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Correcting one’s Personal Flaws Rather than Criticizing Others

By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
In this connection, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Whoever possesses all, or at least one of the following traits, shall be under the shade of Almighty Allah’s Throne on the day when there shall be no other shade but His. (1) He gives people what he wants from them, (2) he does not move a step forward or backward unless he has been sure that this step will please Allah, and (3) he does not blame his Muslim brother for any flaw until he removes the same flaw from himself. Thus, whenever he tries to release himself of a flaw, he will find in himself another flaw that requires correction. Indeed, to be engaged in amending one’s personal flaws saves one from seeking out the flaws of others.¯1
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is also reported to have said: It is disgraceful enough to point out those flaws in people which are present in you, to discredit people for things that you yourself cannot get rid of, or to annoy the one who sits with you with things that do not concern you.¯2

Speaking Well of People
Another practical example of fair play is to speak of people the very words that you would like them to say about you, to think well of them, to take their words and deeds with the most favorable probability, and to praise and commend them.
Interpreting this holy verse: “Speak fairly to the people, (2:83)” Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: This means that you must say about people the best words that you would like to hear from them about yourselves.¯3
The abovementioned points have been a few examples of fair play.

Applications of Wrongdoing and Oppression
The Holy Legislator has defined many practical examples of wrongdoing and oppression against people, based on man’s all-inclusive concept of justice and injustice. These examples have been mentioned in the traditions reported from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). In this regard, the Holy Legislator has endued Muslims with sanctity and inviolability, the observance of which requires a special treatment in the totality of social relations. A practical application of this sanctity and inviolability requires forsaking and rejecting misbehavior and many misdeeds. The most important will be cited hereinafter:

Killing and Hurting Muslims
The chief forbidden acts in the field of wrongdoing and oppression are to murder, hurt, and terrorize Muslims even by a single word or an intentional look that reveals plotting evil against them. The same is applicable to any act that helps in committing such wrongdoings. Let us now present a set of traditions indicating this tenor.
Hisham ibn Salim has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: Allah, the Almighty and Majestic, says, “He that hurts My faithful servant must be apprised of war from Me, and he that honors My faithful servant must be secured against My wrath.”¯4
Hammad ibn ‘Uthman has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), directly or indirectly, to have said: On the Day of Resurrection, while people are stopped for the settlement of accounts, a man will approach another and stain him with his blood. The latter will ask, “O servant of Allah, what is there between you and me?” The earlier will say, “On such-and-such day, you helped others against me and I was killed because of that.”¯5
According to a validly reported tradition, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) has said: On the Day of Resurrection, a man who has never shed any blood when resurrected, will be given a glass full of blood, and told, “This is your share from the blood of so-and-so!” The man will object, “O Lord, You know for sure that You grasped my soul before I ever shed any blood.” He will be told, “No, you have. You heard some words from so-and-so and related them until they reached so-and-so who, because of it, killed that man. Therefore, this is your share in his blood that was shed.”¯6
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Whoever stares at a faithful believer in order to frighten him, Almighty Allah will frighten him on the day when there will be no shade save His.¯7

Insulting a Muslim
To insult or disappoint a faithful believer is another sort of wrongdoing.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: When the Holy Prophet (S) was ascending the heavens, he asked Almighty Allah, “O Lord, what is the prestige of the faithful believers in Your view?” The Lord replied, “O Muhammad, whoever insults any of My friends has indeed fought against Me. I am the swiftest in supporting My friends.”¯8
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Any believer who puts down his brother-in-faith while he has the ability to support him shall most certainly be disappointed by Almighty Allah in this world and the Next World.¯9

Degradation of Faithful Believers
To humiliate, despise, or belittle a faithful believer is another form of wrongdoing.
In this respect, al-Mu’alla ibn Khunays has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: Allah, the Almighty and Majestic, says, “He that hurts My faithful servant must be apprised of war from Me, and he that honors My faithful servant must be secured against My wrath.”¯10
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Indeed, my Lord made me ascend to the heavens and then revealed to me from behind the Screens what he meant to reveal. He spoke to me saying, “O Muhammad, whoever humiliates any of My friends has actually waged war against me, and whoever makes war on Me, I will make war on him.” I asked, “O Lord, who is Your friend? I now know for sure that You will wage war against him who wages war against You” The Lord said, “My friend is he from whom I had taken covenant to be loyal to you, your successor, and your descendants.”¯11
Abu-Harun has reported that he was present when Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said to a group of people who were visiting him, Why are you belittling us?
A man from Khurasan stood up and said, “God forbid it! How can we belittle you or belittle any of your affairs?”
The Imam (‘a) addressed him saying: Yes, it was. You were one of those who belittled me!
The man said, “God forbid it! How can I ever belittle you?”
The Imam (‘a) reminded: “Woe to you! Did you not hear so-and-so ask you, while we were near al-Juhfah, to carry him behind you on your riding animal for just a short distance, because he was too tired to continue walking? Nevertheless, you did not even turn your head towards him. Thus, you belittled him.”
Whoever belittles a faithful believer has actually belittled us and violated the sanctity of Almighty Allah.¯12

Imputing Dishonor to a Faithful Believer
Another example of wrongdoing is to blame and impute dishonor to a faithful believer because of his having committed a sin or an evil act. However, to forbid someone from or to advise him not to do evil with the intention of deterring him from committing a sin is quite different from blaming or imputing dishonor to him.
According to a validly reported tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said: Whoever imputes dishonor to a faithful believer because of committing a sin will not die before he commits the same sin.¯13
Whoever addresses his brother-in-faith with reprehensive words, Almighty Allah will reprehend him in this world and the Next World.¯14

Finding Fault with Faithful Believers
To run after the faults of the faithful believers in order to injure them and take advantage of these faults to expose their sanctities and ruin their personalities—is another example of wrongdoing and oppression, both of which are forbidden in Islam. Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: The situation in which a servant is remotest from Almighty Allah is when one befriends another in order to count his faults so that he can someday impute dishonor to him because of them.¯15
Ishaq ibn ‘Ammar has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) quoting the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: O assembly of those who have declared Islam with their tongues, but have not yet felt the sincerity of faith in their hearts! Do not censure the Muslims and do not run after their defects. Verily, whoever runs after their defects, Almighty Allah will run after his defect. And when Almighty Allah runs after the defects of someone, He shall certainly expose him even if he confines himself to his house.¯16

Revile and Speak Ill of Faithful Believers
To revile, curse, and speak ill of a faithful believer are examples of wrongdoings.
According to a validly reported tradition, Imam al-Kazim (‘a) said about two persons, who reviled one another, The one who began this abusive act is more responsible than the other; he is therefore answerable for his abuse and the abuse of the other person unless he apologizes to the wronged party.¯17
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: A man from the tribe of Tamim came to the Holy Prophet (S) and asked for an advice. The Holy Prophet (S) said: “Do not revile people; lest you incur their animosity.”¯18
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Verily, Almighty Allah has created the faithful believers from the greatness of His Majesty and Omnipotence. Therefore, he who speaks ill of a believer or answers him abusively will have answered Almighty Allah abusively.¯19
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have said: When a curse comes out from the mouth, it hesitates between its addressor and the addressee. If it does not find a justifiable reason to go towards the addressee, it returns to its addressor, who then becomes worthier of it. Thus, beware of cursing a faithful believer lest you will be afflicted with that curse.¯20
1. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:228, H. 1.
2. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:229, H. 3.
3. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:563, S. 21, H. 3.
4. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:587, H. 1.
5. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:615, H. 1.
6. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:615, H. 3.
7. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:614, H. 1.
8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:588, H. 1.
9. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:589, H. 9.
10. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:587, H. 1.
11. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:590, H. 2.
12. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:592, H. 1.
13. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:596, H. 1.
14. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:596, H. 4.
15. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:594, H. 1.
16. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:594, H. 3.
17. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:610, H. 1.
18. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:610, H. 2.
19. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:612, H. 5.
20. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:613, S. 160, H. 1.

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