Chapter 28: Covering Faults of the Muslims
allah, the exalted, says:
"verily, those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the hereafter.'' (24:19)
240. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "allah will cover up on the day of resurrection the defects (faults) of the one who covers up the faults of the others in this world".
commentary: covering up the shortcomings and faults of people is an excellent manner. that is why this quality is very much liked by almighty allah. on the day of resurrection, allah will give a matching reward to that man who has such a quality, which means that allah will forgive his sins and will not call him to account for his sins. if at all he will do so, he will not do it publicly so that he is not embarrased before others. then allah may forgive him or send him to hell for a short while.
241. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "every one of my followers will be forgiven except those who expose (openly) their wrongdoings. an example of this is that of a man who commits a sin at night which allah has covered for him, and in the morning, he would say (to people): "i committed such and such sin last night,' while allah had kept it a secret. during the night allah has covered it up but in the morning he tears up the cover provided by allah himself.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: we learn from this hadith that commission of a sin due to human frailties on which one is ashamed but does not like to express is something which might hopefully be forgiven by allah. in fact, its remission after penitence is almost sure. but to commit a sin openly is totally different because, firstly, the heart of such a person is deprived of the fear of allah. secondly, he has no respect and regard for divine injunctions. thirdly, such a person usually does not repent his sins. fourthly, he makes a declaration of breach of divine injunctions which amounts to inviting his wrath and punishment.
242. abu hurairah (may allah bepleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "when a slave-girl commits fornication and this fact of fornication has become evident, she must be given the penalty of (fifty) lashes without hurling reproaches at her; if she does it again, she must be given the penalty but she should not be rebuked. if she does it for the third time, he should sell her, even for a rope woven from hair (i.e., something worthless)".
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: if a slave-girl is guilty of fornication, she is liable to a punishment of fifty stripes, and this punishment can be given by her master. this hadith is, in fact addressed to the master of such a slave-girl. the order that one should not censure and reproach her is perhaps based on the consideration that she may abstain from such a sin in future because politeness often proves more effective than reproach. if politeness proves ineffective and she commits that sin again then that slave-girl should be sold for cheap.
243. abu hurairah (may allah bepleased with him) reported: a man who had drunk wine was brought to the prophet (pbuh) and he asked us to beat him; some struck him with their hands, some with their garments (making a whip) and some with their sandals. when he (the drunkard) had gone, some of the people said: "may allah disgrace you!'' he (the prophet (pbuh)) said, "do not say so. do not help the devil against him".
commentary: to imprecate a muslim virtually amounts to helping satan against him, because the latter is avowed to mislead people and to expose man to humiliation in this world and the hereafter. such people who believe that no hadd punishment is fixed for drinking take support from this hadith. they hold that its punishment is discretionary which can be increased or decreased according to the circumstances. but other learned men who hold that its hadd is forty stripes argue that the incident quoted in this hadith relates to the period when its hadd had not been fixed. when the prophet (pbuh) ordered the punishment of forty stripes for it then it became its prescribed hadd. abu bakr (may allah bepleased with him) followed it during the period of his caliphate. `umar (may allah bepleased with him) also applied it in the early years of his caliphate but subsequently raised its punishment to eighty stripes. the `ulama' who maintain the punishment of forty stripes contend that the original hadd was forty stripes and the additional forty stripes comprised discretionary punishment for which the head of a state has full authority. if he feels, he can add discretionary punishment to the hadd. the nature of this additional punishment depends on his discretion. the latter opinion seems to be more correct that hadd is fixed for drinking and its punishment is not based on discretion. the hadd for it is forty stripes but this hadd can be increased by adding discretionary punishment to it. allah knows best.