The Prophet’s Methods for Correcting People’s Mistakes – Last Part-4

15 – Provoking public opinion against the one who has made the mistake

This method is only to be used in very limited circumstances, when a great deal of thought has been given to the matter, to avoid any negative escalation of the situation. There follows an example of how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used this method:

Abu Hurayrah said: “A man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and complained to him about his neighbour. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Go and put up with him.’ The man came back two or three times, then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Go and put your belongings out in the street.’ So he went and put his belongings out in the street. People started to ask him what was going on, so he told them, and the people started to curse (the neighbour), saying, ‘May Allaah do such-and-such to him.’ Then the neighbour came to him and said, ‘Put your stuff back, you will not see anything else from me that you dislike.’” (Reported by Abu Dawood, Kitaab al-Adab, Baab fi Haqq al-Jiwaar, no. 5153; Saheeh Abi Dawood, 4292).

This method has an opposite counterpart which is used in other circumstances to protect people from the public’s harm, as will be explained below:

16 – Avoiding helping the Shaytaan against the one who is making a mistake

‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab reported that at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), there was a man called ‘Abd-Allaah whose nickname was Himaar (donkey), who used to make the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) laugh. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had him whipped for drinking – he was brought to him one day and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) gave orders that he should be whipped. One of the men present said, “O Allaah, curse him! How often has he been brought [to be punished because of drinking]!” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Do not curse him, for by Allaah, all I know of him is that he loves Allaah and His Messenger.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, 6780).

Abu Hurayrah said: “A drunkard was brought to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he ordered that he should be beaten, so some of us hit him with our hands, others with shoes and garments. When he went away, a man said, ‘May Allaah put him to shame!’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Do not be a help to the Shaytaan against your brother.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 6781).

Abu Hurayrah also said: “A man who had been drinking was brought to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he said, ‘Beat him.’ Some of us hit him with our hands, others with shoes and clothes. When he went away, some of the people said, ‘May Allaah put you to shame!’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Do not speak like this. Do not help the Shaytaan against him.’” (Al-Bukhaari, Fath, 6777)

According to another report: “Then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to his Companions, ‘Rebuke him.’ So they turned to him and said, ‘You did not think of Allaah, you did not fear Allaah, you did not feel ashamed before the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).’ Then they let him go, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Say, “O Allaah, forgive him, O Allaah, have mercy on him”’ and some of them added similar sentiments.” (Abu Dawood, Kitaab al-Hudood, Baab al-Hadd fi’l-Khamr, no. 4478, 4/620. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, no. 3759).

According to another report: “When he went away, some of the people said, ‘May Allaah put you to shame!’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Do not speak like this, do not help the Shaytaan against him. Say “May Allaah have mercy on you.”’” (Reported by Ahmad, 2/300. Ahmad Shaakir said, its isnaad is saheeh. Al-Musnad, ed. by Ahmad Shaakir, no. 7973).

What we learn from all of these reports is that if the Muslim falls into sin, he is still basically a Muslim and still basically loves Allaah and His Messenger, and this should not be denied. It is not permitted to pray against him in a manner that helps the Shaytaan against him; rather we should pray for him and ask Allaah to guide him, forgive him and have mercy on him.

17 – Asking the person to stop doing the wrong action

It is very important to make the person stop the wrong deed so that it does not get any worse and so that there is no delay in the denunciation of evil.

‘Umar reported that he said, “No, by my father.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Stop! Whoever swears by something other than Allaah, is guilty of shirk.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 1/47. Ahmad Shaakir said, its isnaad is saheeh. No. 329)

Abu Dawood reported in his Sunan that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Busr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said, “A man came stepping over the necks on the people (in the mosque) one Friday, whilst the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was delivering the khutbah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Sit down! You are causing a disturbance.’”

Al-Tirmidhi reported that Ibn ‘Umar said: “A man burped in the presence of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). He said, ‘Keep your burps away from us! The ones who fill their stomachs most in this world, will be the ones who remain hungry longest on the Day of Resurrection. (Abu ‘Eesa said, this is a ghareeb hasan hadeeth with this isnaad. Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 2478; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, no. 343.)

These ahaadeeth show a direct request to the person who is making the mistake to stop what he is doing.

18 – Explaining to the person who is making a mistake how to put things right

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did this in a number of ways, including the following:

– Drawing an individual’s attention to his mistake so that he could put it right himself.

An example of this is the report narrated by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said that he was with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and “the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) entered and saw a man sitting in the middle of the mosque, clasping his fingers together and talking to himself. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) gestured towards him, but he did not notice. So he turned to Abu Sa’eed and said, ‘If one of you is praying, he should not clasp his fingers together, because this clasping comes from the Shaytaan, and you are in a state of prayer so long as you are still in the mosque, until you go out.’” (Reported by Ahmad in his Musnad, 3/54. Al-Haythami said in al-Majma’ (2/25): its isnaad is hasan).

– Asking the person to do something again, correctly, if this is possible.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that a man entered the mosque whilst the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was sitting in a far corner. He prayed, then he came and greeted him with salaam. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Wa ‘alayka al-salaam, go back and pray, because you have not prayed.” So he went back and prayed, then he came back and greeted the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who said, “Wa ‘alayka al-salaam, go back and pray, because you have not prayed.” On the second occasion, or subsequently, the man said, “Teach me, O Messenger of Allaah.” He said, “When you stand up to pray, do wudoo’ properly, then face the qiblah and say Takbeer (‘Allaahu akbar’). Then recite whatever is easy for you of Qur’aan, then bow until you are at ease in rukoo’, then stand up until your back is completely straight. Then prostrate until you are at ease in sujood, then sit up until you are at ease in your sitting, then prostrate again until you are at ease in your sujood, then sit up again until you are at ease in your sitting. Do this in all your prayers.” (Reported by all; this version reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, 6251).

We should note that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to pay attention to the actions of the people around him so that he could teach them. According to a report narrated by al-Nisaa’i: “A man entered the mosque and prayed, whilst the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was watching him and we did not realize. When he finished, he turned and greeted the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who told him, ‘Go back and pray, for you have not prayed’…” (2/193 Saheeh Sunan al-Nisaa’i, no. 1008).

Among the qualities of the educator is that he should be aware of the actions of those who are with him.

  1. It is a part of educational wisdom to ask a person who has made a mistake to re-do his action, so that he can notice his mistake and put it right himself, especially when it is an obvious mistake that does not befit him. He may have done it out of forgetfulness, so this will remind him.
  2. If the person who has made a mistake does not realize it, it must be pointed out and explained to him.
  3. Giving information to a person who is interested and has asked about it himself is more effective and is more likely to be remembered than handing it out to someone who has not made any such enquiries.

The methods of teaching are many, and the educator can choose whichever are best suited in any given circumstances.

Another example of asking a person to repeat his action correctly is given by Muslim (may Allaah have mercy on him) in his Saheeh, where he reports that Jaabir said: “‘Umar ibn al-Khattab told me that a man did wudoo’, but missed an area on his foot the size of a fingernail. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saw him and said, ‘Go back and do your wudoo’ properly.’ So he went and did it again, then he prayed.” (Saheeh Muslim, 243).

A third example was narrated by al-Tirmidhi (may Allaah have mercy on him) in his Sunan from Kildah ibn Hanbal, who said that Safwaan ibn Umayyah sent him with some milk, yoghurt and daghaabees [an edible plant] to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was at the top of the valley. He said, “I entered upon him, and I did not greet him with salaam or ask permission to enter, so the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Go out and say “Al-salaamu ‘alaykum, may I enter?”’” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2710. Al-Tirmidhi said, a ghareeb hasan hadeeth. The hadeeth is also in Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 2180).

– Asking the person who has made the mistake to correct it as much as he can.

Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on it) reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “No man should be alone with a woman unless he is a mahram (close blood relative to whom marriage is permanently forbidden).” A man stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, my wife has gone out for Hajj and I have signed up for such-and-such a military campaign.” He said, “Go back and do Hajj with your wife.” (al-Fath, 5233).

– Putting right the consequences of the mistake

Al-Nisaa’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported in his Sunanfrom ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr that a man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, “I have come to pledge allegiance to you and to make hijrah (migration) to you. I have left my parents weeping.” He said, “Go back to them and make them smile as you made them weep.” (Al-Majmaa 7/143. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan al-Nisaa’i, no. 3881).

– Offering kafaarah (expiation) for the mistake

If some mistakes cannot be corrected or reversed, then there are other ways offered by Islam for wiping out their effects. One of these ways is kafaaraat or acts of expiation, of which there are many types, such as kafaarat al-yameen (expiation for swearing an unfulfilled oath), and expiation for zihaar (a jaahili form of divorce in which one says to one’s wife “You are to me as my mother’s back”), manslaughter, having intercourse during the day in Ramadaan, and so on.

19 – Denouncing only the mistake whilst accepting the rest

It may be the case that not all of what a person says or does is wrong, so it is wise to limit our denunciation only to that which is wrong, and not to generalize by condemning everything that is said or done as being wrong. This is indicated in the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) in his Saheeh from al-Rubay’ bint Mu’awwadh ibn ‘Afraa’, who said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came and entered, and sat down on my bed the way you sat down. Some young girls of ours began beating on the daff (hand-drum) and singing songs eulogizing those of our forefathers who had been killed at Badr. Then one of them said, ‘Among us there is a Prophet who knows the future.’ He [the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] said: ‘Do not say that; say what you were saying before.’” (Fath, 5147). According to a report narrated by al-Tirmidhi: “… The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to her: ‘Do not say this; say what you were saying before.’” (Abu ‘Eesa said: this is a saheeh hasan hadeeth. Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Shaakir edn., 1090). According to a report narrated by Ibn Maajah, he said: “Do not say this; no one knows the future except Allaah.” (Sunan Ibn Maajah, ‘Abd al-Baaqi edn., no. 1879. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah, no. 1539).

There is no doubt that this kind of treatment makes the person feel that the one who is striving to point out mistakes and correct them is fair and just, and this makes him more likely to accept his advice. This is in contrast to some of those who want to denounce errors, but get so angry with the mistake committed that they go to extremes in their denunciation and condemn everything done and said by the one who has made the mistake, good and bad alike. This makes the person reject what they say and refuse to follow their advice.

In some cases, the mistake consists not of the words themselves, but the occasion or context in which they are uttered. For example, when somebody dies, one person may say, “Al-Faatihah,” and everyone present will recite it. They believe that there is nothing wrong with this because what they are reciting is Qur’aan, not words of kufr. It has to be explained to them that what is wrong with this action is thinking that we should recite al-Faatihahon such occasions as an act of worship without any shar’i evidence for doing so, which is the essence of bid’ah. This is what Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) pointed out to a man who sneezed beside him and said, “Al-hamdu Lillaahi wa’l-salaam ‘ala Rasool- Illaah (Praise be to Allaah and peace be upon the Messenger of Allaah).” Ibn ‘Umar said, “I could say ‘Al-hamdu Lillaahi wa’l-salaam ‘ala Rasool- Illaah’, but this is not how the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) taught us. He taught us to say ‘Al-hamdu Lillaahi ‘ala kulli haal (Praise be to Allaah whatever the circumstances).” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 2738).

20 – Restoring rights and preserving positions

Muslim reported that ‘Awf ibn Maalik said: “A man of Humayr killed one of the enemy and wanted to take his possessions as booty, but Khaalid ibn al-Waleed, who was in charge of the campaign, prevented him from doing so. ‘Awf ibn Maalik came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and told him about it. He asked Khaalid, ‘What stopped you from giving him his booty?’ Khaalid said, ‘I thought it was too much, O Messenger of Allaah.’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Give it to him.’ Then Khaalid passed by ‘Awf, who pulled his cloak and said, ‘Did I not do what I told you I would do with regard to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) heard him and got angry, and said, ‘Do not give it to him, O Khaalid! Do not give it to him, O Khaalid! Why do you not leave my commanders alone? The likeness of you and them is that of a man who is asked to take care of camels or sheep, so he takes care of them, then when it is time for them to drink, he takes them to a trough and they start to drink, and they drink the clean water and leave the dregs behind. You take the clean water and leave the dregs for them [the commanders].’” (Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi, 12/64)

Imaam Ahmad transmitted a more complete version of this report from ‘Awf ibn Maalik al-Ashja’i, who said: “We went out on a military campaign on the border of Syria, and Khaalid ibn al-Waleed was appointed as our commander. A man belonging to Humayr came and joined our band, and he had nothing but a sword, no other weapon. One of the Muslims slaughtered a camel and that man kept trying to snatch something until he managed to grab a piece of skin the shape of a shield. He spread it on the ground and cured it until it was dry, then he made a handle for it, like a shield. We met with the enemy, who were a mixed group of Romans and Arabs from (the tribe of) Qudaa’ah. They fought us fiercely. Among them was a Roman on a palomino horse with a golden-coloured saddle and a gold-plated belt, and a sword of similar material. He started attacking and challenging the people, and that Madadi man kept dodging around the Roman until he approached him from behind and struck the horse’s hamstring with his sword. The Roman fell off, and the man followed that with a blow from his sword that killed him. When Allaah granted them victory, the man came asking about the booty, and the people bore witness that he had killed [that Roman], so Khaalid gave him some of the booty and withheld the rest. When he came back to ‘Awf’s band, he told him about it, and ‘Awf said, ‘Go back to him and let him give you the rest.’ So he went back, but [Khaalid] refused to give it to him. ‘Awf went to Khaalid and said, ‘Do you not know that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ruled that the booty should go to the one who kills?’ He said, ‘Of course.’ He said, ‘So what is stopping you from giving him his booty?’ He said, ‘I thought it was too much to give to him.’ ‘Awf said, ‘When I see the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) I am going to tell him about this.’ When he came to Madeenah, ‘Awf sent the man and he complained to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called Khaalid, whilst ‘Awf was sitting there, and said: ‘O Khaalid, what stopped you from giving this man his spoils of war?’ He said, ‘I thought it was too much for him, O Messenger of Allaah.’ [The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] said, ‘Give it to him.’ [Khaalid] passed by ‘Awf, and ‘Awf pulled on his cloak and said, ‘Wasn’t it enough for you what I told you about the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) heard him and got angry, and said, ‘Do not give it to him, O Khaalid. Why do you not leave my commanders alone? The likeness of you and them is that of a man who is asked to take care of camels or sheep, so he takes care of them, then when it is time for them to drink, he takes them to a trough and they start to drink, and they drink the clean water and leave the dregs behind. You take the clean water and leave the dregs for them [the commanders].’”

We may note here that when Khaalid made a mistake in his decision (ijtihaad) to withhold the large amount of booty from the killer, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded that the matter should be put right by giving the booty to its rightful owner, but he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) got angry when he heard ‘Awf (may Allaah be pleased with him) making insinuations about Khaalid and poking fun at him by saying, “Did I not do what I told you I would do with regard to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?” and pulling on Khaalid’s cloak when he walked past him, so he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Do not give it to him, O Khaalid.” This was for the purpose of reinstating and reinforcing the position of the commander and leader, because upholding the leader’s position in front of the people serves an obvious purpose.

But the following question may arise: If the killer had the right to the booty, how could he deny it to him? Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) answered this query with two possible outcomes:

Either he gave the booty to the man later on, and he delayed it as a punishment to him and to ‘Awf for saying what they said to Khaalid (may Allaah be pleased with him) and showing disrespect to the commander and the one who had appointed him; or the one who had the right to take it gave it up willingly and donated it for the Muslims, and the point of this was to make Khaalid (may Allaah be pleased with him) feel better for the purpose of upholding the position of leaders. (Al-Fath al-Rabbaani, 14/8 4)

Further evidence concerning restoration of the position of the person who has been wronged comes in the report narrated in the Musnadof Imaam Ahmad from Abu Tufayl ‘Aamir ibn Waathilah, that a man passed by a group of people and greeted them with salaam, and they returned the greeting, but when he had gone, one of them said, “By Allaah, I hate this man for the sake of Allaah.” The others present said, “What a bad thing to say! By Allaah, we are going to tell him. Get up, O So-and-So – one of the people present – and tell him.” So their messenger caught up with him and told him what had been said. The man went to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, I passed by a group of Muslims among whom was So-and-So. I greeted them with salaam and they returned the greeting, and when I had left, one of them caught up with me and told me that So-and-So had said, ‘By Allaah, I hate this man for the sake of Allaah.’ Call him and ask him why he hates me.” So the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called him and asked him about what the man had said. He admitted it and said, “I did say that, O Messenger of Allaah.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Why do you hate him?” He said, “I am his neighbour and I know him very well. By Allaah, I have never seen him pray any prayer except the prescribed prayer which everyone, good and bad alike, prays.” The man said, “Ask him, O Messenger of Allaah, has he ever seen me delaying any prayer, or not doing wudoo’ properly, or not doing rukoo’ and sujood properly?” He said, “No,” then he said, “By Allaah, I have never seen him fast at all except this month which everyone, good and bad alike, fasts.” He said, “O Messenger of Allaah, has he ever seen me breaking my fast during [that month], or doing anything to invalidate my fast?” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) asked him, and he said, “No,” then he said, “By Allaah, I have never seen him giving to any needy person or spending any of his wealth for the sake of Allaah except for this charity [zakaah] which everyone, good and bad alike, gives.” He said, “Ask him, O Messenger of Allaah, have I ever withheld any part of the zakaah or kept it back from the one who asked for it?” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) asked him and he said, “No.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “I don’t know, maybe he is better than you.”

Immediately following this report in al-Musnad, it says the following: “Ya’qoob told us, my father told us from Ibn Shihaab, that he was told that a man at the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed by a group of people. He did not mention Abu al-Tufayl. Abu ‘Abd-Allaah said: I heard that Ibraaheem ibn Sa’d reported this hadeeth from his memory and said concerning Abu al-Tufayl that his son Ya’qoob narrated from his father, but he did not mention Abu al-Tufayl. I think he is mistaken, and the report of Ya’qoob is saheeh, And Allaah knows best.” (Al-Musnad, 5/455. Al-Haythami said: the men of Ahmad are thiqaat. Athbaat al-Majma’, 1/291).

It is very important to maintain a person’s position after he has repented from his mistake and set matters straight, so that he will remain on the right path and live a normal life among people. It was reported in the story of the Makhzoomi woman who had her hand cut off (for stealing), which was reported by ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), that “she repented properly later on, and she got married and used to come to me and I would tell the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon her) what she needed.” (Saheeh Muslim, no. 1688).

21 – Addressing both parties in cases where the blame is shared

In many cases, the blame is shared and the person who makes a mistake may himself have been wronged, but the blame is not to be shared equally. In this case both parties must be addressed and advised. There follows an example:

‘Abd-Allaah ibn Abi Awfaa said: “‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf complained about Khaalid ibn al-Waleed to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Do not upset any of those who were present at Badr, for even if you were to spend gold equal to the size of Uhud, your deeds would not equal theirs.’ He said, ‘They insulted me first, and I responded.’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Do not upset Khaalid, for he is one of the swords of Allaah sent against the kuffaar.’” (Al-Haythami said: the men of al-Tabaraani are thiqaat. Al-Majma’, 9/349. See also al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer by al-Tabaraani, hadeeth no. 3801).

22 – Asking the person to forgive the one who wronged him

Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Arabs used to serve one another when they were travelling, and Abu Bakr and ‘Umar had a man with them who was serving them. They fell asleep then woke up, and he had not prepared any food for them. One of them said to the other, ‘This man sleeps too much.’ (This is in Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Daar al-Sha’b edn. According to the version quoted by al-Albaani in al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, no. 2608, …). They woke him up and said, ‘Go to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and tell him that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar send their salaams to you and are asking for food.’ He (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)) said: ‘Send my salaams to them and tell them that they have already eaten.’ They got worried, so they came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, we sent word to you asking for food, and you told us that we had already eaten? What have we eaten?’ He said, ‘The flesh of your brother. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, I can see his flesh between your teeth” – meaning the flesh of the one about whom they had backbitten.’ They said, ‘Ask for forgiveness for us.’ He said, ‘Let him ask for forgiveness for you.’” (Al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, no. 2608. It was attributed to al-Kharaa’iti in Masaawa’ al-Akhlaaq and to al-Diya’ in al-Mukhtaarah. Ibn Katheer mentioned it in his tafseer of Soorat al-Hujuraat, 7/363, Dar al-Sha’b edn.)

23 – Reminding a person of the good qualities of the one whom he has wronged, so that he will regret what he has done and will apologize

This is what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did in the situation that arose between Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with them. Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported in his Saheeh, Kitaab al-Tafseer, that Abu’l-Darda’ said: “There was a dispute between Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Abu Bakr made ‘Umar angry, so he went away angry, and Abu Bakr followed him, asking him to seek forgiveness for him, but he did not do that, and he shut his door in his face. Abu Bakr turned around and went to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and we were sitting with him. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘This companion of yours has gotten involved in a dispute.’ Then ‘Umar regretted what he had done, so he came, gave the greeting of salaam, and sat down by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). He told the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) what had happened. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) got angry, and Abu Bakr started to say, ‘By Allaah, O Messenger of Allaah, I am more wrong.’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Are you going to leave my companion alone? Are you going to leave my companion alone? I have told the people: I am the Messenger of Allaah to all of you, and you (all) said, “You are a liar,” but Abu Bakr said, “You are telling the truth.”’” (Fath 4640).

Al-Bukhaari also narrated this story in Kitaab al-Manaaqib (the Book of Virtues) in his Saheeh, from Abu’l-Darda’, who said: “I was sitting with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when Abu Bakr came along, holding the hem of his garment up in such a way that his knees could be seen. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Your companion has gotten involved in a dispute.’ [Abu Bakr] gave the greeting of salaam, then said: ‘There is something between me and the son of al-Khattaab. I upset him, then I regretted it, and I asked him to forgive me, but he refused, so I have come to you.’ He said, ‘May Allaah forgive you, O Abu Bakr,’ three times. Then ‘Umar regretted (what he had done), so he came to Abu Bakr’s house, asking, ‘Is Abu Bakr there?’ They said, ‘No.’ So he came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and signs of anger were so visible on the Prophet’s face that Abu Bakr felt sorry. He knelt down and said. ‘O Messenger of Allaah, by Allaah, I was more wrong,’ twice. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Allaah sent me to all of you, and you (all) said, “He is a liar,” but Abu Bakr said, “He is telling the truth”, and helped me with his self and with his wealth. Are you going to leave my Companion alone?’ He said this twice, and Abu Bakr was never hurt after that.” (Fath, no. 3661).

24 – Intervening to calm people down and put a stop to the fitnah (discord) between those who are making mistakes

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did this on a number of occasions when fighting was about to break out among the Muslims, so he intervened, as was reported in the incident of the slander (al-ifk) against ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her). She said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood up that day and asked for someone to deal with ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ubayy for him, whilst he was on the minbar. He said, ‘O Muslims! Who will deal with a man who I have heard is attacking me with regard to my family? By Allaah, I know nothing about my family but good, and they have mentioned a man about whom I know nothing but good, and he has never entered upon my family except with me.’ Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh, the brother of Bani ‘Abd al-Ashhal, stood up and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, I will deal with him for you. If he is from Aws, I will strike his neck [cut his head off], and if he is from among our brothers of Khazraj, tell us what to do, and we will do it.’ Then a man of Khazraj stood up; Umm Hassaan was his cousin from the same clan, and he was Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaadah the leader of Khazraj. Before that he was known to be a righteous man, but on this occasion a spirit of tribalism took hold of him, and he said to Sa’d [ibn Mu’aadh], ‘You are lying! By Allaah, you will not kill him and you will not be able to kill him. If he were one of your people, you would not like him to be killed!’ Usayd ibn Hudayr, the cousin of Sa’d, stood up and said to Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaadah: ‘You are lying! By Allaah, we will kill him! You are a hypocrite defending the hypocrites!’ The two parties of Aws and Khazraj got so angry that they nearly began to fight whilst the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was standing on the minbar. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) kept smoothing things over until they calmed down.” (Agreed upon. Fath, 4141)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) went to Bani ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf to reconcile between them, and stayed there for that purpose until the time for one of the congregational prayers came, as is reported in al-Saheehayn and in a report narrated by al-Nisaa’i. Sahl ibn Sa’d al-Saa’idi (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “A dispute arose between two parties among the Ansaar, to the point that they were throwing stones at one another. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) went to reconcile between them, and the time for prayer came, so Bilaal called the Adhaan and waited for the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), but he did not come. So he made the iqaamah (call immediately preceding congregational prayer) and Abu Bakr, may Allaah be pleased with him) led the prayer…” (Al-Mujtabaa, Kitaab Aadaab al-Qadaah, 8/243). According to a report narrated by Ahmad, Sahl ibn Sa’d al-Saa’idi said: “Someone came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: ‘Bani ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf are fighting and throwing stones at one another.’ So the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) went out to them to reconcile between them…” (Al-Musnad, 5/338)

25 – Showing one’s anger about a mistake

When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saw or heard about a mistake, he would show his anger, especially if it had to do with matters of belief (‘aqeedah). This includes indulging in disputes about al-qadar (divine decree) and the Qur’aan. In Sunan Ibn Maajah there is a report from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father from his grandfather, who said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came out to his companions, who were disputing about al-qadar, and it was as if a pomegranate seed had burst on his face, i.e., his face was red with anger. He said, ‘Is this what you were commanded to do? Is this what you were created for? Are you using some parts of the Qur’aan to contradict others? The nations before you were destroyed by this!’ ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr said: ‘I never felt happy about missing any gathering with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), but I was happy about missing that gathering.’” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, no. 85. He said in al-Zawaa’id: this is a saheeh isnaad and its men are thiqaat. It says in Saheeh Ibn Maajah: hasan saheeh. No. 69).

According to Ibn Abi ‘Aasim in Kitaab al-Sunnah: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came out to his Companions, and they were disputing about al-qadar, one quoting one aayah and another quoting another aayah. It was as if a pomegranate seed had been thrown in his face [because it was red with anger]. He said, ‘Is this what you were created for? Is this what you were ordered to do? Do not use parts of Allaah’s book against other parts. Look at what you are commanded to do, and do it, and what you are forbidden to do, avoid it.’” (Al-Sunnah by Ibn Abi ‘Aasim, edited by al-Albaani, no. 406. He said: its isnaad is hasan).

Another example of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) becoming angry at the denial of one of the basic principles was what happened in the case of ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), with regard to sources. Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported in his Musnad from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) with a book which he had got from some of the People of the Book. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) got angry. He said, “Are you confused about it, O son of al-Khattaab? By the One in Whose hand is my soul, I have brought you [the Message] pure and white, so do not ask them about anything, lest they tell you something true and you reject it, or they tell you something false and you accept it. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if Moosa (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) were alive, he could not but follow me.” (Musnad Ahmad, 3/387. Classed by al-Albaani as hasan because of corroborating reports in al-Irwa’, no. 1589).

The hadeeth was also narrated by al-Daarimi, may Allaah have mercy on him, from Jaabir, who said that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) with a copy of the Tawraat (Torah), and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, this is a copy of the Tawraat.” [The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] did not say anything. [‘Umar] began to read it, and the face of the Messenger of Allaah changed [i.e., he was angry]. Abu Bakr said, “May your mother lose you! Do you not see the expression of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?” ‘Umar looked at the face of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, “I seek refuge with Allaah from the anger of Allaah and the anger of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). We are content with Allaah as our Lord, with Islam as our religion and with Muhammad as our Prophet.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, if Moosa were to appear among you and you followed him and left me, you would go astray from the straight path. If he had lived until the time of my Prophethood, he would have followed me.” (Sunan al-Daarimi, no. 441, al-Muqaddimah, Baab maa yutaqqaa min Tafseer Hadeeth al-Nabi (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) wa Qawli ghayrihi ‘inda Qawlihi (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). The editor, ‘Abd-Allaah Haashim Yamaani, said: it was also narrated by Ahmad with a hasan isnaad, and by Ibn Hibbaan with a saheeh isnaad).

Among the corroborating reports is the hadeeth of Abu’l-Darda’, who said: “‘Umar brought some pages of the Tawraat to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, (these are) some pages of the Tawraat which I took from a brother of mine from Bani Zurayq.’ The face of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) changed, and ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Zayd – the one who was shown the Adhaan in a dream – said: ‘Have you gone mad? Do you not see [the expression] on the face of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?’ ‘Umar said: ‘We are content with Allaah as our Lord, with Islam as our religion, with Muhammad as our Prophet and with the Qur’aan as our guide. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) relaxed and said: ‘By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, if Moosa were among you, and you followed him and left me, you would go far astray. You are my share among the nations and I am your share among the Prophets.’” (Al Haythami said in al-Majma’: It was reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, and it includes Abu ‘Aamir al-Qaasim ibn Muhammad al-Asadi, and I have not seen anyone giving his biography, but the rest of its men are mawthooq. Al-Majma’ 1/174).

We may note from these reports that the educator (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)) had support from the other people present when they noticed how his expression changed and took their stance based on what they saw. There is no doubt that this combination of events had a great impact on the person who was being reprimanded.

The process went through the following stages:

Firstly, the anger that welled up in the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), so that his expression changed even before he spoke.

Secondly, [Abu Bakr] al-Siddeeq and ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Zayd noticed this and pointed it out to ‘Umar.

Thirdly, ‘Umar realized his mistake and hastened to put it right and to apologize for what he had done, seeking refuge with Allaah from the anger of Allaah and the anger of His Messenger, and reaffirming the basic principle of being content with Allaah, His Messenger and His Religion.

Fourthly, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) relaxed and calmed down when ‘Umar retracted and realized his mistake.

Fifthly, the Prophet’s comment confirmed and reinforced this basic principle by reaffirming the obligation to follow the way of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and warning against taking any other source of guidance.

Another example of the Prophet’s anger when he saw something objectionable was reported in Saheeh al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) from Anas ibn Maalik, who said that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saw some spittle in the mosque in the direction of the qiblah, he was so upset that it was clearly visible on his face. He wiped it with his hand and said, “When one of you gets up to pray, he is talking to his Lord, or his Lord is between him and the qiblah, so he should not spit in the direction of the qiblah, but to his left or under his feet.” Then he took the edge of his garment, spat on it and rubbed part of it against another part and said, “or he can do this.” (Fath, 405).

An example of the Prophet’s anger when he heard a mistake that led to wrongdoing was also reported by al-Bukhaari, from Abu Mas’ood al-Ansaari, who said: “A man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, I am going to go late to the prayer tomorrow because of so-and-so, who makes the prayer too long for us.’ I never saw the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) more angry in his rebuking than on that day, when he said, ‘O people! Some of you are putting others off. When any of you leads the people in prayer, let him keep it short, for among them are the elderly, the weak and those with pressing needs.’” (Fath, 7159).

Another example is for the mufti to show anger towards the person who is asking questions when he starts to nit-pick in a ridiculous fashion. Zayd ibn Khaalid al-Juhani (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “A Bedouin came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and asked him about lost property that he finds. He said, ‘Announce it for a year. Remember the description of its container and the string with which it is tied, and if someone comes and claims it, and describes it correctly, give it to him, otherwise, utilize it.’ He said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, what about a lost sheep?’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘It is for you, for your brother (i.e., its owner), or for the wolf.’ He said, ‘What about a lost camel?’ The face of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) became red (with anger), and he said, ‘You have nothing to do with it. It has its feet, and access to water, and can eat trees.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, 2436).

The educator may show anger in proportion to the mistake at the time when the mistake is made, or when he sees or hears it, in such a way that the anger may be seen in his face or recognized from his tone of voice. This is a sign that his heart is alert to wrongdoing and will not keep silent about it, so that the others present will feel afraid of making the same mistake. Speaking out when you are angry can have a greater impact than remaining silent and waiting until things have cooled down, because then the impact of your comments will be lost.

On the other hand, it may be wise to delay commenting on a regrettable incident or seriously mistaken words until all the people have been called together or until a time when they meet, because of the seriousness of what is involved or because there are not enough people around to understand and convey the information to others. There is nothing wrong with addressing an individual immediately and delaying general discussion of the matter until later. According to Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Abu Humayd al-Saa’idi reported that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) appointed someone (to collect the zakaah). When he had finished his work, he came and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, this is for you, and this is what was given to me as a gift.” He said, “Why don’t you sit in your parents’ house and see whether anyone brings you a gift or not?” In the evening, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood up after the prayer, pronounced the Shahaadah and praised Allaah as He deserves to be praised, then he said, “What is wrong with an employee whom we appoint, then he comes to us and says, ‘This is for you and this is what I was given as a gift”? Why does he not sit in his parents’ house and see whether anyone brings him a gift or not? By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no one of you unlawfully withholds something from us, except he will come on the Day of Judgement carrying it around his neck: if it is a camel, he will bring it bellowing, if it is a cow he will bring it mooing, and if it is a sheep he will bring it bleating. I have conveyed (the message).” Abu Humayd added, “Then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) raised his arm so high that we could see his armpit.” (Fath, 6636)

26 – Turning away from the one who has made a mistake, and avoiding argument with him, in the hope that he may come back to the right way

Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported that ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came to him and Faatimah’s (peace be upon her, the daughter of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) one night and said to them, “Are you not coming to pray?” ‘Ali said, “O Messenger of Allaah, our souls are in the hand of Allaah. If He wants to bring us back to life (from sleep), He will do so!” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) went away when ‘Ali said that to him, and he did not respond to it at all, but ‘Ali heard him as he was walking away, slapping his thigh and saying, “ ‘… But, man is ever more quarrelsome than anything.’ [al-Kahf 18:54 – interpretation of the meaning].” (The words of ‘Ali could be understood in different ways. See al-Fath, 7347).

27 – Rebuking the one who has made a mistake

This is what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did with Haatib (may Allaah be pleased with him) when he heard that he had sent word to the kuffaar of Quraysh, informing them of the Muslims’ intention to head for Makkah to conquer it. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) asked him, “What made you do that, O Haatib?” He said, “I believe in Allaah and His Messenger and I never changed, but I wanted to make some gesture towards them through which Allaah might protect my family and my wealth. All your other companions have someone there through whom Allaah will protect their families and their wealth.” [The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] said: “He has spoken the truth, so do not say anything but good to him.” ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said, “But he has betrayed Allaah and Messenger and the believers! Let me strike his neck [cut off his head]!” [The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ] said: “How do you know? Maybe Allaah looked at the people of Badr and said, ‘Do what you like, for Paradiseis guaranteed for you.’” Tears welled up in ‘Umar’s eyes and he said, “Allaah and His Messenger know best.” (Fath, 6259)

There are a number of important educational points we learn from this story:

1 – The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) rebuked the Sahaabi who had make a serious mistake by asking him, “What made you do that?”

2 – Enquiring as to the reason that motivated him to make the mistake undoubtedly has an effect on the way in which he is treated.

3 – Those who have an excellent track record are not immune from committing major sins.

4 – The educator must be open-minded in dealing with his companions’ mistakes so that they continue progressing on the straight path. The aim is to reform them, not alienate them.

5 – The educator must appreciate the moments of human weakness that may overcome some of those who are with him, and he should not be shocked by a serious mistake on the part of one who is advanced or senior.

6 – Defending one who deserves to be defended even though he has made a mistake.

7 – If a person who makes a mistake has a great deal of good works to his credit, this should be taken into account when evaluating the level of his mistake and dealing with it.

28 – Blaming the person who has made a mistake

An obvious mistake cannot be ignored; blame must be directed at the person who has made the mistake, and he must be rebuked from the outset, so that he will realize that he has made a mistake. Al-Bukhaari narrated in his Saheeh that ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I had a she-camel from my share of the booty of Badr, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had given me another she-camel from the khums. When I wanted to marry Faatimah, the daughter of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), I made an appointment with a goldsmith from Banu Qaynuqaa’ to go with me to Idhkhur. I wanted to sell him the two gold bracelets and use the money for my waleemah(wedding celebration). Whilst I was gathering together the saddles, sacks, ropes and other gear, my camels were sitting beside a room belonging to one of the Ansaar. After collecting the things I had to collect, I came back and found my camels with their backs cut open, their sides stabbed and their livers removed. I could hardly bear to look at this scene. I said, ‘Who did this?’ They said, ‘Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib. He is in that house drinking with one of the Ansaar.’ I went to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and Zayd ibn Haarithah was with him. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) knew something was wrong from my expression. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘What is the matter with you?’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, I have never seen anything like today! Hamzah attacked my two she-camels and cut their backs open and stabbed them in their sides. He is in a house, drinking.’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called for his cloak and put it on, then he went walking, and Zayd ibn Haarithah and I followed him, until he reached the house where Hamzah was. He asked permission to enter, and they gave permission. They were drinking, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) started to hurl blame at Hamzah for what he had done, but then he noticed that Hamzah was drunk and red-eyed. Hamzah looked at the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). He looked up at his knees, then at his navel, then at his face, then he said, ‘You are no more than a slave to my father.’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) realized that he was drunk, so he turned on his heels and we went out with him.” (Fath, no. 3091). This happened before drinking alcohol was forbidden.

29 – Shunning the one who has made a mistake

Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported that Humayd said: “Al-Waleed came to me and a friend of mine and said, ‘Come with me, for you are younger than me and you know more about hadeeth.’ He took us to Bishr ibn ‘Aasim. Abu’l-‘Aaliyah said to him: ‘Will you tell these two your hadeeth?’ He said, ‘ ‘Uqbah ibn Maalik told us, Abu’l-Nadr al-Laythi said, Bahz, who was one of his group, said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sent an expedition to attack some people. A man drifted away from the people, and one of the (Muslim) expedition followed him with his sword unsheathed. The man who had wandered off said, “I am a Muslim,” but the Muslim paid no attention to him, and struck him and killed him. Word of this reached the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and he spoke out angrily against it. News of this reached the killer, and whilst the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was delivering a speech, the killer said, “O Messenger of Allaah, by Allaah he only said that to protect himself.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned away from him and the people around him, and continued with his speech. The man said again, “O Messenger of Allaah, he only said that to protect himself.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) again turned away from him and the people around him, and continued with his speech. The man did not put up with that; a third time he said, “O Messenger of Allaah, by Allaah he only said that to protect himself.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned to him, and it was clear from his expression how upset he was. He said, “Allaah scorns the one who kills a believer” three times.’” (al-Musnad, 5/289. See also al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 2/309)

Al-Nisaa’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that a man came from Najraan to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), wearing a ring of gold. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned away from him and said, “You have come to me with an ember from the Fire of Hell in your hand.” (Al-Mujtaba, 8/170; Saheeh Sunan al-Nisaa’i, 4793). Ahmad reported a more detailed version of this from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri: a man came from Najraan to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) wearing a ring of gold. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned away from him and did not ask him about anything. The man went back to his wife and told her about it. She said, “There has to be a reason for that. Go back to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).” So he went back, and threw away his ring and the garment he was wearing. When he asked permission to enter, it was given to him. He greeted the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who returned the greeting. He said, “O Messenger of Allaah, you turned away from me when I came before.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “You came to me with a coal from the fire of Hell in your hand.” He said, “O Messenger of Allaah, I came with a lot of coals.” He had brought some suits of clothing from Bahrain. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “What you have brought is not going to help us in any way (with regard to the Hereafter). It is no more use than the rocks of al-Harrah, but they are luxuries of this world.” The man said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, explain this to your Companions, so that they do not think you were angry with me for some reason.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood up and explained this, and said that the problem had been with his gold ring.” (al-Musnad, 3/14).

According to a report narrated by Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father from his grandfather, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saw one of his Companions wearing a ring of gold, and turned away from him. The Sahaabi threw it away and put on a ring of iron, and [the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] said, “This is evil, this is the jewellery of the people of Hell,” so he threw it away and put on a ring of silver, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said nothing. (al-Musnad, 163. Al-Musnad edited by Ahmad Shaakir, no. 6518. He said its isnaad is saheeh).

30 – Boycotting the one who has made a mistake

This is one of the effective methods used by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) especially when a very serious mistake was made, because of the far-reaching effect that a boycott has on the person concerned. An example of this is what happened to Ka’b ibn Maalik and his two companions who stayed behind from the campaign of Tabook. After the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had ascertained that they had no valid excuse, and they had admitted it, as Ka’b said:

“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade the Muslims to speak to any of the three of us who had stayed behind. So the people avoided us and their attitude towards us changed so that even the earth I was walking on looked different to what I had known. We stayed like that for fifty days. As for my two companions, they resigned themselves and stayed in their homes, weeping, but I was the youngest and the most determined, so I used to go out and attend the prayers with the Muslims and go around in the market places, and no one would speak to me. I would come to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) whilst he was in a gathering after prayer, and greet him with salaam, asking myself whether he had moved his lips in response or not. I would pray near him, stealing glances at him. When I would turn to pray, he would turn towards me, and when I would turn towards him, he would turn away from me. When the people’s harshness had gone on too long for me, I went away and climbed over the wall of the garden of Abu Qutaadah, who was my cousin [son of my paternal uncle] and the dearest of people to me. I greeted him with salaam, but by Allaah he did not answer me. I said, ‘O Abu Qutaadah, I ask you by Allaah, do you not know that I love Allaah and His Messenger?’ He remained silent, so I repeated what I had said, pleading with him, but he remained silent. I repeated it again, pleading with him, and he said, ‘Allaah and His Messenger know best.’ My eyes filled with tears and I turned away and went and climbed back over the wall…

When fifty nights had passed since the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had forbidden anyone to talk to us, after I had prayed Fajr on the morning of the fiftieth day, and I was on the roof of our house, whilst I was sitting as Allaah has described, with my own self straitened to me and the earth, vast as it is, straitened to me [cf. Al-Tawbah 9:118], I heard the sound of someone shouting from the mountain of Sal’ at the top of his voice: ‘O Ka’b ibn Maalik, rejoice!’” (Fath, 4418).

We learn many great lessons from this story, which should not be ignored in any way. We read about some of them in the scholars’ commentaries on this story, as in Zaad al-Ma’aad and Fath al-Baari.

Another indication that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used this method was narrated by al-Tirmidhi from ‘Aa’ishah, who said: “No behaviour was more hateful to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) than lying. If a man told lies in the presence of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), he would remain upset about it until he knew that he had repented from that.” (Abu ‘Eesa said: this is a hasan hadeeth. Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 1973).

According to a report narrated by Ahmad: “ … he would remain upset with him…” (al-Musnad, 6/152)

According to another report: “If it happened that one of the members of his household told a lie, he would keep turning away from him until he repented.” (Reported by al-Haakim. Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4675).

It is clear from the reports mentioned above that turning away from the person who is making a mistake until he gives it up is an effective educational method, but in order for it to be effective, the person who is forsaking and turning away from the other must have some status in the eyes of the latter, otherwise it will not have a positive effect, and may even give the person something to be happy about.

31 – Praying against someone who stubbornly persists in making a mistake

Muslim (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported that a man ate with his left hand in the presence of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). He said, “Eat with your right hand!” The man said, “I cannot” He said, “May you never be able to!” Nothing was stopping him except pride, and he never raised it to his mouth after that. (No. 2021).

According to a report narrated by Ahmad: “Iyaas ibn Salamah ibn al-Akwa’ reported that his father told him: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) telling a man called Bisr ibn Raa’i al-‘Eer, whom he saw eating with his left hand, to eat with his right hand. He said, ‘I cannot.’ He said, ‘May you never be able to!’ And his right hand never reached his mouth after that.” (4/54)

Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “This hadeeth shows that it is permissible to pray against the one who goes against a shar’i ruling for no good reason. It also demonstrates enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil in all matters, even in the matter of eating.” (Sharh Saheeh Muslim, 13/192).

We may also note here that the du’aa’ against him was not for something that would help the Shaytaan against him, it was for something that was more like a rebuke or telling-off.

32 – Turning a blind eye to some mistakes and being content to just hint about them, out of respect to the person who is making the mistake

“And (remember) when the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives (Hafsah), so when she told it (to another, i.e., ‘Aa’ishah), and Allaah made it known to him, he informed part thereof and left a part. Then when he told her (Hafsah) thereof, she said: ‘Who told you this?’ He said, ‘The All-Knower, the All-Aware (Allaah) has told me.’” [al-Tahreem 66:3 – interpretation of the meaning]

Al-Qaasimi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Mahaasin al-Ta’weel:

‘And remember when the Prophet’ refers to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). ‘To one of his wives’ refers to Hafsah. ‘A matter in confidence’ means that she was not allowed to disclose it, or what he forbade for himself although Allaah had allowed it. ‘When she told it’ means that she told the secret to her companion (‘Aa’ishah). ‘Allaah made it known to him’ means that Allaah told him what Hafsah had told ‘Aa’ishah. ‘He informed part thereof’ means that he told her part of what she had divulged as a rebuke; ‘and left a part’ means that he did not say some of it, out of respect to her.”

It is noted in al-Ikleel: “The aayah indicates that there is nothing wrong with speaking in a secretive way to one whom you trust such as a spouse or friend, and that he or she is obliged to keep the secret. The aayah also indicates good treatment of wives, gentleness when rebuking and refraining from seeking out every fault.” (Mahaasin al-Ta’weel, 16/222)

Al-Hasan said: “No noble person will pick on every little fault.” Sufyaan said: “Turning a blind eye is the action of noble people.”

33 – Helping a Muslim to correct his mistake

Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “Whilst we were sitting with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), a man came to him and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, I am doomed!’ He said, ‘What is the matter with you?’ He said, ‘I had intercourse with my wife whilst I was fasting.’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Are you able to set a slave free?’ He said, ‘No.’ He asked, ‘Can you fast for two consecutive months?’ He said, ‘No.’ he said, ‘Can you feed sixty poor persons?’ He said, ‘No.’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said nothing more about the matter for a while, and whilst we were sitting there like that, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was brought a large vessel full of dates. He said, ‘Where is the one who was asking just now?’ The man said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take this and give it in charity.’ The man said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, is there anyone poorer between al-Harratayn [i.e., in Madeenah] than my family?’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) smiled so broadly that his eyeteeth could be seen, then he said, ‘Feed it to your family.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, no. 1936).

According to a report narrated by Ahmad from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), whilst the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was sitting in the shade of a large tree, a man came to him and said, “I am burnt, O Messenger of Allaah!” He said, “What is the matter with you?” He said, “I had intercourse with my wife whilst I was fasting.” ‘Aa’ishah said: this was in Ramadaan. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to him, “Sit down.” So he sat down at the edge of the group of people. Then a man brought a donkey on which was a vessel of dates, and said, “This is my sadaqah (charity), O Messenger of Allaah.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Where is the burnt one who was here just now?” The man said, “Here I am, O Messenger of Allaah.” He said, “Take this and give it in charity.” He said, “To whom should I give it except myself? By the One Who sent you with the truth, I do not have anything for myself and my children.” He said, “Then take it,” so he took it. (al-Musnad, 6/276)

34 – Meeting with the person who has made the mistake to talk it over

In Saheeh al-Bukhaariit is reported that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr said: “My father married me to a woman from a good family. He used to come and check on his daughter in law, and ask her about her husband. She would say, ‘What a good man he is. He has never slept in our bed or disturbed us since we got married.’ When this had gone on for a long time, he mentioned it to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who said, ‘Let me meet with him.’ So I met with him after that, and he said, ‘How often do you fast?’ I said, ‘Every day.’ He said, ‘How often do you complete the Qur’aan?’ I said, ‘Every night.’ He said, ‘Fast three days of every month, and complete the Qur’aan once a month.’ I said, ‘I can do more than that.’ He said, ‘Fast three days every week.’ I said, ‘I can do more than that.’ He said, ‘Don’t fast for two days, then fast for one day.’ I said, ‘I can do more than that.’ He said, ‘Observe the best kind of fast, the fast of Dawood, fasting one day then not fasting the next, and complete the Qur’aan once every seven days.’ I wish that I had accepted the dispensation of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), because when I became old and weak I started to read one seventh of the Qur’aan to my family during the day, and whatever I read during the day makes it easier to complete it at night. If I want to help myself, I do not fast for a number of days, then I count the number of days I did not fast and fast the same number of days. I do not want to give up something that I promised the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) I would do before he died.” Abu ‘Abd-Allaah said: “Some of them said in three, and in five, and most of them said in seven.” (al-Fath, 5052)

A report narrated by Ahmad describes the matter more clearly and contains important lessons: ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr said: “My father married me to a woman from Quraysh. When she entered upon me I did not approach her because I was so enthusiastic about worshipping Allaah by fasting and praying. ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas came to his daughter in law and asked her, ‘How do you find your husband?’ She said, ‘He is the best of men, or he is like the best of husbands among men. He has never disturbed us and he has never slept in our bed.’ So he came to me and told me off. (Ibn al-Atheer said: … according to another hadeeth, ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas said: ‘So my father came to me and told me off.’ Al-Nihaayah 3/200). He said, ‘I married you to a woman from a good family of Quraysh, and you are neglecting her (i.e., not treating her as a wife) and you are doing such and such.’ Then he went to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and complained about me. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sent for me and I came to him. He said to me, ‘Do you fast during the day?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Do you pray (qiyaam) at night?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘But I fast and I break my fast, I pray and I sleep, and I touch women [my wives]. Whoever turns away from my Sunnah has nothing to do with me.’ He said, ‘Read the Qur’aan once a month.’ I said, ‘I can do more than that.’ He said, ‘Read it once every ten days.’ I said, ‘I can do more than that.’ One of them – either Husayn or Mugheerah – said, ‘Read it every three days.’ He [the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] said: ‘Fast three days of every month.’ I said, ‘I can do more than that.’ He kept increasing the number until he said, ‘Fast one day and do not fast the next day. This is the best of fasts, the fast of my brother Dawood.’ Husayn said in his narration of the hadeeth: then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Every worshipper has a time when he is motivated and keen, and after every such time comes a time of slackening, where he either follows the Sunnah or follows bid’ah. The one whose slackening follows Sunnah is guided, but the one whose slackening follows bid’ah is doomed.’” Mujaahid said: “When ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr grew old and weak, he would fast for several days at a time, so that he could grow stronger, then he would break his fast for a similar number of days. He would read his portion of the Qur’aan in like manner, sometimes reading more, sometimes reading less, so that he would finish the entire Qur’aan in seven days or in three days. After that he would say, ‘I wish that I had accepted the dispensation of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), for it would be better for me than what I chose for myself, or I left him saying that I would do something and I would hate to do something else.’” (Al-Musnad, 2/158. Ahmad Shaakir said: its isnaad is saheeh. Tahqeeq al-Musnad, no. 6477).

Among the things we learn from this story are:

  1. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) understood the cause of the problem, which was that [‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr] was exhausting himself in worship to the point that he did not have time to take care of his duties towards his wife, so he was falling short.
  2. The principle of paying due attention to everyone who has rights over one applies to anyone who is preoccupied with matters of worship, such as a student who is giving so many lessons, or a daa’iyah who is so busy with his da’wah that his wife complains of mistreatment. This can lead to a loss of balance in carrying out different acts of worship and dividing one’s time among all those who are making rightful claims on it. So there is nothing wrong with the teacher reducing the number of lessons he gives, or the daa’iyah reducing his activities so as to allow himself enough time to take care of his home, wife and children, and give them their rights as regards guidance, companionship and education.35 – Speaking bluntly to a person about the mistake he is making

    Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported that Abu Dharr said: “There was an argument between me and another man. His mother was a non-Arab, and I said something insulting about her. He mentioned this to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who asked me, ‘Did you trade insults with so-and-so?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Did you say something insulting about his mother?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘You are a man who still has something of jaahiliyyah in you.’ I said, ‘I said what I said because I am getting old.’ He said, ‘Yes, but they are your brothers. Allaah has given you power over them, but whoever is given power over someone, let him feed him as he feeds himself, clothe him as he clothes himself, and not give him more work to do than he is able. If he does give him too much work, let him help him.’” (Fath, 6050)

    In Saheeh Muslim it is reported that Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I had an argument with one of my brothers. His mother was non-Arab, and I said something insulting to him about his mother. He complained about me to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) met me, he said, ‘O Abu Dharr, you are a man who still has something of jaahiliyyah in him.’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, whoever insults a person, people will insult his father and mother.’ He said, ‘O Abu Dharr, you are a man who still has something of jaahiliyyah in him. They are your brothers, and Allaah has given you power over them, so feed them as you feed yourself and clothe them as you clothe yourself. Do not give them more work than they can do, and if you give them too much to do, then help them.’” (Saheeh Muslim, no. 1661).

    [It appears that the man’s mother was a slave. Translator]

    The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) spoke in this straightforward and open manner to Abu Dharr because he knew he would accept it. Such a blunt approach can be a useful method that saves times and energy, and gets the point across in the easiest manner, but it should only be done when it is appropraite to the situation and the people involved.

    This direct approach may be better not used if it will lead to something worse or if it means that a greater interest will not be achieved, for example if the person making the mistake is in a position of power and authority and would not accept such frank comments, or if a direct approach would cause too much embarrassment to the person who is doing wrong. It should also not be used if the person is extra sensitive and is likely to react badly. Undoubtedly a direct approach will be too much for a person to take if it is made in a spirit of confrontation and with the aim of causing embarrassment and showing him up at the time when his critic appears superior. Similarly it is essential to be cautious about using “indirect” methods whose multiple negative effects may outweigh the benefits of a direct approach, because they may make the wrongdoer think that the one who is advising him thinks he is stupid or that he is playing about, or because they may offend him because he thinks he is making snide remarks. This way of pointing out what is right may not be effective, because what is being said may not be clear to the person addressed, so he will keep on making the mistake. Generally speaking, people differ when it comes to accepting advice, and the right approach will differ in each case, but a good attitude in discussing mistakes and guiding people will also have the greatest effect in achieving the desired goal.36 – Persuading a person that he is making a mistake

    Engaging in a discussion with a wrongdoer with the aim of convincing him may lead to the removal of the blinkers over his eyes and bringing him back to the Straight Path. An example of this is the report narrated by al-Tabaraani (may Allaah have mercy on him) in al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer from Abu Umaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him), who said that a young man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, give me permission to commit zinaa (fornication or adultery).” The people shouted [at him] and [the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] said, “Stop it!’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Let him calm down. Come here.” He came and sat in front of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who said to him, “Would you like it for your mother?” He said, “No.” He said, “Likewise, people do not like it for their mothers. Would you like it for your daughter?” He said, “No.” He said, “Likewise, people do not like it for their daughters. Would you like it for your sister?” He said, “No.” He said, “Likewise, people do not like it for their sisters. Would you like it for your (paternal) aunt?” He said, “No.” He said, “Likewise, people do not like it for their (paternal) aunts. Would you like it for your (maternal) aunt?” He said, “No.” He said, “Likewise, people do not like it for their (maternal) aunts.” Then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) put his hand on his chest and said, “O Allaah, forgive his sins, purify his heart and make him chaste.” (Al-Tabaraani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer, 7679 and 7759. Additional material is included between square brackets).

    37 – Making a person understand that his flimsy excuse is not acceptable

    Some people who make mistakes try to offer made-up, unacceptable excuses, especially when they are caught red-handed. Indeed, some of them may appear to be stammering when they give their flimsy excuses, especially those who are not good at lying because they are basically good at heart. How should the educator act when he comes across a situation like this? The following story demonstrates the brilliant attitude of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when dealing with one of hisCompanions in a situation of this nature. The story also shows us how the educator should persistently follow up until the person gives up his wrong attitude.

    Khuwwaat ibn Jubayr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “We made camp with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) at Mar al-Zahraan (a place near Makkah). I came out of my tent and saw some women talking amongst themselves. I liked them, so I went back, got out my trunk and took out a hillah (a suit of clothes). I put it on and came and sat with them. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came out and said, ‘O Abu ‘Abd-Allaah!!” (i.e., he was reprimanding him for sitting with those non-mahrem women). When I saw the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), I got scared and started stammering (trying to come up with an excuse). I said, “O Messenger of Allaah, my camel got lost and I am looking for a rope to restrain it” (i.e., he came up with a false excuse to justify what he had done). He left, and I followed him. He threw his cloak at me and went in among some araak trees – and it is as if I can see the whiteness of his back against the greenness of the araak trees. He answered the call of nature and did wudoo’, and turned (to me) with the water dripping from his beard onto his chest, and said: “O Abu ‘Abd-Allaah, what happened to your lost camel?” Then we continued on our journey, and whenever he caught up with me, he would say, “Assalaamu aleika Abu ‘Abd-Allaah. What happened to that lost camel?” When I realized this, I hastened on to Madeenah and avoided the mosque and gatherings where the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was present. When this had gone on for a long time, I tried to go to the mosque when no one else was around. I went to the mosque and started to pray, but the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came out of one of his apartments and started to pray two short rak’ahs. I made my prayer long, hoping that he would go away and leave me. He said, ‘Make it as long as you like, O Abu ‘Abd-Allaah, for I am not leaving until you finish.’ I said to myself, ‘By Allaah, I should apologize to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and make him happy.’ When I had finished, he said, ‘Al-salaamu ‘alayka, O Abu ‘Abd-Allaah. What happened to your lost camel?’ I said, ‘By the One Who sent you with the truth, that camel has never gotten lost since the time I became a Muslim.’ He said, ‘May Allaah have mercy on you’ three times, then he never mentioned it again.” (Al-Haythami said: al-Tabaraani reported it with two isnaads. The men of one of them are all saheeh apart from al-Jarraah ibn Mukhallad, who is thiqah. Al-Majma’, 9/401. Upon referring to al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer by al-Tabaraani, 4/203, it becomes clear that the report from Zayd ibn Aslam is talking about Khuwwaat ibn Jubayr, who said, ‘We made camp …’ In the biography of Khuwwaat (may Allaah be pleased with him) in al-Tahdheeb it says: Zayd ibn Aslam reported mursal from him. In al-Isaabah it says that Khuwwaat died in 40 or 42 AH, and in al-Siyar it says that Zayd ibn Aslam died in 136 AH; on this basis there is a break in the isnaad).

    This is a brilliant study in training and the use of wise strategies to achieve the desired result. We may also learn the following points from this story:

    1. A person who has committed a sin will feel shy of a respected leader when he catches him out.
    2. The way the educator looks at and questions a person – even though it may be very brief – will have a great impact on him.
    3. Not discussing a false excuse at the time of hearing it – even though it is clearly made up – and turning away from the person may be enough to make him realize that his excuse is not acceptable, which will motivate him to repent and apologize. This is what we understand from the phrase “he left.”
    4. The good educator is the one who makes the person who has made a mistake feel too shy of him, so that he tries to hide away from him, but at the same time, his need for him makes him want to come to him. Then the latter takes precedence over the former.
    5. The change of attitude towards the wrongdoer is based – in this case – on the wrongdoer’s admission that he was wrong and his giving up the thing he had done.

If the educator or leader is held in high esteem by his companions, then if he rebukes one of them or tells him that he has made a mistake, this will have an effect on him. The leader should pay attention to the interests of others when rebuking one of his companions, so that all may benefit from it. However, this should not mean that he should ignore any negative effect on that particular individual. That can be dealt with and its effects limited in many ways, even though a third party, as al-Mugheerah did when he asked ‘Umar to be a mediator whilst at the same time explaining the situation and affirming how highly the leader thinks of the follower.

38 – Paying attention to things that are inherent in human nature

An example of this is the jealousy of women, especially in the case of co-wives, some of whom may make mistakes that, if they were made by anyone else under normal circumstances, would be treated quite differently. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to pay special attention to the issue of jealousy among his wives and the mistakes that were made by them as a result, and the patience, justice and fairness with which he handled the matter are plain to see. An example of this is the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) in his Saheeh from Anas, who said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was with one of his wives when another of the Mothers of the Believers sent a big vessel full of food to him. The wife in whose house the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was struck the hand of the servant, and the vessel fell and broke in two. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) picked up the pieces and put them together, then he gathered up the food that had been in the vessel and said, ‘Your mother is jealous.’ Then he asked the servant to wait until he was given the vessel belonging to the wife in whose house he was, and he sent the whole vessel to the wife whose vessel had been broken, and kept the broken vessel in the house of the one who had broken it.” (Fath, 5225)

According to a report narrated by al-Nisaa’i (Kitaab ‘Ishrat al-Nisaa’), Umm Salamah brought some food in a vessel belonging to her to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions, then ‘Aa’ishah came wrapped in a garment, carrying a stone, which she threw and broke the vessel. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) put the two halves back together and said, “Eat, your mother is jealous” twice, then he took ‘Aa’ishah’s vessel and sent it to Umm Salamah, and gave Umm Salamah’s vessel to ‘Aa’ishah.

According to a report narrated by al-Daarimi (Kitaab al-Buyoo’, Baab man kasara shay’an fa ‘alayhi mithluhu) from Anas, he said: “One of the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sent him a vessel in which was some thareed [a dish of sopped bread, meat and broth], when he was in the house of one of his other wives, who struck the vessel and broke it. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) started to pick up the thareed and put it back into the vessel, saying, ‘Eat, your mother is jealous…’”

Women’s jealousy is an inherent part of their nature, that may cause them to do bad things and prevent them from seeing the consequences of their actions. It was said that when a woman is jealous, she cannot see the bottom of a valley from its top.

Conclusion

Following this exploration of the Sunnah and the methods which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used in dealing with people’s mistakes, we should conclude by mentioning the following points:

  1. Correcting mistakes is obligatory and very important. It is part of naseehah (giving sincere advice) and forbidding what is evil, but it should be remembered that Islam is not only about forbidding what is evil; we are also commanded to enjoin what is good.
  2. Education and training are not merely the matter of correcting mistakes; they also involve teaching and showing the basic principles of religion and the rules of sharee’ah, and using various methods to establish these concepts firmly in people’s minds and hearts, by example, by exhorting them, by telling stories, by discussing incidents, etc. From this it is clear that some parents and teachers are falling short by confining their efforts only to addressing mistakes without paying due attention to teaching the basics or dealing with mistakes before they happen by instilling that which will protect people from committing mistakes in the first place, or at least reduce their impact.
  3. It is clear from the incidents and stories mentioned above that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used different approaches in dealing with different mistakes. This is because circumstances and personalities vary. Whoever understands this and wants to follow suit must compare the situation he is dealing with, with these examples to find the one that most closely resembles it, so that he can determine the most appropriate approach to use.

We ask Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted, to guide us and protect us, to make us openers of good and closers of evil, and to guide others through us, for He is the All-Hearing, the Ever-Near, Who answers prayers. He is the Best of supporters and the Best of helpers, and He is the Guide to the Straight Path. May Allaah bless the Unlettered Prophet and all his family and companions. Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds.

 

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