It has been relayed that Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Āl al-Shaykh – may Allāh bless and preserve him – said:
From the sayings of Abū ad-Dardāʾ – may Allāh be pleased with him – :
Once when Abū ad-Dardāʾ passed by a man who had committed a sin and the people became aware of it and were insulting him because of it – and Abū ad-Dardāʾ was so keen and insightful in helping people recovering from their religious ills and reviving sickened hearts – so he said:
Had you found him at the bottom of a well, wouldn’t you be helping him up and out of it?
They said, “Of course!”
So he replied:
Then praise Allāh who has excused you (from his trial), and do not insult your brother!
He said, “Praise Allāh who has excused you (from his trial) and do not insult your brother!” Look at this parable – that the believers would surely help someone in sin and they would not abandon him like how people would naturally help someone stuck in a well. Would believers insult someone who is in physical need and say to them, “Why have you gone into this well? or such-and-such situation?” No, they would only struggle and try their best to help such a person!
Thus, insulting someone is negativity, and it is not permissible in the Sharīʿah (Islamic legislation). Instead, we ask Allāh to guide our brothers and we praise Allāh for excusing us (from what they are being tried with), and then we work to save them from the evil of their sins and disobedience. They have only sinned due to their giving in to the plots of Iblīs, Allāh’s enemy and our enemy.
So this admonition – dear believer – is a great one! When you see someone who has committed a sin, you must work to help him!
Dear brothers, if we were to think about our times, we would find that many people speak about others’ sins. They say, “This guy did such-and-such, that one travels and does such-and-such, this family has gone through such-and-such…” You find them extremely critical and insulting, perhaps even mocking people, and Allāh’s Refuge is sought. When you ask them what they have done to help your brother stop these sins, they say: Nothing.
As a result, he has actually become one of Shayṭān’s devices (to keep people sinning) as well, since the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“Whoever says that the people are destroyed, he is the one who destroyed them.
Meaning: He has become a reason for their destruction. And the Prophet (ﷺ) forbade use from speaking about everything we hear. He (ﷺ) said:
“Whoever speaks about everything he hears is one of the two liars (or one of the liars).”
So we must work hard to fix mistakes, advise sinners and conceal their (hidden) sins, and spread good reports. When we see someone who has done good, we say, “He has done such-and-such good thing,” since, by behaving this way, we spread good behavior, and the people will follow each other’s good leads. However, if we were to spread evil, then people would be lenient in their approach to those things and in doing them, saying, “Yea, So-and-So has done this sin, and this guy has done such-and-such, and that guy has done such-and-such!” People would then be led to assume that there is so much more evil than good, and thus weaken their stance against bad things and begin doing them.
May Allāh be pleased with Abū Ad-Dardāʾ and reward him well for his dealings with his companions and the Ummah after him!
Source: A recording entitled: Admonitions of Abū ad-Dardāʾ (a khuṭbah by Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Āl al-Shaykh). The khuṭbah in Arabic. Translated by: Mūsá Richardson. Originally found here.