The Difference Between Advising and Condemning

Author: al-Haafidh Zayn-ud-Deen Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalee

Source: Al-Manhaj
Translator: Abu Maryam Isma’eel Alarcon

Published: Wednesday 5th August, 2015

The Manners Of Advising

And from this discussion is: when it is said to a man in his face that which he hates to hear. So if this is done with the intention of sincerely advising him, then it is good. Some of the Salaf would say to their brothers:

“Do not advise me until you tell me in my face what I hate (to hear).”

So when an individual informs his brother about a defect (found in him) in order that he may avoid it, it is good for the one being informed about one of his defects to make an excuse for it, if an excuse for it exists.

But if this advising is done with the intention of (only) blaming him due to a sin (he committed), then it is reprehensible and condemned. It was said to one of the Salaf:

“Would you love that someone inform you about your faults?”

So he replied:

“If he does so with the intention of blaming me, then no.”

So blaming and condemning someone for a sin he committed is detested. The Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), forbade that a fornicating woman be condemned, even though he commanded that she be lashed with a whip. [1] So she was whipped according to the legal limits (hudood), but she was not condemned for her sin, nor was she blamed for it.

It is reported in At-Tirmidhee [2] and other collections in marfoo' form [i.e. that the Prophet said]:


“Whosoever condemns his brother for a sin (he committed) will not die until he has committed it (i.e. the same sin) himself.”

The hadeeth is referring to a sin, of which the person who committed it has repented from. Al-Fudail (رحمه الله) said:

“The believer conceals (the sin of his brother) and advises (him), while the evildoer disgraces and condemns (him).”

This is what Al-Fudail has mentioned as being from the signs of advising and condemning - and it is that advising is linked to secrecy while condemning is linked to publicizing.

It used to be said:

“Whosoever commands his brother (towards doing good) at the head of a gathering, then he has condemned him.”

Or it is something with this meaning.

The Salaf used to hate that commanding good and forbidding evil be done in this manner. Instead, they loved that it be done privately between the one commanding and the one being commanded, for indeed, this is from the signs of sincere advice. This is since it is not the goal of the one who is advising to spread and publicize the faults of the person he is advising, rather his goal is only to put an end to the evil that he has fallen into.

As for spreading and exposing someone's faults, then that is from the things that Allaah and His Messenger, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), have forbidden. Allaah, may He be Exalted, says:


“Verily, those who love that the evil and indecent actions of those who believe should be propagated (and spread), they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allaah knows and you know not. And had it not been for the grace of Allaah and His mercy on you, (Allaah would have hastened the punishment on you) and that Allaah is full of kindness, Most Merciful.” [3]

The ahaadeeth concerning the virtue of keeping the faults of others secret are many. [4]

Some of the scholars would say to those who were commanding towards good:

“Strive hard to conceal the faults of the sinners, for indeed, exposing their faults shows a weakness in Islaam. The thing that deserves the most to be concealed is ones faults.”

It is for this reason that spreading someone’s evil and indecent actions is linked to condemning. And they are both from the affairs of the evildoer, since it is not the goal of the evildoer to put an end to the fault nor that the believer avoids that fault or defect. Rather his only goal is to spread and publicize the defects found in his believing brother, and to destroy his honor. So he initiates that and repeats it. And his intention is to belittle his believing brother by exposing his defects and bad qualities to the people so that some harm can fall upon him in this world.

But as for the person that is sincerely advising, his aim in doing that (advising) is to eradicate the faults found in his believing brother and to help him avoid it. This is what Allaah the Most High, has described His Messenger, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), with, saying:


“Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any harm or difficulty. He is anxious over you (to rid you of faults and sin), for the believers he is full of pity, kind and merciful.” [5]

And He described his, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), Companions with that, saying:


“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah. And those who are with him (i.e. his Companions) are severe with the disbelievers and merciful towards one another.” [6]

And He described the believers with the characteristics of patience and mutual advising of one another towards mercy and compassion. [77]

But what drives the evildoer to propagate (his brother’s) evil and to disgrace him is force and harshness, his love for abusing his believing brother, and (his desire) to inflict some harm upon him. These are the characteristics of the Devil – the one who beautifies disbelief, sin and disobedience to the children of Aadam so that due to it they may become amongst the dwellers of the Hellfire, as Allaah says:


“Verily, the Devil is an enemy for you, so take him as an enemy. Verily, he only calls his party (of followers) to be from amongst the dwellers of the Hellfire.” [8]

And He says, after telling us the story of Iblees (the Devil) when he was with the prophet of Allaah, Aadam, and the evil plot that he unleashed on him, such that it brought him to be cast out from Paradise:


“O Children of Aadam! Let not the Devil deceive you, as he got your parents out of Paradise, stripping them of their garments, to show them their private parts.” [9]

So what a difference there is between one whose intention it is to advise (naseehah) and one whose intention it is to disgrace (fadeehah)! And no one confuses one of these with the other, except someone who does not possess sound intellect.


[1] It is reported in Al-Bukhaaree (4/350) and Muslim (1704) on the authority of Abu Hurairah, (رضي الله عنه‎). See Sharh-us-Sunnah (10/298) of Imaam Al-Baghawee.

[2] Under no. (2507) on the authority of Mu'aadh, (رضي الله عنه‎). Ibn 'Adiyy also reported it in Al-Kaamil (6/2181), Al-Khateeb in Taareekh Baghdaad (2/339) and Az-Zabeedee added that it was also found in Ibn Abee Ad-Duniyaa's As-Samat and Al-Gheebah as well as in Al-Baghawee. There are two defects with its chain of narration. The first is that Khaalid Ibn Ma'daan never met Mu'aadh. And the second is that Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Ibn Yazeed is very weak. This has been mentioned by Adh-Dhahabee in Al-Meezaan (3/515) and he listed this hadeeth as an example. As-Saghaanee also mentioned this hadeeth in his Al-Mawdoo'aat (no. 58).

[3] Surat-un-Noor: 19-20

[4] See Fath-ul-Baaree (5/97) and Saheeh Muslim (4/1996)

[5] Surat-ut-Tawbah: 128

[6] Surat-ul-Fath: 29

[7] As is found in Allaah’s saying in Surat-ul-Balad (ayah no. 17):

“Then he became from among those who believed and recommended one another towards patience and recommended one another towards compassion.”

[8] Surah Faatir: 6

[9] Surat-ul-A’araaf: 27


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