Refraining from Causing Embarrassment to People when Advising them
It is important for the person who advises people who are far from deen and lack the correct understanding of deen to adopt a soft and gentle approach when speaking to them. Together with adopting a soft and gentle approach when speaking to them, he should refrain from belittling him or causing him embarrassment in any way.
This approach of speaking gently to people and not causing them any embarrassment was the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the way of the Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam).
The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) and the pious of the past also adhered to this mubaarak sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam) when inviting people to Islam or advising and correcting them.
Inviting Fir’aun towards Islam
At the time when Nabi Musa (‘alaihis salaam) and Nabi Haroon (‘alaihis salaam) were commanded by Allah Ta‘ala to go to Fir’aun and invite him to Islam, Allah Ta‘ala commanded them both to adopt a gentle approach when speaking to him. Allah Ta‘ala said, “Speak to him (i.e. Fir’aun) gently, so that perhaps maybe he will heed the advice or develop the fear of Allah Ta‘ala.” (Surah Taha v. 44)
Despite Fir’aun claiming divinity, which is the most heinous of sins, greater than which there is no other sin, Allah Ta‘ala commanded Nabi Musa (‘alaihis salaam) to speak to him gently and politely when inviting him to deen.
Haaroon Rasheed (rahimahullah) Advising a Person
It is reported that on one occasion, a person came to Haaroon Rasheed (rahimahullah) and addressed him before people in a harsh manner saying, “O Haaroon! Fear Allah Ta‘ala!” On observing the harsh and impolite manner in which this person had conducted himself when advising him, Haaroon Rasheed (rahimahullah) took the man aside, into seclusion, in order to advise him.
Haaroon (rahimahullah) said to him, “O so-and-so! Deal with me with justice! Tell me, am I more evil or Fir’aun?” The man replied, “Fir’aun was more evil than you.” Haaroon (rahimahullah) then asked him, “Are you better or Nabi Musa (‘alaihis salaam)?” The man replied, “Nabi Musa (‘alaihis salaam) was better than me.”
Haaroon (rahimahullah) then said, “Do you not know that when Allah Ta‘ala sent Nabi Musa (‘alaihis salaam) and his brother, Nabi Haaroon (‘alaihis salaam), to Fir’aun, then he instructed them saying, ‘Speak to him gently.’ In comparison, you have confronted me and addressed me with harsh words in front of people. Thus, you have not adopted the etiquette which Allah Ta‘ala commanded Nabi Musa (‘alaihis salaam) to adopt when speaking to Fir’aun, nor have you emulated the sublime character of the pious servants of Allah Ta‘ala.”
This man was a sincere person, and hence he acknowledged his error. He apologized to Haaroon (rahimahullah) saying, “I made a mistake, and I ask Allah Ta‘ala to forgive me.” On his part, Haaroon (rahimahullah) did not harbor a grudge and immediately pardoned the person saying, “May Allah Ta‘ala forgive you.”
Haaroon (rahimahullah) thereafter instructed that this person be given twenty thousand dirhams as a gift, however the person refused to accept it. (Al-Muntazam 8/328)
From this, we understand that at the time of advising or correcting any person, one should think to oneself, “I am not greater than Nabi Musa (‘alaihis salaam), nor is this person worse than Fir’aun. Therefore, when advising him, I should speak to him gently and politely, and refrain from causing him any embarassment.”