Ettiquettes of Naseehah

Bismillah. This is a continuation of our An Nawawi series (remember when I used to do that? Yes….I have not forgotten. My blogging took a hiatus.) The last hadith we had discussed was the hadith of Naseehah. We will repeat the hadith here to remind ourselves 😉

On the authority of Abu Ruqayya Tameem ibn Aus (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The religion is naseehah.” The people said, “To whom?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “To Allah and to His Book and to His Messenger and to the Leader of the Muslims and to the common folk of the Muslims.” (Recorded by Muslim.)

This is a very beautiful hadith, and many of us Muslims (including myself) misrepresent the words of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in our zeal to apply them. Yes, we must give naseehah. But what is naseehah? And how must is be implemented?

The Enforcement Police

As we mentioned in our previous post, naseehah implies that one advise and guide others to what is best for them in this life and the hereafter. This was the job of the Messengers. When fulfilling the obligation of naseehah, we are following the sunnah of the noblest of creation – the Messengers.

A Muslim cannot be all to himself and not care about what is happening with his brothers and sisters. It is our obligation to make naseehah to other Muslims so that we may bringt about the best for them.

When giving naseehah, we must be kind and loving and sincere in our advice. We are doing just that – advising. It is not in our place to try and enforce the advice. We see that in ourselves these days – we advise and then want it to be implemented immediately. This was not the way of the Prophets (may Allah be pleased with all of them). Noah called his people to Allah for over 900 years!

Ibn Hazm points out that a person should nto make naseehah only on the condition that his advice is accepted. His responsibility is first and foremost to Allah. Even if the others do not accept his advice, he should still advise them. Furthermore, if they find taht his advice is not the best approach to follow, this is for them to decide.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever wishes to give advice to a ruler about a matter should not do so publicly. Instaed, he should take him by his hand and be alone with him [to talk to him] about it. If he accepts the advicefrom him [the matter is finished successfully]. If he does not [accept the advice], the person has fulfilled [the obligation] upon him.” (al-Haakim and Ahmad)

Don’t Smack Talk

This is a very simple and straight forward thing to know before giving advice: know what you’re talking about. Someone may think they know what they’re talking about, but they don’t. And we all know how deep the consequences can be for advice without any know-how. So make sure you know what you’re talking about first 🙂

For Shame

Who is the biggest scumbag of all time? The King of the Damned? Hint: I’m thinking of a baby-murdering, narcisstic, self-appointed god. If you said Pharoah, then you would be right.

How did Allah tell Moses and Aaron to approach this evil tyrant?

“And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allah.” (Taha, 44)

Speak to who mildly? PHAROAH? Umm….are you sure? Yes, definitely. Naseehah must be given mildly, with sincerity and love. In general, the result of giving naseehah in a harsh manner or embarassing way would result in hatred and evil as well, and not corresponding good. But what if we were to give naseehah in private, to do it with kindness and in love? Would not such words be received more kindly?

There are a few points I wanted to make here: One, of course is to speak kindly and without harshness.

The second thing to point out here is that if there were anyone, in all of time, who deserved to be humiliated in public, it would be Pharoah. But that is not how Moses approached him. Our Muslim brothers, who are trying to follow Islam and obey Allah, deserve much more that we not shame them in public or embarass them in anyway. And you know what embarassing someone is. Just because it’s not done with vulgar remarks or inappropriate language, it can still be embarassing or harsh.

I remember going to a sisters’ halaqa given by an alimah. wAllahu ‘Alam what this sister’s intentions were, but she was a very harsh teacher. She may have had good intentions, but her approach to advising us was at time very…harsh, to say the least. We began to discuss hijaab one day, and she said something to the effect of: “Well, do you think sister X’s hijab is appropriate? Do you think those pants are not too tight?” Sister X was present in the small room. My best friend and I were silent, ashamed for the alimah who insulted another Muslim sister in front of an entire halaqa and embarassed for the sweet Muslim sister, no matter what her clothing was like. Later on, I remember seeing sister X’s face after class. How humiliated she must have felt! And I felt incredible rage at the alimah’s horrible example. We had been so excited to find an alimah in our own backyard….but what was her worth if she had no manners? I did not feel that she said those words trying to advise the sister. It felt as if they were said out of anger and frustration at the way the youth in the US dressed. For shame. May Allah protect our fellow Muslims from our tongues.

Mentioning another Muslim’s faults or sins simply to blame, ridicule or shame them is forbidden. The Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade his followers from rebuking the woman who committed illegal sexual intercourse although he had ordered for her to be punished. How quickly we snap at our fellow Muslims for a speck in their eye.

Al-Fudhayl ibn Iyaadh stated:

“The believer conceals [the sin] and advises the person while the evildoer exposes the sin and disgraces the person.”

On the Down Low

In the hadith mentioned about advising rulers, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) advised us make naseehah to rulers in private. Would our friends and family not be more receptive than to being advised in private as well? This was the way of the companions of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Al-Bukhaari records that someone inferred to Usaama ibn Zayd that he should speak to the khalifah, ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan, concerning ‘Uthmaan’s half brother who had become known for drinking. Usaama’s response was: “Do you think that I have not spoken to him simply because you did not hear it? I speak to him privately without opening a door such that I would be the first to open that door.” The “door” he was referring to was the act of rebuking rulers in public instead of privately.

Sincerity and Love

Zamarli stresses that when advising another person, the adviser should be sincere of heart. The goal of such advice is to make things better and remove some fault or evil. Deception and hypocrisy in one’s heart would probably not lead to such good results. Zamarli states that in the same way that a deed is not accepted by Allah unless it is done sincerely for His sake, advice will not have its positive, reforming effect unless it is sincere from the advisor’s heart.

Love is an important driving force behind naseehah. If one has strong love for Allah, His messenger, His book and so forth, his conduct with respect to them will be more sincere. Al-Fudhayl ibn Iyaadh said:

“Love is better than fear. Do you not see that if you have two slaves and one of them loves you while the other fears you, the one who loves you will be sincere to you while you aer present or absent due to his love for you. However, the one who fears you may be sincere to you when you are present and he fears you but he will deceive you and not be sincere to you when you are absent.”

Take it Like a Man

Just as we should give good advice, we should learn to take it with a smile as well. We should now allowe pride or any other reason to interfere with us accepting what is good for us. And we should not doubt the intentions of our brothers and sisters in Islam.

There is a sister I have known since childhood. I saw her to something at an Islamic convention which will be stuck in my mind forever. As we were all standing to pray, she left her shoes on and stood to say takbeer. A woman beside her pointed at her shoes and said, quite impolitely, “Oh, child, you can’t pray with those on.” This sister is from a well-read family (Islamically speaking), and I felt insulted for her. But the young sister took her shoes off immediately and said, “JazakAllah khayr for telling me,” with the biggest, most sincere smile on her face. May Allah give her Jannah and may He give us all the goodness to be more humble.

‘Umar ibn al Khattaab once said, “Do not think evil of anything that comes from your brother Muslim’s tongue whenever there is a way to interpret it in a good way.”

This is the end of hadith #7 🙂

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One Response to Ettiquettes of Naseehah

  1. Dzuft says:

    Great reminder mashaAllah. I hope it’s ok for me to share this on my facebook. I’ve linked it back to your blog.
    Jzk!

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