Giving Sincere Advice

Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) once said, “This religion is all about sincere advice.”  Giving sincere advice (naseeha) to people who need it is an essential part of our religion.   Why?  What is so special about naseeha? It means giving advice because you want good for the advised individual and the whole ummah.   But if I give sincere advice to one person, how could that have an impact on the rest of the ummah?  Think about it, if I give you sincere naseeha and you give your friend and it becomes an essential part of our social life then the whole ummah will be receiving sincere advice.

What is the importance of naseeha?  Naseeha is the tool Allah gave us so that our society will remain healthy and dynamic.   The maintenance of our ummah occurs through sincere advice.   If you stop giving naseeha, the ummah will fall.   Allah says in the Qur’an what can be translated as, “You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind…” Is this privilege without a responsibility?  Of course not, the verse goes on, “…enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.”  (TMQ, 3:110).   The responsibility that comes with the privilege is giving sincere advice.

Honestly brothers and sisters, we don’t give sincere advice, it’s become an alien concept to us.   Or one may say, “I tried it once and they made fun of me so I stopped.”  And another may object saying, “I once gave sincere advice and then I was blamed for the outcome… forget about it!” or, “I once gave sincere advice and the person bluntly told me to mind my own business.”  No my dear brothers and sisters, we don’t want anyone to be put in such a situation, that’s why we will talk about how to give naseeha in more detail.   But first, let us talk more about the importance of giving sincere advice.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said, “The first three to enter Paradise will be a martyr, a chaste person that insists on chastity, and a man who worshipped Allah in a good manner and gave sincere advice to people.”  Wow!  By giving sincere advice you could be amongst the first to enter Paradise.  Give sincere advice so that our society would remain healthy.   I can hear you saying that it won’t make a difference, but believe me it will.   Maybe it will take some time for everyone to get used to it, maybe a year or two, but we have to start right now.   Sincere advice needs to become an essential ingredient in our societies and in our ummah at large.

One of the Companions said, “When I was embracing Islam in front of the Messenger of Allah (SAWS), he made me pledge to do three things; to establish prayers, give zakah, and give sincere advice to each and every Muslim.”  Can you imagine that the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) mentioned giving sincere advice with establishing prayers and giving zakah?  That shows us how important it is.   Another Companion said, “I went to the Messenger of Allah asking him to accept my pledge of allegiance to him but he responded saying, ‘Under one condition, if you promise to give sincere advice to each and every Muslim.'”  This man was coming to embrace Islam but the Prophet (SAWS) told him that he has to promise to give sincere advice.   So the Companion replied, “By Allah, Whom there is not god except Him, I will verily give you all sincere advice until I die.”

Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said, “The slave who gives sincere advice to his master gets double reward.”  Even slaves long ago and servants today are supposed to give sincere advice, imagine then the responsibility of a free man or woman.   He also said, “The analogy of me and what I was sent with is that of a man that saw an army coming to attack so he cried out to his people, ‘An army is attacking!’  I’m a sincere warner, rescue yourselves!”  Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) is describing himself as a sincere advisor.

If you see at work that something is wrong, bring it up and say that it is wrong.   Give naseeha to your family, neighbors, and relatives.   Nobody today does that.   We’ve abandoned an essential Muslim characteristic.

Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA) said, “There is no good in a community that doesn’t have people that give sincere advice, and there is no good in a community that doesn’t accept the sincere advice.”  He also once stood on the pulpit and said, “May Allah have mercy on a person that came and presented to me my deficiencies.”  Ask yourself honestly, if someone came up to you and sincerely criticized you, how would you feel?  If it will make you feel bad and make you hate that person than something is wrong with you.   Instead, you should thank Allah for such a blessing and cling onto that person who cared enough to bring your attention to something wrong you were doing.

But there are etiquettes and conditions to give naseeha:

– Make sure that the person you will advise really does the wrong thing that you are going to advise him or her about.  Don’t be random and hypothetical.   Address actual problems and shortcomings.

– Purify your intentions before giving naseeha.   Don’t give naseeha to appear as a know-it-all, or to give the impression that you are better than the person you are advising.   Do it to seek Allah’s pleasure and for the welfare of your ummah.

– Give naseeha in private.   Don’t embarrass the person by giving him or her naseeha in front of other people.

– Be gentle.   A man went to the Caliph Haroon ar-Rashid to advise him, but this man was very harsh and rude.   So Haroon ar-Rashid gently asked him, “My brother, are you better than Prophet Musa (AS) (Moses)?”  So that man replied saying no.   Haroon ar-Rashid followed up asking, “Am I worse than the Pharaoh?” The man again replied saying no.   Haroon ar-Rashid concluded, “You aren’t better than Musa (AS) and I’m not worse than the Pharaoh, yet when Allah sent Musa (AS) to the Pharaoh He told him, “Speak to him in a mild manner so that he might remember or fear.” (TMQ, 20:44).   Be gentle with people, it’s part of our religion.   Giving sincere advice isn’t a fight, be gentle.   In another instant, Haroon ar-Rashid was walking in town and a shepherd saw him and wanted to give him sincere advice about something.   The shepherd walked up to Haroon ar-Rashid (the Caliph at that time) and said, “Oh Imam, if I give you sincere advice, I will have fear from you.   Yet, if I don’t give you such advice, I will have fear for you.   And my fear for you is greater than my fear from you, so I would like to advise you about this and that…”  Can you imagine?  A shepherd saying such beautiful words and giving advice to the leader of the Muslims!

– Take into consideration the circumstances the person may be experiencing.   Never forget that we are human beings and not angels.  Part of being human is making mistakes.   So don’t always search for the least mistake to rush and give sincere advice about, be patient, forgiving and gentle.   And never forget that you too make mistakes.

I really hope that we could start to give and accept sincere advice from now on.   We really need to work on it.   We need it so that our ummah could identify things that need to be changed, because “Verily Allah will never change the condition of a people until they change themselves.” (TMQ, 13:11).

excerpt – “until they change themselves” – by Amr Khaled Courtesy of Dar Al Tarjuma
you can read the full series 0f “until they change themselves in Wake-up Call)


About theCall

“Invite to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious..”
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