Our pure religion appreciates counsel to the extent that the Prophet said: “The Deen (religion) is [offering] sincere advice." Thus has Islam nurtured its followers to speak the truth, even if it may be bitter, and to be frank with everyone. Linguistically, candor refers to the quality of being honest and straightforward. Some scholars have defined it as “portraying one’s inner self without distortion or evasion, in a way that expresses ideas clearly, so that one’s deeds match his [or her] words.” [Al-Khuluq Al-Kamil, by Muhammad Ahmad Jad Al-Mawla .
The Prophet fostered forthrightness in his Companions. Before giving the pledge at Al-‘Aqabah, Abu Al-Haytham ibn At-Tayyihan stood up and said: "O Messenger of Allah! There are ties between us and others [i.e., the Jews], which we shall sever. If we do this and Allah grants you victory, will you return to your own people and leave us?” The Messenger of Allah smiled and replied, “No, this would never be the case. Blood is [for] blood and destruction [for] destruction [meaning, that he would avenge for the death of any of them and that if their life becomes violable, his life be rendered such as well]. You are of me and I am from you; I shall fight whoever you fight and conciliate with whoever you make peace." He neither became angry, nor did he object to or rebuke the man for his frankness. Rather, he appreciated this quality in him, which should encourage the rest of us to possess it, as well.
Similarly, when the Prophet led the Companions in a prayer which consisted of four units, of which he only offered two, Thul-Yadayn asked, with due courtesy, veneration and candidness: “O Messenger of Allah, did you forget or was the prayer shortened?” The Prophet replied, “I neither overlooked [anything] nor was it made short.” Thereupon, the Companions frankly replied, “No, Messenger of Allah, you did forget." He then, did not reproach them or feel embarrassed; rather, he then completed his prayer and performed the prostration of forgetfulness. Will the public figures today endure the candor of their followers like the Prophet ?
In another incident, when it was announced that the Prophet permitted the assassination of ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salool, leader of the hypocrites, the son of that man – the great Companion, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salool – came to him and said: "O Messenger of Allah, I have been told that you want to eliminate my father because of what has been reported to you concerning him. If you are going to [proceed with that], command me to do it and I will bring you his head. By Allah, Al-Khazraj [the tribe of ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salool] knows that there has never been among them a man more dutiful to his father than I. I am afraid that you may order someone else, who may kill him; then, I will not be able to look at the assassin of my father walking among the people. Hence, I may then kill him, thus killing a believer to avenge a disbeliever; and in doing so, [I know] I would enter Hell.’ So, the Messenger of Allah then suggested, “No [leave that]; we will be gentle with him and associate with him on friendly terms as long as he remains among us."
"There is no goodness in you if you did not say that"
Such was the remark of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab when a man commanded him to fear Allah The Almighty and some of the people in the gathering objected. 'Umar said: "Let him say it”; then, addressing the man, he said: “There would be no goodness in you if you did not say that and no goodness in us if we did not accept it."
Being respected for one’s candor
We are required to encourage others to be frank and we must not be harsh with them when they openly express their inner feelings, which may even betray a weakness of theirs. We should follow the example of the Prophet when Basheer ibn Al-Khasasiyah came to him to give the pledge of allegiance and agreed to everything except performing Jihad (fighting in the path of Allah) and giving in charity. He said: "As for Jihad, I am a coward and I fear that if I participated in battle, I would flee; and if I did, I would be inflicted with the wrath of Allah." When, the Prophet said to him: "O Basheer, no charity and no Jihad! How, then, would you enter Paradise?"; he promised to do everything else. Consider how the Prophet accepted the bluntness of that man and did not even comment on his self-description as a coward, with a word that might hurt him.
Some people have certain misconceptions about candor, believing that it entails impoliteness; hence, they are brutal when offering advice and they use hurtful and inconsiderate words. However, there is no goodness in guidance conveyed in this manner; rather, it will have the opposite effect. We have seen in the aforementioned examples how frankness was accompanied with extreme politeness and concern for the feelings of others, which made others more receptive to the advice.
Another misconception is that some people confuse sociability with receptiveness. Thus, they may approve of evil, live with the immoral and refrain from uttering any word under the pretext of friendliness or to serve certain interests and deflect harms. Nonetheless, there is a great difference between sociability and receptiveness; according to scholars, the former is one of the characteristics of the believers, which denotes lowering the wing of humility to people, using lenient words and avoiding harsh speech. Certainly, this is one of the greatest ways to boost cordiality. On the other hand, scholars explain that receptiveness implies living with the wicked and expressing approval of their actions by not reproaching them. There is no doubt that such an attitude is prohibited in the Sharee'ah.
Candor is better than hypocrisy and insincere compliments
Some people become annoyed with other’s openness with them. You find them quickly becoming outraged and nervous, and losing control of their reactions. This, in turn, is likely to keep others from being frank with them and counseling them. Had such people been truly wise, they would have known that candor and advice is better for them than cheating, hypocrisy and outward satisfaction alongside concealed hatred and aversion to them and their deeds.
The righteous and pious would seek a mentor, knowing such a friend to be a means of safety sooner or later. The following story clearly indicates this: it was narrated that a woman whose husband was absent was mentioned in a negative manner in the presence of ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab who, then, sent for her. She remarked: "Oh, woe is me! What will I do with ‘Umar?” On her way, and out of fear of ‘Umar she felt labor pains and gave birth to a baby who cried twice, then died immediately. ‘Umar then consulted his companions, some of whom said that he was not responsible, for his role was that of a ruler and an enforcer of discipline. ‘Ali however, remained silent, so ‘Umar turned to him and said, "O Abu Al-Hasan, what do you say regarding this matter?" He replied, "If this is their real opinion, then they are mistaken; and if they said this to please you, then they have not quite advised you. You should pay his Diyyah (blood money) because you scared her and she then delivered the baby.” Consequently, ‘Umar acted accordingly. Hence, because of that candor, every person was given his or her due and those entitled to rights, were not deprived of them.