For the leader the biggest test often is to see which he gives precedence to; his personal likes and dislikes, friendships and enmities or the ultimate success of the goal? The reason this is a tough test is because often it becomes necessary to put your own preferences aside and work with people who you may not like and would prefer not to work with.
Rasoolullah(upon whom be peace) was entering Makkah after 8 years. They’d spent 13 years suffering all kinds of torture, physical and mental in Makkah before being driven out altogether and their wealth confiscated. But when he entered it now, he entered with humbleness reciting Sura Al Fatha, his head lowered so far down that his beard was almost touching the saddle of the camel.
To forgive those who persecuted you is perhaps the most difficult thing to do, especially when you have power. In the case of Rasoolullah (upon whom be peace) who had been persecuted and driven out of his home, Allah azza wa jal gave him power over the same people. He would have been fully within his rights if he had chosen to take revenge. But he didn’t. Instead by forgiving them he put them in his debt. They were fully aware of the precarious situation that they were in when he conquered Makkah and they were in his power and so were extremely grateful to him for his mercy.
Another huge benefit of this action of Rasoolullah (upon whom be peace) unilaterally forgiving his enemies was also to put an end to all potential feuds which would have resulted from any revenge that he may have taken. In a society given to feuding over the smallest excuse imagine the disruptive effect of any killings of his enemies. By forgiving them all he cemented them into the Muslim Ummah and secured his own home forever. Forgiveness is a balm for the soul, not only of the one forgiven but even more importantly for the one who forgives. But it takes a big heart to forgive and whose heart is bigger than the heart of the Nabi of Allah azza wa jal
Memories can be empowering or debilitating. Memories of evil done to us can stay with us all our lives and plague us and our relationships – if we allow them to do so. Forgiveness is the salve that heals the wound and Allah (swt) in His mercy gave it into the hands of the one who was wronged. Only he can forgive. And if he does, then he heals himself as well as the one who wronged him. It may seem difficult to forgive someone who wrongs us until we reflect on how much more difficult it is to live, our life blighted by memories of the wrong. How much easier to forgive and shed that burden and move on to a new dawn? And that is what Rasoolullah (upon whom be peace) did. Forgiving his erstwhile enemies also took the wind out of the sails of anyone who may have been tempted to plot a coup against him but putting him on the high moral ground. Who would support someone who wants to do ill to the one who just did good to you? At one stroke Rasoolullah (upon whom be peace) secured his rule, won new friends and supporters and opened the doors for the entry of Islam in his own motherland. The result of this was so profound that Makkah was almost the only place that didn’t rebel when he passed away.