Forgiving the people of good qualities their slips


What is the degree of authenticity of the Hadith narrated by Abu Dawud and others which reads: “Forgive the people of good qualities their slips” Is it permissible to consider this Hadith religious evidence? Based on my narrow background of scholars’ views, I know that Ibn Hajar, the author of (Bulugh Al-Maram) said that there are different views about the authenticity of this Hadith. I also know that the verifier of the book (Al-Muwafaqat) questions the authenticity of this Hadith saying, “It contradicts the Qur’an which calls for establishing justice and equality.” Please, explain the decisive judgment concerning this Hadith.


This Hadith is narrated by Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Al-Nasa’i, Al-Bayhaqi, and others from ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Forgive the people of good qualities their slips unless it be in Hudud (ordained punishments for violating Allah’s Law).1 This Hadith has different chains of narrations but they are all criticized by scholars of Hadith. However, the diversity of narrations raises it up to the level of a Hadith Hasan (good Hadith).

The Hadith means that it is desirable to forgive people of good qualities if they commit a small or trivial mistake but not a sin that requires the execution of a Hadd (ordained punishment for violating Allah’s Law) decreed by Allah (Exalted be He) if the ruler knows about the sin in which case it must be executed. The words (people of good qualities) in the Hadith means ordinary people who are known for their good deeds and traits but in a moment of weakness, they may commit a trivial mistake or a small sin.

The learned scholar Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be merciful to him) opposed this interpretation saying, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) never referred to righteous and pious worshippers as ‘people of good qualities’.” He added that, “Allah and His Messenger never referred to pious and righteous people using these words.” He went on to say, “These words refer to honorable dignitaries and noble figures whom Allah privileged among other people. When any of these honorable people who do good deeds, commits a small sin because of lack of endurance or being defeated by the Devil, we should not hasten to reproach and punish him. In fact, their fault should be forgiven as long as the sinner has not committed a crime that requires the execution of Hadd. Otherwise, the punishment shall be executed for all people equally whether they are dignitary or ordinary people. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘O people, those who have gone before you were destroyed, because if any of the high rank people committed theft amongst them, they spared him; and if any of low rank people committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed punishment upon him. By Allah, if Fatimah bint Muhammad were to steal, I would have her hand cut off.” (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) 2 This is one of the merits of the perfect Shari’ah of Islam and its appropriateness for the world and for maintaining people’s interests in the matters of life and the Hereafter.” [End of quotation].

According to what we mentioned above, the Hadith does not contradict the principle of justice and equality in Islam. In fact, it calls people to forgive whoever commits a small sin that does not demand execution of Hadd, if the sinner is a person known for uprightness and if forgiving his sin will not cause much harm.

  1. Ahmad, vol. 6, p. 181; Al-Bukhari, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, p. 165, no. 465, Al-Dar Al-Salafiyyah; Abu Dawud, vol. 4, p. 540, no. 4375; Al-Tahawy, Al-Mushkil, vol. 3, pp. 126, 128, and 129; Ibn Hibban, vol. 1, p. 296, no. 94; Ibn Hazm, Al-Muhalla, vol. 11, pp. 404 and 405, no. 2306; Abu Nu’aym, Al-Hilyah, vol. 9, p. 43; and Al-Bayhaqi, vol. 8, pp. 267 and 334. 

  2. Narrated on the authority of ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) by Ahmad, vol. 6, p. 162; Al-Bukhari, vol. 4, pp. 151, 213, and 214, vol. 5, p. 97, and vol. 8, p. 16; Muslim, vol. 3, p. 1315, no. 1688; Abu Dawud, vol. 4, pp. 537 and 538, no. 4373; Al-Tirmidhi, vol. 4, p. 38, no. 1430; Al-Nasa’i, vol. 8, pp. 72-75, nos. 4895, and 4897-4903; Al-Tahawi, Al-Mushkil, vol. 3, p. 97, and Sharh Al-Ma’ani, vol. 3, pp. 170 and 171; Ibn Hibban, vol. 10, p. 248, no. 4402; and Al-Bayhaqi, vol. 8, pp. 253 and 254. 

May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet, his family and Companions