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How Prophet Muhammad Corrected Mistakes (7 Strategies)

3. Connect people with Allah.

Sometimes, we are mortified by the social embarrassment mistakes cause when they really may not be so serious in the sight of Allah. Other times, we overlook mistakes because we’ve gotten used to them and have made so many excuses. But it might be that those mistakes turn out to be mountains in the hereafter. With the remembrance of Allah, we gain a better perspective on our mistakes.

When Abu Bakr had spoken roughly to Salman Al-Farisi, Bilal ibn Rabah, and Suhaib Ar-Rumi, the Prophet reminded him that his action may have angered Allah: “Perhaps you have made them angry. By the One in whose Hands lies my soul, if you have made them angry you would have angered your Lord.” Abu Bakr rushed to his three brothers, who assured him that they had not been angry. (Muslim)

Once the Prophet came across Abu Mas`ud Al-Ansari beating a slave. The Prophet said only one sentence: “Allah has more power over you than you have over him (the slave).” Abu Mas`ud freed the slave immediately. (Muslim)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would use the power of supplication to help people overcome their faults. He placed his hands on the chest of his companion, or made a special du`aa’ for them in their absence. A distressed boy came before the Prophet and requested permission to commit adultery. The companions were shocked at this bluntness, but the Prophet beckoned the boy to come closer. Instead of responding harshly, the Prophet asked him if he would like to see someone in an adulterous relationship with his mother, aunt, or daughter. After the boy responded no to each question, the Prophet simply put his hand on the boy’s head and prayed for him, “O Allah, forgive his sins, purify his heart and make him chaste.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

4. Don’t go looking for mistakes.

The Prophet often used his role as leader and community educator to correct mistakes for the benefit of all listeners, but in a discreet way that hid the identities of involved parties.

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He would say, “What of people who commit such an action…” This way, he generally warned people of pitfalls while discreetly alerting the people involved in the mistake to repent and rectify their wrongdoing.

Prophet Muhammad forbade gossip and backbiting, and rejected any broadcast of people’s mistakes. He asked people not to report anything negative about the companions to him.

The Prophet accepted people’s words for what they were, and did not probe to uncover hidden flaws. He did not put people under a magnifying glass and guess at their motives.

We should avoid searching out people’s mistakes in order to uncover more and greater faults. Prophet Muhammad said (peace and blessings be upon him),

Whoever searches out the shortcomings of a brother, Allah will search out his shortcomings.” (At-tirmizi and authenticated by Al-Albani)

Although there were many hypocrites in Madinah—people pretending to be Muslim but secretly undermining the community—the Prophet did not confront or accuse them. On the other hand, when a companion who had fought in the Battle of Badr, Hatib ibn Abi Balta`ah, committed an act of outright treason against the Muslims, the Prophet refused to condemn the man without speaking to him first.

Hatib admitted that he made a terrible mistake, but professed a heart full of belief. That was good enough for the Prophet, peace be upon him.

Part 2 highlights more strategies to be highlighted. Stay tuned!

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About Maha Ezzeddine
Maha Ezzeddine has a bachelor degree in Journalism and History from the University of Maryland - College Park and a Master degree in History from Stanford University. She edited several publications for MAS Youth between 2006 and 2008, when she was a member of the national executive team.