The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was merciful to his family, followers, friends, even enemies. He was merciful to young and old, to humans and to animals. Those who persecuted him in Makkah and killed his relatives and his followers, when they were defeated in the battles and brought as captives, were forgiven by him. He did not ever take revenge or retaliated. He was the most forgiving person.
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, president of the Fiqh Council of North America, states the following: Literally, the word `afwu means “to release” “to heal”, “to restore”, “to remit.” In the Qur’an this word is used for humans as well as for Allah. In relation to Allah, it means “to release us from the burden of punishment due to our sins and mistakes, to restore our honor after we have dishonored ourselves by committing sins and making mistakes.” Sometimes in the Qur’an both words, `afwuand ghafur, come together.
Muslims are urged in the Qur’an and Sunnah to be very forgiving to all people, even to their enemies as much as possible. Allah says in the Qur’an: (Many of the People of the Book long to make you disbelievers after your belief, through envy on their own account, after the truth became manifest to them. Forgive and overlook them until Allah brings His decision. Indeed Allah has power over all things) (Al-Baqarah 2:109).