What are the the prophets method of correcting mistakes? What does islam say about mistakes?
Allah the Almighty has created human beings as the most honorable and the zenith of all creation. Even with this perfection of his creation, people have many spiritual and material weaknesses. These are blameworthy characteristics, such as hastiness, greed, jealousy, desire for eternity, fondness for one’s interests, etc. Such characteristics increase the possibility of making mistakes. We observe the first instance of this in the life of humanity’s father Adam ( peace be upon him).
Allah the Almighty created Adam and Eve and placed them in Paradise. He allowed them to benefit from all kinds of blessings in the Paradise except getting close to a certain tree.Satan tried all kinds of tricks to deceive Adam and Eve. This is stated in verses of the Qur’an as follows:
“Then Satan whispered to them that he might manifest unto them that which was hidden from them of their shame, and he said: Your Lord forbade you from this tree only lest you should become angels or become of the immortals. And he swore unto them (saying): Lo! I am a sincere adviser unto you. Thus did he lead them on with guile. And when they tasted of the tree their shame was manifest to them and they began to hide (by heaping) on themselves some of the leaves of the Garden. And their Lord called them, (saying): Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you: Lo! Satan is an open enemy to you?” (al-A’raf 7; 20-22)
“We had already, beforehand, taken the Covenant of Adam, but he forgot: and we found on his part no firm resolve.” (Taha 20; 115)
It is said that the word “insan or human being” has come from two different roots. The first one is “nisyan” meaning forgetfulness. As it is expressed in the verse, Adam (PBUH) forgot his covenant with Allah. The second root is “unsiyah” or familiarity and being on friendly terms with someone; because human beings can easily establish friendship and get accustomed to their surroundings. Both qualities increase the possibility of making mistakes and commiting sins.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), who knew the characteristics of human beings very well, treated his audience within very sensitive measures and tried to correct them by using the best methods. The Prophet’s sole aim was to guide people to the straight path. This is why he did everything he could to reach everybody. He did not cast anybody away because of his mistakes; on the contrary, he educated him using prophetic methods of education.
Below we will enumerate the Prophet’s principal methods for correcting people’s mistakes:
A. Gentleness and Mildness
Gentleness and mildness are among the good morals praised and encouraged by Allah and His Messenger. This is expressed in the following verses:
“Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: then he between whom he and you was hatred will become as if he were your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune.” (Fussilat 41; 34-35)
“It was by the mercy of Allah that you were lenient with them (O Muhammad), for if you had been stern and fierce of heart they would have dispersed from round about you.” (Al-i Imran 3; 159)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) advised his followers to apply gentleness and mildness in their preaching and to adorn themselves with these good qualities by saying:
“Verily Allah is kind and He loves kindness and confers upon kindness which he does not confer upon severity and does not confer upon anything else besides it (kindness).” (Bukhari, Adab, 35; Muslim, Birr, 77)
In another tradition, Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) said that:
“If gentleness is found in anything, it beautifies it and when it is taken out of anything it damages it.” (Muslim, Birr, 78; Abu Dawud, Adab, 10)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) always showed kindness to the improper actions and behaviors of bedouins, who had not yet been adorned with the beauties of Islam. He would not respond to their harshness with harshness; on the contrary, he would treat them mildly in order to attract their hearts to Islam. There are many beautiful examples of this in the life of the Prophet (pbuh). For example, it was narrated by Abu Huraira (r.a.) that:
“A Bedouin entered the mosque where the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was sitting, and said,
“O Allah! Forgive me and Muhammad, and do not forgive anyone else.” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) smiled and said,
“You are narrowing something vast.” Then the Bedouin went away to the furthest part of the mosque and began to urinate and the people approached him in order to reprimand him. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to them:
“Leave him alone,” and called for a bucket of water and poured it over the urine. And then he said:
“You have been sent to make things easy for people, not to make things hard.” (Abu Dawud, Taharah, 136)
Bedouins did not usually have the opportunity to learn Islam for they lived away from the Messenger of Allah. This was why they sometimes behaved inappropriately. The Prophet of mercy (pbuh) never exaggerated their actions, nor did he become angry with them or hurt their feelings. He also asked his Companions to do the same. His tolerance towards people who did not know the religion made him loved by them. It also resulted in his teachings being more widely adopted. After learning more, the Bedouin (from the above mentioned tradition) talked about the incident as follows:
“May my mother and my father be sacrificed for him, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not rebuke me or insult me. He just said:
“We do not urinate in this mosque; it was built only for the remembrance of Allah and for prayer.” Then he called for a bucket of water and poured it over the urine. (Ibn Majah, Taharah, 78)
Another incident was stated by Mu’awiya b. al-Hakam. He said that:
“While I was praying with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), a man in our company sneezed and I said:
“May Allah have mercy on you!” Then people stared at me disapprovingly, so I said:
“Woe be upon me, why is it that you stare at me?” They began to strike their hands on their thighs, and when I saw them urging me to observe silence, I became angry but I kept my silence.
May my father and mother be sacrificed for the Messenger of Allah! I believe that neither before him nor after him have I seen a leader who gave better instruction than he. I swear that he did not scold, beat or revile me; but he just said to me after he had finished leading the prayer:
“This act of worship is called ritual prayer. Talking to people is not appropriate during the prayer, for it consists of glorifying Allah, declaring His Greatness and reciting the Qur’an (or words to that effect).” (Muslim, Masajid, 33)
Abdullah b. Ikrash (r.a.) reported the following incident from his father:
“My people, Murra b. Abid clan, sent their alms with me to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). When I reached Medina, the Prophet (pbuh) was sitting amidst the people of Ansar and Muhajirun. He held my hand and took me to the house of Umm Salama (r. anha). Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asked:
“Is there anything to eat?” A tray of food filled with meat was brought to us. We approached to eat. I was eating from all sides of the tray, but the Prophet (pbuh) was eating only in front of him. For a moment he held my right hand by his left hand and said:
“O Ikrash! Eat in front of you, because all sides of the plate are the same.”
Then a plate with dry and fresh dates was brought to us. This time I began to eat in front of me, whereas Prophet’s hands were moving all sides of the plate. And he said to me:
“O Ikrash! Eat from wherever you want, for the dates in the plate are of various kinds.” (Tirmidhi, At’imah, 41; Ibn Majah, At’imah, 11)
In this incident Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) held Ikrash’s hands gently and taught him table manners. Holding his Companion’s hand not only increased his respect and closeness to the Prophet but also ensured that he would not forget what he was advised.
The following examples about the Prophet’s correcting mistakes by kindness and mildness are also remarkable.
Abbad b. Shurahbil narrated:
“Once I was poor. My land suffered from drought; so I entered a garden in Medina, and rubbed an ear of corn. I both ate some and put some in my bag. Then the owner of the garden came. He beat me and took my bag. He came to the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) who said to him:
“You did not teach him when he was ignorant; and you did not feed him when he was hungry.” He ordered him, so he returned my bag to me, and gave me one or half a wasq (sixty or thirty sa’s ) of corn. (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 85; Nasai, Qudat, 21)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would even talk kindly to the people whom he disliked and approved their actions in order to avoid being harmed by them. The following narration of Aisha (r.anha) demonstrates this well:
Aisha reported that a person sought permission from Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) to see him. He said:
“Grant him permission (and also added) he is the worst member of his tribe.”
When he came in, the Prophet (pbuh) used kind words for him. (When the man left) I said:
“O Allah’s Messenger! You said about him what you had to say and then you treated him with kindness. He said:
“O Aisha, verily in Allah’s eyes, the worst amongst the people in rank on the Day of Resurrection is one whom the people abandon or desert out of the fear of indecency.” (Muslim, Birr, 73)
Just like the Prophet (pbuh) treated people with kindness, he also commanded his Companions whom he appointed as instructors to do the same. We observe an example of this in the following report:
When Amr b. Murra (r.a.) heard that the Prophet (pbuh) was inviting people to Islam, he travelled to Medina. He recited the following poem before the Messenger of Allah:
I bore witness that Allah is the Truth,
I am the first one who abandoned the stone made idols,
I prepared to be an immigrant,
I overcame obstacles and passed rugged paths
In order to become a Companion to someone personally and genealogically is the best
O Messenger of the people’s King beyond the heavens
Upon this, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) welcomed Amr. Amr said:
“May my mother and father be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah! Send me to my people. As Allah has bestowed me by means of you; hopefully He may bestow upon them by means of me.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) sent him to his people and advised him:
“O Amr! Be kind and say the truth! Do not be harsh and unjust! Stay away from pride and jealousy!” (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, III, 16-17)
People’s psychology does not like harshness and impoliteness. Even if they were harsh people themselves, everybody likes to be treated with kindness. This is because one should treat people kindly especially while teaching them their religion. This is the requirement of friendliness and familiarity.
A true believer treats a sinner mercifully like a bird that has a broken wing. He sees the sinner as someone who needs close attention. He feels in his heart concern for comforting the sinner and finding a way to help him recover; because showing mercy and respect to Creation because of their Creator is the most effective tool to achieve a believer’s virtue and perfection.
B. Showing Patience and Forbearance towards Mistakes
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would show great patience and forbearance towards those who made mistakes as well as treating them kindly. He would never act impulsively, and was the embodiment of patience and forbearing. There were people who converted to Islam just because of these qualities of the Prophet (pbuh). The wealthy Jewish scholar Zaid b. Sa’na was one of them. He narrated the Prophet’s patience in the face of people’s faults as follows:
“When I looked at the Prophet’s face, I saw in him all the prophetic characteristics except two of them. Did his patience and kindness exceed the ignorance and harshness he faced or not? Did the most ignorant and the harshest of behavior he faced increase his patience or not? I did not have any clue about the answers to these two questions. I thought I could learn the answers if I stayed with him for a while.
One day, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) went out of his house together with Ali b. Talib (r.a.). At that moment, a bedouin appeared and said:
“O Messenger of Allah! Sons of so and so from village residents embraced Islam. I had told them that “when they became Muslims, they were going to obtain wealth and abundance. On the contrary they are suffering with drought and famine. O Messenger of Allah! I am worried that they will leave Islam which they had embraced hoping to receive some worldly blessings. It would be good if you could help them.”
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) first looked at the bedouin and then turned to Ali (r.a.). Ali (r.a.) told him:
“O Messenger of Allah! There is nothing left to give them.”
Thereupon, I intervened and told the Prophet (pbuh):
“O Muhammad! Can’t you sell me some dates from the garden of the sons of so and so provided that you deliver them so much time later?”
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) replied:
“No, I can’t. But I can sell you a certain amount of dates at such a later date.” He did not mention the name of the garden. I accepted his offer. After the sale, I gave him eighty misqal gold pieces in return for a certain amount of dates which were going to be delivered at such a later date. The Prophet (pbuh) took the gold pieces and gave them to the bedouin. Then he said:
“Distribute these fairly among those people and help them with these.”
Two or three days before the debt’s due date, I went to the Messenger of Allah and held from the collars of his shirt. I looked sullenly at his face and said:
“O Muhammad! Aren’t you going to give me my right yet? By Allah! O sons of Abdul Muttalib! I did not know that you were unfair and prolonged your payments. Staying with you has taught me who you really are.” When I looked at Umar’s face, I saw his eyes were whirling from anger. Then he turned to me and said:
“O enemy of Allah! How dare you to talk to the Messenger of Allah like this? By Allah Who has sent the true religion and book with him, if I were not afraid of him, I would certainly cut your head off with my sword.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) smiled calmly and looked at Umar (r.a.) saying:
“O Umar! I and he would have hoped you to behave differently. You should have advised me to pay my debt justly and advised him to ask for his loan back nicely. O Umar! Go and pay his right and give him twenty sa’ extra.” I asked:
“O Umar! Why am I getting the extra part?” Umar (r.a.) said:
“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) ordered me to pay extra because of my harsh behavior towards you.” I asked Umar:
“O Umar! Do you remember me?” He said:
“No, I did not. Who are you?” I said:
“I am Zaid b. Sa’na” Umar (r.a.) asked again:
“Are you the scholar of the Jews?” I said:
“The Jewish scholar” Umar asked:
“Then why did you behave like that?” I told him:
“O Umar! When I looked at the face of Muhammad (pbuh), I understood that he had all the prophetic signs except two. Does his patience overcome the harshness and impoliteness he faces? And does ignorant and harsh treatment increase his patience or not? I had not confirmed these features yet. This was why I treated him like I did and then I realized that he also possesses these attributes. O Umar! Be my witness that I have accepted Allah as my Lord, Islam as my religion, and Muhammad (pbuh) as my prophet. And also be my witness that I give half of my belongings in charity to Muhammad’s ummah, for I am wealthier than them.” Umar advised me:
“Say to some of the ummah, for you cannot find enough wealth for all of them.” And I said:
“To some of them” When Zaid b. Sa’na came to the Prophet (pbuh), he embraced Islam saying:
“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I also bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger.” (Hakim, III, 700-701)
Allah the Almighty has created a cure for every suffering in this world. There is no cure more effective than patience in order to overcome spiritual problems. Thoughts and psychological states vary greatly from one person to other. It is very hard to know about people’s intentions and the inner worlds, and then to act accordingly. This is a divine secret. Therefore, it is the safest and the most useful way to follow the path of patience like the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did.
Anas b. Malik (r.a.) reported another incident regarding the Prophet’s patience in the face of faulty actions:
“I was walking with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and he had worn a mantle of Najran with a thick border. A bedouin met him and pulled the mantle so violently that I saw the marks of the border of the mantle left by the intensity of the pull on the skin of the neck of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). And the bedouin said:
“O Muhammad! Issue an order for these two camels of mine to be loaded the goods of Allah that are at your disposal, for you do not give me anything from your wealth or from your father’s wealth.” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) turned his attention to him and smiled. And then he called someone and ordered:
“Load one of these camels with barley and the other one with wheat.” (Muslim, Zakat, 128; Abu Dawud, Adab, 1)
Jubair bin Mut’im (r.a.) narrated another example as follows:
“I was in the company of Allah’s Apostle with the people returning from Hunain, some people (bedouins) caught hold of the Prophet (pbuh) and started begging that the war booty be distributed so much that they pushed him under a kind of thorny tree (i.e. Samurah) and his cloak was snatched away. The Prophet (pbuh) stopped and said:
“Give me my cloak. If I had as many camels as these thorny trees, I would have distributed them amongst you and you will never find me to be a miser or a liar or a coward.” (Bukhari, Jihad, 24)
As it is seen in these reports, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) always responded to people’s rude and ignorant treatment kindly and patiently. He educated them withoutoffending them.
C. Not offending sinners in front of others
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would not directly address to a person who made a mistake but he would use general expressions encompassing the entire community. Thus he would correct mistakes without offending the faulty person in front of the society.
It was narrated by Aisha (r. anha), Umm al-Mu’minin:
“When the Prophet (pbuh) was informed of anything about a certain man, he would not say: “What is the matter with so and so?”Rather, he would say:
“What is the matter with the people that they say such and such?” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 5/4788)
And when the Prophet (pbuh) sometimes saw something committed that he did not approve of, he would say:
“What is it that I saw you …” (Bukhari, Manaqib, 25; Muslim, Salat, 119) in order to state his disapproval.
In human relations, it is very important not to offend people, to address them with general statements so as not to cause them to feel ashamed. This is the common characteristic of those who comprehend the reality of Islam; because Allah’s path does not lead to broken hearts but to mended ones. In fact, many of those who are looked upon and excluded from the community because of their faults might be gained back to the blessed atmosphere of Islam by means of such a considerate approach.
Here is another exemplary scene from the life of our beloved Prophet (pbuh) in this context:
Narrated on the authority of Ya’la b. Umayya (r.a.):
“The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) saw a man washing in a public place without a lower garment. So he mounted the pulpit, praised and extolled Allah and said:
“Allah is characterized by modesty and concealment. So when any of you washes, he should conceal himself. (Abu Dawud, Hammam, 2; Nasai, Ghusl, 7)
As a reminder of Allah’s attribute as the Veiler of sins (Sattar), the Prophet (pbuh) ordered that the servants should cover themselves. In other words, fulfilling the requirements of this command means adorning oneself with the morals that Allah laid down in the Qur’an and the teachings of his Prophet (pbuh). In this respect, Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) encouraged his followers to be modest and to cover themselves without offending them.
People who are naturally prone to commit sins do not like to be openly reproached because of their faults. Even though people forgive others’ mistakes with difficulty, they want their own mistakes to be forgiven and do not like them to be known. Because of this, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would never tell people’s faults to their faces; on the contrary, he would find a way to guide them to the correct path without breaking their feelings.
Anas b. Malik (r.a.) narrated:
The Prophet (pbuh) once saw a man with yellow dye covering his body that he (the Prophet) dissaproved of. When the man stood up to leave, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) told his Companions:
“Tell this man to wash the yellow dye off his body.” Thus, the Prophet (pbuh) corrected inappropriate behavior without offending the man. (Ibn Hanbal, III, 133)
One of the names of Allah the Almighty is “Sattar al-Uyub.” This name refers to the One Who veils the defects and sins. A believer should adorn himself with this Divine name and with the exemplary manners of Allah’s Messenger and his Companions; and he should try to veil the mistakes of others as much as possible. At least one should abstain from offending and looking someone down in front of others. He should know that such an approach would not prevent, but encourage, the committing of sins.
D. Convincing the Spoken Person by Rational and Logical Explanations
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would not just convey his message but also convince his audience through logical and rational explanations. By this means, he was able to purify the heart of a sinner who thought that he was acting correctly. Jabir (r.a.) narrated:
“One day Umar b. al-Khattab (r.a.) anxiously came and told the Prophet (pbuh):
“O Apostle of Allah! I have done a bad deed; I kissed (my wife) while I was fasting.” He said:
“What do you think if you rinse your mouth with water while you are fasting? (Would this break you fast?)” Umar said:
“There is nothing wrong with it.” Upon this the Messenger of Allah told him:
“Then why (are you worried about kissing?)” (Abu Dawud, Sawm, 33)
Thus, the Prophet (pbuh) taught Umar (r.a), who had been thinking that he was doing something wrong, by making comparison between something he did not know and that which he already knew. In his context anoher incident was narrated by Abu Umama al-Bahili (r.a.):
“A young man came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and said:
“O Messenger of Allah! Give me permission to commit adultery.” Those people who were present attempted to attack the young man and reproached him; but the Prophet (pbuh) asked him to come closer. The young man came and sat next to the Prophet. The Mercy to the universe told the young man:
“Would you like to see your mother to commit adultery?” The young man replied:
“May Allah have me sacrificed to your path; by Allah I would not like to see that.” Upon this Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:
“Neither would other people like to see their mothers doing this.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) repeated the same question about the young man’s daughter, sister, and aunts. And each time the young man gave the same response. After that, the Prophet (pbuh) placed his hands on the young man’s chest and prayed for him saying:
“O Allah! Forgive this man’s sins, purify his heart, and protect him (his private parts) from adultery.” From that time on, the young man never approached such sins again.” (Ibn Hanbal, V, 256)
Even though his Companions became upset, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) approached the matter calmly, and gave the young man a seat next to himself, listened to him, and then logically explained the matter; thus he cleansed the young man’s heart from such unlawful thoughts. And in return the young man was never tempted to make such a request again. It is very important for preachers and instructors of Islam to control their anger and give logical and rational explanations to their listeners. Logical and rational explanations gain special significance in the contemporary world which is dominated by rationalism and in which there is little place for submission and in which everything is evaluated from a logical perspective.
E. Presenting Alternatives
People may sometimes make mistakes since they do not know how to behave. One of the safest ways prevent them from committing such mistakes is to show them alternatives. This method is especially important in educating and disciplining children, drawn by their curiosity about the things they hear and see, they immediately want to imitate such things without knowing whether they are right or wrong. In order to keep them away from such arbitrary tendencies, one should not just say “don’t do this or don’t do that” instead it would be more effective to give them alternatives by telling them something like “do not do this but do that,” “do not eat this but eat that,” or “Don’t play with this but play with that.” This trait continues in many people in later age. They, too, may give up performing wrong deeds because of alternatives.
One of the best examples of this method was narrated by Rafi b. Amr (r.a.).
“When I was a child, I used to throw stones at the Ansar’s date trees. They caught me and took me to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He asked me:
“My dear child! Why did you stone the date trees?” I said:
“O Messenger of Allah! (I was hungry) I threw stones to get some dates to eat.” He said rubbing my head:
“Next time do not throw stones but eat from the ones that have fallen on the ground.” and then he prayed for me saying:
“O Allah! Satiate his hunger.” (Ibn Majah, Tijarat, 67)
As we see in this report, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not just prohibit the child from a wrong deed but also showed him an alternative.
Anas (r.a.) narrated:
“At the time when the prophet (pbuh) came to Medina, he saw that people had two days in which to celebrate. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asked:
“What are (the meaning and significant of) these two days?” People replied:
“We used to celebrate these two day during the age of ignorance.” Our Prophet (pbuh) then said:
“Allah the Almighty replaced these two holidays with better ones: the day of fitr (after the month of Ramadan) and the day of sacrifice (in the pilgrimage season).” (Abu Dawud, Salat, 239; Nasai, I’dain, 1)
Another report about showing alternatives is as follows. During the battle of Uhud, Abu Uqba Rushaid al- Farisi, the freed slave of the sons of Muawiyah, met a polytheist armored from head to toe. He was shouting:
“I am Ibn Uwaif.” Just then Khatib’s freed slave Sa’d hit and cut Ibn Uwayf into two pieces. Ibn Rusaid said:
“Here, take this one from a Persian slave” and hit him and separated his shoulder from his body. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) heard him and saw what he had done. He said to Rushaid:
“Would not it be better if you say from an Ansari instead of from a Persian slave?” Just then Ibn Uwaif’s brother came and said:
“I, too, am Ibn Uwaif.” Rushaid immediately said:
“Take this from an Ansari slave” and beheaded Ibn Uwaif with one sword blow. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) smiled and told him:
“O Abdullah! You did well.” (Waqidi, I, 261; Ibn Abdi’lbarr, II, 496)
Because the phrase “from a Persian slave” implied racial pride, it damaged the warrior’s sincerity. Whereas the phrase “from an Ansari”, had a religious meaning and since it was an Islamic term, using it meant that they were fighting in the name of Islam. In that report, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) saved his Companion from a wrong action and directed him to a good one. And he realized this by changing only a word.
One day the Prophet (pbuh) said,
“Beware! Avoid sitting on the roads (ways).” The people said,
“There is no way to avoid this as these are our sitting places when we have talks.” The Prophet said,
“If you must sit there, then observe the rights of the way.” They asked,
“What are the rights of the way?” He said,
“They are the lowering of your gazes (on seeing what is illegal to look at), refraining from harming people, returning greetings, advocating good and forbidding evil.” (Bukhari, Mazalim, 22; Muslim, Libas, 114)
What is essential in Islamic education is to teach people what is right and prepare the circumstances for them to live in accordance with Islam. Moreover, it is to change the wrong knowledge, opinions, and practices with the correct ones. And one of the most effective methods to correct the long established mistakes in a society is not just criticizing people but at the same time providing alternative solutions for them.
F. Reproaching when Necessary
Our Prophet (pbuh), who was sent as a mercy to the universe, was very compassionate, merciful, patient, and forbearing. He would many a time not want to see the mistakes of others and also forgive most of them. But there were some mistakes that would distress him and could not forgive. In fact, it was necessary for him to get upset in the face of such mistakes and to reproach the sinner in order to correct them.
Abu Huraira said,
“The Prophet saw a man driving a Badana (sacrificial camel). The Prophet (pbuh) said (to him),
“Ride on it.” He replied,
“It is a sacrificial camel.” The Prophet again said,
“Shame on you! Ride on it!” (Bukhari, Hajj, 103)
A prophet is the most knowledgeable about what is right and what is wrong in Allah’s religion. In view of this fact, believers should not try to appear more righteous than the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet’s response to such extreme behavior was always severe and intense.
Aisha (r. anha) reported that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did an act, and held it to be valid. When news reach that Prophet that some people amongst his Companions did not approve of his (pbuh) action and disregarded it, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) stood to deliver an address:
“What has happened to the people to whom there was conveyed on my behalf a matter for which I granted permission and they disapproved of it and avoided it? By Allah, I possess the best knowledge of Allah amongst them, and I fear Him most amongst them.” (Bukhari, Adab, 72; Muslim, Fadail, 127)
It is not acceptable to avoid the Prophet’s practice, to show extreme religiosity and to act based on personal whims. Such approaches makes a person diverge from following the Prophet’s footsteps in religious matters. This is why Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) presented a severe and intolerable response against such actions. In another version of the above mentioned narration, it is reported that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was annoyed so much that the signs of anger appeared on his face. (Muslim, Fadail, 128)
The following report is very remarkable in that it shows how the Prophet’s reaction was against those who issue opinions about Islam without having the necessary knowledge and who harm people because of these opinions. Jabir (r.a.) narrated:
“A man was injured during the lifetime of the Apostle of Allah (pbuh); he then had a wet dream, and he asked the people with him:
“Am I allowed to perform dry ablution?” And he was told that he could use water and thus he was advised to wash. Then he took a bath and died as a result. When this was reported to the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) he said:
“They killed him; may Allah kill them! Why did not they ask? Since they did not know why did not they ask? Isn’t inquiry the cure to ignorance? It would be enough for the man to wrap his injury with a piece of cloth and then perform dry ablution over the wrap and wash the rest of his body.” (Abu Dawud, Taharah, 125; Ibn Majah, Taharah, 93)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) became very upset because of those who issued an opinion in a religious matter and caused someone’s death. He was so angry that he damned them and informed us that such people committed a sin as great as murder.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would like his followers to be clean, tidy, and delicate and would never approve disorder. Jabir (r.a.) reported:
“The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) paid us a visit, and saw a disheveled man whose hair was untidy. He said:
“Could this man not find something with which to make his hair lie down?” He saw another man wearing dirty clothes and said:
“Could this man not find something with which to wash his garments?” (Abu Dawud, Libas, 14)
Believers should know how to act based on the circumstances of their time just as much as paying attention to their inner and outer purification. One should balance their actions and words and act moderately. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) educated his Companions in this respect and when they exceeded the limits, he sometimes got upset. One of the things that he did not approve of was to ask unnecessary and meaningless questions. Anas b. Malik (r.a.) reported an incident from memory as follows:
“The people asked Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) until he was hard pressed. He went out one day and occupied the pulpit and said:
“Ask me and I shall leave none of your questions unanswered,” and when the people heard about it they were overawed, as if something tragic was going to happen. Anas (r.a.) said:
“I began to look to my right and left and found that every person was weeping with his head buried in a cloth. Then a person in the mosque broke the ice, he whom they used to dispute with him by attributing his relation to a man other than his own father. He said:
“Allah’s Apostle, who is my father?” He said:
“Your father is Hudhafa.” Then Umar b. Khattab (r.a.) dared say something and said:
“We are well pleased with Allah as our Lord, with Islam as our code of life and with Muhammad as our Messenger, seeking refuge with Allah from the evil of Turmoil.” Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:
“Never did I see good and evil as today. Paradise and Hell were given a visible shape before me (in this worldly life) and I saw both of them near this well.” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 5/12; Muslim, Fadail, 134-138)
Other people’s rights came at the top ofmatters about which Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was concerned; because these are such sins that cannot be forgiven unless the owner of the right forgives. Our Prophet (pbuh) would not like to see any member of his ummah to present himself before Allah the Almighty with sins. Abdullah b. Amr (r.anhuma) narrated:
“When the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) gained booty he ordered Bilal to make a public announcement. He made a public announcement, and when the people brought their booty, he took a fifth and divided it. Thereafter, a man brought a halter of hair and said:
“O Apostle of Allah! This is a part of our booty. He asked:
“Have you heard Bilal making an announcement three times?” He replied:
“Yes, I have.” He asked:
“What prevented you from bringing it?” He made some excuse, to which he said:
“Be (as you are), you may bring it on the Day of Judgment, for I shall not accept it from you.” (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 134)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not accept the piece of the booty returned after its due time had passed. For all soldiers have right in the booty and after people had departed, it became impossible to deliver it to its rightful owners.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also reacted severely against those who killed a person unjustly. He responded to Uthama b. Zaid (Bukhari, Diyat, 2) and Khalid b. Walid (r. anhum) who killed a man after he said “la ilaha illallah – there is no god but Allah.” so hard that they regretted what they had done. The Prophet (pbuh) even said:
“O Allah! I am not responsible for what Khalid bin Al-Walid has done,” and repeated it twice. (Bukhari, Ahkam, 35)
G. Forgiving the Mistakes
Be at peace, look to nobody’s faults
So that Allah may forgive your error
Forgiveness means pardoning sins and mistakes, not punishing a crime, and not criticizing the sinner.
“Al-Afuw” is one of the attributes of Allah the Almighty. It means the One Who is most-Forgiving, the One Who cleanses the sins, forgives the repenting, and does not punish the sinners.
“Al-Ghafur” is another attribute of our Lord the Almighty. This attribute means the One Who does not make His servants feel ashamed in this world and in the Hereafter; the One Who conceals, covers, and forgives the mistakes of His servants, and the One Who does not punish His servants for their sins. Since Al-Ghafur and al-Ghaffar are among the names in the intensive forms, it is not appropriate to name people after them; they are exclusive to Allah the Almighty.
Believers should try to forgive each other, just as Allah the Almighty forgives His sinful servants; because hate and grudges towards others are not among the traits of a true believer. Some of the verses, which invite and encourage the Prophet (pbuh) and the believers to be forgiving, are as follows:
“Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant.” (al-A’raf 7; 199)
فَاصْفَحِ الصَّفْحَ الْجَمِيلَ
“…So forgive, (O Muhammad), with a gracious forgiveness.” (al-Hijr 15; 85)
Anas b. Malik (r.a.) reported one of the sayings of the Prophet that encourages forgiveness:
“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was sitting with us when we saw him smiling so much that his molar teeth could be seen. Umar (r.a.) asked:
“May my mother and father be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah! What is it that makes you smile so much?” Allah’s Messenger said:
“Two men from my followers sat on their knees before our Lord Almighty.
One of the said:
“Dear Lord! Take my right from my brother.” Allah the Almighty told him:
“How am I going to take your right from your brother, for he does not have any rewards left?” The man said:
“Then take some of my sins and load them upon him.” Just then Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) began to shed tears and said:
“Judgment Day is such a day that people need to load their own sins upon others.” And then he continued:
“Allah the Almighty says to the one who asks for his right:
“Raise your head and look at the heavens.” The man raised his head and said:
“O Lord! I see cities made of gold and palaces made and adorned with gold and pearls. For which prophets and righteous servants have they been built?” Allah the Almighty told him:
“If you would like, you may have them.” The man asked:
“How?” Allah the Almighty replied:
“By forgiving your brother” The man said:
“O Lord! I have forgiven my brother.” Upon this Allah the Almighty told him:
“Hold your brother’s hand and take him to Paradise.” After narrating this, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:
Be pious towards Allah and try to reconcile your relations. (As you see) Allah the Almighty reconciles between believers.” (Hakim, IV, 620)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) presented examples of forgiveness under very hard times. As a result of these lofty moral characteristics, he attracted people’s hearts and souls; and they embraced Islam in crowds. It has been narrated on the authority of Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (pbuh), who said to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh):
“O Messenger of Allah! Has there come upon you a day more terrible than the day of Uhud?” He said:
“I have experienced it from your people. And the hardest treatment from them was that which I received from them on the day of Aqaba. I betook myself to Ibn Abd Yalil b. Abd Kulal with the purpose of inviting him to Islam, but he did not respond to me as I desired. So I departed with signs of deep distress on my face. I did not recover until I reached Qarn al-Tha’alib. Where I raised my head, lo! Near me was a cloud which had cast its shadow upon me. I looked and lo! There was in it the Angel Gabriel who called out to me and said:
“Allah the Honored and Glorious, has heard what your people have said to you, and how they have reacted to your call. And He has sent to you the angel in charge of the mountains so that you may order him what you wish (him to do) with regard to them. The angel in charge of the mountains then called out to me, greeted me and said:
“O Muhammad, Allah has listened to what your people have said to you. I am the angel in charge of the mountains and your Lord has sent me to you so that you may order me what you wish. If you wish that I should bring together the two mountains that stand opposite to each other at the extremities of Mecca to crush them in between, (I shall do that).” But I said to him:
“Rather, I hope that Allah will produce from their descendants such persons as will worship Allah, the One, and will not ascribe partners to Him. (Bukhari, Bad’ul Khalq, 7; Muslim, Jihad, 111)
Even when his body was in pain and his heart was broken, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not accept the Angel’s offer. Thus, he showed that forgiveness is the praiseworthy response to the bad treatment and mistakes of harsh and ignorant people. His mission was not to satisfy his own self and to gain comfort by punishing those who treated him badly. His only object was to save people by guiding them to the straight path and lead them to happiness not just in this world, but also in the Hereafter. And most importantly, he tried to increase the number of people who accepted Allah’s Oneness and obey Him.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) forgave even the ones who had come to kill him. It has been narrated on the authority of Anas b. Malik (r.a.) that eighty people from the inhabitants of Mecca came down upon the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) from the mountain of Tan’im. They were armed and wanted to kill the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions unawares. Yet he (the Holy Prophet), captured them and spared their lives.” (Muslim, Jihad, 133)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) faced many traps and tricks from the hypocrites, but he forgave them. Even though he knew their names, he did not tell them to any one of his Companions except Hudaifa b. Yamani. Thus, he generally continued his social relations with them. He even wanted to pray for their forgiveness despite their open enmities and lies. Zaid b. Arqam reported:
“We set out on a journey along with Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) in which we faced many hardships. Abdullah b. Ubayy said to his friends:
“Do not give what you have in your possession to those who are with Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) so that they desert him. And in this case when we return to Medina the honorable ones shall drive out the meaner ones.”
I came to Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) and informed him about that and he sent someone to Abdullah b. Ubayy and he asked him whether he had said that or not. He took an oath to the fact that he had not done that and informed me that it was Zaid who had stated a lie to Allah’s Messenger (pbuh). Zaid said:
I was much perturbed because of this until the following verse was revealed attesting to my veracity:
“When the hypocrites come unto you (O Muhammad), they say: We bear witness that you are indeed Allah’s Messenger. And Allah knows that you are indeed His Messenger, and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are speaking falsely.” (al-Munafiqun 63; 1).
Zaid said that:
“Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) then called them in order to seek forgiveness for them, but they turned on their heads and left. (Bukhari, Tafsir, 63/1-2; Muslim, Sifat al-Munafiqun, 1)
In this tradition, it is stated how hard the Prophet (pbuh) worked for the forgiveness of the hypocrites and how heedless they were.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) sometimes forgave serious faults commited by his Companions. The most obvious example in this regard is the incident that Hatib b. Abi Balta’a sent a letter to the Meccans to warn them about the Muslim troops coming for the conquest of Mecca. When the letter was captured, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) called him and said:
“O Hatib, what is this?” He said:
“O Allah’s Messenger, do not be hasty in judging my intention. I am a person attached to Quraish while those who are with you amongst the emigrants are their blook relations and thus they would protect their families. I wished that when I had no blood-relationship with them I should find some supporters from (amongst them) who would help my family. I have not done this because of any unbelief or apostasy and I have no liking for unbelief after I have embraced Islam.” Thereupon Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) said:
“You have told the truth.” Umar (r.a.) said:
“O Allah’s Messenger, permit me to strike the neck of this hypocrite. But he (the Holy Prophet) said:
“He was a participant in Badr and you little know that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, revealed about the people of Badr: “Do what you like for there is forgiveness for you.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 9; Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahaba, 161)
When Mecca was conquered and believers entered the Ka’bah, the people of Quraish, who had tortured Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and the believers for years, gathered in the mosque and sat around the Ka’bah. They were waiting to see what the Prophet (pbuh) was going to do with them. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asked:
“O People of Quraish! O Meccans! What do you say? How do you think I am going to do with you?” People of Quraish replied:
“We are hoping for goodness from you. You are a generous and good brother and the son of a generous and good brother. Now you have the power so treat us nicely.” Thereupon, Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) told them:
“The situation between you and me will be like the situation between Joseph (A.S.) and his people. Just as Joseph (A.S.) said to his brothers, I tell you:
“…this day let no reproach be (cast) on you; Allah will forgive you, and he is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.” (Yusuf 12; 92) Go! You are free.”
Even though the people of Quraish were captured and submitted, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) forgave them and set them free. This is why in Islamic sources the Meccans are called “Tulaqa or the freed slaves.” (Ibn HIsham, IV, 32; Waqidi, II, 835; Ibn Sa’d, II, 142-143)
The Companions, who witnessed the examples of forgiveness in the life of the Prophet (pbuh), followed in his footsteps and manifested examples of forgiveness. One of the examples of forgiveness from the life of Umar (r.a.) happened as follows:
“Uyaina b. Hisn b. Hudhaifa, who was known for his impolite behavior towards the Messenger of Allah, came and stayed with his nephew Al-Hurr bin Qais. Al-Hurr bin Qais was a learned person whom Umar (r.a.) respected very much.
Uyaina said to his nephew,
“O son of my brother! You are a respected person in the presence of the caliph, so get me permission to see him.” Al-Hurr said,
“I will get permission for you to see him.” So Al-Hurr asked permission for Uyaina and Umar admitted him. When Uyaina entered, he said,
“Beware! O the son of Al-Khattab! By Allah, you neither give us sufficient provision nor judge among us with justice.” Thereupon Umar became so furious that he intended to harm him, but Al-Hurr said,
“O leader of the believers! Allah said to His Prophet:
“Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; and leave (don’t punish) the foolish.” (a;-Araf 7; 199) and this (i.e. Uyaina) is one of the foolish.” By Allah, Umar did not overlook that verse when Al-Hurr recited it before him; he observed (the orders of) the Book of Allah strictly.” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 7/5; I’tisam, 2; Ibn Abd al-Barr, III, 1250-1251; Ibn Athir, Usd al-Ghabah, I, 471-472; IV, 331)
Among the best attitutes is to not lower onself to the level of the ignorant, since the highest level of virtue is to visit someone who does not pay visits, to give someone who does not give and to forgive someone who does injustice. It is said that:
Do not be upset by the words of the ignorant
For if he knew, he would only say (that which is) good.
H. Correcting Significant Mistakes Immediately
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not give the same reaction towards different types of behavior. He acted in accordance with the sources and conditions of an action. There were some matters that he did not tolerate, on the contrary he would immediately interfere. These were usually related to matters of faith, acts of worship, and prohibitions.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) showed most concern about the issue of Divine Unity. His first requirement from the newly converted tribes was to destroy their idols. The following incident that happened during the conversion of the tribe of Thaqif is very remarkable in this context:
“After signing an agreement, the representatives of the tribe of Thaqif asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) his permission not to destroy their idol, Rabba (Lat), and to keep it for three more years. The Prophet (pbuh) did not accept their request. They said:
“Then postpone its destruction for two more years.” He did not accept the second request, either.
They reduced it to one year, but Prophet’s response was the same.
“Postpone it for a month until our arrival at Ta’if.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not let them appoint a time for the destruction of their idol.
The reason for the insistence of the representatives was due to their concern about the reaction of the conservative members of their tribe. They thought that it would not be the right thing to destroy their tribal idol until everybody in their tribe had converted. Finally, when they saw that there was no other choice, they asked for permission to not destroy it themselves.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told them:
“Okay! I will tell my Companions to knock it down. I give you my permission because of the destruction it causes.” (Ibn Hisham, IV, 197; Waqidi, III, 967-968)
In that incident, the Prophet (pbuh) was before a newly converted tribe. There was even the possibility for them to return to their old faith because of the Prophet’s response to their request, but accepting and submitting oneself to the Divine Unity was the first condition of Islamic faith. This was why Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not make any concessions in the face of the persistent requests by the tribe of Thaqif.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was so scrupulous in this matter that he even changed the names that contradicted the Islamic faith. According to the Hani b. Yazid’s (r.a.) report, a group of people came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He heard that they were calling one of them as “abd al-hajar – servant of stone.” The Prophet (pbuh) asked the man his name. When he said:
“Abd al-hajar – servant of stone,” he (the Prophet) changed it:
“No you are Abdullah – Servant of Allah.” (Bukhari, Adab al-Mufrad, no: 812)
Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) would not tolerate serious mistakes in acts of worship either; for they are the reflections of faith.
Rifaa b. Rafi’ (r.a.) narrated:
“When we were in the mosque, a bedouin came. He turned in the direction of the Qiblah and performed his prayer very quickly. Then he finished his prayer and greeted (said salaam to) the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He responded:
“Peace be upon you! Go back and perform your prayer again. You did not perform your prayer.”
The man went back, prayed again, and then approached and greeted the Messenger of Allah. He responded:
“Go back and perform your prayer again. You did not perform your prayer.” People began to worry and they found it difficult to understand. The man finally said:
“I am a human being. I sometimes make mistakes and sometimes do the right thing. Show me my mistakes, and teach me the right thing.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) showed him how to perform a prayer saying:
“The prayer of anyone is not perfect unless he performs ablution perfectly; he should then utter the takbir, and praise Allah, the Exalted, and admire Him; he should then recite the Qur’an as much as he desires. He should then say: “Allah is the Greatest”. Next he should bow so that all his joints return to their proper places. Then he should say: “Allah listens to the one who praises Him”, and stand erect. He should then say:”Allah is most great,” and should prostrate himself so that all his joints are completely at rest. Then he should say: “Allah is the Greatest”; he should raise his head (at the end of prostration) till he sits erect. Then he should say: “Allah is the Greatest”; then he should prostrate himself until all his joints return to their proper places. Then he should raise his head and say the takbir. When he does so, then his prayer is complete; otherwise your prayer is incomplete.”
The narrator of this tradition added: “The Prophet’s (pbuh) final words in that hadith were very consoling for the Companions. They were easier and more comforting than his former words: “Go back and perform your prayer again. You did not perform your prayer.” Because performing a prayer and skipping some parts mentioned in this narration just made the prayer incomplete not totally invalid. (Tirmidhi, Salat, 110; Abu Dawud, Salat, 143-144)
In this incident, the issue was ritual prayer. Prayer is the pillar of Islam. A person’s strength and measure of faith depends upon the quality of the prayers he performs. Compromises shown in prayer lead to compromises in other religious matters. This is why the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) immediately warned the person who had shortcomings in his prayer.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) showed similar sensitivity in performing ablution. According to a report, Umar b. Khattab (r.a.) narrated that:
“A person performed ablution and left a small part equal to the space of a nail unwashed. The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) noticed and told him:
“Go back and perform ablution well.”
The man then went back, performed his ablution again, and offered the prayer. (Muslim, Tharah, 31; Abu Dawud, Taharah, 67)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) never approved of his followers giving as charity disliked, cheap, and inferior parts of their property. It was narrated by Awf b. Malik (r.a.):
“One day, the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) entered upon us in the mosque, and he had a stick in his hand. A man hung a bunch of hashaf (spoiled dates) in the mosque (as his charity for the needy). Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) struck the bunch with the stick, and said:
“I wish the owner of this charity had given a better one. The owner of this charity will surely eat spoiled dates on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud, Zakat, 17; Nasai, Zakat, 27)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would never show tolerance in matters prohibited by Allah the Almighty and warned his followers against them just as he warned against Hell-fire. According to a narration of Abdullah b. Abbas (r. anhuma), Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) saw a person wearing a gold signet ring on his hand. He (the Holy Prophet) pulled it off and threw it away, saying:
“One of you wishes for live coal from Hell and is putting it on his hand.” It was said to the person after Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) had left:
“Take your ring and derive benefit out of it in some other way.” Yet the man said:
“No, by Allah, I shall never take what Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) has thrown away.” (Muslim, Libas, 52)
I. Saying Supplications for the Purification and Good Manners of the Companions
All his life, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) campaigned for the purification, education and discipline of his ummah. He spent his days and nights for their guidance and he never abstained from saying supplications for their goodness.
Supplication, one of the most significant aspects of servitude, is a servant’s most effective weapon and support. There is no curtain between Allah the Almighty and sincere supplications. Our Lord, the Most Merciful and the All-Compassionate, declares in the Qur’an:
“…Pray unto Me and I will answer your prayer…” (al-Mu’min 40; 60)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) lived his life filled with prayers in order to show the significance of this divine glad tiding and encourage his followers to follow it. He said both general and specific supplications for the welfare and guidance of his followers. Aisha (r. anha) narrates:
“Once Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) made the following supplication:
“O Allah! Strengthen Islam especially by Umar b. al-Khattab.” (Ibn Majah, Muqaddimah, 11)
Indeed as a result of this prayer, Umar (r.a.) was honored with conversion to Islam and Islam, in return, was reinforced by his conversion. Believers were able to begin to perform their worship openly.
Abu Bakr (r.a.) asked from the Prophet (pbuh) to pray for the guidance of his mother Umm al-Khair Salma saying:
“O Messenger of Allah! My mother is very caring towards her children. And you are a blessed person. Would you pray to Allah for her and invite her to Islam? Maybe Allah shall save her from the Hell-fire for your sake.” Upon which, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) prayed for her and invited her to embrace Islam. And soon after his supplication, she converted to Islam. (Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah, VII, 326)
Abu Huraira (r.a.) reported that his mother had refused his many invitations to Islam. However, she later was blessed with guidance as a result of the Prophet’s prayers for her. (Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahaba, 158)
Tufail bin Amr of the tribe of Daws used to invite his tribe to Islam, but they did not accept. So he came to Mecca to the Prophet (pbuh) and said,
“O Prophet of Allah! The people of Daws have prevailed over me as they disobeyed and refused to accept Islam. So invoke Allah against them.” But the Prophet said,
“O Allah! Give guidance to the people of Daws and bring them (to Islam)!” and then he turned to Tufail and said:
“Go back to your people and continue to invite them to Islam. And treat them leniently.” Tufail went back to his tribe. He continued to invite them to Islam by the time of Prophet’s migration to Medina.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 75; Ibn Hanbal, II, 243; Ibn Sa’d, IV, 239)
Once again, one of the Companions asked the Messenger of Allah to curse the people of Thaqif, who had given heavy losses to the believers during the siege of Taif; but, the Prophet of mercy turned to Allah and prayed:
“O Allah! Bestow guidance upon Thaqif and bring them to us.”
And as a result of this prophetic supplication, not long passed before the people of Thaqif came to the Messenger of Allah to declare their conversion. (Ibn Hisham, IV, 134)
In the Qur’an Allah the Almighty commands His Messenger to pray saying:
“…pray on their behalf. Verily your prayers are a source of security for them…” (al-Tawbah 9; 103)
In his long supplication during the farewell pilgrimage Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) asked from Allah forgiveness and mercy for his ummah.
Our Lord Almighty said:
“I have forgiven your ummah except those who oppress others and take their rights. I will take the rights of the oppressed from the oppressors.” Then the Prophet (pbuh) prayed saying:
“Dear Lord! If You want, You can forgive the oppressor and give Paradise to the oppressed because of the oppression he suffered.” The latter supplication was not accepted though. Upon which he said:
“O people! Today, Allah the Almighty has bestowed his blessings upon you and forgiven you – except the unjust amongst you.” (Ibn Hanbal, IV, 14; Ibn Majah, Manasik, 56; Haythami, III, 256)
According to a report, the Najashi’s envoy came, conveyed his greetings to the Prophet (pbuh), and told him that the Najashi had been asking for his prayers. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) performed ablution and then said thrice:
“O Allah! Forgive the Najashi.” And the believers said Ameen to his prayers. (Dhahabi, Siyar, I, 312-313)
From time to time Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said special prayers for his Companions for their goodness and high spiritual ranks. One of the best examples of these prayers is about Ukkasha (r.a.). It is reported on the authority of Imran b. Husain (r.a.) that:
“The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) said:
“Seventy thousand people of my Ummah would be admitted into Paradise without facing any questioning.” They (the Companions) said:
“Who shall those (fortunate persons) be?” He (the Holy Prophet) said:
“Those who do not cauterize, practice sorcery, and believe in bad luck, but repose their trust in their Lord,” Ukkasha (r.a.) then stood up and said:
“O Messenger of Allah! Supplicate to Allah that He should make me one of them.” He (the Holy Prophet) told him:
“You are one among them.” (Muslim, Iman, 371)
We see in the sources that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said some of his prayers in order to cleanse his Companions from spiritual illnesses. In one of his sermons, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said that:
“O People! If there is anybody who fears from himself, stand up so I can say my prayers for him.” Upon which a man stood up and said:
“O Messenger of Allah! I am stingy coward, and I sleep too much. Pray to Allah to cure my (spiritual) illnesses.” The Prophet (pbuh) prayed for him. Another man stood up and said:
“O Messenger of Allah! I am a liar, I say dirty things and do wrong things. I also sleep too much.” Allah’s Messenger prayaed for him saying:
“O Allah! Bestow on him truthfulness and maturity of faith. Take his desire to sleep away from him whenever he wants to sleep.” Then a woman stood up:
“I have such and such an illnesses. Pray for Allah to cleanse them from me.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) told her:
“Go to Aisha’s house.” And then he descended the pulpit. When he went to Aisha’s house, he placed his staff on the woman’s head and prayed for her. (Ibn Sa’d, II, 255)
The Prophet (pbuh) said many supplications for his Companions and his ummah for their purification and education. We have tried to present some of them.
 Sa’ is a weight measure which is equal to 2120 grams.