How to correct people’s mistakes?

Posted: February 19, 2009 in Kongsi Untuk Amal

Salamullah alayk.

Alhamdulillah, after a long abscence, i kinda back into mood to share some valuable things i got from a book.

The book entitled “The Prophet’s Methods of Correcting People’s Mistakes”.

As a muslim, we all believe in the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, and we take upon him as our sole icon in or role model in which we take and practice it in life.

The book consist of 38 techniques on which the prophet used during his time as the messenger of Allah based on the hadeeth.

But, we must take into account that not a single person is the same even twins. They are not identical. Humans are not robots which we can give orders and they follow blindly. Humans have personalities, each one is different. So, we must make a distinction between people who are truly ignorant about something, or people who just act dumb or who has the knowledge but do not act accordingly.

Making mistakes is part of human nature.. We are not perfect.  The prophet said:

“Every son of Adam makes mistakes, and the best of those who make mistakes are those who repent.”1

I’m not going to mention all the guides, but I will share five from the book which I find interesting and can give you a picture about how to correct people’s mistake:

  1. Hastening to deal with people’s mistakes and not putting that off.
  2. Correcting misconceptions that are due to something not clear in people’s mind.
  3. Offering a sound alternative.
  4. Turning a blind eye to some mistakes and being content to just hint about them, out of respect to the person who is making the mistake.
  5. Persuading a person that he is making a mistake.

The prophet p.b.u.h. used to hasten to deal with people’s mistakes, especially when it was not right for him to delay doing so at the moment when this was needed. His task was to explain the truth to people, teach them to do good, and warn them off from doing evil. Not hastening to deal with mistakes goes against the interests of Islam and misses out on the opportunity to strike while the iron is hot, as it were.

Explanation on number 1 is short because in the book, all the examples are mentioned later as it is kind of interrelated.

So, for number 2:

Muslim reported from Anas r.a. that a group of the Companions of the prophet asked the wives of the prophet about what he did in secret. One of them (those Sahabah) said, “I will never marry women.” Another said, “I will never eat meat.” Another said, “I will never sleep on a bed.” The prophet p.b.u.h. praised and thanked allah, then he said,:

” What is the matter with some people who say such-and-such? But as for me, I pray and I sleep, I fast and I break my fast, and I marry women. Whoever turns away from my sunnah has nothing to do with me.”2

Here we may note that the prophet p.b.u.h. came to them and addressed them directly; when he wanted to teach all the people, he did not refer to them by name or expose them, he merely said, “What is the matter with some people..?” In this way he was gentle with them and covered up for their mistakes whilst at the same time, acting in common interest by teaching everybody.

For number 3:

According to a report, one day a slave belonging to the prophet p.b.u.h. brought him some fresh dates, but the prophet’s were dry, so the prophet p.b.u.h. said,

“Where did you get these dates from?” He said,”We bought a measure of these for two measures of our dates.” The Prophet said,”Do not do this, because it is not right. Sell your dates first, then buy whatever dates you want.”3

We must not point out what is wrong and denounce it as haram without offering an alternative or explaining what must be done if one makes a mistake. It is known that the method of Islam is to offer alternatives to make up for any benefits that may have been gained through the haram practice. When zina(adultery) was forbidden, marriage was allowed and prescribed; when riba'(usury,interest) was forbidden, trading was allowed and so on. It is also worth mentioned that offering offering alternatives is something that depends on what is possible. Sometimes a mistake may be something that has to be stopped, but has no realistic alternative, either because the general situation is bad and people are far removed from the sharee’ah of Allah.

For number 4:

Refer to surah At-Tahrim:3, a story between the prophet and his two wives; Aishah and Hafsah.

It is noted in al-Ikleel:

“The ayah indicates that there is nothing wrong with speaking in a secretive way to one whom you trust such as spouse or friend, and that he or she is obliged to keep the secret. The ayah also indicates good treatment of wives, gentleness when rebuking and refraining from seeking every fault.”4

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

For number 5:

Engaging in a discussion with a wrongdoer to convince him may lead to the removal of the blinkers over his eyes and bringing him back to the straight path. An example of this is the report narrated by at-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer from Abu Umamah, who said that a young man came to the Messenger of Allah p.b.u.h. and said, “O messenger of Allah, give me permission to commit zina.” The people shouted(at him) and the prophet p.b.u.h. said,

“Stop it!” The Messenger of Allah said, “Let him calm down. Come here.” He came and sat in front of the Messenger of Allah, who said to him, “Would you like it for your mother?” He said, “No.” He p.b.u.h. said, “Likewise, people do not like it for their mothers. Would you like it for your daughter?” He said, “No.” He p.b.u.h. said, “Likewise, people do not like it for their daughters. Would you like it for your sister?” He said, “No.” He p.b.u.h. said, “Likewise, people do not like it for their sisters. Would you like it for your (paternal) aunt?” He said, “No.” He p.b.u.h. said, “Likewise, people do not like it for their (paternal) aunts. Would you like it for your (maternal) aunt?” He said, “No.” He p.b.u.h said, “Likewise, people do not like it for their (maternal) aunts.” Then the Messenger of Allah put his hand on his chest and said, “O Allah, forgive his sins, purify his heart and make him chaste.”5


1-at-tirmidhi, hadith no. 2499, and by ibn majah

2-Muslim, hadith no. 1041

3-Musnad Ahmad, 3/67

4-Mahasin at-Ta’weel, 16/222

5-At-Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer, hadith nos. 7679 and 7759

Hope that this small information can help us be a better Da’i, to spread the light of Islam.

It will be better if you have the book itself as it is very very interesting to read it all.

I bought it at the Book Exhibition in Cairo. Check it out.

Until next time, Salaaam…~


  1. jalan lurus says:

    interesting~ jazakallahu khairan jaza’. terbukti Rasullullah qudwah hasanah dlm semua aspek.

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