Adopting a Stern and Hard Approach when Correcting People

Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) once mentioned the following:

Allah Ta‘ala has created His servants with different temperaments. After creating His servants, Allah Ta‘ala has blessed certain servants with special acceptance from His side. Nevertheless, even after receiving special acceptance from the side of Allah Ta‘ala, the natural temperament of the servants will not change.

It is for this reason that some of the special servants of Allah Ta‘ala are soft in their temperament, while others are more stern in their temperament. However, despite the temperaments (and approaches) being different, the intention of all is the same – and that is to correct the weaknesses of people and assist them to reform their condition.

Thereafter, on account of the temperaments being different, their views (and approaches) will also be different. One special servant will prefer to adopt a gentle and soft approach when correcting people, while another special servant will prefer to adopt a stern and hard approach.

Hence, to adopt a stern and hard approach is not always condemned and disapproved of. Rather, it is only condemned and disapproved of in the case where the sternness and hardness is not required and without any benefit (in that case, it will not be regarded as sternness, but hard-heartedness).

On the contrary, when adopting a stern and hard approach is necessary in order to bring about the correct administration of affairs or for the benefit of an individual’s rectification and correction, then the sternness and hardness will be completely commendable and excellent. The reason is that this will not be regarded as being unnecessarily hard, rather it will be considered as being firm for the sake of deen, and this is a demand of imaan (that one becomes upset and angry, for the sake of Allah Ta‘ala, when the laws of deen are broken).

Hence, this approach will not be regarded as extreme – rather it will be regarded as trying to keep people on the straight path. It will not be viewed as being harsh and impolite in one’s approach – rather it will be viewed as adopting a method of improving people’s character and ways. Knowing which approach will be effective to adopt when correcting different people is something that is acquired after many years of experience.

(Malfoozaat Hakeemul Ummat 22/73-74)

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