Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Prophet's Methods of Correcting People's Mistakes

One of the most important duties of a Muslim prison chaplain is to correct mistakes.

Many Muslims in prison have re-verted to Islam while incarcerated. Just because they say the Shahadah doesn't mean that they are automatically a pious Muslim!

They lack basic knowledge and information about Islam. They depend upon the Muslim chaplain to provide them with correct Islamic knowledge. Often they make mistakes because they act upon information they have been given by other inmates, incorrect information, although it may have been given with sincere intention. After all, if one is taught incorrectly, they will teach others incorrectly.

Yet other inmates may have been Muslims on the "streets" but may not have been "deening" out there as they call it.

To be an effective amirah (leader), a Muslim prison chaplain must develop effective methods for correcting mistakes that do not compromise the already fragile ego of most inmates. One of the most important goals of the Muslim prison chaplain is to help and educate the incarcerated Muslim. Not to destroy or shame her.

Who better to look to for examples, no matter what the situation, than our beloved Messenger (saw)!

Sh. Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid, may Allah (swt) reward him, has written as excellent book that will help the Muslim prison chaplain. The title is The Prophet's Methods for Correcting People's Mistakes.

His methods can also help us as individuals: parents, teachers, friends, etc.

And especially THE BLOGGER!

How many times have we gone to the comments section of someone's blog only to stumble into the flames of fitnah!

In this post, I will highlight some of the methods that the sheikh has compiled. Insha Allah you will buy his most beneficial book for your library and to obtain detailed reference from Quran and Sunnah for the methods:

1. Hastening to deal with people's mistakes and not putting that off.

2. Dealing with mistakes by explaining the ruling (hukm).

3. Referring people back to Islam when they make mistakes, and pointing out to them the principle that they are breaking.

4. Correcting misconceptions that are due to something for being clear in people's minds.

5. Dealing with mistakes by repeatedly reminding people to fear Allah.

6. Showing compassion to the one who is making a mistake.

7. Not hastening to tell someone he is wrong.

8. Remaining calm when dealing with people's mistakes.

9. Explaining the seriousness of the mistake.

10. Explaining the harmful effects of a mistake.

11. Practical teaching of the one who is making a mistake.

12. Offering a sound alternative.

13. Guiding people to what will prevent them from making mistakes.

14. Not confronting people directly with their mistakes and addressing the issue in general terms may be sufficient.

15. Provoking public opinion against the one who has made the mistake.

(Disclaimer: I would be very careful with number 15. Insha Allah when I get some more time, I will expound this method from the sheikh's references.)

16. Avoiding helping the Shaytan against the one who is making the mistake.

17. Asking the person to stop doing the wrong action.

18. Explaining to the person who is making a mistake how to put things right.

19. Denouncing only the mistake whilst accepting the rest.

20. Restoring rights and preserving positions.

21. Addressing both parties in cases where the blame is shared.

22. Asking a person to forgive the one who wronged him.

23. Reminding a person of he good qualities of the one whom he has wronged, so that he will regret what he has done and will apologize.

24. Intervening to calm people down and put an end to the fitnah (discord) between those who are making mistakes.

25. Showing one's anger about a mistake.

26. Turning away from the one who has made a mistake and avoiding argument with him, in the hope that he may come back to the right way.

27. Rebuking the one who has made a mistake.

28. Blaming the person who has made a mistake.

29. Shunning the one who has made a mistake.
(Same as number 15)

30. Boycotting the one who has made a mistake.

(Same as number 15)

31. Praying against someone who stubbornly persists in making mistakes.

(Same as number 15)

32. 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.

33. Helping a Muslim to correct his mistake.

34. Meeting with the person who has made a mistake to talk it over.

35. Speaking bluntly to a person about the mistake he made.

36. Persuading a person that he is making a mistake.

37. Making a person understand that his flimsy excuse is not acceptable.

38. Paying attention to things that are inherent in human nature.

Among the sheikh's conclusion is that "correcting mistakes is obligatory ... part an-naseehah (giving sincere advice) and forbidding what it evil, but it should be remembered that Islam is not only about forbidding what is evil, we are also commanded to enjoin what is good."

So think of this next time another blogger tells you that you are being judgmental, lecturing, etc. As if it is YOU who is making the mistake!

He also said that along with educating and training, we must show "the basic principles of religion and the rules of sharee'ah" using various methods. The Prophet (saw) used different methods for correcting mistakes depending upon the situation and depending upon the person he was dealing with.

I have found that using the Prophet's (saw) methods in dealing with people helps. After all, everyone, including the Muslim chaplain, benefits when all the affairs are conducted according to Quran and Sunnah


Saaleha said...

See, Safiyyah, the difficulty with this is that everyone's idea of wrong and right...well... it differs. And often people have their proof i.e. islamically. and believe that what they are doing is right. Or else they wouldn't do it.
And when people are doing wrong...well, often we know that without anyone telling us. Though the reminder is always very beneficial.

I find that we suffer from chronic "i'm right' syndrome. Which means that we find it hard to accept a view that opposeds our own, least bother to see the 'other' side.

Jamaican Hijabi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamaican Hijabi said...

very good advice, MashaAllah, I will try to get that book InshaAllah. One thing though we always have to have correct Islamic evidences to show the persons we are correcting, and sometimes like Saleeha said, peoples idea of right and wrong differs, so it gets more complex when you may have seemingly conflicting hadiths , there are weak hadiths, there are fabricated hadiths, so we need to educate ourselves on the truth, there is only one truth after all and work from there. Some people only do what others before them have done without looking into the Islamic evidences. And most of all we must be willing to accept advice ourselves.

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Saaleha and Jamaican Hijabi:

You both have good points.

For the prison, I am mainly speaking of mistakes in manners, jahiliyah behavior, etc. These methods usually work in those areas. Or at least, it results in awareness!

Jamaican Hijabi you are so correct about the hadiths, i.e., weak ones, fabricated ones, etc. That is why the Muslim must study or at least ask someone like a sheikh or student of knowledge.

al-Ghariba said...

Dawa is such a delicate operation most of the time. As a school teacher in a supposedly "Islamic school". I have the spotlight on me for hours a day. And if you slip up once, your dawa comes undone. SubhanAllah.

I have had some successes and some failures, but you know it is worth it if one person is guided through you, the rewards are compounding. everygood thing that that person does, you get the same reward.

I read the book in review here and it is a good read. There is another good dawa book out now by Shaikh Uthaimeen "Islamic Awakening". I recommend it if you are needing advice on giving dawa.

American Muslima Writer said...

Thanbks for the info. Insha'Allah it will benefit many!
XOXOX Hope you're still doing ok!

Abdul Vakil (AV) said...

As-salaamu 'alaikum wa Rahmatullah, Sister.

Tabarak'Allah. I pray you're successful in Allah's Sight in your line of work as I imagine you are routinely having to deal in correcting mistakes. And what better way to go about it than in light of the Sunnah? Ma'sha'Allah! The Sunnah supercedes all advice.

hijabee said...

This is such a beautiful reminder. We sometimes forget that the proper way to give nasiyah is not by shaming the person or sounding superior to them but by making them at ease and correcting their mistakes in the most beautiful manners. I will check out the book if i ever get the chance.

Banafshe said...

you've been awarded Dear!

Ruqayyah said...

where do you find these books? I have a hard time finding good books for information on Islam, especially to share with those who are not Muslim. Any thoughts?

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Ruqayyah:

I usually find them by browing the Islamic bookstores. We have some excellent ones in Philadelphia. has excellent ones too

any dar-us-salam online store is good too.

Some are expensive and some aren't.

Just make sure that the authors follows Quran and Sunnah in what he/she is writing.

wbabdullah said...

Actually, for those of you looking, this book is online on several websites for free. Googling the title will give you many free e-book website options. Here's a link here: