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Chapter 5. Whoever Conceals (the Faults Of) A Muslim, Allah Will Conceal Him In This Life And The Hereafter

This is another point that many of the texts have come with similar meanings. Ibn Maajah recorded a Hadith from Ibn Abbas  that the Prophet said:


“Whoever conceals the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah will conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection. And whoever exposes the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah will expose his faults even by revealing those he committed in (the privacy of) his home.”


It is reported that some of the Salaf said something similar to: “I have met people free of shameful faults but they began to mention the faults of others, so the people began discovering their faults. And I met people who had faults, yet they used to conceal other people’s faults, so their own faults were forgotten.”


The Hadith of Abu Barzah  supports this in that the Prophet  said:


“Oh you who have believed with their tongues yet faith has not entered their hearts! Do not back-bite the Muslims, and do not seek to discover their faults, for whoever seeks after their faults, Allah will seek his faults. And if Allah seeks after someone’s faults, He will expose him even (what he committed) in his home.”


Imam at-Tirmidhee collected a Hadith with a similar meaning from Ibn Umar.


And know that people or are two types:


1. Those whose faults are concealed; nothing of their sins are known. If they make a mistake or error, it is not permissible to reveal or expose it or even speak about it. That would be the forbidden type of back-biting that has been condemned in the texts. And regarding this, Allah said:


“Indeed, those who like that immorality should spread and publicized among those who believed, there will be for them a painful punishment in this world and in the hereafter.” [Surah an-Noor, 24:19]


This spreading and publicizing of such immorality from a believer could be regarding something he actually did or something that a person is wrongly accused of while being innocent of it, such as the case with the story of the lie against Aishah, the wife of the Prophet.


Some of the righteous officials used to instruct those who enjoin the good upon people saying, “Try to conceal the sinners, for publicizing their sins is a means of showing the faults of the people of Islam. And the most important of matters is to conceal the faults.”


Likewise, if a remorseful person comes repenting and admitting his crime, he is not to be exposed or inquired about. Rather, he is ordered to return and conceal his affair as the Prophet  instructed Maa’iz and the Ghaamidee woman.


Maa’iz Ibn Maalik  came to the Prophet  and said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, purify me (by establishing the prescribed punishment upon me).” He  replied:


“Woe to you. Seek forgiveness from Allah and repent to Him.”


He then returned and later came back and said the same thing to which the Prophet  kept saying:


“Woe to you. Seek forgiveness from Allah and repent to Him.”


On the fourth time, he  asked him:


“For what should I purify you?”


Maa’iz said, “For committing adultery.”


So Allah’s Messenger  asked:


“Is there madness in him”? He was informed that the man is not crazy. He further asked:


“Did he drink alcohol?” A man stood up to him but did not find the smell of alcohol from him. Allah’s Messenger  asked him:


“Did you (really) commit adultery?”


He replied, “Yes.” He  then instructed that he be stoned. So the people differed amongst themselves about him into two factions: one saying, “He is destroyed! His deeds are nullified.” And another group saying, “And what repentance could be better than the repentance of Maa’iz? He came (willingly) to the Prophet , put his hand in his hand, and said, ‘Kill me by the stone.’” So they remained in that state for two or three days. Then the Messenger of Allah  came while they were sitting and he greeted them and sat. The Prophet said:


“Ask for forgiveness for Maa’iz Ibn Maalik.”


So they said, “May Allah forgive Maa’iz Ibn Maalik.” Allah’s Messenger  then said:


“He repented with such repentance that if it were divided among the entire nation, it would encompass them all.”


The Prophet also did not inquire into the affair of the one who came to him saying, “I transgressed the prescribed limit, so establish the punishment upon me.”


In the same way, if such a person were to be taken to account for his crime yet the news of which had not reached the leader, then intercession should be made on his part so that he would not inform the leader.


Similarly, there has come a Hadith in which the Prophet said:


“Pardon those of prestigious character of their faults except the prescribed punishments.”


2. The second type of people with respect to sins are those who are well-known for their sins, those who openly and publicly commit them. They are not concerned at all with the sins they commit, nor with what is said about them. These are the wicked ones who display their sins. Such people do not have the honour of the people refraining from back-biting them as has been reported from al-Hasan al-Basri and others. Regarding these people, there is no problem with inquiring about their affairs in order to establish the prescribed rulings against them. Some of our companions have explicitly stated this, using as evidence the statement of the Prophet  to Unays


“Go in the morning, Unays, to the wife of this man (she was accused of adultery) and if she confesses, stone her.”


Also, regarding this type of people, intercession is not to be made on their behalf when taken to account even if the news has not reached the leader. Rather, they are left to have the prescribed penalties pronounced upon them so that their crime is known as a deterrent to others like them.


Malik said, “Whoever is not known for harming the people, yet may have made some errors or mistakes, then there is no problem with interceding and pleading on their behalf as long as their crimes have not already been conveyed to the leader. As for those who are known for their evil and corruption, I do not like that anyone should intercede or argue on their behalf; rather they are left to have the sentences carried out upon them.” Ibn al- Mundhir and others have reported this.


Imam Ahmad also disliked that crimes should be raised up to the attention of the authorities in every circumstance because often they would not carry out the prescribed punishments as they should. For this he said, “If you know that the ruling will be (correctly) pronounced upon a person, then raise the matter (to the attention of the leaders).” It was mentioned that some people beat a man (as a punishment for a crime) until he died, while killing him was not permissible. If only the person would have repented from the first offense, it would be better for him in that he repents for something between him and Allah, thereby concealing his sin. As for a second offense, some people are of the opinion he should do the same. Still, others have said that even upon the first offense, he should come to the leader and confess against himself in what requires a prescribed punishment so that he may be purified (of his crime).