Concealing The Weaknesses Of Others
A very bad and dirty habit to be commonly found is to reveal and make public the fault of other persons. People dont think for a second to comment upon any others fault or weakness. While avoiding harm to others and concealing the weakness of one’s fellow human beings is a prominent theme of the moral teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah. Please have a look at the Few Sayings of our Prophet are as follows:
1- “If a person conceals the weakness of another in this world, Allah will conceal their weakness in the hereafter”
[Al Nawawi, Riyad al Salihin p 135, Hadith no 245; al Ghazali, Kitab Adab p 344]
2- “Whoever protects the honor of his brother, will have Allah protect his countenance from the fire on the Day of Judgement ”
[Al Nawawi, Riyad al Salihin p 488, Hadith no 1530]
3- “Do not harm Muslims, and do not revile them, nor pursue their imperfections. For verily, whosoever pursues the imperfections of his brother shall have his own imperfections pursued by Allah ”
[Sunan of al Tirmidhi, as quoted in Principles of State and Government in Islam, p 85]
Whoever sees a Muslim’s imperfection and then conceals it is like one who gives new life to a female infant buried in the desert.
Verily, Allah does not like people who are obscene and who spread obscenities.
Cursing a believer is like killing him/her.
Concealing the faults of, and respecting the privacy of others is again the theme of the following hadith:
“The Muslim who helps another when the latter’s honor and dignity are under attack, shall be helped by Allah, Glorious and Sublime is He! – at a time when he would wish for Allah’s help. But he who forsakes a Muslim whose dignity is under attack, shall have Allah forsake him at a time when he would wish for Allah’s help ”
[Al Ghazali, Ihyaa Ulum al Din; Kitab Adab al Suhbah p 369]
It is noted that concealment (satr) is recommended only with regard to persons who are not generally known to engage in corrupt and harmful activities. As for those who are notorious, it is recommended that their evil is not concealed and that the matter is reported to the authorities.Those who are committing grave sins and their sins or wrong doings are contaminating other people also, who if not checked , would put the entire community into a big problem, They should be brought to book, their faults should be made public so that others can take care and be alert.
Exposing the faults of others by casting aspersions, or spying on them, is particularly reprehensible. Thus according to a hadith, people are warned:
“Beware of suspicion. For suspicion is the most untrue form of speech; and do not spy upon one another and do not revile one another .”
[Sahih Muslim, Kitab al birr wal silah, Bab al nahy an al tajasus]
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was once asked about the correct meaning of the following hadith:
“When you hear something form or about your brother, ascribe to it the best interpretation until you can no longer do so”
To this, he replied:”Find an excuse for him by saying, ‘Maybe he said this, or maybe he meant such and such'”
It is further reported in another hadith:
“Whoever is offered an apology from a fellow Muslim should accept it unless he knows that the person apologizing is being dishonest ”
[Mishkat al Tabrizi, Vol III Hadith no 5052]
In Islam justice and benevolence (adl wa ihsan) are not confined to Muslims alone. The question of the way people treat fellow citizens in society, their brothers and sisters in humanity, is closely linked with the Quranic concepts of adl and ihsan, and these do not admit if any restriction that would compromise their objective application. [Tuffah, Masadir pp 89-90]
This indeed is the main point of the following Quranic text:
“And let not the hatred of a people harm you into being unjust. Be just, for it is closet to piety (taqwa)”
[Surah 5: verse 8]
Furthermore, Hasan, the son of Ali is reported to have said:
“If a man abuses me in one ear and then apologizes to me in the other, I shall accept his apology” [Al Maqdisi, al Adab, I p 341]
Thus it is evident that silence takes priority over speech when it comes to exposing the faults and weaknesses of others.
I would finish with one quote from Imam Ghazali
‘One should not talk about the defects of others even if one is asked about them. One must try to avoid prying and asking personal questions about the private lives of others” [Al Ghazali, Kitab Adab pp 242-43]