Imam Dr Zijad’s Corner: MANNERS OF GIVING NASIHAH (ADVICE)

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Below are some manners of how to give advice (this could apply to anyone):

Having the intention of seeking the pleasure of Allah by giving Nasihah. If the intention is other than that, Allah is not happy and people will reject the Nasihah  – including the one being advised.

Do not slander the one being advised. This is an affliction that has befallen many Muslims who think that it is important to give an advice and that the methodology is not so much important. Many times, after taking closer look, we find that the person giving Nasihah, actually does not do it for the sake of Nasihah, but for the sake of slandering the person who is being advised because of personal matter or ignorance. This does not befit the one being advised and may lead to a worse situation with no benefit resulting from the Nasihah.

Advice should be given in privacy but not in public, otherwise it will be insulting.  It is most likely that Nasihah bore its fruit when given to a person in private, for in such a situation the person is less likely to be affected by the thoughts of others. The sincere advisor will not rebuke for it opens the door of Satanic action and closes the door of goodness and acceptance, and reduces the chances of the Nasihah from being accepted. This is why our pious predecessors used to give Nasihah in secret. Hafiz ibn Rajab writes: “When the righteous predecessors intended to give Nasihah 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 Nasihah. 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 Nasihah, whereas an evildoer exposes and humiliates.” Ibn Rajab commented on Fudail’s  saying: “It is Nasihah if it is with a cover, while humiliation is with broadcasting.”

Nasihah has to be given with kindness, gentleness and softness, loving, care and understanding. A sincere advisor must follow these guidelines. One must understand that accepting Nasihah is like opening a door, and that door will not be opened without the proper key. The one who is given Nasihah, has a heart that has a lock in some matters – for he has abandoned something that Allah has demanded from him, or has committed something that Allah 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 Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) did.

Choosing the proper time to give Nasihah. The one who gives Nasihah must choose the right time to give his advice, since a person is not always ready to accept or receive Nasihah. At that point of time, a person can be angry about something, upset about not getting what he wants, grieved for something he may have lost, or there may be some other reason that might prevent him from responding to the Nasihah. Abdul Hamid Bilali writes, “Choosing proper time and place is one of the greater causes for the acceptance of Nasihah and eradicating evil, as ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said: ‘Hearts sometimes yearn and are attentive, but sometimes they go through lapses and feel 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.”

We pray to Almighty Allah that He helps us in benefiting from Nasihah for one who sees a shortcoming in a brother should take it upon himself to mend it.

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