The difference between sincere advising and shaming: Ibn Rajab

al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, in his monograph al-Farq bain al-Naseehah w’al-Ta’eer, devotes one section to the topic of “On the Difference between advising about one’s short-comings in order to return from that, and rebuking and scolding for one’s sins.” It reads as follows:

ومن هذا الباب أن يقال للرجل في وجهه ما يكرهه فإن كان هذا على وجه النصح فهو حسن وقد قال بعض السلف لبعض إخوانه: لا تنصحني حتى تقول في وجهي ما أكره.

And from this is that one would tell a man something that he disliked to his face, and if that was with the purpose of sincerely advising him, then that is good. And one of the Salaf said to his brother, “Do not advise me until you can say something to my face which I dislike.”

فإذا أخبر أحد أخاه بعيب ليجتنبه كان ذلك حسناً لمن أُخبر بعيب من عيوبه أن يعتذر منها إن كان له منها عذر وإن كان ذلك على وجه التوبيخ بالذنب فهو قبح مذموم.

Then if one of his brothers informs him of a short-coming in order for him to avoid it, then that is good for the one who was informed of one of his short-comings so that he can be wary of it, if it served as a warning for him. And if that [advising] was with the purpose of rebuking him for his sin, then that is distasteful and blameworthy.

وقيل لبعض السلف: أتحبُّ أن يخبرك أحد بعيوبك؟ فقال: إن كان يريد أن يوبخني فلا.

And it was said to one of the salaf, “Would you like for someone to inform you of your short-comings?” So he replied, “If he wanted to reprimand me, then no.”

فالتوبيخ والتعيير بالذنب مذموم وقد نهى النبي ﷺ أن تُثَرَّبَ الأمة الزانية مع أمره بجلدها فتجلد حداً ولا تعير بالذنب ولا توبخ به.

So reprimanding and shaming for sins is blameworthy. And the Prophet (ﷺ) prohibited one to blame a slave-woman who commits zinaa (illegal sexual intercourse) with simultaneously commanding him to whip her. So she would be lashed according to the hadd (prescribed punishment) and not shamed for the sin nor reprimanded for it. [see al-Bukhari #2152 and Muslim #1703]

وفي الترمذي وغيره مرفوعًا: { من عيَّر أخاه بذنب لم يمت حتى يعمله } . وحُمل ذلك على الذنب الذي تاب منه صاحبه. قال الفضيل: المؤمن يستر وينصح والفاجر يهتك ويُعيِّر.

And in al-Tirmidhi and others as a marfoo’ hadeeth, “Whoever shames his brother for a sin, he shall not die until he himself commits it” [al-Tirmidhi #2505, da’eef]. And this is referring to a sin from which its doer has repented. And al-Fudhail said, “The mu’min conceals and sincerely advises while the faajir [one who habitually trespass the limits] disgraces and shames.”

فهذا الذي ذكره الفضيل من علامات النصح والتعيير، وهو أن النصح يقترن به الستر والتعيير يقترن به الإعلان . وكان يقال: (من أمر أخاه على رؤوس الملأ فقد عيَّره) أو بهذا المعنى.

And in that which al-Fudhail mentioned are the signs of sincere advising and shaming, and that is that sincere advising is conjoined with concealment while shaming is conjoined with open broadcasting. And he said, “whoever commands his brother with an attitude, then he has scolded him,” or something of the same meaning.

وكان السلف يكرهون الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر على هذا الوجه ويحبون أن يكون سراً فيما بين الآمر والمأمور فإن هذا من علامات النصح فإن الناصح ليس له غرض في إشاعة عيوب من ينصح له وإنما غرضه إزالة المفسدة التي وقع فيها. وأما إشاعة وإظهار العيوب فهو مما حرمه الله ورسوله قال الله تعالى: { نَّ الَّذِينَ يُحِبُّونَ أَن تَشِيعَ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَ‌ةِ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ  وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَ‌حْمَتُهُ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ رَ‌ءُوفٌ رَّ‌حِيمٌ } (النور:19) والأحاديث في فضل السر كثيرةٌ جدَّاً.

And the salaf disliked to command good and forbid evil in this way [i.e. with shaming and re-probation], and they loved to be discrete about what went on between the enjoiner of good and the one being enjoined, for verily this is one of the signs of sincere advising. For verily it is not the purpose of the sincere adviser to broadcast the short-coming of the one whom he is advising, and verily his purpose is only to remove the corruption which has occurred in him. And as for broadcasting and manifesting the short-coming, then this is part of what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden. Allah the Exalted said:

Indeed, those who like that immorality should be publicized among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know. And if it had not been for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy… and because Allah is Kind and Merciful. [24:19-20]

And there is a great abundance of ahaadeeth on the virtue concealing [the short-comings of others].

وقال بعض العلماء لمن يأمر بالمعروف: واجتهد أن تستر العصاة فإن ظهور عوراتهم وَهَنٌ في الإسلام ، وأحقُّ شيء بالستر: العورة.

And one of the ‘ulamaa’ said to one who enjoined the good, “Strive to conceal the acts of disobedience, for verily revealing the ‘awrahs of others is a cause of weakness in Islam, and the thing which has the most right to be concealed is the ‘awrah.”

فلهذا كان إشاعة الفاحشة مقترنة بالتعيير وهما من خصال الفجار لأن الفاجر لا غرض له في زوال المفاسد ولا في اجتناب المؤمن للنقائص والمعايب إنما غرضه في مجرد إشاعة العيب في أخيه المؤمن وهتك عرضه فهو يعيد ذلك ويبديه ومقصوده تنقص أخيه المؤمن في إظهار عيوبه ومساويه للناس ليُدخل عليه الضرر في الدنيا.

So in this light the broadcasting of al-Faahishah (immorality) is conjoined with shaming, and these are both from the characteristics of the faajir because the goal of the faajir is neither to remove the corruption nor to aid the mu’min in avoiding his short-coming or deficiencies; his only purpose is purely and simply in the broadcasting of the short-comings of his believing brother

وأما الناصح فغرضُه بذلك إزالة عيب أخيه المؤمن واجتنابه له وبذلك وصف الله تعالى رسوله  فقال: {  لَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَ‌سُولٌ مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِ‌يصٌ عَلَيْكُم بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَ‌ءُوفٌ رَّ‌حِيمٌ  } (التوبة:128) ووصف بذلك أصحابه فقال: { مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّ‌سُولُ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ‌ رُ‌حَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ }  (الفتح:29).

And as for the sincere adviser, it is his goal to remove the shortcoming of his brother and to aid him in avoiding it. And Allah has described his Messenger with that when He said, “There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful” [9:128], and He describes his companions with that when He said, “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves” [48:29].

ووصف المؤمنين بالتواصي بالصبر والتواصي بالمرحمة.

And He described the mu’minoon with mutually enjoining al-sabr and mutually enjoining compassion [see 90:17].

وأما الحامل للفاجر على إشاعة السوء وهتكه فهو القسوة والغلظة ومحبة إيذاء أخيه المؤمن وإدخال الضرر عليه وهذه صفة الشيطان الذي يزيِّن لبني آدم الكفر والفسوق والعصيان ليصيروا بذلك من أهل النيران كما قال الله: { إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ فَاتَّخِذُوهُ عَدُوًّا } (فاطر:6).

And as for the motivating factor of the faajir for broadcasting the evil of others and and exposing them, then it is harshness, cruelty, and his love of abusing his believing brothers and bringing harm upon them. And this is from the characteristics of the shaytaan, who beautified kufr, evil and disobedience to the prophet Adam in order that he might thereby become one of the people of the flames, as Allah said, “Indeed, Shaytaan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy [He only invites his party to be among the companions of the Blaze]” [35:6]

وقال بعد أن قص علينا قصته مع نبي الله آدم عليه السلام ومكرَه به حتى توصل إلى إخراجه من الجنة: {  يَنزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِ‌يَهُمَا سَوْآتِهِمَا } (الأعراف: من الآية 27).

And then He narrated to us the story of the Shaytaan‘s plotting against the prophet of Allah Adam (‘alaihis salaam), hoping it would lead to his expulsion from al-Jannah, “stripping them of their clothing to show them their private parts.” [7:27]

فشتان بين من قصده النصيحة وبين من قصده الفضيحة ولا تلتبس إحداهما بالأخرى إلا على من ليس من ذوي العقول الصحيحة.

So what a great contrast there is between the goal of sincere advising and the goal of shaming, such that one could not mistake one for the other, except by one who does not posses a sound intellect.

[Majmoo’a al-Rasaa’il li-ibn Rajab al-Hanbali 2/410-412]

It is the sincere hope of this translator that this article will inspire the reader to purify their intentions while advising others and to rectify their actions while doing so, and not to use this information merely to find fault in the advising of others. JazaakumAllaahu khairan ya ikhwaan wa akhawaat.

Also from Ibn Rajab: Love for your brother what you love for yourself

See also: When he leaves the sin, then he is still my brother

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “The difference between sincere advising and shaming: Ibn Rajab

  1. Pingback: Love for your brother what you love for yourself | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: When he leaves the sin, then he is still my brother | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: “O you who believe, avoid much suspicion…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.