~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Turning away from the faults and shortcomings of others Amjad Rafiq ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In the Khutbah a couple of weeks ago the brother talked about the importance of manners. He mentioned many hadeeths stressing the excellence of having good manners, the very high status they give in the sight of Allah to the one who possesses them and how the one who possesses them reaches the level of the prophets and the martyrs and how even some of the Prophets and martyrs will envy such people. And this is not surprising as the Prophet (saws) is authentically reported to have said "Indeed I was sent in order to complete/perfect the righteous manners or characteristics". In another narration the Prophet (saws) said "Indeed I was sent to complete/perfect the noble manners/qualities". So the Messenger (saws) has linked the whole of his message to the perfection of peoples manners. The whole deen, the religion of Islaam has been linked to the completion of peoples manners. And in another hadeeth the Prophet (saws) said "The Deen is dealing with other people". Everyone of us needs to interact with other people in order to get by. To survive from day to day. Otherwise life would be very difficult. So Allaah and His Messenger, the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, enjoin and call to everything which nurtures and brings about the best characteristics, manners and qualities. This so that peoples everyday living is facilitated, made easy, enjoyable so that good feelings are made to develop and toleration of each other increases. (48:29) There is one characteristic which if it exists within the Muslims then the society will have a support, a backbone and so it will continue to exist and which if it is removed then it will crumble, fall and hatred, envy, ill-feeling and dissension (divisions) will arise. This quality is BEING TOLERANT OF THE FAULTS OF THE PEOPLE or TURNING AWAY FROM THEIR FAULTS. To understand this quality so that we can practically bring it about and gain some benefit from it we can look at it from four aspects. ONE: The first point is that there does not exist on this earth any person who is complete and perfect in every single respect and is free from defects. The Prophet (saws) said "Indeed people are like camels, out of a hundred you will hardly find a single one suitable to ride." So this is clear indication from the Prophet (saws) that completeness is something very rare. If we have a hundred people and tried to select one of them for a particular task say leadership or giving a religious verdict then we would hardly find any one who would perform it in the most complete way. The Prophet (saws) also said "Let not a believing man hate a believing woman , if he dislikes one quality in her then he will be pleased with another." So in this hadeeth is a very important realisation. That there is no muslim who is completely wicked and evil and there is no muslim who is perfect. In fact every one of us has some good characteristics even if they are scarce and every one of us has some bad or evil characteristics even if they only small in number. And a poet he said in a couple of lines: "And who is that person with whose every single quality/inherent characteristic you are pleased with?" (where is that person? can you find one?) It is enough to make a man noble that his defects can be counted/listed. (the fact that a persons shortcomings can actually be listed shows his excellence) You wish that he should be perfect without any fault. (How many times do we say regarding our muslim brother "Oh why is he like that? Can't he be like this? Why does'nt he do it this way?) * Anas bin Maalik (ra) said "I served the Messenger of Allaah for ten years and he never said to me 'uff'. Whenever I did something he never said to me 'Why did you do that?', and whenever I did not do anything he never said to me Why havent you done that?'." And does an incense stick give off a scent/fragrance without any smoke. (That is even an incense stick, although it gives off something good something which is pleasing that is the fragrance, it also gives of smoke which is like a defect.) So the first point every muslim should teach himself is that no one is perfect and people: withiin them there is some good and some evil. The one who realises this will be the most patient in his dealings with the people and the least worried and annoyed. Whoever meets his brother realising this point and fully understanding it will be the most patient of people in his dealings with others. He will be the least harmed and worried and annoyed. His heart will be firm and stable and calm. The one who does not realise this point he will be the most annoyed the most anxious and worried person. His heart will always be moving here and there. He will always see peoples faults and never see their good points and this will annoy him and he will always be worried when he deals with other people. So that is the first point. The second and third point we will look at together as they are related and they are: TWO: How should a Muslim view himself. i.e look at his own self and to see what he is worth THREE:How should a Muslim look at others The best place to look for these two points is the companions and the people of the past because they possess an excellence which none other than them have. The Prophet (saws) said: "The best generation is my generation then those that follow them, then those that follow them". So this is an indication from the Prophet (saws) that the best people to turn to in order to see Eemaan and Islaam being practised is the first three generations. It is reported that Abdullah Ibn Mas'ood said "If you knew what I know about myself then you would have thrown dust over my face". This is a sign of extreme sincerity to himself and lack of pride and arrogance. It shows his acknowledgement of his faults and shortcomings. How many of us could admit such a thing to even one to one of his friends let alone a group of them? Which one of us would have enough courage and truthfulness to admit that? One of our Salaf (Pious Predecessors) Bikr bin Abdillaahi al-Muznee used to say "When you see one who is older than you then hold him in respect and say: 'Indeed he has preceded/gone ahead of me in Islaam and good deeds and when you see one who is younger than you then hold him in respect and say to yourself: 'Indeed I have preceded him/gone ahead of him in sins." Isn't this beautiful advice. Listen also very carefully to the following: Some of the salaf (the Muslims from the first three generations) used to say: "One of you knows all his own faults and mistakes and he still likes himself, prefers himself (over others) yet he dislikes his Muslim brother on account of suspicion. So where then is the 'Aql, (intellect, sanity)?" That is each one of us knows his own mistakes and faults along with all his sins and he still does not hate himself for that. He still is satisfied with himself, likes himself and prefers himself to others. But when he sees someone making a mistake or what he thinks is a mistake because he doesnt know the intention of the person, he dislikes him, he feels in a bad way about him and all of this purely on suspicion and yet at the same time he is aware of all his own faults and mistakes. So whenever you look at another muslim then follow the advice that was mentioned before. Bring to mind your own faults and weaknesses and this will put you in your place. If we all do this it will make us humble and merciful to other muslims just as Allah has mentioned : Muhammad is the Messenger of ALlaah and those who are with him are strong against the disbelievers and compassionate amongst each other(48:29) ************************************************* PART II So we have mentioned three points Firstly : Realising that everybody is not perfect Secondly : How we should view ourselves Thirdly : How we should view other Muslims. We should all individually view ourselves as deficient and see others as being better than us. Because we all know our own faults and weaknesses but we don't know all the faults of others except out of suspicion and that is forbidden. Therefore every Muslim should see himself as the essence of deficiency and others as being much better than him. But do we just stop there. ie we realise these things in our minds and that is it. No we have to actively try and to remove them and this is done by reminding ourselves of our own faults and shortcomings or making each other realise our faults and defects with sincere advice. That is we desire nothing but reward from Allah and that a defect in a Muslim is removed. Not that we put the Muslim down and make ourselves look better. So the FOURTH point is mutually helping each other to remove from ourselves the bad characteristics and defects we all have. by informing each other, with extreme sincerity and concern for each other The Prophet (saws) said "The Deen is sincerity". The Companions said "To whom?" so the Prophet (saws) replied "To Allah, His Book, His Messenger to the leaders of the Muslims and the general people." So part of being sincere to other Muslims is advising them with sincerity. Advising them with what will benefit them and this includes informing them of their shortcomings so that they can remove them. There are two points to the fourth part. Firstly how do you tell people of their weaknesses and Secondly how do you react to someone who informs you of your faults. It was said to a wise man : "Do you like that a man should inform you of your faults?" He said "If a man comes to me and scolds me/rebukes me ie. begins to criticise me for my faults then no. And if he comes to me with sincere advice then yes." So this is how advice is given out of sincerity and this is how advice is accepted when it is sincere. Imaam Shaafi'ee (rh) said in the form poetry: Give me your advice when I am alone And do not advise me when I am in a group Because advice, when it is given in front of the people is a type of criticism/rebuke. I am not pleased in hearing it And if you differ from me and disobey what I have said Then do not become saddened when you are not obeyed/followed. So he is saying that advice should be given in private not in public. In order to hide the faults of a Muslim and not to publicise them and so that the person is more likely to accept the advise. The Prophet (saws) said "Whoever conceals the fault of a Muslim Allah will conceal his fault on the day of Judgement". So we give advice out of sincerity and not to criticise and we giveit in private not in public. Some of the salaf used to say, "May Allaah have mercy upon a man who guided us to our faults and shortcomings". Do you see this attitude? May Allaah have mercy upon a man who guided us to our faults and shortcomings So the earliest muslims loved that people should inform them of their faults so they can strive to remove them and therefore become more complete and moreperfect and better in the sight of Allaah. Umar (ra) stood on the pulpit in front of all the people and declared: (Laa yal'lamu ur-rajulu minnee 'ayban illaa 'aabahu) - If any man knows of a fault in me then let him point it out/criticise it. So a man stood up and said: Yes O Ameerul Mu'mineen. I see in you two faults... Yet in this day and age you cannot say a word to anyone sincerelyexcept that he will take it personally and see it as criticism. This is a big problemwhich all of us have and this is what causes ill-feeling and hatred and envy, because we are too proud to admit our own faults and weaknesses and to accept advise from others. So whoever wants to get on with other Muslims, then he should do thefollowing firstly: Look at his own weaknesses and faults before he notices andlooks at those of others and to deal with people always giving them a chance and makingexcuses for them. secondly: To accept with happiness and joy, the advice of his Muslim brother, just as the earliest Muslims did and thirdly: to offer his sincerest advice to his Muslim brother about his faults in private, not in public to humiliate him. So whoever wishes that Allaah should show mercy and forgiveness to him and that Allaah should hide his faults on the day of Judgement. Then let him put this into practice. And whoever does not want Allah to forgive him and show mercy to him and to conceal his fault on the Day of Judgement (that Allaah should forgive him) then let him continue to be heard hearted and proud of himself, thinking he is better than others and let him always look at the faults of other people and not to accept advice from others. Allaah will soon punish him with what he deserves. O Allaah guide us the best of manners to which none can guide except you and turn away from us the evil characteristics. None can turn them away except you.