat in Pakistan, The. Colum. Hum. Rghts. Law Review, 23, pp 433-439
  25. ^ Tsang, J. A., McCullough, M. E., & Hoyt, W. T. (2005). Psychometric and Rationalization Accounts of the Religion‐Forgiveness Discrepancy, Journal of Social Issues, 61(4), pp 785-805.
  26. ^ Khalil Athamina (1992), Al-Qisas: its emergence, religious origin and its socio-political impact on early Muslim society, Studia Islamica, pp 53-74
  27. ^ Quran 42:36–39
  28. ^ Fred Donner, in War and Peace in the Ancient World, Kurt A. Raaflaub (Editor), pp 305-312, ISBN 978-0470775479
  29. ^ Caner & Caner (2009), Treatment of Non-believers or Infidels, in Islam and Christianity: A Revealing Contrast, Editor: James F. Gauss, Chapter 11, ISBN 978-0882706115
  30. ^ Hamit, Sherazad (2006), Apostasy and the Notion of Religious Freedom in Islam, Macalester Islam Journal, 1(2), pp 31-37
  31. ^ Quran 9:5–8
  32. ^ Faruqi, S. S. (2005), The Malaysian constitution, the Islamic state and Hudud laws, Islam in Southeast Asia: Political, Social and Strategic Challenges for the 21st Century (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005), pp 256-277
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Persecution of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan: An Analysis Under International Law and International Relations", Harvard Human Rights Journal, Vol 16, September 2003
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  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^, translation by Thanissaro Bikkhu
  40. ^ Holi India Heritage (2009)
  41. ^ Agarwal, R. (2013), Water Festivals of Thailand: The Indian Connection. Silpakorn University, Journal of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts, pp 7-18
  42. ^ Hinduism, see section on Sacred times and festivals, Encyclopedia Britannica (2009)
  43. ^ Bali - The day of silence Indonesia (2010)
  44. ^ See entry for Forgiveness, English-Sanskrit Dictionary, Spoken Sanskrit, Germany (2010)
  45. ^ a b c d e Michael E. McCullough, Kenneth I. Pargament, Carl E. Thoresen (2001), Forgiveness: Theory, Research, and Practice, The Guildford Press, ISBN 978-1572307117, pp 21-39
  46. ^ Ralph Griffith (Transl.), The Hymns of Rg Veda, Motilal Banarsidas (1973)
  47. ^ Hunter, Alan (2007), Forgiveness: Hindu and Western Perspectives, Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, 20(1), 11
  48. ^ Ransley, Cynthia (2004), Forgiveness: Themes and issues. Forgiveness and the healing process: A central therapeutic concern, ISBN 1-58391-182-0, Brunner-Routledge, pp 10-32
  49. ^ See Manusamhita,11.55, Mahabharata Vol II, 1022:8
  50. ^ Prafulla Mohapatra (2008), Ethics and Society, Concept Publishing, ISBN 978-8180695230, pp 22-25
  51. ^ Temoshok and Chandra, Forgiveness: Theory, Research, and Practice, The Guildford Press, ISBN 978-1572307117, see Chapter 3
  52. ^ Radhakrishnan (1995), Religion and Society, Indus, Harper Collins India
  53. ^ Sinha (1985), Indian psychology, Vol 2, Emotion and Will, Motilal Banarsidas, New Delhi
  54. ^ Vana Parva, see Section XXIX; Gutenberg Archives Mahabharata Vol I (Kisari Mohan Ganguli 1896); Produced by John B. Hare, David King, and David Widger
  55. ^ Udyoga Parva see page 61-62, Mahabharata, Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
  56. ^ Ashtavakra Gita, Chapter 1, Verse 2 Translated by OSHO (2008)
    • Original: मुक्तिं इच्छसि चेत्तात विषयान् विषवत्त्यज । क्षमार्जवदयातोषसत्यं पीयूषवद् भज || 2 ||
    • Ashtavakra Gita has over 10 translations, each different; the above is closest consensus version
  57. ^ Mukerjee, Radhakaml (1971), Aṣṭāvakragītā (the Song of the Self Supreme): The Classical Text of Ātmādvaita by Aṣṭāvakra, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., ISBN 978-81-208-1367-0
  58. ^ Varni, Jinendra; Ed. Prof. Sagarmal Jain, Translated Justice T.K. Tukol and Dr. K.K. Dixit (1993). Samaṇ Suttaṁ. New Delhi: Bhagwan Mahavir memorial Samiti. verse 84
  59. ^ p. 285
  60. ^ Chapple. C.K. (2006) Jainism and Ecology: Nonviolence in the Web of Life Delhi:Motilal Banarasidas Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-2045-6 p.46
  61. ^ Hastings, James (2003), Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics Part 10, Kessinger Publishing ISBN 978-0-7661-3682-3 p.876
  62. ^ p.18 and 224
  63. ^ Translated from Prakrit by Nagin J. shah and Madhu Sen (1993) Concept of Pratikramana Ahmedabad: Gujarat Vidyapith pp.25–26
  64. ^ * Note: ISBN refers to the UK:Routledge (2001) reprint. URL is the scan version of the original 1895 reprint.
  65. ^ * Note: ISBN refers to the UK:Routledge (2001) reprint. URL is the scan version of the original 1884 reprint.
  66. ^ Gorsuch, R. L. & Hao, J. Y. "Forgiveness: An exploratory factor analysis and its relationship to religious variables", June 1993 Review of Religious Research 34 (4) 351-363.
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Fincham, F., Hall, J., & Beach, S. (2006). Forgiveness In Marriage: Current Status And Future Directions. Family Relations, 415-427.
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s
  76. ^ a b c d
  77. ^ a b
  78. ^ a b
  79. ^ a b
  80. ^ a b c d
  81. ^ a b c
  82. ^ a b c
  83. ^ a b McCullough, Michael, and Charlotte Vanoyen. "The Psychology of Forgiveness." Handbook of Positive Psychology, 2002.
  84. ^ Berry, Jack W., and Everett L. Jr. Worthington. "Forgivingness, Relationship Quality, Stress While Imagining Relationship Events, and Physical and Mental Health." Journal of Counseling Psychology 48, no. 4 (2001): 447-55. doi:10.1037//0022-0167.48.4.447.
  85. ^ a b c Worthington, Everett L., and Michael Scherer. "Forgiveness Is an Emotion-focused Coping Strategy That Can Reduce Health Risks and Promote Health Resilience: Theory, Review, and Hypotheses." Psychology & Health 19, no. 3 (2004): 385-405. doi:10.1080/0887044042000196674.
  86. ^ Wilson, T., A. Milosevic, M. Carroll, K. Hart, and S. Hibbard. "Physical Health Status in Relation to Self-Forgiveness and Other-Forgiveness in Healthy College Students." Journal of Health Psychology 13, no. 6 (2008): 798-803. doi:10.1177/1359105308093863.
  87. ^ a b McCullough, Michael E., Kenneth I. Pargament, and Carl E. Thoresen.Forgiveness: Theory, Research, and Practice. New York: Guilford Press, 2000.
  88. ^ a b c
  89. ^ a b c d
  90. ^ a b c Fisher, M. L., & Exline, J. J. (2010). Moving toward self-forgiveness: Removing barriers related to shame, guilt, and regret. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4(8), 548-558. doi:
  91. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Cornish, M. A., & Wade, N. G. (2015). A therapeutic model of self‐forgiveness with intervention strategies for counselors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 93(1), 96-104. doi:


See also

[91] For example,individuals who have not actually caused others any harm or wrongdoing, but instead are suffering from negative emotions such as [91] Despite the suggested model, research advises that the process of self-forgiveness is not always applicable for every individual.

  1. The therapeutic model suggests responsibility as the first necessary step towards genuine self-forgiveness.[91] Research advises that in order to avoid the negative affect associated with emotions such as overwhelming guilt or regret, offenders must first recognize that they have hurt another individual, and accept the responsibility necessary for their actions.[90][91]
  2. Once the individual has accepted responsibility for their offences, it is natural for them to experience feelings of remorse or guilt. However, these feelings can be genuinely processed and expressed preceding the need for restoration.[91]
  3. The act of restoration allows the offending individual to make the necessary amends to the individual(s) they have hurt.
  4. The final component in the model of self-forgiveness is renewal. The offending individual is able to genuinely forgive themselves for their past transgressions and can engage in more positive and meaningful behaviors such as self-compassion and self-kindness.[91]

[91] The research indicates that the ability to forgive one’s self for past offences can lead to decreased feelings of negative emotions such as [91] Specific research suggests that the ability to genuinely forgive one’s self can be significantly beneficial to an individual’s emotional as well as mental well-being.[90] Individuals can unintentionally cause harm or offence to one another in everyday life. It is important for individuals to be able to recognize when this happens, and in the process of making amends, have the ability to self-forgive.

Therapeutic Model

[89] Major life events that include

Self-forgiveness happens in situations where an individual has done something that they perceive to be morally wrong and they consider themselves to be responsible for the wrongdoing.[88] Self-forgiveness is the overcoming of negative emotions that the wrongdoer associates with the wrongful action.[88] Negative emotions associated with wrongful action can include guilt, regret, remorse, blame, shame, self-hatred and/or self-contempt.[88]


Additionally, research into the correlation between physical health and forgiveness has been criticized for being too focused on unforgiveness. Research shows more about what hostility and unforgiveness contribute to poor health than it shows what forgiveness contributes to physical health.[87]

Forgiveness studies have been refuted by critics who claim that there is no direct correlation between forgiveness and physical health. Forgiveness contributes to mental health and mental health contributes to physical health, but there is no evidence that forgiveness directly improves physical health. Most of the studies on forgiveness cannot isolate it as an independent variable in an individual’s well-being, so it is difficult to prove causation.[87]


[86] Forgiveness may also lead to better [83] Forgiveness may also be correlated with physical health because hostility is associated with poor coronary performance. Unforgiveness is as an act of hostility, and forgiveness as an act of letting go of hostility. Heart patients who are treated with therapy that includes forgiveness to reduce hostility have improved cardiac health compared to those who are treated with medicine alone.

[85] Direct influences include: Reducing

Specifically individuals who choose to forgive another after a transgression have lower Broaden and Build Theory.[85]

Individuals who make a decision to genuinely forgive someone are also shown to have better physical health. This is due to the relationship between forgiveness and stress reduction. Forgiveness is seen as preventing poor physical health and managing poor physical health.[85]

[84] Individuals with forgiveness as a

Evidence Supporting a Correlation

[83] The correlation between forgiveness and

Forgiveness and Physical Health

[82] Evidence shows that self-forgiveness and

[81] A study in 2015 looks at how self-forgiveness can reduce feelings of guilt and shame associated with

[80] When individuals are successful at learning from these transgressions, they may experience improved mental health.[80] A study from 2005 states that self-forgiveness is an important part of self-acceptance and

[79] It is suggested that

Survey data from 2000 showed that 61% of participants that were part of a small religious group reported that the group helped them be more forgiving.[78] Individuals reported that their religion groups which promote forgiveness was related to self-reports of success in overcoming addictions, guilt, and perceiving encouragement when feeling discouraged.[78]

Forgiveness and Health

There has been some research within the last decade outlining some studies that have looked at the effectiveness of forgiveness interventions on young children. There have also been several studies done studying this cross culturally.[75] One study that explored this relationship, was a study conducted in 2009 by Eadaoin Hui and Tat Sing Chau. In this study, Hui and Chau looked at the relationship between forgiveness interventions and Chinese children who were less likely to forgive those who had wronged them.[75] The findings of this study showed that there was an effect of forgiveness interventions on the young Chinese children.[75]

Forgiveness Interventions: Children

A number of studies showcase high effectiveness rates of forgiveness interventions when done continuously over a long period of time.[75] Some researchers have found that these interventions have been proven ineffective when done over short spans of time.[75]

Some researchers also worry that forgiveness interventions will promote unhealthy relationships.[75][77] They worry that individuals with toxic relationships will continue to forgive those who continuously commit wrong acts towards them when in fact they should be distancing themselves from these sorts of people.[75][77]

Critics have argued that forgiveness interventions may actually cause an increase in negative affect because it is trying to inhibit the individual’s own personal feelings towards the offender. This can result in the individual feeling negatively towards themselves.[75] This approach is categorizing the individual’s feelings by implying that the negative emotions the individual is feeling are unacceptable and feelings of forgiveness is the correct and acceptable way to feel. It might inadvertently promote feelings of shame and contrition within the individual.[75]

Although research has taken into account the positive aspects of forgiveness interventions, there are also negative aspects that have been explored as well. Some researchers have taken a critical approach and have been less accepting of the forgiveness intervention approach to therapy.[75]

Contrary Evidence

There is, however, conflicting evidence on the effectiveness of forgiveness interventions.[75]

[76][75] One common adaptation used by researchers is where patients are forced to confront the entity preventing them from forgiving by using [75] There are various forms of forgiveness interventions.

Different Types

[75] The disease model has been mainly used in regards to

[76][75] Both negative and positive affect play a role in forgiveness interventions. It is the general consensus across researchers in the field of

Forgiveness Interventions

[74] In 2013, study on self-forgiveness with spouse forgiveness has a better outcome to a healthier life by Pelucchi, Paleari, Regalia and Fincham. This study investigates

In 2001, Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet asked people to think about someone who had hurt, wronged, or offended them. As they thought to answer, she observed their reaction. She observed their blood pressure, heart rate, facial muscle tension, and sweat gland activity. To deliberate on an old misdemeanor is to practice unforgiveness. Interestingly enough, the outcome to the recall of the grudge the candidates’ blood pressure and heart rate increased, and they sweated more. Pondering about their resents was stressful, and subjects found the rumination unpleasant. When they adept forgiveness, their physical stimulation glided downward. They showed no more of a anxiety reaction than normal wakefulness produces.[73]

[72] A study done in 2000, identified as a key study that taken part and examined two natures of relationships (friends and family) and at what age does the support switch importance from one to the other. What the study showed that people whom had good family realtionship, they were able to carry out more positive outside relationships with friends. Through the

In 2002, two innovators of Positive Psychology, Ed Diener and Martin Seligman, conducted a study at the University of Illinois on the 10% of students with the highest scores recorded on a survey of personal happiness. What they came up with was most salient characteristics shared by students who were very content and showed positive life styles were the ones who “their strong ties to friends and family and commitment to spending time with them.”[71]

Relationships are at the sentiment aspect of our lives; with our families at home and friends outside. Relationships interact in schools and universities, with work mates and , with colleagues at the workplace and in our diverse communities. In the article it states, the quality of these relationships determines our individual well-being, how well we learn, develop and function, our sense of connectedness with others and the health so society.[70]

  • The importance of seeking forgiveness
  • Self-forgiveness
  • The role of the sacred in marital forgiveness[69]

Furthermore, the researchers thought of ways to further help married couples in the future and suggested that they should explore in the following:

  • Perpetrators and victims have different perceptive context is important [69]
  • The danger in communicating in forgiveness
  • The different forms of forgiveness
  • Forgiveness takes

Some of the recommendation that was given to practitioners was that the individuals had to explore and understand what forgiveness means before starting any intervention because the preconceived idea of forgiveness can cause problems with couples being open to forgive.[69] For example, an individual not forgiving his or her spouse out of fear that the spouse might think that he or she is weak which can cause a conflict.[69] It was stated that the couple must know the following:

The researchers also came up with recommendation for practitioners and intervention to help individual that are married on how to communicate with each other, how to resolve problems and how to make it easier to forgive each other.[69] Some of the intervention of forgiveness in marriage has been a great success. It encouraged forgiveness and made couples happier together.[69]

Recommendation and interventions:

Furthermore, when married couples argue they tend to focus on who is right and who is wrong. Also couples tend to focus on who proves the other wrong which can cause more problems and can make the problem worse because it will make it harder to forgive one another.[69]

  1. Deepening phase: the victim moves toward resolution, becoming aware that he or she is not alone, has him or herself been the recipient of others’ forgiveness, and finds meaning and purpose in the forgiveness process.[69]
  1. Work phase: shifts the focus to the transgressor in an effort to gain insight and understanding.
  1. Decision phase: The nature of forgiveness is discussed. Also the individual commits that she or he will try to forgive the spouse
  1. Uncovering phase: Emphases on exploring the pain that the individual has experienced.

“Enright’s model of forgiveness has received empirical support and sees forgiveness as a journey through four phases” which are:[69]

The model of forgiveness:

In a 2005 study, researchers mentioned that when couples forgive their spouses they sometimes need help from professionals to overcome their pain that might be left behind.[69] Researchers also described the difference between how each individual perceives the situation based on who is in pain and who caused the pain. Also how the couple react to the situation based on their feelings and how they personally response to the situation.[69]

[69] Researchers provided an overview of forgiveness in marriage and how individuals in a

In a 2005 study, researchers were interested whether forgiveness is important in a marriage relationship or if forgiveness is not important? When does forgiveness usually accrue? Does it accrue before an argument or after an argument? Does forgiveness take a role when a person breaks a promise?[69] Researcher found six components that were related to forgiveness in marriage and explains how each one relates to forgiveness. The six components are: Satisfaction, Ambivalence, Conflict, Attributions, Empathy and Commitment.[69]

[69] in Forgiveness

Forgiveness In Relationships

[68][67] Forgiveness as a tool has been extensively used in

Akin to forgiveness is mercy, so even if a person is not able to complete the forgiveness process he or she can still show mercy, especially when so many wrongs are done out of weakness rather than malice. The Gallup poll revealed that the only thing that was effective was "meditative prayer".[66]

The need to forgive is widely recognized by the public, but they are often at a loss for ways to accomplish it. For example, in a large representative sampling of American people on various religious topics in 1988, the Gallup Organization found that 94% said it was important to forgive, but 85% said they needed some outside help to be able to forgive. However, not even regular prayer was found to be effective.

Popular recognition

South Pacific, including Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand. Traditionally Hoʻoponopono is practiced by healing priests or kahuna lapaʻau among family members of a person who is physically ill. Modern versions are performed within the family by a family elder, or by the individual alone.


If among monks or nuns occurs a quarrel or dispute or dissension, the young monk should ask forgiveness of the superior, and the superior of the young monk. They should forgive and ask forgiveness, appease and be appeased, and converse without restraint. For him who is appeased, there will be success (in control); for him who is not appeased, there will be no success; therefore one should appease one's self. 'Why has this been said, Sir? Peace is the essence of monasticism'. — Kalpa Sūtra 8:59

Even the code of conduct amongst the monks requires the monks to ask forgiveness for all transgressions:[65]

By practicing prāyaṣcitta (repentance), a soul gets rid of sins, and commits no transgressions; he who correctly practises prāyaṣcitta gains the road and the reward of the road, he wins the reward of good conduct. By begging forgiveness he obtains happiness of mind; thereby he acquires a kind disposition towards all kinds of living beings; by this kind disposition he obtains purity of character and freedom from fear. — Māhavīra in Uttarādhyayana Sūtra 29:17–18

[64] Jain texts quote

May you, O Revered One! Voluntarily permit me. I would like to confess my sinful acts committed while walking. I honour your permission. I desire to absolve myself of the sinful acts by confessing them. I seek forgiveness from all those living beings which I may have tortured while walking, coming and going, treading on living organism, seeds, green grass, dew drops, ant hills, moss, live water, live earth, spider web and others. I seek forgiveness from all these living beings, be they — one sensed, two sensed, three sensed, four sensed or five sensed. Which I may have kicked, covered with dust, rubbed with ground, collided with other, turned upside down, tormented, frightened, shifted from one place to another or killed and deprived them of their lives. (By confessing) may I be absolved of all these sins.

[63] In their daily prayers and

Khāmemi savva-jīve savvë jive khamantu me / metti me savva-bhūesu, veraṃ mejjha na keṇavi // (I ask pardon of all creatures, may all creatures pardon me. May I have friendship with all beings and enmity with none.)

Pratikraman also contains the following prayer:[62]

[61] In


Janak asked: Oh lord, how does one attain wisdom? how does liberation happen?
Ashtavakra replied: Oh beloved, if you want liberation, then renounce imagined passions as poison, take forgiveness, innocence, compassion, contentment and truth as nectar; (...)

— Ashtavakra Gita, [56][57]
Righteousness is the one highest good, forgiveness is the one supreme peace, knowledge is one supreme contentment, and benevolence, one sole happiness.
— Mahabharata, Book 5, Udyoga Parva, Section XXXIII, [55]

Forgiveness is virtue; forgiveness is sacrifice; forgiveness is the Vedas; forgiveness is the Shruti.
Forgiveness protecteth the ascetic merit of the future; forgiveness is asceticism; forgiveness is holiness; and by forgiveness is it that the universe is held together.

— Mahabharata, Book 3, Vana Parva, Section XXIX, [54]

Other epics and ancient literature of Hinduism discuss forgiveness. For example:

Forgiveness in Hinduism does not necessarily require that one reconcile with the offender, nor does it rule out reconciliation in some situations. Instead forgiveness in Hindu philosophy is being compassionate, tender, kind and letting go of the harm or hurt caused by someone or something else.[51] Forgiveness is essential for one to free oneself from negative thoughts, and being able to focus on blissfully living a moral and ethical life (dharmic life).[45] In the highest self-realized state, forgiveness becomes essence of one’s personality, where the persecuted person remains unaffected, without agitation, without feeling like a victim, free from anger (akrodhi).[52][53]

The concept of forgiveness is inconsistently treated in extensive debates of Hindu literature. In some Hindu texts,[49] certain sins and intentional acts are debated as naturally unforgivable; for example, murder and rape; these ancient scholars argue whether blanket forgiveness is morally justifiable in every circumstance, and whether forgiveness encourages crime, disrespect, social disorder and people not taking you seriously.[50] Other ancient Hindu texts highlight that forgiveness is not same as reconciliation.

[48] The concept of forgiveness is further refined in Hinduism by rhetorically contrasting it in feminine and masculine form. In feminine form, one form of forgiveness is explained through

The theological basis for forgiveness in Hinduism is that a person who does not forgive carries a baggage of memories of the wrong, of negative feelings, of anger and unresolved emotions that affect his or her present as well as future. In Hinduism, not only should one forgive others, but one must also seek forgiveness if one has wronged someone else.[45] Forgiveness is to be sought from the individual wronged, as well as society at large, by acts of charity, purification, fasting, rituals and meditative introspection.

Forgiveness is considered one of the six cardinal virtues in Hinduism. [47][46] (Kshyama or Ksama In Vedic literature and epics of Hinduism,



“He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me’ — in those who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease.”
“He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me’ — in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease.”
(Dhammapada 1.3-4; trans. Radhakrishnan - see article)[39]

Buddhism places much emphasis on the concepts of Mettā (loving kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkhā (equanimity), as a means to avoiding resentments in the first place. These reflections are used to understand the context of suffering in the world, both our own and the suffering of others.

In [38]



"Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God, you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy. Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness."
`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 92

In the Bahá'í Writings, this explanation is given of how to be forgiving towards others:

Bahá'í Faith

Such views of the Ahmadiyya movement do not reflect mainstream Islam views, as Ahmadi Muslims are considered non-Muslims by mainstream Muslims. Ahmadi Muslims are persecuted for their non-mainstream views.[34]

Islam teaches that where retribution is required then it must be proportionate to the act of transgression. However, if forgiveness can lead to reformation, then the option to forgive should be taken. The true overarching objectives should always be reformation, reconciliation and the development of long lasting peace.[33]

Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya movement, during his address at the European Parliament, whilst discussing international relations, insisted that:

Ahmadi Muslims
Those who believe, then reject faith, then believe (again) and (again) reject faith, and go on increasing in unbelief,- Allah will not forgive them nor guide them nor guide them on the way.
— Qur'an, [Quran 4:137]

The Qur'an recommends, whenever possible, it is better to forgive another believer of Islam.[27] Believers should treat other believers with forbearance, tolerance and forgiveness. However, forgiveness is not recommended in the relationship between believers and non-believers.[28] Forgiveness is also not recommended against shirk or anyone who has insulted Islam.[21][32]

Afw is another term for forgiveness in Islam; it occurs 35 times in Qur'an, and in some Islamic theological studies, it is used interchangeably with ghufran.[19][20][22] Afw means to pardon, to excuse for a fault or an offense. According to Muhammad Amanullah,[23] forgiveness ('Afw) in Islam is derived from three wisdoms. First and the most important wisdom of forgiveness is that it is merciful when the victim or guardian of the victim accepts money instead of revenge.[24][25] The second wisdom of forgiveness is[23] that it increases honor and prestige of the one who forgives. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, humiliation or dishonor.[20] Forgiveness is honor, raises the merit of the forgiver in the eyes of Allah, and enables a forgiver to enter paradise.[23] The third wisdom of forgiveness is that according to some scholars, such as al-Tabari and al-Qurtubi, forgiveness expiates (kaffarah) the forgiver from the sins he or she may have committed at other occasions in life.[20][26] Forgiveness is a form of charity (sadaqat). Forgiveness granted to another believer of Islam comes from taqwa (piety), a quality of God-fearing people.[23]

The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong.
— Qur'an, [Quran 42:40]

[21] Islam recommends forgiveness between believers, because Allah values forgiveness. There are numerous verses in Quran and the

(...) Allah forgives what is past: for repetition Allah will exact from him the penalty. For Allah is Exalted, and Lord of Retribution.
— Qur'an, [Quran 5:95]

repentance is a virtue.[19][20]



Considering Mark 11:25 above, and Matthew 6:14,15, that follows the Lord's Prayer, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.," Forgiveness is not an option to a Christian, rather one must Forgive to be a Christian.

Jesus asked for God's forgiveness of those who crucified him. "And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'" Luke 23: 34 (ESV)

Elsewhere, it is said, "Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly spoke of forgiveness, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (NIV) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 (NIV)* “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” Luke 6:27-29 (NIV) “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36 (NIV) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37 (NIV)

Rembrandt – “The Return of the Prodigal Son


[15] Jews observe a Day of Atonement

Sir [16]

Thus the "reward" for forgiving others is not God's forgiveness for wrongs done to others, but rather help in obtaining forgiveness from the other person.

  • "I know that there is no one so righteous that they have not wronged another, financially or physically, through deed or speech. This pains my heart within me, because wrongs between humans and their fellow are not atoned by Yom Kippur, until the wronged one is appeased. Because of this, my heart breaks within me, and my bones tremble; for even the day of death does not atone for such sins. Therefore I prostrate and beg before You, to have mercy on me, and grant me grace, compassion, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all people. For behold, I forgive with a final and resolved forgiveness anyone who has wronged me, whether in person or property, even if they slandered me, or spread falsehoods against me. So I release anyone who has injured me either in person or in property, or has committed any manner of sin that one may commit against another [except for legally enforceable business obligations, and except for someone who has deliberately harmed me with the thought ‘I can harm him because he will forgive me']. Except for these two, I fully and finally forgive everyone; may no one be punished because of me. And just as I forgive everyone, so may You grant me grace in the eyes of others, that they too forgive me absolutely." [emphasis added]

In Judaism, one must go to those he has harmed in order to be entitled to forgiveness.[15] [One who sincerely apologizes three times for a wrong committed against another has fulfilled his or her obligation to seek forgiveness. (grief they caused them. The Tefila Zaka meditation, which is recited just before Yom Kippur, closes with the following:

  • "It is forbidden to be obdurate and not allow yourself to be appeased. On the contrary, one should be easily pacified and find it difficult to become angry. When asked by an offender for forgiveness, one should forgive with a sincere mind and a willing spirit. . . forgiveness is natural to the seed of Israel." (Mishneh Torah, Teshuvah 2:10)

In Judaism, if a person causes harm, but then sincerely and honestly apologizes to the wronged individual and tries to rectify the wrong, the wronged individual is encouraged, but not required, to grant forgiveness:



Religious views

In three separate studies, including one with Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland whose family members were murdered in the political violence, he found that people who are taught how to forgive become less angry, feel less hurt, are more optimistic, become more forgiving in a variety of situations, and become more compassionate and self-confident. His studies show a reduction in experience of stress, physical manifestations of stress, and an increase in vitality.[14]

[13] The research of Dr. Fred Luskin of

[11] Studies show that people who forgive are

[8] Dr. Robert Enright from the

Although there is presently no consensus for a psychological definition of forgiveness in the research literature, agreement has emerged that forgiveness is a process and a number of models describing the process of forgiveness have been published, including one from a radical behavioral perspective.[6]

Factors determining the likelihood of forgiveness in an intimate relationship.



  • Research 1
  • Religious views 2
    • Abrahamic 2.1
      • Judaism 2.1.1
      • Christianity 2.1.2
      • Islam 2.1.3
      • Bahá'í Faith 2.1.4
    • Eastern 2.2
      • Buddhism 2.2.1
      • Hinduism 2.2.2
      • Jainism 2.2.3
      • Hoʻoponopono 2.2.4
  • Popular recognition 3
  • Forgiveness In Relationships 4
  • Forgiveness Interventions 5
    • Different Types 5.1
    • Contrary Evidence 5.2
    • Forgiveness Interventions: Children 5.3
  • Forgiveness and Health 6
  • Forgiveness and Physical Health 7
    • Evidence Supporting a Correlation 7.1
    • Criticisms 7.2
  • Self-Forgiveness 8
    • Therapeutic Model 8.1
  • See also 9
  • Notes 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Most world religions include teachings on the nature of forgiveness, and many of these teachings provide an underlying basis for many varying modern day traditions and practices of forgiveness. Some religious doctrines or philosophies place greater emphasis on the need for humans to find some sort of divine forgiveness for their own shortcomings, others place greater emphasis on the need for humans to practice forgiveness of one another, yet others make little or no distinction between human and divine forgiveness.


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