it may be the case that not all of what a person says or does is wrong, so it is wise to limit our denunciation only to that which is wrong, and not to generalize by condemning everything that is said or done as being wrong. this is indicated in the report narrated by al-bukhaari (may allaah have mercy on him) in his saheeh from al-rubay’ bint mu’awwadh ibn ‘afraa’, who said:
“the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) came and entered, and sat down on my bed the way you sat down. some young girls of ours began beating on the daff (hand-drum) and singing songs eulogizing those of our forefathers who had been killed at badr. then one of them said, ‘among us there is a prophet who knows the future.’ he [the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him)] said: ‘do not say that; say what you were saying before.’” (fath, 5147). according to a report narrated by al-tirmidhi: “… the messenger of allaah (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said to her: ‘do not say this; say what you were saying before.’” (abu ‘eesa said: this is a saheeh hasan hadeeth. sunan al-tirmidhi, shaakir edn., 1090). according to a report narrated by ibn maajah, he said: “do not say this; no one knows the future except allaah.” (sunan ibn maajah, ‘abd al-baaqi edn., no. 1879. classed as saheeh by al-albaani in saheeh sunan ibn maajah, no. 1539).
there is no doubt that this kind of treatment makes the person feel that the one who is striving to point out mistakes and correct them is fair and just, and this makes him more likely to accept his advice. this is in contrast to some of those who want to denounce errors, but get so angry with the mistake committed that they go to extremes in their denunciation and condemn everything done and said by the one who has made the mistake, good and bad alike. this makes the person reject what they say and refuse to follow their advice.
in some cases, the mistake consists not of the words themselves, but the occasion or context in which they are uttered. for example, when somebody dies, one person may say, “al-faatihah,” and everyone present will recite it. they believe that there is nothing wrong with this because what they are reciting is qur`aan, not words of kufr. it has to be explained to them that what is wrong with this action is thinking that we should recite al-faatihah on such occasions as an act of worship without any shar'i evidence for doing so, which is the essence of bid’ah. this is what ibn ‘umar (may allaah be pleased with him) pointed out to a man who sneezed beside him and said, “al-hamdu lillaahi wa’l-salaam ‘ala rasool- illaah (praise be to allaah and peace be upon the messenger of allaah).” ibn ‘umar said, “i could say ‘al-hamdu lillaahi wa’l-salaam ‘ala rasool- illaah’, but this is not how the messenger of allaah (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) taught us. he taught us to say ‘al-hamdu lillaahi ‘ala kulli haal (praise be to allaah whatever the circumstances).” (sunan al-tirmidhi, no. 2738).