Abdur Rahman bin Mahdi (rahimahullah) narrates an incident regarding his tutor and mentor Ubaidullah bin Hasan Al-Anbari (rahimahullah), who was among the leading scholars of Basrah. He says: “Once we attended a janaazah at which I asked him a question. He answered the question but he erred in his response. Hence I politely submitted: ‘May Allah shower his mercy onto you and always keep you guided. The ruling here is something else.’” He lowered his head in thought for a moment and then said: “I retract immediately from what I told you initially, even though this retraction may seem outwardly disgraceful. To be apparently disgraced but be on the truth is far more beloved to me than being outwardly honoured but being on falsehood.” (Tahzeebut Tahzeeb vol. 7 pg. 7)
Lesson: The Quraan Majeed clearly highlights this point: “Say, the bad and the good cannot be equal; even though the abundance of the bad may impress you.” (Surah Al-Maaidah, v.100)
What is meant here is that if something is essentially evil and corrupt, its outer glamour will be of no benefit! The reality will soon be exposed. In the above-mentioned incident we see how Ubaidullah bin Hasan (rahimahullah) practically applied this point. He did not try to conceal the error by an outward show of authority and knowledge. He humbled himself and accepted his mistake. This elevated him in honour and respect.