Towards the end of his life, the holy Prophet had sent Hazrat M’uad as the Governor of Yemen, and while bidding him farewell in Medina, he had given him a number of instructions which are mentioned, under various headings, in the compilations of the Traditions. In the above narrative, M’uad has spoken of the same occasion. What he means to convey is that as he was leaving for Yemen, to take up the assignment, the last thing the Prophet told him was to deal gently with its inhabitants.
It needs, however, be remembered that “good manners” do not entail that even hardened criminals and habitual evil-doers who deserved to be dealt with severely and there was no other way to reform them than through chastisement were, also, to be treated with leniency. It would, on the contrary, amount to the neglect of one’s duty and lending encouragement to sinfulness and wrongdoing.
In any case, it is not against moral goodness, by any code of ethics, to be severe on the criminals, of course, within the limits of justice and the God-given law.
NOTE: the holy Prophet had also said to Hazrat Muad at that time, that “it is quite possible that we do not meet again after this year. It may be that (when you returned from Yemen), you visited my mosque and my grave instead of visiting me.”
Since it was not the custom of the Prophet to say such things, Muad concluded that the death of the Prophet was probably near, and he might not be able to see him again. Upon it, he began to cry. The Prophet then consoled him saying: “Much closer to me are people who fear God and observe piety, whoever and wherever they may be.”
What the Prophet had said to Muad turned out to be true, and, on his return from Yemen, M’uad did not see him, but his grave.