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7 Prophetic Strategies for Correcting Mistakes.

TEHRAN (FNA)- Mistakes are the consequences of being human. They help us to know and rebuild ourselves so to learn and grow wiser. Mistakes can be catalysts of self-improvement and reminders of our imperfections. Still, we tend to interpret mistakes more as disaster than opportunity.

Prophet Mohammad, the Messenger of God (may the peace and blessings of the Lord be upon him) and the most brilliant educator of humanity, approached mistakes not as cause for shame, but as teachable moments. Even though the Prophet taught his companions to strive for excellence and conquer their flaws, mistakes were inevitably made, some minor and some very serious. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) corrected people's missteps with gentleness, empathy, and creativity. He used mistakes as opportunities to empower people, not break them.

Studying Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)'s example gives us insight on how to help people in their moments of error. In this part we discuss lessons that highlight some aspects of how Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) mended mistakes:

Address the mistakes

Because mistakes make us uncomfortable, we may ignore them or think they are not our business. The Prophet (PBUH) did not leave mistakes to stand on their own without guiding people towards a solution. He was sincere toward his companions, and at the center of his attitude toward mistakes was a deep love and compassion. He may have chosen to correct a mistake discreetly, delay his reaction, or withhold a response, but he did so with the individual's best interest in mind.

Sometimes, the Prophet did not even have to use words to correct a mistake. He once left his companions to express disapproval of an action. A change in his posture would indicate to his companions that something was not right. When a mistake was truly grave, hewould emphasize his words and repeat them several times.

Be gentle

The Prophet was extremely perceptive toward the people around him. He knew when someone was sensitive or vulnerable, and he often approached mistakes with utmost gentleness.

Connect people with Allah

Sometimes, we are mortified by the social embarrassment mistakes cause when they really may not be so serious in the sight of Allah. Or we overlook mistakes because we've got used to them and have made so many excuses. But it might be that those mistakes turn out to be mountains in the hereafter. With the remembrance of Allah, we gain a better perspective on our mistakes.

Don't go looking for mistakes

The Prophet (peace and blessings of the Lord be upon him) often used his role as leader and community educator to correct mistakes for the benefit of all listeners, but in a discreet way that hid the identities of involved parties. He would say, "What of people who commit such an action-" This way, he generally warned people of pitfalls while discreetly alerting the people involved in the mistake to repent and rectify their wrongdoing.

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) forbade gossip and backbiting, and rejected any broadcast of people's mistakes. He asked people not to report anything negative about the companions to him. The Prophet accepted people's words for what they were, and did not probe to uncover hidden flaws. He did not put people under a magnifying glass and guess at their motives. We should avoid searching out people's mistakes in order to uncover more and greater faults. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said "Whoever searches out the shortcomings of others, Allah will search out his shortcomings."

Be Strategic

We cannot read about the gentleness and empathy of the Prophet without also noticing his astuteness in helping people move forward. He weighed priorities, prescribed solutions to people's problems, and knew when to be forceful and when to be soft. He knew when people had the strength to bear the consequences of their mistakes and when there were other priorities to consider.

By following the Prophet's footsteps, we can discern the best way to treat underlying problems that lead to mistakes.

Use firmness when appropriate

Gentleness is beautiful, but firmness can sometimes be more effective in prompting personal reform and purification. The Prophet knew when to be firm, and when to be soft. When two companions had been backbiting, the Prophet responded with formidable words, warning them that they had eaten the flesh of their brother to the point that it could be seen between their teeth. When they asked the Prophet for forgiveness, he ordered them to ask their brother for forgiveness instead.

On another occasion, the mistake was a simple one hardly needing words, only a gentle nudge.

"And [there are] others who have acknowledged their sins. They had mixed a righteous deed with another that was bad. Perhaps Allah will turn to them in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." (At-Tawbah 9:102)

Spare people's dignity

When correcting mistakes, we must be respectful and sensitive to people's sense of dignity. There is no room for mocking or belittling. The Prophet criticized mistakes without condemning the person.

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) once said,

"All human beings make mistakes often. The best of those who make mistakes often are those who repent [to Allah]."

Can you imagine what it would be like to have your mistakes and shortcomings corrected and shaped with the guiding hand of the Prophet (PBUH)? Would he be gentle, or firm, and what priorities would he consider? What would it feel like to have his attention, and to be looked upon with eyes overwhelmed with mercy? If we adopt just some of his amazing techniques in mending the mistakes of people, we will become better teachers and better callers to Allah.

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Publication:FARS News Agency
Date:Aug 5, 2015
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