Islamic Studies

The Ignorant Offender

By Zabrina A. Bakar

I was at the cab stand, waiting for my dad to pick me up from a mall that day. Once I saw his car, I waved and he quickly signaled left. I jumped into the car- relieved to be in the air-conditioned setting as it was so hot and sticky outside.

We just moved a few meters when someone else waved my dad. Can you guess?

Well, a hint for you. The man was wearing dark glasses, black boots and has a big bike.

Nope, not a Harley enthusiast!

More hints? Sure. He was holding a notepad, pen and had a semi-auto (I think) hanging by his side.

Got it?

Well, seemed that my dad had entered an area designated only for the cabs to pick-up its customers. As he rarely drove into that part of the city, I could totally understand why he got confused.

Anyway, down came the window.

‘Sir, do you know that you have entered an area you are not supposed to?’ asked the patrol police politely.

‘Honestly, officer, I wasn’t aware. I was just focusing on where my daughter was standing’ answered my dad.

‘License please…’ said the officer

After checking dad’s driving license and all, he said ‘Well, as this is your first offence and as you said you weren’t aware, I will let you go. Please be more careful next time, sir’ he smiled as he gave my dad the firm reminder.

Phew… Alhamdulillaah, that was close!

That incident reminded me of what Derek Bok once said,

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance

Yup, for my dad’s case it could be a few hundred dollars that day!

That incident had me thinking.

The officer had let us off the hook with a firm warning as we were unaware of the mistake we made. He excused us because we didn’t know.

Perhaps he had exercised consideration in his judgment by differentiating the traffic offenders into two categories- with knowledge and without knowledge, or in other words, the knowledgeable and the ignorance ones.

Me and my dad fell into the second category that day- the ignorant offender.

I asked myself these questions- Would I have reacted the same if I come across another ignorant offender? What would be the right thing to do?

Then I remembered an incident that happened during the Prophet’s (may Allaah’s peace and blessings be upon him) time,

Mu’awiya b. al-Hakam said: While I was praying with the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), a man in the company sneezed. I said: Allah have mercy on you! The people stared at me with disapproving looks, so I said: Woe be upon me, why is it that you stare at me? They began to strike their hands on their thighs, and when I saw them urging me to observe silence (I became angry) but I said nothing. When the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) had said the prayer (and I declare that neither before him nor after him have I seen a leader who gave better instruction than he for whom I would give my father and mother as ransom). I swear that he did not scold, beat or revile me but said: Talking to persons is not fitting during the prayer, for it consists of glorifying Allah, declaring his Greatness. and recitation of the Qur’an or words to that effect. (Saheeh Muslim)

SubhanAllaah… an ignorant offender story from Prophet’s time!

I had to read and re-read this hadeeth several times as it contained very important message. It told us of the techniques used by Prophet (pbuh) when he corrected the mistake made by a person who was ignorant of his error.

He (pbuh) did not get angry, scold, beat or revile Mu’awiya, instead, he immediately informed Mu’awiya after the prayer of his mistake and told him the right way how a prayer should be done. The do’s and don’ts.

It looked so simple, don’t you think?

Our task is to just inform the offender of the wrongs and show him the right way to do it. And say it nicely and kindly too as instructed by Allaah.

He, Allaah the Al Mighty has said,

Call to the path of your lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation, and reason with them in the most courteous manner. For your Lord knows best those who have strayed from his path, and he knows best who are rightly-guided (an- Nahl 16:125)

Alhamdulillaah, I understood the method now.

Mistakes should be corrected on a footing of compassion rather than harshness. The ultimate objective of the ‘mistake-corrector’ is to give advice so that the mistake-doer change, repent, be better, reform, improve, increase knowledge and develop himself closer to the Deen; and not to humiliate, to shame, to put down, to embarrass, to dishonor or to disgrace the mistake-doer.

Ya Allaah, I reflected upon the incidences when I lost my cool upon error made by others. I lost it because it has affected me directly. I lost it because I wanted to satisfy my anger, my ego and my disappointment of my unrealized expectations.


Who am I to be so bigheaded when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was so humble and calm correcting the error? And you know what?

The error was not made while working or teaching.

It was made while the man was doing his responsibility to his Lord, while facing Allaah, the King of all Kings.

Even then, Prophet (pbuh) was not angry while correcting him.

Let us all emulate the gentleness but firmness of the best teacher sent down to us, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in correcting the ignorant offender.

Think about it….

Copyright © Sis Zabrina 2008

Sis Zabrina also known as Zabrina A. Bakar, is a Life Storyteller, motivational writer and speaker; and author of Islamic motivational book Life is an Open Secret which contains 18 inspirational stories from ordinary life experiences. She passionately writes about life daily happenings, viewed and analyzed from unique perspective, blended with the Qur’anic verses and Hadeeth of the Prophet SAW for solutions to illustrate the easiness, simplicity, relevancy and completeness of Islam to today’s world. Her works are published in various countries across the Muslim world. She maintains an active blog at

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