Contemporary and Social Issues

The 5 Apology Languages & Islamic Insights into Forgiveness – Part 3

Qasim Choudhary, USA

Dr. Gary Chapman, a New York Times best-selling author and renowned family counselor, delves into his insights on fostering healthy relationships, unveiling what he terms as the ‘5 Apology Languages’. According to Dr. Chapman, apologies take on different forms for each individual due to our distinct apology languages.

This short series seeks to find out what Islam teaches about effective apologies, the Islamic philosophy concerning forgiveness and where the 5 apology languages fit into the equation.

Part II of this series delved into Dr. Chapman’s second apology language, drawing an example from the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa). Click here to read part 2

The Third Apology Language: Making Restitution

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines restitution as ‘the restoration of something to its rightful owner’ or ‘the act of making good or providing an equivalent for an injury.’

Perhaps you once borrowed an article of clothing from a sibling and returned it with a visible stain. Or a friend lent you a valuable electronic item only to have you drop it and crack the screen. In those moments of helplessness, all we can naturally do is ask ourselves, ‘How can I make it right?’ We have a strong desire to compensate for the loss the other person has experienced. Everett Worthington Jr., a professor of psychology, refers to this phenomenon as ‘equalizing’.[1]

It is mentioned that one morning around the time of the Battle of Badr, the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (sa) began to arrange the Muslim ranks with the indication of an arrow. A Companion by the name of Sawad (ra) was standing somewhat ahead of his row. The Holy Prophet (sa) used his arrow to indicate that he should move back in line. It so happened, however, that the wooden part of the arrow belonging to the Holy Prophet (sa) touched Sawad’s (ra) chest, whereupon he boldly protested, ‘O Messenger of Allah! God has sent you with the truth and justice, but you have unjustly poked me with your arrow. By God, I insist upon retribution.’

The Companions were shocked, wondering what had gotten into Sawad (ra). However, the Holy Prophet (sa) stated with extreme affection, ‘Alright Sawad, you may poke me with an arrow as well,’ and the Holy Prophet (sa) lifted the cloth from his chest. In his immense love, Sawad (ra) stepped forward and kissed the chest of the Holy Prophet (sa). The Holy Prophet (sa) smiled and inquired, ‘Why did you devise this plan?’ He responded with a trembling voice, ‘O Messenger of Allah! The enemy is before us. There is no telling whether I shall live to return or not. It was my desire, therefore, to touch your blessed body before my martyrdom.’[2]

It is both commendable and awe inspiring to witness the humility of the Holy Prophet (sa) as he acknowledges and openly seeks forgiveness for an unintentional mistake. What general or king would ever exhibit such humility, compassion, and empathy before their subjects?

In Part IV of this series, we explore Dr. Chapman’s fourth apology language and examine an intriguing incident from the life of Hazrat Imam Husain (ra), the grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa). Additionally, we gain insight into Islamic perspectives on anger management and forgiveness.

About the Author: Qasim Choudhary is a graduate of the Ahmadiyya Institute of Languages and Theology in Canada, and serves as an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the United States of America.


[1] The 5 Apology Languages, Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas, pg. 48, Northfield Publishing, Chicago [2022]

[2] The Life & Character of the Seal of Prophets (sa), Vol. 2, pp. 143-144