Clarifying Errors Openly VS. Advising Privately

Many people are confused about an important issue – when to advise people privately and when to openly correct their errors. We receive emails from sincere advisors who may have some misunderstandings about this issue.

When Muslims commit personal errors in private, no matter how serious they are, they are to be screened and advised privately.  We must avoid publicly exposing these kinds of mistakes, and we must strive to advise our brothers and sisters with good, effective advice in private.

However, once a harmful error is out in the open, one thats effects are not limited to the person alone, then the Muslims must confront it, reject it, and speak against it, lest it spread and affect others.

Even with open mistakes, it would be great if we could advise someone privately, and he would humbly correct the errors himself.  When the mistaken one himself openly corrects his own errors, this is the best possible situation.  But when the person behaves arrogantly and refuses to acknowledge or deal with his clear errors, then private advise is not sufficient, and public clarifications are necessary. The Religion of Allah must be preserved.

For those would still say: “Yusuf Estes is a very humble person, and he easily retracts errors.” (May Allah make him like that.) Quite simply, the proof is in the pudding!  The reality is that over four months have passed, and not a single error has been acknowledged or corrected.

One of today’s senior scholars, Shaykh Saalih al-Fowzaan (may Allah preserve him) was asked, “Is it from the way of the Salaf that if a preacher makes a mistake and/or opposes the methodology of the Salaf in front of the people that their mistakes and errors should be spread in writings via electronic media?”

He replied:

If his statement has been spread among the people (publicly), it is incumbent to spread the refutation against him, so that the truth is clarified to the people. However, if his statement has not become widespread, then it is enough to (privately) advise him.

Source: [Arabic Source] | [English Translation]

The points raised on this website are all based on the open statements and positions of Yusuf Estes, mostly from videos on YouTube, some of which have tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of views.  To this day, you will still find Muslims arguing on his behalf and parroting some of his deviant arguments on various internet forums, saying: “He was saying that YOU don’t grow your beard, that’s how it is shirk,” or, “Yusuf meant the ink and the paper of the mushaf, that is why its not Quran…”, etc.

In light of this, it should be clear that it is incorrect to say that we should only be advising him about these errors privately.

Having said this, we should also realize that people do not know the extent of the efforts to advise and admonish him privately, because they are private.

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