The Responsibility of Commanding with Good and Forbidding from Evil – Part Five

The Approach which Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) Adopted when Correcting People

Amr bil ma’roof and nahy anil munkar (commanding with good and forbidding from evil) is an obligation in deen. However, in order for a person to correct any situation, it is necessary for him to have knowledge of the issue which he wishes to correct, and also to know which approach he should adopt in different situations.

In the case where a person is a new Muslim or is ignorant and uneducated regarding the injunctions of Islam, then since the person is committing the mistake out of total ignorance, one should not adopt a harsh approach in correcting him. Rather, one should educate him with compassion and correct him with kindness.

Below are two incidents which highlight the approach which Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) adopted when correcting people. The first incident is in regard to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) correcting an uneducated person, and the second incident is in regard to a knowledgeable person.

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) Correcting the Uneducated Bedouin

On one occasion, a Bedouin Sahaabi entered the musjid of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). After entering the musjid, he performed two rakaats of salaah, and thereafter made du‘aa in the following words:

O Allah! Shower Your special mercy on me, and on Muhammed (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), and do not shower Your special mercy on anyone else!

On hearing the du‘aa of this Bedouin, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said to him, “You have restricted that which is very spacious (in other words, you have restricted the unlimited mercy of Allah Ta‘ala to two people, whereas the mercy of Allah Ta‘ala is all-encompassing and can encompass the entire creation).”

Thereafter, the Bedouin Sahaabi addressed Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and asked, “O Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! When will Qiyaamah occur?” Since the knowledge of when Qiyaamah will occur is exclusive to Allah Ta‘ala and known to Him alone, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied, “May Allah Ta‘ala have mercy on you! (You are asking regarding when Qiyaamah will occur, but) what deeds have you prepared for Qiyaamah?”

The Bedouin replied, “I have not prepared abundant (nafl) salaah, fasting and charity. However, I definitely have love for Allah Ta‘ala and His Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in my heart.” Hearing this, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said to him, “In that case, you will be with those whom you love (on the Day of Qiyaamah).” (Musnad Ahmad #12762)

When the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) heard of this great virtue, they immediately enquired from Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), “Will this also be for us?” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) responded, “Yes, you will also receive this virtue.” (Musnad Ahmad #12993)

Hazrat Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), the reporter of this Hadith, mentions that on hearing this, the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) were extremely delighted and overjoyed. He says, “After the happiness of the Sahaabah over accepting Islam, I did not see them as happy and joyful over anything as they were over this.” (Musnad Ahmad #12823)

After enquiring about Qiyaamah from Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), the Bedouin Sahaabi had the urge to relieve himself. Due to being a new Muslim and uneducated with the injunctions of deen, he went to a corner of the Musjid and began to urinate.

As soon as the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) noticed what he was doing, they became angry and instantly rushed towards him while rebuking him. However, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) immediately intervened and stopped them from shouting at him, and said to them, “Leave him, for it is possible that he is from the people of Jannah”. (Sunan Daaraqutni #478)

Thereafter, when the Bedouin had completed passing urine, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) instructed the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) to clean the musjid by pouring water over the soiled area. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) then addressed the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) in the following words:

Allah Ta‘ala has sent you to the Ummah as a means of creating ease for people and you have not been sent as a means for creating difficulty for people (i.e. you should adopt a gentle approach when correcting people who are uneducated, not a harsh approach)

Thereafter, in a loving and compassionate manner, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) advised the Bedouin Sahabi in the following words:

The Masaajid (houses of Allah Ta‘ala) have not been created for the purpose of relieving oneself or soiling it with dirt. Instead, it has been created for the remembrance of Allah Ta‘ala, to perform Salaah and to recite the Qur’aan.

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) showed the Bedoiun such love and compassion while correcting that he never forgot the kindness and gentleness which Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had shown him on that occasion. Thus, later on during his life, when recounting this incident, he mentioned to the people:

May my mother and father be sacrificed for him! (i.e. for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). When correcting me,) Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) did not swear me nor rebuke me nor did he hit me! (Instead, he corrected me and educated me in a most kind and loving manner).

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) Correcting an Educated and Learned Person

It is reported that on one occasion, a certain person was leading the people in salaah in the musjid. While performing the salaah, he spat onto the qiblah wall of the musjid. When Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) learnt of this, he was extremely displeased over the disrespect that this person had shown to the musjid. Hence, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) immediately dismissed him from his post of imaamat, saying to the people, “He should not lead you in salaah.”

After this incident transpired, this person wished to lead the people in salaah again, but the people prevented him from doing so and informed him of what Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had said. Thereafter, when he came to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and asked permission to lead the salaah, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) again commanded that he should not lead the salaah and said, “You have caused hurt to Allah and His Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).”

From the above mentioned two incidents, we understand the approach which Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) adopted when correcting people. As for those who were learned in Deen, then Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) adopted a firm approach when correcting them. This was on account of the fact that their wrong was out of negligence and was thus a violation of the command of Shari’ah. Hence, a firm and strict approach was required in such a situation. As for those who were not learned in Deen, then Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) adopted a soft and gentle approach when correcting them as their mistake was not intentional but was out of sheer ignorance. In this way, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) showed the ummah how to correct different situations that arise in the ummah.

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