Contemporary and Social Issues

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

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 4 of this series, we explored Dr. Chapman’s fourth apology language and examined an intriguing incident from the life of Hazrat Imam Hussain (ra), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (sa). Additionally, we gained insight into Islamic perspectives on anger management and forgivenessClick here to read Part 4.

The Fifth Apology Language: Planned Change

Have you ever experienced a situation where your partner assured you they would complete a chore, only for you to end up doing it yourself? For instance, your spouse might promise to take out the trash but then forget, repeatedly apologising but failing to change their behaviour. This cycle of repeated apologies without actual change can lead to significant frustration and strain on a relationship. For some, it becomes essential to witness tangible transformation in someone who consistently breaks their trust.

Dr. Chapman emphasises that true change originates from the heart, with subsequent steps varying for each individual. Some who genuinely acknowledge the pain they’ve caused might feel compelled to verbally express their commitment to change. Others might opt to write down and carefully plan how to better themselves. Whichever approach we adopt, it guides us toward reconciliation by taking full responsibility for our mistakes. This powerful action demonstrates to our loved ones our genuine willingness to grow.

In the exemplary life of the Holy Prophet (sa), numerous instances reveal his merciful nature as he forgave even those who were his mortal enemies. These enemies had orchestrated unspeakably heinous acts against the Holy Prophet’s (sa) sanctity, evoking profound emotions. Yet, the Holy Prophet’s (sa) forgiveness profoundly transformed them, moulding them into models of virtue and humility.

One such illustration is the case of Ikrimah (ra), the son of Abu Jahl who was the staunchest of the Holy Prophet’s (sa) opponents. When the Holy Prophet (sa) became the undisputed leader of Makkah, Ikrimah’s wife implored the Holy Prophet (sa) to pardon him. At that time, Ikrimah was attempting to flee to Abyssinia. However, his wife caught up with him and questioned his decision, asking if he was running from someone as gentle and compassionate as the Holy Prophet (sa).

Amazed, Ikrimah (ra) inquired whether she genuinely believed he could be forgiven by the Prophet (sa). His wife reassured him, affirming the Holy Prophet’s (sa) forgiving nature. This assurance led Ikrimah (ra) to abandon his escape plan and return to seek forgiveness from the Holy Prophet (sa). ‘My wife informed me that you have pardoned even someone like me,’ he said. ‘Your wife is correct. I have indeed forgiven you,’ responded the Holy Prophet (sa). Following this pivotal moment, Ikrimah (ra) wholeheartedly embraced Islam and became an unwavering follower of the Holy Prophet (sa).[1]

Reflecting on the profound transformation within Ikrimah (ra), the Promised Messiah and founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (as) eloquently writes,

‘Take the example of Ikrimah. In his days of disbelief, he was prey to disbelief, and other ignoble traits such as conceit, etc., and it was his utmost desire to expunge Islam from the face of the earth. But when the grace of God Almighty embraced him and he was blessed with Islam, he developed such lofty morals that not even the slightest traces of arrogance and conceit were left in him, and he became so humble and meek that his humility became a conclusive proof in favour of Islam and an argument in favour of the truth of Islam. On one occasion, there was a battle with the disbelievers and Ikrimah was the General of the Muslim army. The disbelievers waged a powerful onslaught to the extent that the Muslim army had almost drowned in defeat. When Ikrimah saw this condition, he dismounted from his horse and the people asked: “Why have you dismounted? Your horse will help you when the time comes to move swiftly.” Ikrimah responded: “At this hour, I am reminded of the time when I would fight against the Prophet of God, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. It is my desire to lay down my life as an atonement for my sins.”’[2]

In the realm of relationships, occasional friction and disagreements are inevitable. Our egos and passions can often corrode the path to reconciliation, driving a wedge between us and our loved ones. The stories shared in this series illuminate the journeys of those who reached the pinnacle of spirituality, yet remained ever willing to forgive and seek forgiveness. These narratives underscore the profound impact of simple phrases like ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Please forgive me’ on a relationship’s course. The world, as we know it, teeters on the brink of a global catastrophe and shows no signs of stability.

So, before it’s too late, why not heed the words of the Promised Messiah (as) when he stated, 

‘Hasten to make peace with one another and forgive your brethren their sins. For he who is not inclined to make peace with his brother is wicked and will be cut off, because he is the cause of dissension.’[3]

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] Hazrat Mirza Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmud Ahmadra, Life of Muhammadsa (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2013), 167-168.

[2] Malfuzat, [English Translation] Vol.1 pg.145

[3] Noah’s Ark, Islam International Publications Ltd., [2018] pg.21