The Prophet’s Methods for Correcting People’s Mistakes Part-1


Bismillaah il-Rahmaan il-Raheem

In the Name of Allaah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Praise be to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds, Master of the Day of Judgement, God of the first and the last, Sustainer of heaven and earth, and peace and blessings be upon His trustworthy Prophet, the Teacher of mankind, sent as a Mercy to the worlds.

Teaching people is one of the greatest good deeds whose benefits spread to others. It is the daiy’ahs’ and educators’ share of the heritage of the Prophets and Messengers.

“Allaah and the angels, and even the ant in its nest and the whale in the sea will pray for the one who teaches people the ways of good.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi; Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad Shaakir edn., no. 2685. Abu ‘Eesa said, this is a saheeh ghareeb hasan hadeeth).

There are different types and ways of teaching, with different means and methods, one of which is correcting mistakes. Correcting mistakes is a part of education; they are like inseparable twins.

Dealing with and correcting mistakes is also a part of sincerity in religion (naseehah) which is a duty on all Muslims. The connection between this and the concept of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, which is also a duty, is quite obvious (but we should note that the area of mistakes is broader than the area of evil (munkar), so a mistake may or may not be evil as such).

Correcting mistakes also formed a part of the wahy (revelation) and the methodology of the Qur’aan. The Qur’aan brought commands and prohibitions, approvals and denunciations and correction of mistakes – even those on the part of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). So it included rebukes and pointing out of mistakes, for example (interpretation of the meaning):

“(The Prophet) frowned and turned away,

Because there came to him the blind man [‘Abd-Allaah ibn Umm Maktoom, whilst he was preaching to one or some of the chiefs of Quraysh],

But what could tell you that perchance he might become pure (from sins)?

Or that he might receive admonition, and that the admonition might profit him?

As for him who thinks himself self-sufficient,

To him you attend;

What does it matter to you if he will not become pure (from disbelief, you are only a Messenger, your duty is to convey the Message of Allaah).

But as to him who came to you running, And is afraid (of Allaah and His Punishment), Of him you are neglectful and divert your attention to another.” [‘Abasa 80:1-10]

“And remember when you (Muhammad) said to him (Zayd ibn Haarithah – the freed slave of the Prophet) on whom Allaah has bestowed Grace (by guiding him to Islam) and you (too) have done a favour (by freeing him), ‘Keep your wife to yourself and fear Allaah.’ But you did hide in yourself (what Allaah had already made known to you – i.e. that He will give her to you in marriage) that which Allaah will make mainfest, you did fear the people whereas Allaah had a better right that you should fear Him…” [al-Ahzaab 33:38]

“Not for you (O Muhammad) is the decision; whether He turns in mercy to (pardons) them or punishes them; verily, they are the zaalimoon (polytheists, disobedient, wrong-doers, etc.).” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:128]

Qur’aan was also revealed to correct the mistakes of some of the Sahaabah in some situations. When Haatib ibn Abi Balta’ah (may Allaah be pleased with him) made the mistake of writing to the kuffaar of Quraysh and informing them of the direction in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was headed on a military campaign against them, Allaah revealed the words (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies (i.e., disbelievers and polytheists, etc.) as friends, showing affection towards them, while they have disbelieved  in what has come to you of the truth, and have driven out the Messenger and yourselves (from your homeland) because you believe in Allaah your Lord! If you have come forth to strive in My Cause and to seek My Good Pleasure, (then take not these disbelievers and polytheists, etc., as your friends). You show friendship to them in secret, while I am All-Aware of what you conceal and what you reveal. And whosoever of you (Muslims) does that, then indeed he has gone (far) astray, (away) from the Straight Path.” [al-Mumtahinah 60:1]

Concerning the mistake made by the archers at the battle of Uhud, who left the position where the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had commanded them to stay, Allaah revealed the words (interpretation of the meaning):

“… until (the moment) you lost your courage and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed after He showed you (of the booty) which you love. Among you are some that desire this world and some that desire the Hereafter…” [Aal- ‘Imraan 3:152]

When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stayed away from his wives in order to discipline them, and some people spread rumours that he had divorced them, Allaah revealed the words (interpretation of the meaning):

“When there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear, they make it known (among the people), if only they had referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have understood it from them (directly)…”  [al-Nisa’ 4:83]

When some of the Muslims failed to migrate from Makkah to Madeenah with no legitimate excuse, Allaah revealed the words (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily! As for those whom the nagels take (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatroy for them), they (angels) say (to them): ‘In what (condition) were you?’ They reply: ‘We were weak and oppressed on earth.’ They (angels) say: ‘Was not the earth of Allaah spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?’ …” [al-Nisa’ 4:97]

When some of the Sahaabah believed and repeated the rumours of the munaafiqeen accusing ‘Aa’ishah of something she was innocent of, Allaah revealed aayaat concerning this lie, including (interpretation of the meaning):

“Had it not been for the Grace of Allaah and His Mercy unto you in this world and in the Hereafter, a great torment would have touched you for that whereof you had spoken. When you were propagating it with your tongues and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a little thing, while with Allaah it was very great.” [al-Noor 24:14]

Then Allaah said (interpretation of the meaning):

“And why did you not, when you heard it, say – ‘It is not right for us to speak of this. Glory be to You (O Allaah), this is a great lie’? Allaah forbids you from it and warns you not to repeat the like of it forever, if you are believers.” [al-Noor 24:16-17]

When some of the Sahaabah argued in the presence of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and raised their voices, Allaah revealed (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Do not put (yourselves) forward before Allaah and His Messenger, and fear Allaah. Verily! Allaah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. O you who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk as you speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds may be rendered fruitless while you perceive not.” [al-Hujuraat 49:1-2]

When the caravan came at the time of the Friday khutbah, and some of the people left the khutbah and dispersed to engage in trade, Allaah revealed the words:

“And when they see some merchandise or some amusement, they disperse headlong to it, and leave you (Muhammad) standing [while delivering the Friday khutbah]. Say: ‘That which Allaah has is better than any amusement or merchandise! And Allaah is the Best of Providers.’” [al-Jumu’ah 62:11]

Many other examples also indicate the importance of correcting mistakes and not keeping quiet about them.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was guided by the Light of his Lord in following the principle of denouncing evil and correcting mistakes with no compromise. From this and other reports the scholars (may Allaah have mercy on them) derived the principle: it is not permitted for the Prophet to delay speaking up and explaining mistakes at the appropriate time.”

Understanding the Prophet’s methodology in dealing with the mistakes of the people he met is of great importance, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was guided by his Lord, and his words and deeds were supported by the wahy, and confirmed or corrected as needed.

His methods are wiser and more efficacious, and using his approach is the best way to get people to respond positively. If the one who is in a position to guide and teach others adopts these methods and this approach, his efforts will be successful. Following the method and approach of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also involves following his example, for he is the best example for us, and this will lead us to a great reward from Allaah, if our intention is sincere.

Knowing the methods of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) exposes the failure of the man-made methodology – which is followed everywhere on this earth – and proves to the followers of that methodology that it is a failure. Much of it is clearly a deviation that is based on corrupt theories such as absolute freedom, or it is derived from false heritages such a blind imitation of one’s fathers and forefathers.

We must point out that the practical application of this methodology in real life relies heavily on ijtihaad (studying the situation and attempting to determine the best approach) to a great extent. This involves selecting the best methods for a particular situation. Whoever understands people’s nature will be able to notice similarities between real life situations and situations described in the texts, so he will be able to choose the most appropriate method from among the methods of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

This book is an attempt to study the methods of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in dealing with mistakes made by people of different levels and backgrounds, among those who lived with him and with whom he interacted. I ask Allaah to make it successful and free of mistakes, to benefit my Muslim brothers and me through it, for He is in control of all things and He is able to do this, and He is the Guide to the Straight Path.

to be continue in Part-2, in topic:

Points to be noted when dealing with mistakes


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