Contemporary and Social Issues

The 5 Apology Languages & Islamic Insights into Forgiveness – Part 4

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.

In Part 3 of this series, we explored Dr. Chapman’s third apology language and illustrated it through a practical incident from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (sa). Click here to read Part 3.

The Fourth Apology Language: Requesting Forgiveness

Based on research conducted by Dr. Chapman, when individuals were asked ‘What do you expect in an apology?’ one out of every five respondents answered, ‘I expect them to ask for my forgiveness.’For some, these words hold a magic quality that signifies sincerity and a genuine desire to mend the relationship. Requesting forgiveness demonstrates a clear intent to restore the connection and underscores the value placed on the bond. While it might be tempting to brush matters under the rug, this approach only hints at insincerity. Conversely, admitting wrongdoing communicates to the offended party that the relationship is genuinely valued. However, why do certain people struggle with seeking forgiveness?

 Beyond individual personality traits, Hamilton Beazley, the author of No Regrets, explains that ‘Apologizing is admitting that we made an error, and we are uncomfortable with that…It leaves us vulnerable because we are asking for something – forgiveness – that we believe only the other person can grant, and we might face rejection.’[1]

There’s a narration about Imam Husain (ra), a grandson of the Holy Prophet (sa), who had a servant bring him a cup of tea. As the servant approached him, the cup accidentally fell on Imam Husain’s (ra) head due to the servant’s lack of attention. In response to the inconvenience, Hazrat Imam Husain (ra) gave the servant a sharp glance. In a submissive voice, the servant said, quoting a line from the Holy Qur’an:

وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ 

 ‘And those who suppress their anger.’[2]

Upon hearing this, Imam Husain, (ra), quoted the next line from the same Qur’anic verse:

وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ

 ‘And those who pardon men.’[3]

In the state of ‘kazm’ (i.e., suppressing anger), a person subdues their anger and does not express it, yet is not entirely pleased within. This is why the condition of ‘afw’ (i.e., pardoning others) is mentioned in this verse as well. In response, Hazrat Imam Husain (ra) said, ‘I pardon you.’ Then the servant recited the words,

وَيُحِبُّ اللَّهُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

 ‘And Allah loves those who do good.’[4]

Because those truly beloved by God are those who, after suppressing their anger and pardoning others, proceed to do good. Hearing this, Imam Husain (ra) said, ‘Go then, I free you.’[5]

Consider the scene, standing before one’s master after having unintentionally caused him great distress. In this vulnerable moment, both master and servant exemplify the power of forgiveness. Though the servant doesn’t explicitly implore for forgiveness, the tense atmosphere implies a yearning for absolution. Hazrat Imam Husain (ra), adhering to the Qur’anic principles of anger management and forgiveness, ultimately emancipates his servant and grants him far more than he could have expected.

Part 5 of this series explores Dr. Chapman’s fifth apology language and demonstrates how the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) forgiveness transformed his once implacable enemies into devoted followers.

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. 85, Northfield Publishing, Chicago [2022]

[2] The Holy Qur’an, 3:135

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Malfuzat, Vol.1, pg.186-187