Monthly Archives: March 2011
From the morals and manners of the Salaf was that they would behave well towards the young, non-relative and the ignorant, let alone towards the elders, relatives and knowledgeable.
Allaah said to Moses and Haaroon (peace be upon them) “And say to him (Pharaoh) a soft word.”1
That is not disregarding that Pharaoh was of the most corrupt disbelievers. The Salaf agreed that a high status depends on good character and manners.
Of their principles concerning manners is their witnessing their own deficiencies and correctness in others. However, if someone sees himself as perfect seeing others’ shortcomings, this gives rise to arrogance, may Allaah protect us.
The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu’alaihi wa sallam) said, “I have only been sent to perfect righteous manners.”2
‘Ali ibn Abee Taalib (radhiAllaahu’anhu) said, “The people who are most learned about Allaah are those who respect most the people of Laa ilaaha illallaah (there is none worthy of worship except Allaah).”
Bakr ibn ‘Abdullaah al-Muzani (rahimahullaah) said, “If you see someone older than you, then respect him saying, “He has beaten me to Islaam and righteous action.” If you see someone younger than you, then respect him saying to yourself, “I have beaten him in sins.” If the people honour you then say, “That is from the grace of Allaah, but I do not deserve it.” If they degrade you then say, “This happened as a consequence of a previous sin.” If you throw a pebble at your neighbour’s dog, then you have harmed him.”
- Soorah TaHa (20) : 44
- Collected in “Al-Adaab-ul-Mufraad” (1/271) by al-Bukhaari, and by al-Haakim in at-Taareekh (2/613) saying : it is Saheeh according to the conditions of imam Muslim. Al-Albaani said in “As-Saheehah” (no.45): This chain is saheeh.
THE evening dinner started as usual with casual, lighthearted banter among us sisters who were present. In one comical exchange, a sister shared with us how terribly dry her feet were, so much so that they cracked often.
“Sometimes I’m praying,” she said between chuckles, “and I have to keep leaving Salaat to make wudhoo because of my feet!”
I creased my forehead. “But why would you make wudhoo because of your feet?”
“Because sometimes the cracks bleed.”
“Um…” I said. “You don’t have to make wudhoo because of that. ‘Umar Ibn Khattab (may Allaah be pleased with him) kept praying even after he was stabbed, and he was bleeding a lot.”
“Well, in the madhhab I follow, you do.”
I nodded, remembering just then having read about this opinion.
…The sister went on to talk about the necessity of following a madhhab, and how we “ignorant people” (i.e. laypeople) absolutely have to.
Though I was trying to maintain a sense of diplomacy, I felt myself growing a bit annoyed…
…Conscious that the whole discussion was spiraling into a fruitless emotional argument, I tried the middle ground:
“Alhamdulillaah, all the madhhabs are good.”
“Well,” the woman responded authoritatively, “Abu Hanifah was the best of all of them because—”
By then, I mentally drowned her out and decided to keep silent, even as she—in her “authoritative ignorance”—droned on and on about how even Imam Malik and Imam Shafi’ee and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal were not as trustworthy as Imam Abu Hanifah… (may Allaah have mercy on them)
It was clear that this “ignorant” person was a bit ahead of herself, but I decided to keep quiet on this one…
…But I couldn’t help thinking of the glaring contradiction I was witnessing: How could she claim that we were so “ignorant” that it’s forbidden to even research the validity of an opinion from any school of thought, but she’s so knowledgeable in her ignorance that she can confidently make a claim that assumes full knowledge of the authenticity of every opinion in every school of thought?
Was she serious?
But I kept my additional thoughts to myself and said something general again like, MaashaAllaah, Allaah knows best, as I knew continuing the argument would only lead to more fitnah…
Then, in the middle of all of this, something miraculous happened: The adhaan for Maghrib was called.
Internally, I breathed a sigh of relief. I hated leaving any gathering feeling like I had hurt my sister in Islam or had been the source of fitnah. And now, from Allaah, there was an opportunity for us to close this argument once and for all—not through agreeing with each other but through joining our hearts by standing shoulder-to-shoulder in prayer to our Creator, as Muslims do five times each day.
My heart lifted in anticipation as I saw her proceed to make wudhoo (I had feared that she might be unable to pray this week)…
When she returned from wudhoo and placed a prayer mat in its place and faced the Qiblah, I lined up next to her…
…The sister’s eyes widened as a condescending grin formed on her face, and she turned her head to me after I lined up shoulder-to-shoulder next to her. “What are you doing?”
Her expression and question confused me, and I momentarily imagined that I had mistaken her intentions. I had thought she was about to pray Maghrib, but maybe I was wrong…
“Did you pray Maghrib yet?” I asked, my forehead creased, my confused expression only inches from her face as she stood next to me, her body facing the Qiblah even as her head was turned to her side to look at me.
“No…” she said, her expression still carrying that look that seemed to say, Uh, what exactly do you think you’re doing standing next to me?
“I didn’t either,” I said, relaxing, realizing that I hadn’t been mistaken after all. I turned my head toward the Qiblah again and waited for her to start the prayer. A few seconds passed as I sensed that she was still staring at me.
“Uh…you’re going to pray with me?” she asked, her tone condescending and humored.
I felt small in that moment.
“Aren’t you about to pray Maghrib?” I asked, confused again.
“Yes…” she said, a trace of amused sarcasm still in her tone. She continued to look at me, as if waiting for something. “But…” she said (still smiling), “not with you.”
I just stared at her. I was too shocked to speak.
“Women don’t pray in jamaa’ah,” she said finally.
Oh. My heart fell as the realization came to me.
“According to your madhhab,” I muttered, answering for myself as I walked away, defeated.
“Just so you know,” I told her before she raised her hands in takbir, “the female companions did pray in congregation.”
She turned her head slightly over her shoulder, still wearing a smirk as she looked at me.
“But it wasn’t emphasized,” she said before she turned her head toward the Qiblah, calmly raising her hands in start of Maghrib prayer, apparently not the least bit perturbed by my deep hurt—or her own cruelty.
“I don’t think,” the mother raised her voice at me, her voice loud through the receiver that I held in my hand. “I throw my brain away. That’s what I do. And that’s what you should do.”
I was silent as I held the phone to my ear and stood next to the bed in the guest room, where I had retreated for privacy. She had called because she felt that I was teaching the students all wrong, and she wanted to give me a piece of her mind.
“You have to follow a madhhab,” she fumed. “You have no right telling these students to research about Islam. It is not correct for us to research. We must blindly follow the scholars.”
I drew in a deep breath and exhaled. I really didn’t know how to handle this angry mother’s call to my home, and so late at night. I wanted to be with my family right then, but I also knew this issue wasn’t going away, at least not anytime soon.
Mentally, I tried to determine the best way to respond…
On a very basic level, she had a point. Yes, laypeople were bound to scholars, and they could not approach Islam by sitting and reading the Qur’an and hadith alone, with no reference at all to the understanding of the Prophet, sallallaahu’alayhi wa sallam, or his Companions—the first and greatest scholars of Islam—or the scholars that followed them, and come up with their own conclusions about what a verse or hadith meant…
But she was completely wrong in saying we should throw our brains away and that laypeople were not permitted to even research an Islamic issue in hopes of Allaah guiding them to the right conclusion…
I also caught the personal attack in her words. She was assuming that I fit into her “I don’t follow a madhhab” stereotypical personality.
To people like this mother, there were only two categories of people in the world: Those who blindly followed one of the four famous schools of fiqh; and those who invented their own Islam, claiming to follow the “Qur’an and Sunnah,” while dismissing the validity of following any school of fiqh.
I fit into neither category.
But right then, that was beside the point…
“Let me ask you a question,” I said, deciding it was unwise to use the counterargument approach with someone old enough to be my own mother—though my mind was a stampede of rebuttals.
She had, minutes before, given the classic analogy used to argue against people who don’t blindly follow a single school of thought: If you want to pray, and you study all four schools of thought and take from all of them, when you pray, you are praying in a way that agrees with none of the schools of thought!
But, I’d said, my goal isn’t to pray according to a school of thought: It’s to pray like the Prophet, sallallaahu’alayhi wa sallam, as we were instructed.
“Let’s say you come across an opinion from your Imam,” I said, “and he says something like this, ‘Well, since I have no knowledge of any hadith on this topic, we can only conclude that this is the way we hold our hands in this position of prayer.’
“Then,” I said, “one day you happen across the same topic from an Imam from another school of thought, but he has an authentic hadith on that particular topic.
“Now,” I said, “do you follow your madhhab in this case, or do you follow the hadith you just learned?”
She was silent. When she spoke again, it was apparent that she was flustered. “Well, that’s a good question,” she said, confounded. “I’ll have to ask my Sheikh and get back to you.”
I left the dinner in a state of distress.
Part of me was disturbed by the actions of my sister in Islam—who refused to even pray next to me (something I knew even her favored madhhab scholar wouldn’t agree with, even if women praying in congregation “wasn’t emphasized”).
And another part of me was disturbed by the state of the ummah. Was this what we had come to, I’d thought pensively: “My madhhab is better than yours”?
When I spoke to the mother on the phone weeks later, it only made matters worse.
Somewhere in the course of the conversation, I’d asked the mother this question…
But if you don’t allow yourself to research anything in Islam because you must follow a single madhhab, how can you even be sure you’re following the Imam of the madhhab you claim? After all, you only know of these opinions because your Sheikh said they’re from this madhhab, not because you read it from the Imam himself… What if these opinions are not even from him? How would you even know?
I really wanted to know her answer because I knew that many of the opinions she was following were completely foreign to the Imam of the madhhab she claimed (Ironically, this I knew because I had researched). But of course she wouldn’t believe me, so I was hoping she’d do a bit of research herself.
…But, in response, she insisted that I was arrogant and had too much confidence in myself and I should throw my brain away as she had…
And that’s when it came to me.
I suddenly understood the problem I was witnessing…
No, these two women didn’t represent the vast majority of those who were dedicated to following a single madhhab (In fact, they represented none of those engaged in permissible taqleed).
Rather, these women were part of a growing body of Muslims who were engaged not in blindly following a legitimate fiqh scholar, but in blindly following their own madhhab…
…Not of their favored “school of fiqh”—but of their favored school of fitnah…
…For it goes without saying that, if you are so ignorant that you feel compelled to engage in blind following, then that same ignorance should keep you from calling others to your blindness (let alone with authority)…
Certainly, a blind person shouldn’t insist that those with minimal sight (or with at least the desire to see) should block even that minimal vision (or desire) in favor of blindness…
O Allaah, I ask You for beneficial knowledge, a humble heart, certainty based on truth,
and a tongue that moves in constant remembrance of You!
Whenever your heart becomes filled with love and sincerity towards others, you naturally become earnest in your skills in dealing with them; people begin to feel your love for them, and in turn, they too begin to increase in their love and acceptance of you.
A female doctor’s private clinic was always full of patients. The patients always wanted to visit her as each of them felt that she was their personal friend. This female doctor would employ various skills that would spellbind people’s hearts.
One of those skills was that she agreed with her secretary that if any of the patients ever called, wanting to speak to the doctor or to ask her something about an illness, the secretary would welcome her, ask her name, then kindly request her to call back after five minutes.
The secretary would then open up her health record and hand it over to the doctor. The doctor would read all the information about the patient, look into the record, and become acquainted with all her information, including her work, and even her children’s names. Then, when the patient would call back, she would welcome her and enquire about her illness, about her youngest child, and general news about her work, etc. The patient would then feel that this doctor really liked her to such an extent that she even remembered the names of her children as well as the illness she is suffering from. The doctor did even not forget where she worked! Not surprisingly, this patient would be inclined to visit this particular doctor each time she needed medical advice. See how easy it is to win and captivate hearts?
There is nothing wrong in expressing your love for others frankly, be the person a father, mother, wife, child, colleague or neighbour. Do not hide your feelings towards them. Proclaim your love to them by saying, “I love you”, “You are very precious to me”, etc. Even if this person happens to be an open sinner, you could say to him, “You are more beloved to me than many others!” And you wouldn’t have lied, since surely they are more beloved to you than millions of disbelievers, isn’t that so? Be smart!
I remember once I went to perform ‘Umrah. I was in the middle of performing Tawaaf and Sa‘ee, praying for all the Muslims generally, that they be protected and granted victory and dominion. I also probably said something like, “O Allaah, forgive me, my beloved ones and my friends.” After finishing the rituals of ‘Umrah, I praised Allaah for making it easy for me.
I then rented out a room in a hotel to spend a night therein. As I rested my head on the pillow, I wrote a text message on my mobile phone saying, “Just now, I have finished my ‘Umrah and remembered my beloved ones. And because you are one of them, I did not forget you in my supplications. May Allaah protect you and give you all ability” – End of message.
I sent this to all the names stored in my telephone memory, that is, about five hundred people. I couldn’t even imagine the amazing effect it would have on people’s hearts. Someone replied saying, “By Allaah, I cried as I read your message. Thank you for remembering me in your supplication.” Another wrote, “By Allaah, dear Abu Abd al-Rahman, I do not know what to say in reply. But, may Allaah reward you with good.” Yet another replied, “I ask Allaah to accept your prayers. By Allaah, we will never forget you.”
In reality, we do need to occasionally remind people that we love them, and that the numerous problems in the world have not made us forget them. This much can be done via something as simple as sending text messages. You can send text messages to your loved ones saying: “I prayed for you between the Adhan and Iqamah…”, or “on the last hour of Friday”. If your intention is pure, then this would not constitute making a display of good deeds or showing off. This would only result in greater love and respect between the Muslims.
I recall once giving a lecture at a summer camp in Ta’if, on ash-Shafa Mountain, which is a picnicking site where many young people gather. Most of the attendees there were young people who looked very righteous. Other youngsters also remained around the picnic sites, busy with entertainment and music. When the lecture ended, a group of young men came forward to greet me. Amongst them was a young man who had an odd hairstyle and was wearing tight jeans. He came up to me, shook my hand and greeted me. I warmly returned his greetings and thanked him for attending. I shook his hand and said, “You have the face of a preacher”. He smiled and went away. Two weeks later, I was surprised by a phone call. The speaker said, “Do you not recognise me? I am the one to whom you said ‘you have the face of a preacher’. By Allaah, I will become a preacher, if Allaah wills.” He then began to open up to me and explain to me his inner sentiments.
Do you see how people are affected by truthful expressions and love?
As for the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), he would captivate people’s hearts merely by the charm of his manners and his ability to demonstrate his true love for them. Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) and ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) were the best of the Companions. They would always compete with each other in good. Abu Bakr would mostly surpass ‘Umar. If ‘Umar were to be early for prayer, he would find that Abu Bakr had already preceded him. If he were to feed a poor person, he would find that Abu Bakr had already done the same before him. If he were to stay awake the night praying, he would find that Abu Bakr had surpassed him yet again.
Once, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ordered the people to give charity, in order to alleviate a hardship the Muslims were facing. It happened that at the time ‘Umar was very affluent, and so he decided, “Today, I will surpass Abu Bakr, if I am ever to surpass him at all.” ‘Umar then went and brought half of his wealth and gave it to the Messenger of Allaah(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). What was the first thing the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to ‘Umar upon seeing this wealth? Did he ask him how much it was? Did he ask him about the type of gold and silver?
No. Rather, when he saw the amount of wealth, he said words from which ‘Umar gathered that he was beloved to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). He said to ‘Umar, “What did you leave behind for your family, O ‘Umar?”
‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said, “O Messenger of Allaah, I have left behind its like for my family.” ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) then sat next to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enthusiastically waiting for Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him). Then came Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) with plenty of wealth, and gave it to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)whilst ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) remained standing in his place, watching Abu Bakr and listening to the discussion that took place thereafter. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) , before looking at his wealth to see what he might have required, asked Abu Bakr: “O Abu Bakr, what did you leave behind for your family?”
Yes, he loved Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) and loved his family, and therefore did not want him to suffer any hardship. Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said in response: “O Messenger of Allaah, I left for them Allaah and His Messenger.”
He came with all of his wealth. Not half, nor a quarter, but all! ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) then had no choice but to say, “This is no shock. I will never be able to surpass Abu Bakr!”
The people would love the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) intensely as they felt that he loved them. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) once prayed with them, and shortened his prayer noticeably. After the prayers were finished, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) observed that his Companions were surprised. Thus, he said to them, “Perhaps, you are surprised that I shortened the prayer?”
They replied, “Yes.”
He explained, “I heard a child cry, so I felt merciful towards the mother.”
Did you notice how he loved others? His love for the people clearly shined through in his treatment of them.
You are not alone
Display your emotions. Be frank, “I love you. I was delighted to see you. You are precious to me.”
People usually like to be valued. This is why one sees individuals at times acting in a certain manner in order to attract attention. They may even invent tales or stories of their valour so that people may show them concern or be amazed by them.
Imagine a person who returns home from work tired. He enters his living room and finds his four children sitting alone. The oldest of them is eleven-years old and is watching a television program. The second is having his dinner. The third is playing with his toys, and the fourth is doing his homework. The father then greets them in a loud voice: “as-Salaamu ‘alaykum!” One of the children is lost in his television program, the second is completely enchanted by his toys and the third is busy with his dinner. As for the fourth, when he turns around and sees his father, he drops his books and rushes in delight to welcome him, kisses his hand, and then returns to his books.
Which of the four children would be the most beloved to the father?
I say with certainty that our response would be the same: the most beloved of them would of course be the fourth; not because he is the most beautiful or the most intelligent, but only because he showed his father that he valued him. Hence, the more one cares for others, the greater their love and respect will be for him.
The best of the creation (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would consider these factors in people. He would make everyone feel that their problem was in fact his own problem, and that their worry was indeed his own. Once, when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood on his pulpit to address the people, a man entered the mosque. He looked at the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allaah!”, and then began to ask him about his religion, for he knew little about it.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned to him and noticed that he was a Bedouin who might not have been able to wait for the sermon to finish in order to obtain an answer. He feared that the man may have even left the mosque and never returned.
The issue was of utmost importance to the man, to such an extent that he had interrupted the sermon in order to ask him about religious rulings! The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was thinking from the perspective of others and not his own. Thus, he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) descended from his noble pulpit and called for a chair to be brought. He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sat in front of the man and began teaching and explaining religious rulings to him until he understood. He then stood up and returned to his pulpit to finish his sermon. How great he was! How persevering he was!
Since he also cultivated the Companions in his school, they would also show concern for others, be welcoming towards them, and share with them in their moments of happiness and grief.
An example of this is how Talhah dealt with Ka’b (may Allaah be pleased with them both) . Ka’b bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) was an old man. Let us sit with him after he has grown old, his bones have weakened, and he has become blind, as he relates to us the memories of his youth, when he lagged behind in the expedition of Tabuk, the last expedition the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) participated in…
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called the people to set off for Tabuk and prepare for an expedition. He collected people’s contributions to prepare an army, until the number of combatants reached 30,000 – this was in a season when the shade was pleasant and the fruits had ripened, yet the desert heat was severe. The journey was long and the enemy was mighty and haughty. The Muslims were great in number but some of their names were not listed in the register.
Ka’b (may Allaah be pleased with him) said, “I was the wealthiest I had ever been at the time. I had managed to accumulate two rides, and I found myself the strongest that I had ever been. At that time, I inclined towards the shade and the sweetness of fruits, and remained so until the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) set off to leave.
So I said to myself: ‘I will go tomorrow to the marketplace, buy something in preparation for the expedition, and join them later.’ I then went to the marketplace the next day, but some things came up and so I returned. Thus I said: ‘I will return tomorrow – Allaah willing, buy something and then join them’, but then again, some thing delayed me. I then said: ‘I will return again tomorrow – Allaah willing’… This kept happening until days went by and I was left behind by the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). I then began strolling the marketplaces and walking around the city, only to find people who were either drowning in hypocrisy, or those whom Allaah had excused from marching forth.’
Yes, Ka’b (may Allaah be pleased with him) was left behind in Madinah.
As for the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), he along with his 30,000 companions marched forth until they reached Tabuk; he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) looked at the faces of his Companions to find that he was missing a righteous person from amongst those who had witnessed the Pledge of ‘Aqabah. He therefore asked, “What happened to Ka’b bin Malik (may Allaah be pleased with him) ?” A man replied: “O Allaah’s Messenger! He has been prevented by his two Burdas (cloaks) and his looking at his own flanks with pride.” To this Mu‘adh bin Jabal (may Allaah be pleased with him) replied: “How evil is what you have said! By Allaah, O Messenger of Allaah! I have not known except good from him.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) remained silent.
Ka’b (may Allaah be pleased with him) continued: “When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) finished with the expedition of Tabuk and made his way back to Madinah, I began to think; ‘How do I save myself from his displeasure?’ I would seek advice from whoever had to offer me advice from my family, until the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) finally arrived in Madinah, and I realised that I would not be saved except by being honest.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) then reached Madinah and directly entered the mosque, wherein he prayed two units of prayer, and then sat with the people. There came to him those who had lagged behind, making excuses for their actions and swearing oaths. They were about eighty-odd people. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) accepted their excuses at face value and sought forgiveness for them, leaving their innermost secrets to Allaah.
Ka‘b bin Malik (may Allaah be pleased with him) also came. When he greeted him, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) looked at him. He smiled at him, the smile of one who is angry. Ka’b walked towards him and sat in front of him. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to him: “What made you lag behind? Did you not buy a ride for yourself?” Meaning: your riding beast. He replied: ‘Indeed, I did!’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) asked: “Then, what kept you behind?” Ka‘b said: “O Messenger of Allaah, if I were to have sat in front of anyone in the world other than you, I would have saved myself from his anger by making an excuse. I have been given the power of persuasion. But by Allaah, I know that if I were to tell you a lie today in order to attain your pleasure, then Allaah would soon make you angry with me anyway, and if I were to speak the truth, then surely you would be upset with me, but I would hope that because I spoke the truth, Allaah would forgive me. O Messenger of Allaah, by Allaah, I do not have any excuse. By Allaah, I had never been stronger nor wealthier than I was when I remained behind!”
Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with) remained silent. Thereupon, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned to his Companions and said: “He has indeed spoken the truth. Get up (O Ka‘b) and wait until Allaah decides your case.” Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with him) got up and left the mosque, dragging his feet, feeling remorse and being grief stricken, not knowing what Allaah would decide for him.
When the people saw this, a group from amongst them followed him and began to censure him. They said: “By Allaah! We have not known you to have committed a sin before this. Though, you are a poet, you failed to make excuses to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) like the rest of those who lagged behind! You could have made an excuse by which he would have been pleased with you and sought forgiveness for you, so that Allaah may have forgiven you.’
Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “They continued to censure me so much that I considered returning to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to inform him that I had lied. But I then asked: ‘Is there anyone else who has had the same experience?’ Someone replied: ‘Yes. Two men also said what you said and were told what you were told.’ I asked: ‘Who are they?’ They said: ‘Murarah bin al-Rabi’ and Hilal bin Umayyah.’ These were two righteous men who had witnessed the battle of Badr− men whom I thought could be examples for me. I therefore said: ‘By Allaah, I will never return to the Prophet to retract what I have said and belie myself!”
Thus Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with him) walked along, broken inside and full of sadness, until he reached home, where he remained. Not much time had passed after this when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade the people from speaking to Ka‘b and his two Companions. Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “After this, people completely changed their attitude towards us and would shun us. If I were to go out to the marketplace, no one would speak to me.
The people became estranged from me as if I never knew them. It was as though even the walls had become estranged from us, as if these weren’t the walls we were familiar with and the earth that we knew had also become a stranger. The two companions of mine would sit in their homes and weep night and day. They would never show their faces. They would busy themselves with worship as if they were monks. As for me, then I was the youngest and the firmest of the three. I would go out and attend the prayers with the Muslims and roam around the marketplaces, yet, nobody would speak to me.
“I would enter the mosque and approach the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and greet him, then be left wondering to myself if he even moved his lips to return my greeting or not. I would pray close to him, looking at him stealthily. When I became busy with prayer, he would turn to me. When I turned to him, he would turn away from me.”
Days went by and pain led to more pain. Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with him) was once considered a noble man amongst his people and a leading poet. He was known amongst kings and princes. His poetry circulated amongst the great so much that they would long to meet him. Yet here he was in Madinah amongst his own people, and no one would speak to or even look at him, so much so that the tragedy was gruelling and the estrangement became almost impossible to bear. Still, there was to come to him another test…
One day, as he was roaming around the marketplace, there came a Christian from Syria. He said: “Who can take me to Ka‘b bin Malik?” The people pointed to Ka‘b, so he came to him and gave him a letter from the King of Ghassan. How strange! From the King of Ghassan! Therefore, his news must have reached Syria, so much so that the King of the Ghassanites showed concern for him! How amazing! What exactly did the King want from him?
Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with him) opened up the letter and read: “To proceed: O Ka‘b bin Malik! It has reached me that your companion has turned cold towards you and distanced you from him. You do not deserve loss or ruin, or to be disgraced. So join us, and we would give you consolation.”
When he finished reading the letter, he said: “To Allaah we belong! The people of disbelief have now shown interest in me! This is indeed a great calamity and evil!” He then went with the letter immediately to an oven, set it alight, and burned it. Ka‘b did not consider the king’s offer for a moment.
Yes, the doors were opened up to him to the kings’ palaces and the mansions of the great who would invite him to honour and companionship, whilst the city of Madinah around him censured him and people frowned in his face. He would greet people, yet none would return his greeting. He would ask, yet none would respond. Despite that, he did not turn to the disbelievers. The devil failed to shake him or to make him a slave to his desires. He simply tossed the letter into the fire and let it burn.
Thus the days passed, one by one, until a whole month went by. Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with him) remained in this state as the boycott continued to grow heavier around his neck and the pressure continued to increase. Neither did the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) pardon him, nor did revelation descend decreeing anything in this matter.
When forty days had passed, a messenger from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came to Ka‘b, knocking on his door. Ka‘b went out to him, hoping that he might have come with concessions, only to find the messenger saying: “The Messenger orders that you distance yourself from your wife.” He said: “Should I divorce her?” He said: “No, but keep your distance from her and do not approach her.” Thereupon, Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with him) went to his wife and said: “Go back to your family and stay with them until Allaah decrees for this matter.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sent the same message to his two companions. So the wife of Hilal bin Umayyah came to him and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, Hilal bin Umayyah is a weak old man. Will you give me permission to serve him?” He replied: “Yes, but do not let him approach you.” The woman said: “O Prophet of Allaah, he is not even able to move for anything he needs. He is still very depressed and cries, night and day, since the day he did what he did.”
The days became very difficult for Ka‘b and the boycott became so unbearable for him that he began to re-examine his faith. He would try to speak to the Muslims, but they would not respond to him. He would greet the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) but would not hear a response. So where should he have gone? Whom should he have consulted?
Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “When the calamity had gone on for far too long, I went to Abu Qatadah (may Allaah be pleased with him) , who was my cousin and the most beloved of people to me. I found him in his garden. I scaled the wall, entered and greeted him, but by Allaah, he did not return my greeting. I said: ‘I beseech you, by Allaah, O Abu Qatadah, do you know that I love Allaah and His Messenger?’ He remained silent. I then said: ‘O Abu Qatadah, do you know that I love Allaah and His Messenger?’ He remained silent. I then said: ‘I beseech you, by Allaah, O Abu Qatadah, do you know that I love Allaah and His Messenger?’ He then said: ‘Allaah and His Messenger know best.”
When Ka‘b heard this response from his cousin and the dearest of all people to him, it was as if he could no longer tell if he was a believer or not. He could not bear what he had heard.
His eyes filled with tears. He climbed over the wall, went back to his house and remained therein, looking here and there, confined within the walls of his house. He had no wife to accompany him, nor a relative to console him.
Fifty nights had passed since the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade the people to speak to them. On the fiftieth night, it was revealed to the Prophet in the last third of the night that the repentance of the three men had been accepted. At the time, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was in the house of Umm Salamah(may Allaah be pleased with her) . So he recited the relevant verses, after which Umm Salamah said: “O Prophet of Allaah, shall we not give the glad tidings to Ka‘b bin Malik?” He replied: “The people would throng and prevent you from sleeping for the rest of the night!”
Hence, when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) prayed the Fajr prayer, he proclaimed the fact that Allaah had accepted their repentance. The people then rushed to give them the glad tidings.
Ka‘b (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I had prayed Fajr on the rooftop of one of our houses. I was sitting in a state which Allaah has described in His Book, in which my soul felt intense restriction, and even the earth had become restricted, despite its vastness, and nothing worried me more than the thought that I may die and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) may not pray over me, or that he may die whilst I remain boycotted by the people, such that no one speaks to me ever, nor prays over me upon my death.
“So, whilst I was in that state, I heard the voice of a person on Mount Sala’, shouting at the top of his voice: ‘O Ka‘b bin Malik! Glad tidings for you!’ I fell into prostration and realised that relief had at last arrived from Allaah. There came to me a man on a horse, whilst another man was shouting from the top of the mountain, and his voice reached me more swiftly than the horse.
“When the man whose voice I heard finally came to me to give me the good news, I took off my two garments and gave them to the men. By Allaah, I didn’t have any other garments, so I borrowed two others, wore them and set out to see the Messenger of Allaah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). The people came to meet me in droves, congratulating me on the acceptance of my repentance, saying: ‘Congratulations that your repentance has been accepted!’ I entered the mosque and found the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sitting with his Companions.
“When they all saw me, by Allaah, none stood for me except Talhah bin Ubaydullah (may Allaah be pleased with him). He stood up, hugged and congratulated me, then sat down again. By Allaah, I will never forget Talhah’s action! I kept on walking until I reached the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and greeted him. I noticed that his face was radiant with happiness. Whenever he became happy, his face would become radiant, as if it were part of the moon. When he saw me, he said: ‘Glad tidings to you for the best day you have witnessed since your mother gave birth to you!’ I said: ‘Is this favour from you, or Allaah?’ He replied: ‘It is from Allaah.’ Then he recited the verses. I sat down in front of him and said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah! As part of my repentance, I should give the sum total of my wealth in charity for Allaah and His Messenger.’ He said in response: ‘Keep some of your wealth, for that is better for you.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah, Allaah only saved me for being truthful, and a part of my repentance should be to always speak the truth as long as I live.’”
Yes, Allaah accepted the repentance of Ka‘b and his two companions and revealed in that regard Qura’nic passages, saying:
“Allaah has already forgiven the Prophet and the Muhajirin and the Ansaar who followed him in the hour of difficulty after the hearts of a party of them had almost inclined [to doubt], and then He forgave them. Indeed, He was to them Kind and Merciful. And [He also forgave] the three who were left behind [and regretted their error] to the point that the earth closed in on them in spite of its vastness and their souls confined [i.e., anguished] them and they were certain that there is no refuge from Allaah except in Him. Then He turned to them so they could repent. Indeed, Allaah is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.”
The point to note in this story is that Talhah (may Allah be pleased with him) when he saw Ka‘b, he stood up for him, hugged and congratulated him. Hence, Ka‘b’s admiration increased for him, so much so that he would say after Talhah’s death, whilst narrating this story years later: “By Allaah! I will never forget what Talhah did!”
And what did Talhah do to captivate the heart of Ka‘b? He demonstrated a great skill, by showing concern for him and sharing in his moment of happiness with him, and hence he became beloved to Ka‘b.
Being compassionate and sympathising with people captivates their hearts. If one was in the midst of his exams and received a text message saying: “Give me some good news about your exams. By Allaah, I am concerned about you and praying for you. Your friend, Ibrahim.” – Would this not increase his admiration for the friend? No doubt, it would.
If one’s father was ill in hospital, and he was to remain with him in his room, distressed and preoccupied with concern, and his friend were to phone him, asking after the father, saying: “Do you need any help? I am always there if you need me,” he would certainly thank him. Then, if he were to call in the evening again, saying: “Does your family need anything that I can buy for them? Please let me know,” he would have thanked him and prayed for him. Do you not think that his heart would be endeared towards him further? Compare that to a friend who calls, saying: ‘Hello! We are going off to the beach to have fun. What do you say? Do you want to come with us?” he would reply: ‘Well, my father is ill, so I cannot.’ Then, instead of praying for the father and apologizing for not asking about his condition, if the friend were to say,
“I know that, but he is in the hospital and he has nurses to look after him. He won’t benefit much from your presence, anyway. Come with us, enjoy yourself and swim, etc.” If he said this while laughing and joking, as if he is unconcerned about the father’s illness, what would one’s view of the friend be then? No doubt, his status in his heart would decrease as he simply did not display any concern whatsoever about his worries.
One of the most upsetting things ever to happen to me was when I was once in Jeddah for a few days. I was extremely busy at the time and meanwhile, I received a text message from my brother Su’ud which read: “May Allaah grant you befitting patience. Your cousin has passed away in Germany.”
I called my brother who told me that this cousin of ours, who was elderly, had travelled just two days before that to Germany for heart treatment and had died during the operation. His body was soon to arrive at Riyadh airport. I prayed for him and sought Allah’s mercy for him, and ended the call with my brother. A couple of days later, my work in Jeddah was complete, and so I went to the airport, waiting for my flight to depart for Riyadh.
There, a group of young men passed by me. When they saw me, they recognised me and greeted me. Some of them were adolescents with outlandish hairstyles, but I nevertheless joked with them and affectionately teased them.
I became busy with a telephone call and after I finished, I saw a young man wearing trousers and a shirt. When he saw me, he greeted me and shook my hand. I welcomed him and said, jokingly: “What is this fashion? It is as if today is your wedding day!” or words to that effect.
The young man remained silent for a while and then said: “I think you haven’t it recognised me. I am so-and-so. I have just arrived from Germany with my father’s body and I am flying off to Riyadh on the next available flight.”
I felt as if someone had poured a barrel of cold water over me. I was extremely embarrassed. His father had passed away, whose body happened to be with him in the plane, and yet here I was, joking with him and laughing. This was extremely awkward, indeed!
I remained silent for a second, before replying: “I am so sorry! By Allaah, I did not realise it was you! I’ve been here for a few days, you see. May Allaah grant you befitting patience and may he forgive your father.”
This was despite the fact that I had an excuse in not realizing who he was, as I used to see him very infrequently and on those occasions he would be in his traditional dress and headscarf.
Therefore, because he wore trousers and surprised me, amongst a crowd of young men in Jeddah, I did not think that he was the person in question.
Part of having concern for others is to share in their feelings and to show them that their worries are your worries, and that you love good for them.
For this reason, one would find that professional companies always have a Public Relations department, whose role is to send seasonal greetings, gifts, and so on. Whenever one shows people that they are valued and cared for, he captures their hearts and they then love him.
Here is a real-life example of this: If a person were to enter a place full of people and could not find a place to sit, and one was to move a little and offer him some space saying: “Please come here and have a seat”, he would recognise his concern for him and this would endear him to him. Or, if one was at a dinner party and you noticed him holding his plate, looking for a table with empty space, and he therefore vacated a seat for him, saying: “Welcome! Please have a seat here,” he would have noticed the concern for him. Therefore, if one shows people that he values them, they would love him.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would give utmost importance to this. Look at when he was delivering a sermon once on his pulpit one Friday, and suddenly a Bedouin entered the mosque, walked through the rows, looked at the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said in a loud voice: “O Messenger of Allaah, I am a person who does not know what his religion is. Teach me what my religion is!”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) descended from his pulpit and turned to the man. He asked for a chair, then sat on it, and then began to speak to the man and explain to him his religion until he understood. He then returned to the pulpit.
This is a demonstration of having the utmost care for people. Who knows, if he had ignored him, the man may have remained ignorant with regards to his religion until he died. If we were to learn about his character, we would find that when he would shake someone’s hand, he wouldn’t withdraw his hand until the other person withdrew his hand first. If a person were to speak to him, he would completely turn towards him, meaning that he would turn his face and body towards him, in order to listen with full attention.
…tells us that whenever you show people that you value and care for them, you capture their hearts and are thus endeared to them.
Before we embark on our discussion we should note some issues and considerations that we should bear in mind before and when dealing with and correcting the mistakes of others.
Sincerity towards Allaah
When correcting the mistakes of others, it is essential that one’s intention be to earn the pleasure of Allaah, not to demonstrate one’s superiority or to vent one’s anger or to impress others.
Al-Tirmidhi (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported from Shufayy al-Asbahi that he entered Madeenah and saw a man with people gathered around him. He asked, “Who is this?” They said, “Abu Hurayrah.” [Shufayy said:] “So I approached him and sat down in front of him. He was speaking to the people, and when he finished and they had gone away, I said to him, ‘I ask you by Allaah, to narrate to me a hadeeth that you heard from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and understood fully.’ Abu Hurayrah said, ‘I will do that, I will tell you a hadeeth I heard from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and understood fully.’ Then Abu Hurayrah began to gasp, and remained in this condition until he recovered, then he said, ‘I will tell you a hadeeth that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told me in this house when there was no one else present except me and him.’ Then Abu Hurayrah began to gasp again, then he recovered and wiped his face, and said, ‘I will tell you a hadeeth that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told me in this house when there was no one else present except me and him.’ Then he gasped, then he recovered and wiped his face and said, ‘I will tell you a hadeeth that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told me in this house when there was no one else present except me and him.’ Then Abu Hurayrah began to gasp severely, and his head fell forward, and I supported him with my shoulder for a long time, then he recovered, and said: ‘The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told me: ‘When the Day of Judgement comes, Allaah will come down to judge between the people. And every nation will be kneeling in submission. The first people to be called forth will be a man who had learned the Qur’aan by heart, a man who was killed for the sake of Allaah and a man who had a lot of wealth. Allaah will say to the reader, ‘Did I not teach you that which I had revealed to My Messenger?’ He will say, ‘Of course, My Lord.’ Allaah will say, ‘What did you do with what you were taught?’ He will say, ‘I stayed up at night and during the day (to recite it).’ Allaah will say, ‘You have lied,’ and the angels will say, ‘You have lied.’ Allaah will say, ‘You only wanted it to be said that so-and-so is a reader, and it was said.’ The one who had a lot of wealth will be brought and Allaah will say to him, ‘Did I not give generously to you so that you were not in need of anyone?’ He will say, ‘Of course, O Lord.’ Allaah will say, ‘What did you do with what I gave you?’ He will say, ‘I used to give it to my relatives and in charity.’ Allaah will say, ‘You have lied,’ and the angels will say, ‘You have lied.’ Allaah will say, ‘You only wanted it to be said that so-and-so is generous, and it was said. Then the one who was killed for the sake of Allaah will be brought and Allaah will say to him, ‘What were you killed for?’ He will say, ‘I was commanded to fight in jihaad for Your sake so I fought until I was killed.’ Allaah will say, ‘You have lied,’ and the angels will say, ‘You have lied.’ Allaah will say, ‘You only want it to be said that so-and-so was courageous, and it was said.’ Then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) struck my knees and said, ‘O Abu Hurayrah, these three are the first people for whom the Fire will be heated on the Day of Resurrection.’” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 2382, Shaakir edn. Abu ‘Eesa said: this is a ghareeb hasan hadeeth).
If the intention of the person giving advice is sincere, he will earn reward and his advice will be accepted and acted upon, by the permission of Allaah.
Making mistakes is part of human nature.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Every son of Adam makes mistakes, and the best of those who make mistakes are those who repent.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2499, and by Ibn Maajah, who narrated this version – al-Sunan, ed. by ‘Abd al-Baqi, no. 4251)
Bearing this fact clearly in mind will put things into their proper perspective, so the educator should not expect people to be perfect or infallible or judge them according to what he thinks they should be, and then consider them to have failed if they make a big mistake or err repeatedly. He should deal with them in a realistic manner, based on his knowledge of human nature which is subject to ignorance, negligence, shortcomings, whims and desires and forgetfulness.
Understanding this fact will also prevent an educator from being greatly shocked by the kind of sudden mistake that could lead him to react in an inappropriate fashion. This will remind the da’iyah and educator who is striving to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil that he too is a human being who could also make the same mistake, so he should deal with him on a footing of compassion rather than harshness, because the basic aim is to reform, not to punish.
But this does not mean that we should leave people who are making mistakes alone, or find excuses for those who are committing sins on the basis that they are only human or that they are just youngsters, or that the modern age is full of temptations and so on. We must denounce the actions and call the people to account, but at the same time we must evaluate their actions according to Islam.
– Saying that someone is wrong should be based on shar’i evidence and proper understanding, not on ignorance and that fact that one happens not to like it.
Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir reported that Jaabir prayed wearing only an izar (lower garment wrapped around the waist) tied at the back [the reason for this is that they did not have trousers, and they would wear their izar tied at the back because this was more concealing when they did rukoo’ and sujood. Fath al-Baari, al-Salafiyyah edn., 1/467], and his other clothes were on a clothes hook. Someone said to him, ‘Are you praying in one garment?’ He said, ‘I only did it so that some foolish person like you would see me. Who among us had two garments at the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, no. 352).
Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “What is meant by ‘foolish’ here is ‘ignorant’… The purpose was to explain that it is permissible to pray wearing only one garment, although wearing two garments is preferable. It is as if he was saying, ‘I did it on purpose to show that it is permissible, so that one who does not know could follow me in that or he could rebuke me so that I could teach him that it is permissible.’ The reason why his answer was so harsh was so that he could teach them not to rebuke the scholars and to urge them to look into shar’i matters themselves.” (al-Fath, 1/467)
– The more serious a mistake is, the more effort should be made to correct it.
Efforts to correct mistakes that have to do with ‘aqeedah should be greater than those to correct mistakes that have to do with etiquette, for example. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was intensely concerned about dealing with and correcting mistakes that had to do with shirk in all its forms, because this was the most important matter. Examples of this follow:
Al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah said: “There was an eclipse of the sun on the day that [the Prophet’s infant son] Ibraaheem died, and the people said, ‘This eclipse is because of the death of Ibraaheem.’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘The sun and the moon are two of the signs of Allaah, they do not become eclipsed for the death or life of anyone. If you see them (eclipsed) then call on Allaah and pray to Him until the eclipse is over.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, 1061).
Abu Waaqid al-Laythi reported that when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) went out to Hunayn, he passed by a tree belonging to the mushrikeen that was called Dhaat Anwaat, on which they used to hang their weapons. They said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, make for us a Dhaat Anwaat like they have.’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Subhaan-Allaah! This is like what the people of Moosa said, “Make for us a god as they have gods.” By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you will follow the ways of the people who came before you.’” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2180. He said, This is a saheeh hasan hadeeth).
According to another report narrated by Abu Waaqid, they went out from Makkah with the Messenger of Allaah to Hunayn. He said: “The kuffaar had a lotus-tree to which they were devoted and on which they used to hang their weapons; it was called Dhaat Anwaat. We passed by a big, green lotus-tree, and we said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, make this a Dhaat Anwat for us.’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you have said what the people of Moosa said to him, “Make for us a god as they have gods,” and he said, “Verily, you are a people who know not.” It is the same thing, and you will follow the ways of the people who came before you, step by step.’” (Reported by Ahmad, al-Sunan, 5/218).
Zayd ibn Khaalid al-Juhani said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) led us in Subh (Fajr) prayer at al-Hudaybiyah just after it had rained in the night. When he finished, he turned to the people and said, ‘Do you know what your Lord says?” They said, ‘Allaah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, ‘This morning one of My slaves became a believer in Me, and one a disbeliever. As for the one who said, we have been given rain by the Grace and Mercy of Allaah, he is a believer in Me and a disbeliever in the stars; and as for him who said, we have been given rain by such-and-such a star, he is a disbeliever in Me and a believer in the stars.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, no. 846).
Ibn ‘Abbaas reported that a man said, “O Messenger of Allaah, whatever Allaah and you will.” He said, “Are you making me equal to Allaah? [Say instead:] What Allaah alone wills.” (Reported by Ahmad, al-Musnad, 1/283).
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both) reported that he caught up with ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab who was with a group of people and was swearing by his father. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called them and told them that Allaah had forbidden them to swear by their forefathers; the one who wanted to swear an oath should swear by Allaah or else keep quiet. (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, 6108)
Note: Imaam Ahmad reported in his Musnad: Wakee’ told us that al-A’mash told us from Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaydah who said: “I was with Ibn ‘Umar in a circle and he heard a man in another circle saying, ‘No, by my father.’ So Ibn ‘Umar threw pebbles at him and said, ‘This is how ‘Umar used to swear, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade him to do this and said that it was shirk.’” (al-Fath al-Rabbaani, 14/164).
Abu Shurayh Haani’ ibn Yazeed said: “A delegation of people came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he heard them calling one of them Abd al-Hajar (“slave of the stone”). He asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘ ‘Abd al-Hajar.’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘No, you are ‘Abd-Allaah (slave of Allaah).’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, no. 813. Al-Albaani said in Saheeh al-Adab al-Mufrad that it is saheeh, no. 623).
– Taking into account the position of the person who is striving to correct the mistake
Some people’s advice may be more readily accepted than others’ because they have a status that others do not, or because, unlike others, they have authority over the person who has made the mistake, for example, a father with his child or a teacher with his student or a government official with the one whom he is inspecting. One who is older is not like one who is younger, a relative is not like a stranger, a person with authority is not like one with no authority. Understanding these differences will make the reformer put things into perspective and evaluate them properly, so that his rebuke or correction will not lead to a greater evil. The position of the one who is rebuking and the esteem in which he is held by the one who has made the mistake are very important in judging how strong the rebuke should be and deciding how harsh or gentle the tone should be. From this we learn two things:
Firstly, that the person to whom Allaah has given status or authority should use that to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and to teach people. He should understand that he has a great responsibility because people will accept more from him than from other people – usually – so he can do more than others can.
Secondly, the person who seeks to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil should not misjudge the situation and put himself in a higher position than is in fact the case and behave as if he has qualities that he does not have, because this will only put people off.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made the most of the position of respect that Allaah had given him when he was rebuking and teaching people. He did things that would not have been appropriate if they were done by anyone else, examples of which follow:
Ya’eesh ibn Tihfah al-Ghiffaari reported that his father said: “I was a guest of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), one of the poor to whom he played host. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came out to check on his guests during the night, and saw me lying on my stomach. He kicked me and said, ‘Don’t lie like this; this is the kind of lying that Allaah hates.’” According to another report: “He kicked him and woke him up, and said, ‘This is how the people of Hell lie.’” (Reported by Ahmad, al-Fath al-Rabbaani, 14/244-245. Also reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2798, Shaakir edn.; by Abu Dawood in Kitaab al-Adab in his Sunan, no. 5040, al-Da’’aas edn. The hadeeth is also in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2270-2271).
This method of rebuking was appropriate for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) because of his position and status, but it is not appropriate for ordinary people. It is not alright for any person who wants to rebuke another for sleeping on his stomach to kick him whilst he is asleep and wake him up, and then expect him to accept this advice and thank him for it. The same applies to hitting a person who is making a mistake or throwing something like pebbles or whatever at him. Although some of the salaf did that, it was because of their particular status. Some stories of this nature follow:
Al-Daarimi (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported from Sulaymaan ibn Yassaar that a man called Sabeegh came to Madeenah and started to ask about the ambiguous texts of the Qur’aan. ‘Umar sent for him, and he had prepared some date palm branches for him (to hit him with). [‘Umar] asked him, “Who are you?’ He said, “I am the slave of Allaah, Sabeegh.” ‘Umar took hold of one of the palm branches and hit him, saying, “I am the slave of Allaah, ‘Umar.” He kept hitting him until his head began to bleed, and he said, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, enough! [The ideas that] were in my head have gone!” (Sunan al-Daarimi, ed. by ‘Abd-Allaah Haashim Yamaani, 1/51, no. 146).
Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported that Ibn Abi Layla said: “Hudhayfah was in al-Madaa’in and asked for a drink, and a grandee gave him a vessel of silver. He threw it at him and said, ‘I would not have thrown it, but I told him not to do it and he didn’t stop. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade us from wearing silk and brocade, and from drinking from vessels of gold and silver. He said, ‘These are for them in this world and for you in the Hereafter.’” (al-Fath, no. 5632).
According to a report narrated by Ahmad, describing the same incident, ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Laylaa said: “I went out with Hudhayfah to one of these areas, and he asked for something to drink. A grandee brought him a vessel of silver and he (Hudhayfah) threw it in his face. We said, ‘Be quiet, be quiet, if we ask why he did it, he might not tell us.’ So we were quiet, and a little while later he said, ‘Do you know why I threw it in his face?’ We said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘I had told him not to do it. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Do not drink from vessels of gold,” and Mu’aadh said, “Do not drink from vessels of gold or silver, and do not wear silk or brocade; these are for them in this world and for you in the Hereafter.”’” (al-Musnad, 5/396)
Al-Bukhaari narrated that Seereen asked Anas to write him a contract of manumission, as he had plenty of money, but Anas refused. Seereen went to ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), who told Anas to write the document, and Anas still refused, so ‘Umar hit him with a whip whilst reciting the words (interpretation of the meaning): “… give them [slaves seeking emancipation] such writing [of a document of manumission], if you know that they are good and trustworthy…” [al-Noor 24:33], so he wrote the document for him. (Al-Fath, 5/184).
Al-Nisaa’i reported from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that he was praying when a son of Marwaan came in front of him, so he checked him, and when he did not go back, he hit him. The boy went out crying, and went to Marwaan and told him what had happened. Marwaan asked Abu Sa’eed, “Why did you hit the son of your brother?” He said, “I did not hit him, I hit the Shaytaan. I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘If any one of you is praying and someone wants to pass in front of him, let him stop him as much as he can, and if he refuses then fight him, for he is a devil.’” (al-Mujtaba min Sunan al-Nisaa’i, 8/61; Saheeh Sunan al-Nisaa’i, no. 4518)
Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported from Abu’l-Nadr that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri was suffering from a sore leg, and his brother came in and saw him lying with one leg crossed over the other, so he hit him on the sore leg, making it hurt even more. He said, “You hurt my leg! Didn’t you know it is sore?” He said, “Of course I knew.” He said, “What made you do that?” He said, “Did you not hear that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade us to sit like this?” (al-Musnad, 3/42)
Maalik reported from Abu’l-Zubayr al-Makki that a man proposed marriage to another man’s sister, and he [the brother] told him that she had committed zinaa. News of this reached ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab, so he hit him or nearly hit him, and said, “Why did you tell him?” (Muwatta’ Maalik, no. 1553, report of Abu Mus’ab al-Zuhri, ed. by Bashshaar Ma’roof and Mahmood Khaleel. Mu’sasat al-Risaalah).
Muslim reported in his Saheeh from Abu Ishaaq who said: “I was with al-Aswad ibn Yazeed in the Great Mosque, and al-Sha’bi was with us. Al-Sha’bi told us about what Faatimah bint Qays had said about the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) not providing housing or an income for her. Al-Aswad took a handful of pebbles and threw them at him, saying, ‘Woe to you! You talk about something like this? ‘Umar said that we should not leave the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) for the words of a woman who we cannot be sure has remembered things properly or not. Women have the right to accommodation and an income. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… and turn them not out of their homes, not shall they (themselves) leave, except in case they are guilty of some open illegal sexual intercourse…” [al-Talaaq 65:1].’” (Saheeh Muslim, no. 1480).
Abu Dawood reported, with an isnaad in which two men are maqbool, that two men entered from the doors of Kindah, when Abu Mas’ood al-Ansaari was sitting in a circle. The two men said, “Is there any man who will judge between us?” A man in the circle said, “I will.” Abu Mas’ood took a handful of pebbles and threw them at him, saying, “Shut up! It is disliked to hasten to judgement.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, Kitaab al-Aqdiyah, Bab fi talab al-qada’ wa al-tasarru’ ilayhi)
We should also note that the Prophet’s rebuking of some of his closest Companions was, on occasions, harsher than his rebuking of a bedouin, for example, or a stranger. All of this has to do with wisdom and proper evaluation in rebuking.
– Making a distinction between one who errs out of ignorance and one who errs despite his knowledge
One of the stories that illustrate this clearly is what happened to Mu’aawiyah ibn al-Hakam al-Salami when he came to Madeenah from the desert, and he did not know that it is forbidden to speak during the salaah. He said: “Whilst I was praying behind the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), a man sneezed, so I said ‘Yarhamuk Allaah (may Allaah have mercy on you).’ The people glared at me, so I said, ‘May my mother lose me! What is wrong with you that you are looking at me?’ They began to slap their thighs with their hands, and when I saw that they were indicating that I should be quiet, I stopped talking (i.e., I nearly wanted to answer them back, but I controlled myself and kept quiet). When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had finished praying – may my father and mother be sacrificed for him, I have never seen a better teacher than him before or since – he did not rebuke me or hit me or put me to shame. He just said, ‘This prayer should contain nothing of the speech of men; it is only tasbeeh and takbeer and recitation of the Qur’aan.’” (Saheeh Muslim, ‘Abd al-Baaqi edn., no. 537).
The ignorant person needs to be taught; the one who has doubts needs to have things explained to him; the negligent person needs to be reminded; and the one who wilfully persists in error needs to be warned. It is not right to treat one who knows about a ruling and one who is ignorant of it in the same manner when rebuking them. Treating one who does not know too harshly will only put him off and make him refuse to follow your advice, unlike teaching him with wisdom and gentleness, because an ignorant person simply does not realize that he is making a mistake. It is as if he is saying to the one who is rebuking him: “Why don’t you teach me before you launch an attack on me?”
The one who is making a mistake without realizing it may think that he is right, so we should take this into account and deal with him tactfully. Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported in al-Musnad from al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ate some food, then got up to pray. He had already done wudoo’ before that, but I brought some water for him to do wudoo’, He rebuffed me and said, ‘Go away!’ I felt upset, by Allaah. He prayed, and I complained to ‘Umar about what had happened. He said, ‘O Prophet of Allaah, al-Mugheerah feels hurt by your rebuff, and he is worried that you may be angry with him for some reason.’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘I see only good in him, but he brought me water to do wudoo’ after I had eaten some food, and if I had done wudoo’ then, the people would have followed suit [i.e., they would have thought that they had to do wudoo’ every time they had eaten something].’” (al-Musnad, 4/253)
We should note here that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) pointed out the mistakes of these great Sahaabah, it did not have a negative impact on them or put them off; rather, it had a positive effect on them, and having been corrected in this manner by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), they would remain anxious and worried, watching their behaviour and feeling concerned until they could be sure that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was pleased with them.
We may also note from this story that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) pointed out al-Mugheerah’s mistake, he was not angry with al-Mugheerah himself; he did this out of mercy to the people and to explain things clearly to them, so that they would not impose something on themselves that was not waajib and that would cause them a great deal of hardship.
– Making a distinction between mistakes stemming from an honest effort to find out what is right (ijtihaad), and mistakes done deliberately, out of negligence or because of shortcomings
There is no doubt that in the first case, a person is not to be blamed; indeed he will earn one reward even if he is mistaken, so long as his intention was sincere and he tried to reach the right conclusion, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If a ruler judges and strives to make the right decision, and his decision is correct, he will have two rewards, and if his decision is wrong, he will still have one reward.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 1326, Shaakir edn. Abu ‘Eesa al-Tirmidhi said it is a ghareeb hasan hadeeth in this version. )
This is a different case from one who errs deliberately or because of shortcomings. In the first instance, the person should be taught and advised; in the second, he should be warned and rebuked.
The ijtihaad which may be excused should be done on the part of one who is qualified, not one who gives fatwas without knowledge and without taking circumstances into account. This is why the Prophet severely denounced the people who made the mistake in the case of the man with the head wound. Abu Dawood narrated in his Sunan from Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: “We went out on a journey, and one of the men with us was struck in the head with a stone and started bleeding. Then he slept and when he woke up he needed to do ghusl (he was in state of janaabah or impurity). He asked his companions, ‘Do you think I could get away with doing tayammum?’ They said, ‘We don’t think you have any excuse because water is available.’ So he did ghusl, and he died. When we came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he was told about this, he said, ‘They have killed him, may Allaah kill them! Why did they not ask if they did not know? The cure of the one who does not know is to ask…’” (Sunan Abi Dawood, Kitaab al-Tahaarah, Baab al-majrooh yatayammam; al-Albaani classed it as hasan in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 325, and indicated that the extra material added at the end of the hadeeth is da’eef)
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that judges are of three types, one will be in Paradise and the other two in Hell. The type that will be in Paradise is a man who knows the truth and judges accordingly. A man who knows the truth but judges unjustly will be in Hell, and a man who judges between people without proper knowledge will also be in Hell. (Sunan Abi Dawood, no. 3573; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Irwa’, 2164). The third type is not regarded as having any excuse.
Another factor in gauging the degree of rebuking is paying attention to the environment in which the mistake occurred, such as whether it was an environment in which the Sunnah is followed or bid’ah is widespread, or how prevalent evil is, or whether there are ignorant or overly lenient people, whose opinions are widely followed, issuing fatwas to say that it is permissible.
– A good intention on the part of the one who makes the mistake does not mean that he should not be rebuked
‘Amr ibn Yahya said: “I heard my father narrating from his father who said: ‘We were at the door of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood before the early morning prayer. When he came out we walked with him to the mosque. Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari came up to us and said, “Did Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan come out to you yet?” We said, “No.” He sat down with us until [Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan] came out. When he came out, we all stood up to greet him, and Abu Moosa said to him: “O Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan, earlier I saw in the mosque something that I have never seen before, but it seems good, al-hamdu Lillaah.” He said, “And what was it?” He said, “if you live, you will see it. I saw people in the mosque sitting in circles waiting for the prayer. In every circle there was a man, and they had pebbles in their hands. He would say, ‘Say Allaahu akbar one hundred times,’ and they would say Allaahu akbar one hundred times; then he would say, ‘Say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah one hundred times,’ and they would say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah one hundred times; then he would say, ‘Say Subhaan Allaah one hundred times,’ and they would say Subhaan Allaah one hundred times.’ He asked, ‘What did you say to them?’ He said, ‘I did not say anything to them; I was waiting to see what your opinion would be and what you would tell me to do.’ He said, ‘Why did you not tell them to count their bad deeds and guarantee them that nothing of their good deeds would be wasted?’ Then he left, and we went with him, until he reached one of those circles. He stood over them and said, ‘What is this I see you doing?’ They said, ‘O Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan, these are pebbles we are using to count our takbeer, tahleel and tasbeeh.’ He said, ‘Count your bad deeds, and I guarantee that nothing of your good deeds will be wasted. Woe to you, O ummah of Muhammad, how quickly you are getting destroyed! The Companions of your Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) are still alive, his garment is not yet worn out and his vessels are not yet broken. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, either you are following a way that is more guided than that of Muhammad or you have opened the door of misguidance!’ They said, ‘By Allaah, O Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan, we only wanted to do good.’ He said, ‘How many of those who wanted to do good failed to achieve it! The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us that people recite Qur’aan and it does not go any further than their throats. By Allaah, I do not know, maybe most of them are people like you.’ Then he turned away from them. ‘Amr ibn Salamah said, ‘I saw most of the members of those circles fighting alongside the Khawaarij on the day of Nahrawaan.’” (Reported by al-Daarimi, al-Sunan, no. 210, ed. by ‘Abd-Allaah Haashim al-Yamaani. Al-Albaani classed its isnaad as saheeh in al-Silsilat al-Saheehah under hadeeth no. 2005. See Majma’ al-Zawaa’id by al-Haythami, 1/181).
– Being fair and not being biased when correcting those who make mistakes
Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings):
“And whenever you give your word (i.e., judge between men or give evidence), say the truth…” [al-An’aam 6:152]
“… and when you judge between men, you [should] judge with justice…” [al-Nisa’ 4:58]
The fact that Usaamah ibn Zayd was the beloved of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the son of his beloved [Zayd] did not stop the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) from rebuking him most sternly when he tried to intercede regarding one of the punishments (hudood) prescribed by Allaah. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) reported that Quraysh were concerned about a woman who stole at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), at the time of the Conquest of Makkah. They said, ‘Who will speak to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about her? Who will dare to do this other than Usaamah ibn Zayd, the beloved of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?’ She was brought to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and Usaamah ibn Zayd spoke to him concerning her. The face of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) changed colour and he said: ‘Are you interceding concerning one of the punishments prescribed by Allaah?’ Usaamah said to him, ‘Pray for forgiveness for me, O Messenger of Allaah.’ When evening came, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood up and addressed the people. He praised Allaah as He deserves to be praised, then he said: ‘The people who came before you were destroyed because if one of their nobles stole, they would let him go, but if one of the weak among them stole, they would carry out the punishment on him. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if Faatimah the daughter of Muhammad were to steal, I would cut off her hand.’ Then he ordered that the woman who had stolen should have her hand cut off.” (The hadeeth was reported by al-Bukhaari and Muslim; this version was narrated by Muslim, no. 1688).
According to a report narrated by al-Nisaa’i from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), she said: “A woman borrowed some jewellery, claiming that she wanted to lend it to someone else, but she sold it and kept the money. She was brought to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Her family went to Usaamah ibn Zayd, who spoke to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) concerning her. The face of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) changed colour whilst Usaamah was speaking, then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to him: ‘Are you interceding concerning one of the punishments prescribed by Allaah?’ Usaamah said, ‘Pray for forgiveness for me, O Messenger of Allaah.’ In the evening, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood up, praised Allaah as He deserves to be praised, then said, ‘The people who came before you were destroyed because if one of their nobles stole, they would let him go, but if one of the weak among them stole, they would carry out the punishment on him. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if Faatimah the daughter of Muhammad were to steal, I would cut off her hand.’ Then he ordered that the woman’s hand should be cut off.” (Sunan al-Nisaa’i, al-Mujtabaa, Dar al-Fikr edn., 8/73. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan al-Nisaa’i, no. 4548).
The Prophet’s attitude towards Usaamah (may Allaah be pleased with him) indicates that he was fair and just, and that Islam came before love of people in his view. A person may put up with the personal faults of whoever he wishes, but he has no right to be tolerant or biased towards those whose mistakes transgress the limits set by Islam.
Sometimes, when a relative or friend makes a mistake, a person does not rebuke him as he would a person whom he does not know, so one may see unIslamic bias or discrimination in his dealings because of this, and a person may turn a blind eye to his friend’s mistake while harshly criticizing another person.
[An Arab poet once said:]
“If you are happy with a person, you do not see his mistakes, but if you are angry with him, you see them all.”
This may also be reflected in the way in which actions are interpreted. An action on the part of a person one loves will be taken one way, and the same deed on the part of another person will be taken quite differently.
All of the above applies only when circumstances are the same, otherwise there could be different considerations as we will see below.
– Being careful lest correcting one mistake leads to a bigger mistake
It is a well-established fact that Islam allows the lesser of two evils in order to repel a greater evil. So a da’iyah may keep quiet about one mistake lest saying something lead to a more serious mistake.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) kept quiet about the munaafiqeen and did not execute them, even though their kufr was well-established. He bore their insults with patience, lest people say, “Muhammad is killing his companions,” especially since their true nature was not known to everyone. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not destroy the Ka’bah in order to rebuild it on the foundations laid by Ibraaheem, out of consideration towards Quraysh who were still new in Islam and too close to their recent jaahiliyyah. He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) feared that it might be too much for them, so he left it as it was, with part missing, and the door set high up and closed to the masses, even though this contains an element of zulm (wrongdoing or oppression).
Before this, Allaah had told the Muslims not to insult the gods of the mushrikeen, even though this is a form of worship, because this could lead to people insulting Allaah, which is the worst of evil.
A dai’yah may keep quiet about a wrong action, or defer rebuking, or change his approach, if he thinks that by doing so he will avoid a greater evil or mistake. This is not considered to be shortcoming or negligence so long as his intention is sincere and he does not fear anyone except Allaah, and it was only concern for the best interests of Islam, not cowardice, that stopped him from saying anything.
We may note that what causes a greater evil when rebuking for one mistake is zealousness which is not checked or controlled.
– Understanding the human nature from which the mistake sprang
There are some mistakes which can never be fully eradicated, because they have to do with the way Allaah has created people. It is possible to reduce them a little, but going to extremes in dealing with them will lead to a disaster. Such is the case of women. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Woman was created from a rib, and she will not behave consistently towards you. If you enjoy her company, then enjoy it despite her crookedness. If you try to straighten her you will break her, and her breaking is her divorce.” (Reported by Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him), no. 1468).
According to another report: “Be kind to women, for they were created from a rib, and the most crooked part of the rib is the top. If you try to straighten it, you will break it, and if you leave it alone, it will stay crooked. So be kind to women.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari from Abu Hurayrah. Al-Fath, no. 5186).
Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The words ‘treat women kindly’ indicate that you should try to put them right gently, because if you go to extremes in trying to straighten them you will break them, and if you leave them they will remain crooked… What we learn from this is that we should not leave them crooked if they go beyond the natural expected shortcomings and commit sins or neglect duties. What is meant is that we can leave them crooked with regard to permissible matters. We also learn from the hadeeth that a gentle approach wins people over and opens their hearts. It also tells us to deal with women by being easy going with them, and to bear their crookedness with patience. Whoever insists on putting them right will not benefit from them, and as a man cannot do without a woman to enjoy the pleasure of living with her and to be his support in life, it is as if he said: you cannot enjoy her company unless you put up with her.” (Fath, 9/954).
– Making a distinction between mistakes that transgress the limits of Islam and mistakes that only affect other people
If Islam is dearer to us than our own selves, we must defend it and protect it and get angry for its sake more than we get angry for our own sakes and defend our own selves. It is a sign of not having religious feelings if we see a man getting angry for his own sake if someone insults him, but not getting angry for the sake of Allaah’s religion if anybody insults it; at most, we may see him feebly defending it in an embarrassed manner.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) often used to forgive those who made mistakes in their interactions with him, especially the hard-hearted Bedouin, in order to soften their hearts. Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported in his Saheeh that Anas ibn Maalik said: “I was walking with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and he was wearing a Najraani cloak with a stiff collar. A Bedouin accosted him, grabbing his cloak in such a manner that the collar left a mark on the Prophet’s neck, and said, ‘O Muhammad! Give me some of the wealth of Allaah that you have!’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned to him and smiled, then ordered that he should be given something.” (al-Fath, 5809).
But if the mistake had to do with some issue of religion, then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would become angry for the sake of Allaah. Examples of this will be given below.
There are some other matters which should also be borne in mind when dealing with people’s mistakes, such as:
– Making a distinction between major mistakes and minor mistakes, just as Islam makes a distinction between major sins (kabaa’ir) and minor sins (saghaa’ir).
– Making a distinction between a person who has a track record of many good deeds, which will more or less cancel out the significance of his mistake, and a sinner who transgresses against himself (by doing evil deeds). People may put up with actions on the part of the one with the good track record that they will not put up with on the part of others. This is what happened to al-Siddeeq (Abu Bakr), as the following story illustrates: Asma’ bint Abi Bakr said: “We went out with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) as pilgrims, and when we reached al-‘Arj, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stopped to rest, and we stopped with him. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) sat beside the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and I sat beside my father. The riding beast shared by Abu Bakr and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was with a slave belonging to Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr sat down, waiting for him to catch up, and when he caught up, the camel was not with him. Abu Bakr said, ‘Where is the camel?’ The slave answered, ‘I lost it yesterday.’ Abu Bakr said, ‘One camel, you lost it?’ and started to hit him. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) smiled and said, ‘Look at what this muhrim (person in a state of ihraam for Hajj) is doing.’” Ibn Abi Rizmah said, ‘The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not do any more than saying, ‘Look at what this muhrim is doing,’ and smiling.” (Reported by Abu Dawood in his Sunan, Kitaab al-Manaasik, Baab al-Muhrim yu’addib ghulaamahu. Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, no. 1602)
– Making a distinction between the one who makes mistakes repeatedly and the one who is making a mistake for the first time
– Making a distinction between the one who frequently makes mistakes and the one who rarely does so.
– Making a distinction between the one who makes mistakes openly and blatantly, and one who tries to cover up his mistakes
– Paying attention to cases where a person’s adherence to Islam may not be strong and his heart needs to be opened to the religion, so we should not be too harsh with him
– Taking into account a person’s situation as regards status and authority
The considerations that we have mentioned above do not contradict the fairness and justice referred to earlier.
– Rebuking a youngster who makes a mistake should be done in a manner appropriate to the child’s age.
Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported that al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali took one of the dates that had been given in charity, and put it in his mouth. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said in Persian, “Kikh, kikh, do you not know that we do not eat the sadaqah (things given in charity)?” (Fath, 3072).
Al-Tabaraani (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported from Zaynab bint Abi Salamah that she entered upon the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) whilst he was performing ghusl. She said, “he took a handful of water and threw it in my face, saying, ‘Go away, foolish girl!’” (al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer, 24/281. Al-Haythami said, its isnaad is hasan, al-Majma’, 1/269)
From this it is clear that a child’s tender years do not mean that his mistakes should not be corrected; indeed, correcting his mistakes is giving him the best upbringing, as it will be imprinted in his memory and will benefit him in the future. The first hadeeth shows how a child is taught to fear Allaah and restrain himself, and the second hadeeth shows how he is taught good manners, how to seek permission to enter, and to refrain from looking at the ‘awrah (that which should be covered) of others.
Another brilliant example of correcting children is the story of the young boy ‘Umar ibn Abi Salamah. Al-Bukhaari reported that he said: “I was a young boy under the care of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and my hand used to wander all over the plate (at mealtimes). The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to me: ‘O young boy! Say Bismillah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you.’ This remained my way of eating from that time on.” (al-Fath, no. 5376)
We may note that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) advised that young boy who made the mistake of letting his hand go everywhere in the food, his words were short, brief and clear, which made it easy for the child to remember and understand; the effect on the boy’s heart lasted for a lifetime, as he said, “This remained my way of eating from that time on.”
– Exercising caution when advising non-mahram women, so that the advice is not taken wrongly, and so that fitnah (temptation, trouble) is avoided. No young man should use the excuse of speaking to young women in order to correct their mistakes or teach them. How often has this led to disasters! When it comes to correcting women, a large role should be given to ahl al-hisbah (“religious police”) and older people who could help them in this regard. The person who is seeking to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil must act in accordance with what he thinks will be the outcome of his rebuking. If he thinks that it is likely to be of benefit, he should speak up, otherwise he should refrain from speaking to ignorant women who may make false accusations against him whilst still persisting in their wrongdoing. The state of the society at large and the status of the one who is seeking to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil play a fundamental role in the success of his efforts to rebuke, convey the message or establish evidence. The following story illustrates this:
The freed slave of Abu Raham, whose name was ‘Ubayd, reported that Abu Hurayrah met a woman who was wearing perfume, heading for the mosque. He said, “O female slave of al-Jabbaar (the Compeller), where are you going?” She said, “To the mosque.” He said, “And you have put on perfume for this?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saying, “If any woman puts on perfume and then goes out to the mosque, Allaah will not accept her prayers until she does ghusl.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, no. 4002; see also Saheeh Ibn Maajah, 2/367).
According to Saheeh Ibn Khuzaymah: A woman passed by Abu Hurayrah and her perfume was overwhelming. He said to her, “Where are you going, O female slave of al-Jabbaar?” She said, “To the mosque.” He said, “Are you wearing perfume?” She said, “Yes.” He said, ‘Go back and do ghusl, for I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saying that Allaah does not accept the prayer of any woman who goes out to the mosque with overwhelming perfume, until she goes back and does ghusl.” (Saheeh Ibn Khuzaymah, no. 1682. In his footnote, al-Albaani said, it is a hasan hadeeth. See also al-Musnad, 2/246. Ahmad Shaakir classed it as saheeh with this isnaad in his footnote to al-Musnad, no. 7350)
– Not occupying oneself with putting the symptoms right whilst neglecting to deal with the cause of the mistake
– Not exaggerating about the mistake
– Not going to extremes to prove the mistake happened or trying to force an admission of guilt from the one who made the mistake
– Allowing enough time for correcting the mistake, especially in the case of one who has been accustomed to doing it for a long time, whilst still following up the matter and continuing to advise and correct
– Not making the one who makes the mistake feel like an enemy, because the aim is to win people over, not score points against them
Now we will move on to our discussion of the methods used by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when dealing with the mistakes of people, as recorded in the saheeh ahaadeeth narrated by the scholars.