Square gold-floral-pattern-on-transparent-background-PNG

2. Veiling Others’ Flaws

This virtue is derived from Allah’s ﷻ name “The Concealer of Sins.” (As-Sitteer)

Being characterized by this virtue involves concealing others’ sins and not exposing them to anyone. It requires staying focused on fixing our faults instead. A wise man once said, “If people ever admire you, it is thanks to Allah’s ﷻ beautiful concealing of your sins.”

It is not easy to refrain from criticizing other’s flaws and from judging people unless we train ourselves to manage our eyes, our hearts, and our tongues, and that requires continuous training and self-monitoring.

First and foremost, we need to deal with our faults instead of highlighting other people’s mistakes, for all humans have flaws. Instead of being scornful to people’s vices, we should advise and guide them in secret. That is how Prophet Muhammadﷺ reached hearts with his gracefulness, both in speech and in behavior. He never hurt anyone’s feelings or criticized any specific person openly, but he used the most merciful and gentle guidance strategies in reforming people’s conduct. If he ever criticized a behavior openly, he generalized the guidance, so he would say something like, “Why do some people do this and that?” without naming anyone in particular.

Criticizing or denouncing others means finding faults in them, while thinking of oneself as better than others. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us to refrain from looking at others’ flaws and avoid watching their conduct or expecting their slips. We should not criticize people’s looks or hurt them with our comments. Instead, we have to focus on our behavior and purify our hearts because whatever virtue we have is a gift from Allah ﷻ. Knowledge, education, grace, and charm are all examples of Allah’s givings, which we take no credit for. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: ﴾A Muslim is a brother to (another) Muslim, he neither oppresses him nor does he hand him over to one who does him wrong. If anyone fulfills his brother’s needs, Allah ﷻ will fulfill his need; if anyone relieves a Muslim of his troubles, Allah ﷻ will relieve his troubles on the Day of Judgment; and if whoever covers up [the sins of] a Muslim, Allah will cover him up (his sins) on the Day of Judgment﴿(1)

We are all full of flaws, so why do we not get busy improving ourselves instead of searching for others’ faults and criticizing them? Unfortunately, judging and ridiculing others have become so widespread that we are now in desperate need of the virtue of concealing people’s faults. Thankfully, Allah ﷻ beautifully rewards this virtue. When we veil others’ flaws, Allah veils ours-both in this world and the hereafter-because the reward is of the same kind as our actions. When we veil others, we do that by controlling both our tongues and our hearts, so we should neither talk about people’s flaws in public, especially on social media, nor mock their mistakes. Instead, we should advise them in secret if we can. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: ﴾The faith of a worshipper is not upright until his heart is upright, and his heart is not upright until his tongue is upright. ﴿(3)

One of the most significant signs of faith is saying kind words. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: ﴾He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must speak good or remain silent. ﴿(4) Everything that we utter will, on the Day of Judgement, witness for us (for saying kind words) or against us (for saying bad words). However, it is not easy to be watchful for every word we say, so we need to train ourselves to say nothing but good words at all times. It will then become a habit to refrain from observing people. This helps us do what Allah ﷻ loves us to do, so we stop judging people even if this judging is only in our hearts. It will also help us to get ourselves busy because busy people do not have time to scrutinize others’ things or actions. Busy people are rather focused, working on improving their character or their life. They are occupied, trying to fix their faults instead of hunting others’ slips.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ warned us of the consequences of judging and criticizing others. We learned from him that, sooner or later, Allah makes us commit the same mistake that we condemn in others. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: ﴾Whoever shames his brother for a sin will commit this (same) sin before he dies﴿(5) He also warned us, ﴾Do not express pleasure at the misfortune of a (Muslim) brother, for Allah may show mercy upon him (by relieving him of this misfortune) and afflict you with it.﴿(6)

It is a curious thing how we take pride in blessings that are given to us by Allah, and it is similarly interesting how these blessings make us feel superior to others. On the contrary, we should constantly remember to attribute our blessings and virtues to their source, Allah. In other words, we need to keep in mind that the only reason we did not commit a particular sin is due to Allah’s mercy. Therefore, we need to repeatedly thank Him and say, “Thanks to Allah, who kept that sin away from me” and “Thanks to Allah, who has saved me from this calamity and favored me among many others of His creatures.” At the same time, let us find excuses for others when they make mistakes. By doing this, we acquire the virtue of concealing others’ flaws and we learn to lay aside the “I” as in “I am better, I am more knowledgeable, or I would never do what he did.”

The best way to get rid of condemning others is to start the habit of helping them by giving them advice or guiding them. We can use the gift given to us by Allah ﷻ to help others with it, and we complement each other so that each one of us teaches someone to become a better version of himself. The result will be a healthy society, where the rich aid the poor, the educated teach the ignorant, and the skillful mentor the deprived. It would be such a prosperous society if people helped others improve in all life matters instead of condemning them. Guiding others to the proper practice instead of criticizing them results in a win-win situation.

Our best bet is to raise our children so that they become active citizens in society by being aware of their own mistakes and trying to develop themselves on the one hand and by helping others become better citizens on the other hand. Moreover, since modeling is the best way to teach children something, we should set good examples by acknowledging the merits of others rather than their demerits. That would be a significant step to help stop major social phenomena such as bullying, for example. Allah ﷻ says: ﴾O you who have believed, no people shall mock [other] people, for they may be better than them. Nor shall any women mock [other] women, for they may be better than them. Nor shall you insult one another, nor call each other by offensive nicknames. How miserable is the one who becomes [named] sinful after being faithful, and those who do not repent have wronged themselves﴿(9) Unfortunately, the circulation of certain jokes that make fun of other people has become not only accepted by our societies, but was also made wildly popular by social media. The devil beautifies this sin by whispering to us that it is only for entertainment. However, it is not a kind of entertainment to neglect people’s feelings and humiliate them, and the best remedy to this vice is to train ourselves to say only positive things about others. When we know that our words dictate our destiny in this world and the hereafter, perhaps we become more careful when we open our mouths. Every act of worship and obedience that we do remains in our name unless we harm others. The last part of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ Hadith affirms this fact. He said to Muadh: ﴾The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is the prayer, and its peak is jihad.” Then he ﷺ said, “Shall I not tell you of the foundation of all of that?” Muadh said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” So, he took hold of his tongue and said, “Restrain this.” Muadh said, “O Prophet of Allah, will we be taken to account for what we say with it?” He ﷺ said, “May your mother be bereaved of you, O Muadh! Is there anything that throws people into the Hellfire upon their faces except the harvests of their tongues?” (10) Therefore, the main reason behind people’s going to hell is their tongues. This is a warning that no matter how much we pray and fast or give to charity, all our good deeds will be transferred to people we backbite.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ explains to us the gravity of this vice. He said: ﴾Do you know who is the bankrupt?” They said, “The bankrupt among us is one who has neither money with him nor any property.” He said, “The real bankrupt of my Ummah would be he who would come on the Day of Judgment with prayer, fast, and charity, but he will find himself bankrupt on that day as he will have exhausted the good deeds because he reviled others, slandered others, unlawfully devoured the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and beat others; so his good deeds would be credited to the account of those who suffered at his hand. If his good deeds fall short to clear the account, their sins would be entered in his account and he would be thrown in the Hell﴿(11)

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: ﴾The Muslim is the brother to the Muslim; he does not cheat him, lie to him, nor deceive him. It is forbidden for a Muslim to violate another Muslim’s honor, wealth, and blood. Piety is here [in the heart]. It is evil for a man to belittle his Muslim brother﴿(12)

Our best practice would be to watch our hearts and tongues and train ourselves to avoid scorning or disdaining others even in our gazes, which could be louder than the spoken words.

A Story from the Life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
It was known that when Prophet Muhammad ﷺ disliked a meal, he never criticized it. He would just not eat it. His unique gracefulness was exhibited even in expressing his taste in food. Abu Huraira said: ﴾Prophet Muhammad ﷺ never criticized food which was served to him; if he liked it, he ate from it, and if he didn’t like it, he simply left it﴿(13)

1.Sahih Al-Bukhari 2422.
2.At-Tirmidhi 1930.
3.Musnad Ahmad 13048.
4.Sahih Al-Bukhari 6475.
5.At-Tirmidhi 2505.
6.At-Tirmidhi 2506.
7.Jami’ Al-Uloom wal-Hikam Al-Arna’ut.
8.Surah Ar-Ra’d : 11.
9.Surah Al-Hujurat : 11.
10.Mustadrak Al-Hakim 3548.
11.At-Tirmidhi 2418.
12.Riyad As-Salihin 234.
13.Sahih Al-Bukhari 3370.

ADAPTED FROM:  Revive Your Heart with 52 Prophetic Ethics