Al-Araf (The Heights) – Chapter 7: Verse 199
In this verse love and forgiveness are shown to be infinitely better than justice through vengeance. Even while the Quran allows for the “law of equality” (i.e., the grim and literal justice of exacting an eye for an eye), with the reminder that this primitive form of justice restrains people from perpetrating violence against each other so acts as a positive force in human affairs, it emphasizes that God has opened another, better path for dealing with situations of injury and loss, and this is the path of remission, compensation, and reconciliation. Stating undeniable preference for this second way, the Quran explains that God offers it as a concession and token of Divine mercy.
It is crucial to understand that the Quran gives a choice to the one who has suffered injury and/or loss: to seek justice or to seek reconciliation and transformation. In other words, the injured party is empowered to choose, with a strong word of encouragement to think seriously about God’s preferred option. Forgiveness and reconciliation are thus not mandated or forced upon the injured; rather, both paths are left open. When a person’s power has been taken from her or him through violence, she or he must regain a sense of wholeness and personal empowerment before the option of forgiveness has any meaning. In the case of Joseph, he forgave from a place of power and healing, and we see an almost identical dynamic in the life of the prophet Muhammad.
“In the Light of a Blessed Tree” – Timothy J. Gianotti, pp. 108, 109