A recent encounter with a long-lost acquaintance (and followed by my wife’s advice – thank you dearie!) reminded me of a story during the lifetime of our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The following is what I am gently reminding myself of over and again.
Through our daily lives, we sometimes unintentionally seek to find people’s faults; but Allah asks us to see the good in them. Whether it is a rebellious ignorant youth, a self-centered celebrity, or arrogant young and inexperienced politicians (whose existence are so prevalent these days), or even a mean old man; But yet Allah asks us to see the good in them.
We are asked to recognize that every person who believes in Allah and in His Messenger cannot be devoid of some inborn good, however evil his practice may be. Involvement in major transgressions does not uproot a person’s iman unless the transgressor deliberately defies Allah and scorns His commands. We have to heed the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, whose approach to the wrongdoers were as a physician would treat a patient, not as a policeman would treat a criminal. He was very kind to them and always listened to their problems.
Dr. Yusuf al Qaradawi in one of his important works, Islam: The Way of Revival,” The Ethics of Da’wah and Dialogue” pp. 224, 225 has related to us a significant story during the life of our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him that we must take heed. There was an alcoholic who was repeatedly brought to the Prophet and was repeatedly punished, yet still persisted. One day when he was brought again on the same charge and was lashed, a man from among the people said: “May Allah curse him! How frequently has he been brought [to the Prophet to be punished]?” The Prophet said: “Do not curse him. By Allah I know he loves Allah and His Messenger.” It is also reported that the Prophet said: “Do not assist Satan against your brother.” The Prophet prevented them from cursing him because their action could create discord and ill feeling between the man and his fellow Muslim brothers – his transgression should not sever the bond of brotherhood between him and other Muslims.
As we reflect deeply upon the above example and incident we learn our Prophet’s insight into the inherent element of goodness in a person. We need more than ever before, to study and follow the exemplary pattern that the Prophet has set for us. Those extremists who indiscriminately accuse whoever makes a mistake of kufr or shirk must understand that they have to change their strategy and learn that a great deal of the corruption and perversion they abhor results mainly from their ignorance of Islam, bad company, or forgetfulness. The solution is to help people overcome and defeat all these problems. To be harsh, to accuse others of kufr, and to find fault with whatever they do only serves to alienate and estrange them.
Let us remember a beautiful Hadith al-Qudsi: On the authority of Anas (r.a), who said: I heard the Prophet SAW say: Allah the Almighty said: O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the coulds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it. (Related by At-Tirmidhi also by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal) (Its chain of authorities is sound).
Allah’s Mercy surpasses His Wrath. We pray that by taking the approach of looking for the good in everyone, we will be blessed by it and may Allah award us with a good reward.