Zaheer from PureIslam emailed me this article on giving Naseehah (advice) to muslim brothers and sisters.
Assalaamu alaikum warahmatullah muslims
Based on the hadeeth: Tamim ad-Dari, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “The religion is naseehah.” The people asked, “To whom?” The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) replied, “To Allaah and to His Book and to His Messenger and to the leaders of the Muslims and the common folk.” [Collected by Bukhari, Muslim]
Allaah, through His eternal mercy, has given the believers the most powerful weapon available to assure victory in this constant struggle between good and evil – each other.
How many of us have looked to our brothers and sisters in Islam and have seen them straying from the path of Allaah, and have turned our faces away? How many of us have seen our brothers erring and said to ourselves, it is none of my business? Well, it is our business for the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has made it our business. In the hadeeth related by Tamim ad-Dari, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “The religion is naseehah.” The people asked, “To whom?” The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) replied, “To Allaah and to His Book and to His Messenger and to the leaders of the Muslims and the common folk.” [Collected by Bukhari, Muslim]
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has equated the entire religion to giving naseehah, but what exactly is naseehah? Naseehah is an Arabic word that is usually translated to mean “sincerity” or “sincere advice”, but actually embodies every type of virtue. As believers, this statement of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) must be taken to heart. By learning what naseehah is, we can then act on it and bring about positive changes in ourselves and each other. Naseehah is a wonderful weapon, but like most weapons, if the user does not know how to use it properly, it can cause more harm than good.
**Naseehah to the common Muslims
The following includes giving naseehah to ALL Muslims, be they black, white, Arab or Pakistani; be they sinful, ignorant or heedless. It also includes giving naseehah to Muslims, no matter which organisation or group they belong to or if one likes them or dislikes them.
**How is Naseehah given to the Common Muslims?
By guiding them to what will bring them benefit in this life and in the Hereafter.
By removing harm from them and bringing them benefit.
By teaching them what one loves for oneself and hating for them what one hates for oneself.
By teaching them what will benefit them.
By commanding them what is right and forbidding them what is wrong with gentleness and sincerity.
By being soft with them, honouring the elderly, loving and being merciful towards the youths.
By not being deceptive and jealous toward them.
Protecting their honour and wealth.
**Manners Of Giving Naseehah
Seeking the Pleasure of Allaah by giving Naseehah It is necessary that a person has the intention of seeking the pleasure of Allaah when giving naseehah. Only such an intention deserves reward from Allaah and acceptance from His slaves.
If the intention is other than that, then that person deserves the anger and wrath of Allaah as well as the hatred and rejection of the people – including the one being advised.
**Not Slandering the One Being Advised
This is an affliction that has befallen many Muslims. Many times, after taking a closer look, we find that the person giving naseehah actually wants to slander the person he is advising because of personal hatred. This does not befit the one being advised and may lead to a worse situation with no benefit resulting from the naseehah.
**Naseehah is to be Given in Secret
Naseehah is most likely to bear its fruit when given to a person when he is by himself, for in such a situation the person is less likely to be affected by the thoughts of others. The sincere advisor should not aid the Devil over his brother by publicly rebuking him and letting Shaitaan beguile his brother into not taking the naseehah. This closes the doors of goodness and acceptance, and reduces the chances of the naseehah from being accepted. This is why our pious predecessors used to give naseehah in secret. Hafidh Ibn Rajab writes, “When the righteous predecessors intended to give naseehah to someone, they admonished him privately, to the point that some of them said, “The one who exhorts his brother between him and himself , then it is naseehah. The one who exhorts him in front of people, then it is merely scolding!”
Fudail Ibn Ayyadh, one of the pious scholars from our predecessors, said, “A believer covers up and gives naseehah, whereas an evildoer exposes and humiliates.” Ibn Rajab commented on Fudail’s saying, “It is naseehah if it is with a cover, while humiliating is with broadcasting”.
**Naseehah is to be Given with Kindness, Gentleness and Softness
A sincere advisor must be kind, soft and well-mannered in giving naseehah to others, as this might get the desired response from the one he is advising. One must understand that accepting naseehah is like opening a door, and that the door will not open without the proper key. The one who is given naseehah has a heart that has a lock in some matter – for he has abandoned something that Allaah has demanded from him, or has committed something that Allaah had forbidden him from. There is no better key to unlock the heart than kindness in giving advice, gentleness in exhortation and softness in speech as the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has said, “Kindness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beauty, and it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective.” [Muslim]
**Choosing the Proper Time to Give Naseehah
The one giving naseehah must choose the right time to give his advice, since a person is not always ready to receive naseehah. A person may be angry about something, upset about not getting what he wanted, grieved for something he may have lost, or there may be some other reason that might prevent him from responding to the naseehah.
Abdul Hamid Bilali writes,” Choosing proper time and place is one of the greatest causes for the acceptance of naseehah and eradicating evil”, and as Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud said, “Hearts (sometimes) yearn and are attentive, but (sometimes) they go through lapses and feed repulsion. So take from them when they are (in a state of) yearning and are attentive, and leave them alone when they go through lapses and are feeling repulsion”.
**Benefits of Naseehah
It purifies the one being advised from some weakness. When one sees a fellow Muslim negligent in performing a good deed, or committing some wrong, he should take it upon himself to mend the shortcoming. The shortcoming may pertain to the rights of Allaah or to the rights of His slaves. When a believer gives naseehah to his brother in Islaam, he helps him in a matter in which his brother has erred because the believer loves for his brother what he loves for himself. When a believer gives naseehah to his brother, he is disposing of the right that his brother has upon him. Just as you would not like to see a fault in yourself, and would work to remove it, likewise, you should not like to see that fault in your brother. You must hate to see in him what you hate to see in yourself, hence, you should give him naseehah to remove that fault as you would have liked to receive naseehah to have that fault removed from you. Give your brother naseehah and guide him toward goodness, and take him away from harm.
Giving naseehah is a sign of true brotherhood, a way of bringing the hearts closer, and of closing the doors of hatred and suspicion. This is why Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz said, “The one who grants naseehah to his brother in matters of this his religion and concerns himself with mending affairs of this life; then, he has granted an excellent gift and fulfilled a wajib that was due on him ..” If someone were to ask, “How is naseehah a right of brotherhood, when one’s faults are mentioned?” the answer is not to feel apprehension when your brother informs you of your faults. He may know something that perhaps you are unaware of, and is compelled to tell you about it out of sheer compassion. It is a way of winning over the hearts of those who are endowed with insight.
Shaitaan has declared war on all of humanity, and Allaah has given the believers the tools necessary to win this war. Informing each other of ugly deeds we perform, or about loathsome characteristics that we may have is like pointing out where the land mines are on a battlefield. By pointing out these hidden dangers, we help to keep each other from destruction. In this war of conquering the self, the help, aid and guidance of our brothers and sisters is needed to assure that ultimate victory, insha’Allaah, of true success in this life and in the Hereafter