The Meaning of Pardon and Absolution
`Afw linguistically: is the verbal noun of `afa ya`fu. Its original meaning is erasure and eradication. One says `afawtu `an al-haqq (I eradicated truth) to mean that one has dropped it, as if one has erased it from what it was.  See: Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (15/72); al-Misbah al-Munir, al-Fayyumi (2/419).
`Afw technically: is letting a sin go and leaving off its punishment. Its original meaning is to erase and eradicate.  Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, al-Mubarakfuri (6/143).
Safh linguistically: is turning away from sins. One is described as safuhun saffahun if he is pardoning (`afuww). The safh is also the noble one since he absolves one who wrongs him from guilt. Istasfahahu dhanbah (he sought absolution from his sin) is said if one sought forgiveness and asked to be absolved.  Lisan al-`Urab, Ibn al-`Arab (2/512)
Safh technically: is desisting from reproaching, and it is the highest form of pardoning, for one may pardon but not necessarily absolve.  al-Tawqif `ala Muhimmat al-Ta`arif, al-Manawi (p. 458). Encouragement towards Pardon and Absolution in the Qur’an and Sunnah
❖ Allah, exalted, says: “Hurry towards your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth prepared for the pious, who give, both in prosperity and adversity, who restrain their anger, and pardon people - Allah loves those who do good.” Al `Imran: 133 - 134.
❖ Abu Hurayrah, Allah be pleased with him, said: “Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: ‘Charity never decreases wealth, Allah does not increase a pardoning slave but in honour, and no slave humbles himself to Allah except that He elevates him.’”  Reported by Muslim (2588). Meaning, whoever is known to be absolving and pardoning becomes dear in others’ hearts, and he increases in honour. It has also been said that his after-worldly reward becomes great, and so does his honour.  Ikmal al-Mu`allim, al-Qadi `Iyad (8/28). Quotes of the Predecessors and Scholars on Pardon and Absolution
❖ It was said to Abu al-Darda’: “Who is the most honourable among people?” He replied: “Those who pardon when in power - pardon and Allah, exalted will honour you.”  Nihayat al-Arab fi Funun al-Adab, al-Nuwayri (6/58).
❖ al-Hasan ibn `Ali, Allah be pleased with them both, said: “If a man curses me in this ear then apologises in the other, I would accept his apology.”  al-Adab al-Shar`iyyah, Ibn Muflih (1/302).
❖ `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz said: “The most beloved things to Allah are three: pardoning when dominant, temperateness in seriousness, and gentleness in worship. No one is gentle with another with another in this world except that Allah is gentle with him on the Day of Resurrection.”  Rawdat al-`Uqala’, Ibn Hibban al-Busti (p. 167). Examples of Endearment from the Life of the Prophet ﷺ, Companions, Righteous Predecessors, and Kings
❖ Usamah ibn Zayd, Allah be pleased with him, said: “Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and his companions used to excuse the pagans and the People of the Book as Allah ordered them, and they used to be patient over their harm. Allah, exalted, says: ‘You shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Book before you…’ Al `Imran: 186. He also said: ‘Many of the People of the Book… al-Baqarah: 109.’ So Allah’s Messenger ﷺ used to apply what Allah had ordered him...”  Reported by al-Bukhari (6207) and the wording is his, as well as Muslim (1798).
❖ `A’ishah, Allah be pleased to her, said that he ﷺ used to not recompense the evil deed with its like; rather, he would pardon and absolve.”  Reported by al-Tirmidhi (2016) as well as Ahmad (25417) and the wording is his. al-Tirmidhi said: “it is sound, authentic.” al-Albani authenticated it in Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi (2016).
❖ Abu Bakr, Allah be pleased with him, pardoned Mistah ibn Uthathah - he was among those who were involved in slander. When Allah revealed `A’ishah’s innocence, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq said - he used to spend from his wealth on Mistah ibn Uthathah due to their familial relation and the latter’s poverty -: “By Allah, I shall not spend anything more on Mistah after what he said about `A’ishah.” Allah revealed: “Let not those of virtue among you...” until “Allah is very forgiving, very merciful.” al-Nur: 22. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq said thereafter: “Yes, most certainly I would like it that Allah forgives me.” He returned to Mistah his regular expenditure that he used to give and said: “By Allah, I shall never take it away from him.”  Reported by al-Bukhari (4141) and Muslim (2770).
❖ Sulayman ibn `Abd al-Malik was angry with Khalid al-Qasri. When the latter entered upon him, he said: “Commander of the Faithful, power does away with reservation, and you are more eminent than to punish. If you pardon then it is befitting of you, and if you punish then it is befitting of me.” He pardoned him after that.  Wafiyyat al-A`yan, Ibn Khalkan (2/425). Benefits of Pardon and Absolution
In pardoning there is mercy to the wrongdoer and appreciation of his human weakness. It is following the command of Allah and a cause for His pardoning and forgiveness. Pardon reaffirms strong ties in society which wrongdoing inevitably and criminality breaks among people.  al-Akhlaq al-Islamiyyah, `Abd al-Rahman al-Maydani (1/408). Pardoning and absolving others is a reason to earn the pleasure of Allah, sanctified and exalted. Pardon and absolution are a cause of piety. Allah, exalted, says: “To forgo is nearer to piety.” al-Baqarah: 237. Pardon and absolution are of the characteristics of the pious. Allah, exalted, says: “Hurry towards your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth prepared for the pious, who give, both in prosperity and adversity, who restrain their anger, and pardon people - Allah loves those who do good.” Al `Imran: 133 - 134. Whoever pardons and absolves people of guilt gains spiritual tranquility. Proverbs and Poetry about Pardon
❖ They say: “You owned, so be fine.” Meaning, you won, so be good.  al-Amthal, Ibn Salam (p. 154).
❖ And they say: “Power does away with reservation.”  Majma` al-Amthal, al-Maydani (1/14).
❖ And they say: “If the haughty is humbled, then lift your hand.” Meaning, if you have found he has become submissive and calm, then desist from him.  al-`Iqd al-Farid, Ibn `Abd Rabbih (3/104).
❖ The poet said:
“If I did not pardon a fault from a brother,
And said, ‘Redress!’ then where is virtue?
Rather, I cover my eyelids from dust-specks,
Absolve the doubtful, and I show courtesy.
If I am to cut off brothers at every slipup,
I will become alone, with no one to relate to.
So, I cover, and his wellness pleases me,
And if he is still sick, then I overlook him.”  al-`Iqd al-Farid, Ibn `Abd Rabbih (3/80).