Fault Finding

By Bashir Orchard (rahmat Allah ‘alayh), Guide Posts

There is a difference between finding fault and constructive criticism.  No doubt drawing the attention of another to a fault in aid of his betterment is a meritorious act providing he is approached in a proper manner.  Here however attention is being drawn to those persons who find fault for the sake of fault-finding.  It is they who should not throw stones in glass houses and bear in mind the words of Jesus:

“Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considered not the beam that is in thy own eye?” (Mathew 7.3)

On this matter God says in the Holy Quran:

“Oh ye who believe!  Let not one people deride another people, haply they may be better than they, nor let one group of women deride another group of women, haply they may be better than they.” (49:12)

Gossip is a very common fault.  It would not be so bad if we speak of people in a charitable manner, but often we do not.  Our eyes and ears are keener to pick out blemishes than features of beauty, and our tongues like to talk of other’s shortcomings.  The Holy Quran instructs us not to be censorious and adversely critical of others.  God commands:

”Oh ye who believe!  avoid much suspicion, for suspicion in some cases is a sin.  And spy not on one another, neither backbite on one another.” (49:13)

Nobody likes to be the subject of unkind fault-finding and censorious criticsim.  We like to be judged fairly.  We like others to show charity and forebearence in our shortcomings.  That being so we should show charitable forebearence in our attitude towards them.  We would resent and abhor unfair and unkind fault-finding levelled at us.

It is strange how unaware we may be of our own faults and yet how clearly we see those of other people.  We see a speck in the eye of another while being apparantly oblivious of a large beam in our own eye.  We observe and criticise the smallest fault in another while a much greater fault lies in us.  We have been well advised:

In speaking of a persons faults

Pray don’t forget your own.

Remember that those with homes of glass

Should seldom throw a stone.

If we have nothing else to do

Than talk of those who sin,

Its better to commence at home

And from that point begin.

It is a fact that those who talk about the faults of other usually have far greater faults in themselves.  This truth should make us extremely careful before voicing the faults of others.  We would do far better to speak well of them and remain silent regarding their faults.  The Holy Prophet of Islam (saw) said:

“Do you know what backbiting is?  He was answered:  Allah and His Messenger know best.  He said:  Your saying of your brother that which he would dislike.  Someone said:  But if my brother should say I say?  The Holy Prophet(saw) said:  If he should be as you say then you have been guilty of backbiting and if he should not be as you say you are guilty of calumny.”

We should be so attentive to improving ourselves that we have no time to backbite, fault-fighting and criticise others.  If we want to enjoy the sweet peace of God within ourselves then we should strive to keep our minds free of all bitter criticism.


3 thoughts on “Fault Finding

  1. I think the answer to your question is in the hadith quoted by the author. “[Backbiting is]… Your saying of your brother that which he would dislike.”

    I don’t think a brother/sister would dislike you speaking positively of their spiritual attribute with good intention, particularly if it is done in order to promote that positive attribute in others. After all don’t all the ahadith exist for just that reason?

    As far as positive worldly attributes go, I’d like to think we should all use them as tools to try get closer to Allah, and/or received them as a reward from Allah. Trying to express that link might help make every positive worldy attribute associated to a positive spiritual attribute.

  2. Salam Hajjah07. I get a completely different meaning from that sentence, but that’s ok. The Prophet salAllahu alaihe wa sallam stated that diffrence of opinion in my ummah is a mercy.

    To my understanding it is implying that when something becomes so natural and common that it doesn’t seem like such a bad thing anymore – i.e. gossiping and back-biting is such a natural thing for us that it doesn’t seem like such a big sin. The sentence to me is saying that obviously speaking of someone in a charitable manner is undoubtedly better than speaking of one in a negative manner – which would constitute as back – biting etc. So why not stick to the former as opposed to the latter.

    Husn al-zan is the way to go – thinking good of others and having a good opinion of them and not doubting them – I am quite certain that was the author’s intention.


    Allah knows best.

  3. “It would not be so bad if we speak of people in a charitable manner, but often we do not.”

    This sentence is interesting. Do you think the author meant to imply it is still bad if we speak of people in a charitable manner? Does it still constitute ‘back-biting’ if one speaks of another positively? I have come across two types of comments in this regard:

    1) Speaking positively of someone’s worldly attributes e.g. XX has a nice house; YY has a beautiful voice

    2) Speaking positively of someone’s spiritual attributes e.g. XX pays a lot of charity; YY is always regular in tahajjud

    I’ve always thought it a bit dangerous to even speak charitably about others (particularly in scenario 1), as it can lead to fault-finding and back-biting. It’d be interesting to know what others think, and what scholars in the past may have said regarding this?

    Sorry to go a bit off on a bit of a tangent, but that sentence really made me stop and think!

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