Understanding The Prophet's Life
From Issue: 982 [Read full issue]
When one's knowledge and awareness increase, he will find himself in situations in which he becomes involved in many social matters and starts to learn about people's secrets, faults, and problems. This happens when he is consulted about a problem or becomes an arbitrator in certain disputes at the level of the individual, family, or society. Another source of knowledge is experience and insight that one gains over time; this allows one to judge people's nature and real character based on their outward appearance and what is between the lines of their speech or writing.
Learning people's secrets and their weaknesses is a form of power over them. A believer who happens to learn people's secrets should also learn how to deal with them.
First, one should not feel that he is authorised by God to act as a judge or have any illusion that he is on a great mission to establish justice based on the secrets he came to know.
Second, one must have heavenly mercy on others involved in the secrets. Heavenly mercy requires that one should not reveal people's faults. God is the One who conceals people's faults. A man called Maiz came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) confessing that he committed adultery. Hazzal, the Companion, said: "I saw him and ordered him to confess." The Prophet then said, "It would have been better for you if you had covered him with your robe, Hazzal." [Abu Dawud]
It is a major sin to reveal people's faults or use their faults against them. The Prophet is reported to have said: "A believer who conceals the faults of others in this world, God will conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection." [Muslim]
"A Journey to God: Reflections on the Hikam of Ibn Ataillah" - Jasser Auda