Islamic and Friendship Studies at Oberlin College

Now and Forever: The Motivation of Self-Enhancement behind Religious Practice

E. R. Edenbaum

Professor Mohammad Mahallati

Religion 390: Forgiveness in the Islamic and Christian Traditions

19 December 2019

            Throughout literature based in both theology and psychology, there seems to be a frequent underlying theme to question how and why individuals’ beliefs lead them to behave and interact in certain consistent and inconsistent ways. Of greatest interest is what perhaps may motivate an individual to do “good.” As of yet, there is no apparent literary consensus. Humans are social beings, and while existing within social groups where individual actions can be explained away as for the greater purpose of a community, it is of import to remember that societies are made up of individuals who do think for themselves. With theology and psychology being so separate in how they are usually studied, perhaps it can be of benefit to marry the two fields of thinking and examine the questions so frequently proposed but not fully addressed in either field. Through the application of both a religious and social psychological perspective, it appears that the individuals are driven to do good for the purpose of a core social motive: self-enhancement.

Despite religion and social psychology not necessarily being presented together often, the two have considerable overlap in concept. Religion can be defined as a “human being’s relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of special reverence. It is also commonly regarded as consisting of the way people deal with ultimate concerns about their lives and their fate after death.”[i] Within the confines of religion, the drive behind human action is openly addressed: concern about the afterlife. With regards to empirically-based psychological drives, American personality psychologist Gordon Allport defines social psychology as “the study of how an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and actions are affected by the actual, imagined, or symbolically represented presence of other people. Psychological social psychology… put[s] greater emphasis on internal psychological processes, whereas [sociological social psychology] focuses on factors that affect social life, such as status, role, and class.”[ii] One can posit that the earlier definition of religion fits into this definition of social psychology. Psychology understands the difference between innate and learned behaviors. According to Hick and Hebblethwaite, “man’s religiousness is innate and… religion will continue in some form so long as human nature remains the same.”[iii] Religion is a collectivist concept with multiple people involved, with each practicing individual affected by the adherents worshipping as well, or more relevantly, worshipping a more foreign religion across groups of people. In certain cultures and certain time periods, religious practice can play into individuals’ class and social status, as well as their internal thinking and what the focus here is: their reason for practicing at all.

Beyond purely the definition, social psychology identifies core social motives as the basis for why people behave the way they do: belonging, understanding, controlling, enhancing self, and trusting others.[iv] Understanding, controlling, and especially enhancing self are applicable within the context of religion. In Islam, man’s true purpose and vocation is to strive to attain the intuitive and experiential knowledge of G-d.[v] Religion aids in understanding the environment and to make sense of what is and is not certain. Through seeking information, with finite rules that many religions offer, control can be obtained through competence. And all of this boils down to the possibility of self-enhancement.  

Social behaviors of non-human animals, if considered more advanced, are likened to those of early human civilizations prior to the stages where humans have advanced into their advanced social purposes. A key point with humans now is to remember that regardless of how individual one is, they are still generally most likely part of a larger collective. In Islam, “individuals can imitate virtues and virtues are ultimately reflected within the community. Just individuals contribute to the creation of a just society.” When one does good, the repercussions of that beneficial deed are capable of permeating the entire community. It is easy to look at humans and see them as separate entities from the rest of the animal kingdom. Often in the study of non-human animals, social behaviors are described as being solely purposed for perpetuating survival whereas human behavior, as viewed by humans studying humans, is often deemed more complex than having only that one goal in mind.[vi]

In 2016, for example, West African chimpanzees were, on multiple occasions, observed practicing what appeared to be rituals, with specific creations of stone piles, vocalizations, and repetitive gestures hitting rocks against trees. The initial response to this was confusion, with researchers first admitting that “the new [observed] behavior doesn’t seem to have… functional purpose,” then conceding to say that chimpanzees are in their equivalent to the human Stone Age and that the “discovery [of the ritualistic or perhaps even religious behaviors] might help researchers learn more about the basis of human religion and rituals, and how such activities formed in [their] own history.”[vii] If great apes are coming up on accessing something similar to the deeper cognitive thinking regarding an appreciation for the greater world that humans have thus far maintained as a separator between them and non-human animals, perhaps it is worth examining what is behind how humans view their mortality and their reasoning behind their beliefs that are thought to go beyond the superficial will just to survive.

Humans are animals and therefore do have the natural survival instinct but are shifted above many social non-human animals on the cognitive hierarchy.[viii] It is therefore difficult to believe that with greater cognitive capabilities that allow for metacognition, that there is just a blind acceptance for religion. One of the oldest and most predominant explanations for religion is the idea that practicing is the language of duty. That moral system then shifted over time, however, to contend that, in being an adherent of one of the three Abrahamic religions, individuals have a right to receive goods and honors. The current popular ideology maintains that humans may now question what their rights under God give them and what they are meant to do with what they have been allotted.[ix] This is an indicator that survival is not enough of a motivator for behavior, or at least not enough to be wholly encapsulating, and to not question and find satisfying meaning is likely not enough for most human beings. If survival is not the only or all-encompassing motivator for religious practice, then there needs to be some sort of examination to determine motivation for why humans choose to obey God.

Christianity and Islam regard the likelihood of humans being sinful as inevitable. Humans were created weak and so struggle to maintain the commands of God, which are what qualify as good.[x] According to Christianity, “all humans find themselves from the beginning in a connection of sin and guilt.”[xi] In Islam, man is seen as in a constant state of being capable of rising to virtue or falling into sin.[xii] Stern asserts that “when a man commits an indecent act it is to God that he must turn in seeking forgiveness” (6).[xiii] If sinfulness is inevitable and a natural aspect of life, it begs the question as to why it is so negatively connotated. Why does it matter to gain forgiveness from God?

What qualifies as sin has changed in modern times. What the Bible describes as sin is not necessarily treated as so in modern times in modern contexts, what with technology and industrialization effects on society, at least with regards to those in the United States. Content is regarded differently, but practice has even shifted in modern times in Western cultures as well. In the United States, within the past decade, the population of practicing Christians has decreased by twelve percent.[xiv] This does not mean that religion is becoming obsolete, but just that it is becoming more applicable in varying, more widespread contexts outside of just religious circumstances. Knowledge of religious practice offers one a greater understanding of social phenomena, and principles originating in religion are valuable depending on their use. They can serve as prominent reference points for ethical choices in social settings where individuals exist as smaller parts of larger groups. Sin can be considered on a broader spectrum of general wrongdoing. Living under God can offer an individual social bearing and recognition of the applicability of religion and its benefit today. An individual can live their life with the promise of security borne out of a steady religious footing that they will be alright after death, and also live their current life more peacefully. One reason that an individual may wish to retain religious strains of thinking is social psyhcology’s core social motive of self-enhancement, not negatively connotated, but coming from the understanding that there are personal and societal benefits that come with referencing religious tenets.


There is a difference between the effect of good deeds on an individual’s life versus on an individual’s fate in the afterlife. Self-enhancement can be perceived differently depending on whether the enhancing act is being considered or has already been committed. In the context of specifically Christianity and Islam, because humans are seen as inherently sinful, good deeds require the incorporation of apology, reconciliation, and, most importantly, forgiveness. The implications of these are different when considering the timelines. In life, consequences must be addressed with apology, forgiveness and potentially reconciliation as legitimately carried through. The afterlife is conceptually different. There, consequences like whether one’s soul is to find itself eternally residing in, for example, either heaven or hell, are completely dependent upon what was completed during the individual’s time of living. When discussing motivations for adhering to God, the application of obedience may not even directly present itself as religious in life in the same way as the repercussion of the act would be viewed in death. Religion is more heavily implicated in the determination of the afterlife, but it has heavy undertones on everyday life that can be seen through the lens of social psychology.

Self-Enhancement in Practice for the Purpose of Reward in Afterlife. Death follows life. In terms of order, it is perhaps easier to present the qualifiers for the afterlife before life. This is because the rules for religion, specifically Christianity and Islam, are explicitly stated in tenets. Fearing God is to obey Him, and rules are required so as to give adherents something solid to obey. Should one obey the tenets put into place by God, one will be rewarded. While religious rules are more concrete in religious contexts, their application in everyday life is more subjectively done and therefore slightly more muddled in discussion.

Religious belief systems are not at all simple, with diverging denominations and multifaceted meanings towards applications. At their cores, however, such belief systems have explicit dogma and expectations for their adherents in order for them to be either good Christians or good Muslims in the eyes of God. Generally, Christianity places importance upon the love of God and the trust that Jesus is the Messiah who, like God, is capable of offering forgiveness. Jesus taught Christians not to judge others, be hypocritical, or be hateful. Additionally and very importantly, Christianity also asks for its adherents to forgive those who have wronged them.[xv] Islamic faith centers around five, and arguably six, tenets including the first where its adherents recite the Islamic creed, the Shahada, so as to be explicitly aware of their acceptance of Islam. The others include practicing ritual prayers five times a day, fasting once a year, volunteering and giving charity, and making the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetimes. In some religious and theological literature, there is a sixth proposed tenet of the jihad. In accordance with this additional tenet, adherents are also meant to struggle with the jihad: submitting to God’s will and also contributing to the improvement of their Islamic society.[xvi] While not explicitly emphasized as its own tenet, forgiveness is underlyingly preferential in Islamic jurisprudence.[xvii]

In Islam and Christianity especially, there is a great emphasis on forward-thinking. What is done across the timeline of an individual’s life span is meant to directly impact what comes to the individual in the afterlife. In Christianity, the Lord’s Prayer goes as follows: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:9-13).[xviii]  

This prayer serves as the central prayer to Christianity. Forgiveness is expected from God and also mentioned in reference to others by adherents. Not only is forgiveness emphasized in the main prayer, but heaven also is as well. In doing good by God, there is an expectation for Christians that they will be rewarded with a pleasant and ideal afterlife.

The Quranic central prayer is more succinct than the Christian prayer but does not lack in its meanings and implications. It is as follows: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” One is not an official Muslim in the community if they do not recite this prayer.[xix] The short statement serving as a prayer shows the importance of the belief system in Islam. God is only loving to individuals conditionally, Those who obey Him and have faith in Him are loved, and those who do not obey or have faith are not loved.[xx] Moucarry explains this further, and describes that, in Islam, God’s love is indirectly expressed through blessings (35). These are a type of validation and therefore self-enhancing consolidation in the form of rewards, serving as motivation for an individual to adhere to Islam and therefore God.

If rewards in the afterlife are promised to the individual in exchange for adherence in the major prayers of both religions, what then is the reason for self-serving being so negatively regarded? According to Avila, “the Order does not command [adherents to God] not to be humble: it commands [adherents to God] to do everything in due form” (105).[xxi] That is to say that following the tenets of Christianity and Islam do not ask or even perhaps pay attention for a certain disposition of an individual. Misinterpretation of self-enhancement ties into the concept of sin in both Christianity and Islam. It is not inherently bad for an individual to worship God and, through that worship, be aware of the promise established by God that if certain rules are obeyed, or broken and repented for, that that individual will be sent to a comfortable place of life after death. The negative valence of self-enhancement in religion potentially stems from the suspicion that security is not enough. Self-enhancement shifts to a sinful overlap if it turns to incorporate any unaddressed insatiability of what one desires from God to the point that they may even be trying to take advantage of Him or harm Him for their own benefit. This suspicion, though possible, is not a definite progression of events. Adherence is to obey God, and if He is obeyed, then good is done regardless of any intentions or motives, and the adherent is fulfilled in ways that God allows and the adherent expects.

In Christianity and Islam both, the concept of sin can be compartmentalized so as to say that sin solely means to reject one’s faith in God. For Christianity, it is both the failure to fulfill one’s destiny as determined by God in addition to the failure to accept that Jesus Christ is the son of God and His human incarnation.[xxii] For Islam, there is a hierarchy to the types of sins, either major or minor, and the weight of their effect that individuals may commit.[xxiii] Similar to Christianity, disbelief is of major consideration. Disbelief casts doubt upon the amount of time an individual has been true to God and brings the quality of any of their time of faith into question. Sin incites an individual to want compensation for their lowly place of immortality or even seek godly status.[xxiv] From Augustine’s Western Christian view, there is an overlap of psychology in that sin is seen as psychopathological. He described the key concepts as:

[T]he psychopathology of sin: amor sui (self-love), superbia (pride as self-elevation to the status of God), and consupscentia (the desire to possess in order to compensate for the lack of being finite) …. This understanding of original sin emphasizes [human’s] connectedness with one another as fallen creatures, the inability to liberate [them]selves from the past, and the fact that [human] desires need a radical reorientation that [they] cannot effect by [them]selves so [they] are radically dependent on God’s grace (31).[xxv]

This sentiment is mirrored in the Quran, which directly addresses the assumption that self-enhancement and sin are connected. According to the Quran, “a man who accepts God’s morality perceives sin in an enhancement of self…. Sin… leads man to hellfire, barring him from the rewards set aside for the righteous.”[xxvi] This is correct, but only if self-enhancement is achieved through what qualifies as sin, and self-enhancement is an unsatiated force in one’s character. God is already in a position to reward His adherents who make consistent mistakes. Repentance is something that every Christian is able to endorse and is considered God’s joy, and while forgiveness may only be rewarded by God or Jesus, it is not difficult to obtain if one is sincere.[xxvii] If one attempts to overstep or overreach above God, however, that is an ultimate psychopathology of sin viewed akin to a sickness to want for so much so over the one who had already promised an individual security and blessings.

From a more social psychological standpoint, for an individual to want for more is to promote a certain sense of cognitive-dissonance, where one feels as though their attitudes and beliefs do not match their behaviors.[xxviii] People may see themselves as not matching the ideal being, like God, that their real self cannot possibly live up to, so they strive for it. Stern writes that sinning involves “damage to the perpetrator. Man, in sinning, falls short of his own potentional, … [like] stumbling or falling short of a target.”[xxix]

However, it must be reemphasized that self-enhancement in the context of religion does not always progress to insatiability. Religion may aid in cognitive dissonance in the sense that one’s trust in how God has determined what is good and bad may marry their ideal self with their real self. A person who wants to be good will understand how to be good, and through the security of knowing that they will be validated with God’s rewards shows them that they are in fact achieving goodness. The core social motives are obtained without any negative connotation: they understand what to do, can control their own actions, and are benefited by this and enhanced to be going to heaven while others may not be.

Self-Enhancement in Practice for the Purpose of Reward in a Current Life. One of the major considerations in life in social beings is what is to follow when a wrongdoing has been committed. Generally, humans have a choice when it comes to how to respond to a wrongdoing. There is the frustration-aggression theory, in which the sole aspect of an individual involved feeling frustrated is enough to lead to potentially serious acts of aggression.[xxx] This, however, much like the insatiability of security in the afterlife, is not a definite progression of events. Dogs, when angered, will give multiple warning nips, wrapping their mouths around a point of contract without pressure, before transitioning to full aggression and biting down to show their upset.[xxxi] Flanged male orangutans, considered by comparative and cognitive psychologists to be a more cognitively advanced species than dogs, show complete intolerance around other flanged male orangutans, and will engage in combat for a period of minutes or hours.[xxxii] Chimpanzees are also very high up on the cognitive hierarchy. They exhibit behaviors often likened to those of humans, and as mentioned above, are perceived to be in their Stone Age equivalent.[xxxiii] These great apes have been found to commit targeted assaults on other prides of chimpanzees in a way that is strikingly similar to human warfare.[xxxiv]

It is when examining non-human animals whose survival is very much based in social behaviors that human cognition is very important to consider. Religious concepts incite a sense of moral code or ethical principles within an individual, especially in reference to the Christian and Islamic preferences towards forgiveness. Such forgiveness can be achieved through apology and potential reconciliation, which may potentially make the difference between acts of blind aggression and the recognition that forgiveness and advanced justice are possibilities. Humans, social animals but also intelligent animals, can recognize the interpersonal and intrapersonal benefit, or self-enhancing factors, that come with incorporating religious tenets into everyday life in a way that is more than just for the reward of life after death, but aids in avoiding or overcoming conflict.

Survival in humanity is not as always just as simple as staying alive in the way that the quality of life ought to be of consideration. Without interpersonal conflict that manifests both within groups as well as across groups, as well as without intrapersonal conflict that occurs often as a product of cognitive dissonance, there is a lessened amount of psychological distress on an individual. Forgiveness can be defined as “the restraint of anger or offense, even when justified as a strict matter of fairness or reciprocity.”[xxxv]  If an individual does wrong, religion allows for a way to achieve closure and self-forgiveness. Self-forgiveness relates to well-being in that it “moderate[s] the relationship between self-forgiveness and psychological distress in that perceived forgiveness by God [i]s associated with fewer depressive symptoms at lower but not higher levels of self-forgiveness” (854).[xxxvi] In this way, an individual is able to have a focus on themselves that is not so terrible because they have been given concrete forgiveness by someone deemed all-powerful and worthy of worship of hundreds upon thousands of people.

Further, with regards to the quality of life that an individual may determine through religious standards, a term that is gaining popularity in psychology is trauma centrality. Trauma centrality can be defined as “the degree to which a traumatic event is seen as central to one’s identity and sense of self. Individuals who perceive greater centrality see the trauma as being an important part of who they are and an important part of their life story.”[xxxvii] With regards to psychological fields, trauma centrality does dip heavily into clinical psychology, but the term encapsulates two social psychological considerations: private self-awareness, where an individual becomes focused in on themself in a social situation, as well as private self-consciousness, where an individual becomes focused on their inner feelings and standards.[xxxviii] The term forces an individual to view themselves as a victim and look at life through the social lens of a victim, and with that lens established, is in need of some sort of remedy.

Vengeance is not a concept foreign to religion. It is very much included, but forgiveness is emphasized as being preferential. In Islam, should murder be committed, there is no victim to decide their next steps. Instead, the family is to choose whether or not they wish to commit murder in return, accept compensation, or offer forgiveness. The first option is diyyah, and qualifies as a type of justice, restoring balance with a murder for a murder.[xxxix] The danger of trauma centrality is its ability to skew an individual’s perspective of themselves and redefine themselves under the events that happens to them. It is coupled with an intense anger or sadness that often translates into a consuming want for revenge. The individual’s life stops being their own and is instead bent on the delivery of justice upon another. Forgiveness is perceived in some theological and even political literature as a block for justice.[xl] Justice is the beginning of morality, but forgiveness, always an option as well, is an extension of justice that in fact supersedes it.[xli] It is not an act weakness or learned helpless where one accepts that they are a victim and so their only option is forgiving.[xlii] Instead, it is a way for an individual to retain control, a core motive of social psychology, and determine in their private self-consciousness that their standards are above justice. They get to understand themselves and recognize that, to their benefit because it is at their own volition and chosen through their own sense of morals, that they have received closure not dependent upon the state of another person.

Trauma centrality has to do with an individual experiencing a traumatic event as committed by another, placing the individual identifying with the trauma in a situation where they are completely victimized. Though there is a social engagement aspect of this, the focus is on the individual. It is individualistic, and it is here that self-enhancement is most applicable. The individual accepts the role that forgiveness plays in the construct and is able to reduce the distress associated with their trauma, benefiting themselves with the reestablishment of their private self-consciousness’ standards.

There are many religious aspects that may aid an individual throughout everyday life, but a focal point is forgiveness because of its attention in Christianity and Islam, but also its strong connections to the core social motives that are recognized in social psychology. In this context, forgiveness is not to be equated with forgetting or mercy for a wrongdoing. Forgiveness here is intentional, “based on obligations to respect other persons and to seek, so far as reasonably possible, to further human welfare and limit human suffering.”[xliii] Intention means control of the situation and understanding of the parameters of one’s forgiveness, and the self-enhancement comes with the furthering of human welfare prioritized over human suffering.


There is a famous quote from a Sufi woman, Rabia Al Basri, that reads, “O God, if I worship thee for fear of hell, burn me in hell, and if I worship thee in hope of paradise, exclude me from paradise; but if I worship thee for my own sake, grudge me not my everlasting beauty.”[xliv] There is a mixed implication here. An adherent in Islam is not to worship God for the sake of anything other than devotion to Him, but it is God Himself who has put into place the promise of heaven in the afterlife as a reward for those who obey Him and adhere to His commands. It is God Himself who established tenets not just in Islam, but in Christianity as well, that guide individuals through life in ways that are self-fulfilling. Consistent reward promises consistent adherence, even if that consistency is something as intangible as security.

In arguing that individuals who adhere to their Lord for the sake of their own self-enhancement, considering life after death, somehow devalues beliefs about God or reconstrues them as disingenuous ignores a major reason that religion itself is attractive. Humans live complicated social lives, and beliefs under God follow along that promise of rights as mentioned earlier with deeper thinking about what actions may mean for an individual more so than just after death. It is not a secret in religion that God makes promises to His people to reward them for Him being their god, and it should be acceptable for adherents to accept the interpersonal and intrapersonal comforts that He offers to them.

I affirm that I have adhered to the Honor Code in this assignment.

Emma Edenbaum

[i] The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Religion.” Enclopaedia Britannica, accessed December 14, 2017,

[ii] American Psychological Association. “Social Psychology.” American Psychological Association Online Dictionary, accessed December 14, 2017,

[iii] John Hick and Brian Hebblethwaite, eds. “’Whatever Path Men Choose is Mine,” in Christianity and Other Religions (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1981): 188

[iv] Susan T. Fiske. “Introduction: Adaptive Motives for Social Situations, via Cultures and Brains,” in Social Beings: Core Motives in Social Psychology (4th ed.) (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2018).

[v] M. S. Stern. “IV,” in Al-Ghazzali on Repentance (New Delhi, India: Sterling Publishers, 1990): 12.

[vi] Simon N. Young, “The Neurobiology of Human Social Behaviour: An Important but Neglected Topic,” Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience 33, no. 5 (2008): 391.

[vii] Andrew Griffin, “Mysterious Chimpanzee Behaviour Could be ‘Sacred Rituals’ and Show That Chimps Believe in God.” Independent, accessed December 14, 2019,

[viii] Sławomir Wacewicz & Przemysław Żywiczyński. “Language Evolution: Why Hockett’s Design Features are a Non-Starter.” Biosemiotics 8, no. 1(2015): 29-46.

[ix] Mohammad Mahallati, (lecture, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, October 15, 2019).

[x] Chawkat Moucarry. “Good Is Merciful,” in The Search for Forgiveness: Pardon and Punishment in Islam and Christianity (Inter-Varsity Press, 2004): 30.

[xi] Lucinda Mosher and David Marshall, eds., Sin, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation: Christian and Muslim

Perspectives (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2014), 27.

[xii] Mosher and Marshall, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, 42.

[xiii] Stern. “IV,” in Al-Ghazzali on Repentance, 6.

[xiv] “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace: An Update on America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” Pew Research Center, accessed December 18, 2019,

[xv] Editors. “Christianity,” A & E Television Networks, accessed December 17, 2019,

[xvi] Geoff Ashley. “Tenets of Islam,” Resources, accessed December 17, 2019,

[xvii] Russell Powell. “Forgiveness in Islamic Ethics and Jurisprudence.” Berkely Journal of Middle Eastern & Islamic Law 4, no. 1(2001): 26.

[xviii] The Bible. English Standard Version, Crossway, 2001.

[xix] “Shahadah: The Statement of Faith.” British Broadcasting Corporation, accessed December 18, 2019,

[xx] Moucarry, The Search for Forgiveness: Pardon and Punishment in Islam and Christianity, 34.

[xxi] Allison Peers, ed. “Treats of These Words in the Paternoster: ‘Dimitte Nobis Debita Nostra.’” St. Teresa of Avila. In The Way of Perfection (Image Classics, 1991):105.

[xxii] Mosher and Marshall, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, 24-25.

[xxiii] Mosher and Marshall, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, 42.

[xxiv] Mosher and Marshall, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, 31.

[xxv] Mosher and Marshall, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, 31.

[xxvi] Stern. “IV,” in Al-Ghazzali on Repentance, 6-7.

[xxvii] Stern. “IV,” in Al-Ghazzali on Repentance, 3; Mosher and Marshall, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, 33.

[xxviii] Susan T. Fiske. “The Self: Social to the Core,” in Social Beings: Core Motives in Social Psychology (4th ed.) (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2018).

[xxix] Stern. “IV,” in Al-Ghazzali on Repentance, 6.

[xxx] Stephan Mayer, (lecture, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, November 13, 2019).

[xxxi] Pat Miller. “Canine Body Language Danger Signs,” Whole Dog Journal, accessed December 18, 2019,

[xxxii] “Orangutan Behavior.” Orangutan Foundation International, accessed December 18, 2019,

[xxxiii] Andrew Griffin, “Mysterious Chimpanzee Behaviour Could be ‘Sacred Rituals’ and Show That Chimps Believe in God.”

[xxxiv] Laura Geggel. “Chimps Are Naturally Violent, Study Suggests.” Live Science, accessed December 18, 2019,

[xxxv] Powell. “Forgiveness in Islamic Ethics and Jurisprudence,” 24.

[xxxvi] Frank D. Fincham and Ross W. May. “Self-forgiveness and Well-being: Does Divine Forgiveness Matter?” The Journal of Positive Psychology 14, no. 6 (2019): 854-859.

[xxxvii] Logan S. George, Crystal L. Park, and Spephanie R. Chaudoir. “Examining the Relationship between Trauma Centrality and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: A Moderated Mediation Approach,” Traumatology 22, no. 2 (2016): 86.

[xxxviii] Stephan Mayer, (lecture, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, October 2, 2019).

[xxxix]  Huda. “Blood Money in Islam,” Learn Religions, accessed December 18, 2019,

[xl] Jacob T. Levy. “Political Forgiveness by P.E. Digeser,” Political Theory 30, no. 6 (2002): 866.

[xli] Mohammad Mahallati, (lecture, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, November 26, 2019).

[xlii] Sharon Lamb and Jeffrie G. Murphy, eds. “Forgiveness in Psychotherapy,” in Before Forgiving: Cautionary Views of Forgiveness in Psychotherapy (Oxford University Press, 2002): 81.

[xliii] Trudy Govier. Forgiveness and Revenge (New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group, 2002): 12.  

[xliv] Amy Mandelker and Elizabeth Powers, eds. “Rābi’a Al-‘Adawīya,” in Pilgrim Souls: A Collection of Spiritual Autobiography (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1999): 268.

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