Advice for the sake of Allah
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
According to Tameem Dari (RA) Prophet (SAW) said that “sincere advice and wishing well” is the essence of Deen, and he (SAW) repeated it three times. Companions (RAjmaeen) submitted: Ya Rasool Allah: “which to advice and whom to wish well?” Prophet (SAW) replied: “Allah (SWT), His Book, His Messenger, Leaders of the Muslims, and Muslims.”
In the traditions of Prophet (SAW), the word “Naseeha” being a comprehensive word can not be substituted by another word. Its essence however is sincerity and wishing others well for their betterment. It means that dealings and relationships must be based on the feelings of sincerity and best wishes, without any iota of adulteration or hypocrisy. Arabic term “Nasaht-ul-asl” is used when honey is purified of wax. “Nas’ah” is opposite or antonym of impurity. Ibn-e-Zareef writes that this word is used only when the heart is purified from all ills and impurities.
Wishing others well with regards to Allah (SWT) means that there should be no ambiguity or confusion in man’s acceptance of Allah (SWT)’s Omnipotence, Omniscience an Omni presence, and a complete and total faith in all His attributes. Imam Nawwawi (RehA) writes that sincerity and “Nas’ah” with Allah (SWT) means commitment to Allah’s Oneness, and denial of any association with Him and in His attributes of beauty and grace. It also means to regard Him pure of any flaw and shortcoming, to submit to Him in obedience, and to love and hate for His sake; to acknowledge and thank Him for His blessings. Also, to be earnestly sincere in relationship with Him; to invite and help others in recognizing Allah (SAW) with all His attributes, and to be soft, kind, polite and courteous while dealing with fellow human beings. Imam Khattabi(RehA) opines that sincerity with Allah (SWT) is in fact the sincerity with the self, as Allah (SWT) is self-sufficient, and over and above of needing some one’s sincerity.
Advice with regards to Allah (SWT)’s Book means to have faith that every single letter and contents of the Book is nothing but the revelation of Allah (SWT). None of the created can possibly match its eloquence, depth, and power. It also means to respect it, to read and recite it with utmost attention, concentration and with correct pronunciation. It also requires to propagate its teachings, and to invite the world to follow it, and to obey its commands in letter and spirit.
Advice with regards to Allah’s Messenger is to attest to the finality of his prophet hood and to submit and obey to every thing he said. It also means to consider his enemies as enemies and his friends as friends. One is commanded to respect him (SAW) in unequivocal terms, and to propagate and publish his message and Shari’ah. If one is not knowledgeable enough of his character and personality, he should withhold his comments and opinions as out of ignorance he may say something which may be inappropriate. It also requires loving members of Prophet (SAW) household and his companions.
Advice with regards to Aa’immas, Muslim leaders means supporting them in their judicious actions and decisions, and politely warning them if they knowingly or unknowingly deviate from the right course. It also means to pray behind them and pray for their betterment. Imam Khattabi says that the term ‘leaders’ mean the Khulafa, governors and officers of the Muslim Ummah. The term may also include the religious scholars, who should also be supported and followed.
“Wishing the Muslims well” means to lead them to the right path for here and the Hereafter. They should be saved from ignorance by teaching them the necessary knowledge of Deen. It also means hiding their shortcomings, helping them in their needs, protecting their respect and dignity, dealing with them courteously, encouraging them in character building, and avoiding any grudge against them.
These foregoing points present in a nut shell the concept of the rights of Allah and the rights of fellow mankind. If these are practiced then the imbalance in thought and action is automatically corrected and a congenial environment for love and brotherhood will come into being. The Holy Qur’an regards advice and wishing well as a basic part of Prophets’ and Messengers’ responsibility of inviting the world to the path of Allah.
Nuh (AS) says in Aayah 61-62 in Surah Aa’raaf: “My people, there is nothing astray about me! On the contrary, I am a messenger from the Lord of all the Worlds: I am delivering my Lord’s message to you and giving you sincere advice. I know things from Allah that you do not.”
Hood (AS) says in Aayah 67-68 of the same Surah: “My people, there is nothing foolish about me! On the contrary, I am a messenger from the Lord of all the Worlds: I am delivering my Lord’s message to you. I am your sincere and honest advisor.”
Sualeh (AS) says in Aayah 79 of the same Surah: “My people, I delivered my Lord’s message and gave you sincere advice, but you do not like those who give sincere advice.”
Hafiz Ibn-e-Rajab says that advice and wishing well has been defined as Deen, and in the end of Hadith-e-Jibra’eel the combination of Islam, Iman, and Ihsaan has also been identified as Deen.
Hafiz Muhammad bin Nasr has quoted from scholars that Nas’Allah (Giving advice for the sake of Allah) is of two kind: Fardh (obligatory), and Nafil (supplementary).
Fardh (obligatory) is to abstain from all that is forbidden and commit to carry out the commands. If for a legitimate or unavoidable reason, some one slacks, then he should have a sincere intention to make good of the loss at other time. Aayah 91 of Surah Tawba says: “…But there is no blame attached to the week, the sick, and those who have no means to spend, provided they are true to Allah and His Messenger – there is no reason to reproach those who do good: Allah is most forgiving and merciful.”
According to this Aayah exemption can be given from the performance of obligatory duties under unavoidable circumstances, but not from extending advice for the betterment of fellow beings for the sake of Allah.
Nafil (supplementary) advice is to give Allah’s love predominance on all other things. If there is a clash between the desires of the self and Shari’ah, it should be the preference of Shari’ah over the desires.
The concept of giving good advice and wishing others well was the prime responsibility in the training provided by Prophet (SAW) to his companions. Jareer bin Abdullah(RA) said that Prophet (SAW) took oath of allegiance from him on the establishment of prayers, Zakah (alms giving) and giving sincere advice to fellow Muslims and wishing them well.
In the context of the same tradition, Imam Nawwawi (RehmA) through Tabarani quotes another incident of Jareer bin Abdullah. The essence of the incident is that he asked his assistant to purchase a horse for him. The assistant bought the horse for 300 in the then prevalent currency, which probably was dirham. The seller accompanied the horse too. Seeing the horse, Jareer asked the seller: “The price is not appropriate for this horse, would you accept 400? The seller said: “As you please.” Jareer happily added: “Would you like to take 500?” The seller said: “Sure, if it pleases you.” Jareer kept adding till it reached 800 dinars, which were paid to the seller. People questioned Jareer for his strange conduct. They said that people bargain and pay less while buying something whereas you kept increasing the price. Jareer replied that he had taken oath of allegiance on the hand of Prophet (SAW) to wish well and to do good to fellow Muslims.
This incident shows us the value of Prophet (SAW) words in the sight of his companions. The dictates of love with Prophet (SAW) are to love him and his words over and above of every thing else. That is what we learn from the life of Prophet (SAW) and his companions. May Allah enable us to love Prophet (SAW) and follow the footsteps of his companions in loving him and putting his words on the highest pedestal. Aamin!