Akhlaq & Spirituality / Sunday, August 17th, 2008

الدين النصيحة

“The religion (Islam) is to act with sincerity” or “Religion is advice”

The Arabic word Al-Nasihah is difficult to translate into English.

Allama Ibn Daqeeq al Eid رحمة الله عليه states that “In Arabic there is no similar for the word Al-Nasihah”

Other meanings could be – giving good advice, directing towards good, acting with sincerity or honesty, or being compassionate and desiring good.

The hadith makes clear that one of the core aspects of true faith is to give good counsel, to wish well, and to act towards everything with honesty and sincerity.

Advice is a gift. However, how useful is a gift if the recipient is incapable of its use. If a person who can not walk was given a bicycle, it would be pointless similarly if a person with no hair was given a comb, it would be pointless.

Advice is the same. When a person gives advice, they are only giving what they feel would help you. This could be from giving in depth guidelines to saying, “Don’t run, you’ll trip.”

When a person feels that they are in no need of advice or they can think for themselves, either they have become an angel or the western culture has infiltrated their common sense. There is a famous saying in Arabic,

اذا كنت لا تعلم ولا تعلم انك لا تعلم فانك جاهل

“When you do not know, and you do not know that you don’t know, then you are ignorant. And the ignorant are to be avoided.”

Lack of accepting advice falls down to a few things: pride, arrogance, senselessness and carelessness. All these can destroy a person.

Remember, the one giving advice is doing one thing, the one taking advice is doing more; they are heeding advice and accepting the need for it which makes them more worthy of Allah’s Mercy.

It was very sad to see one person who is completely destroying their well being just because they feel advice is not what they need. A person who has smoked for 30 years can advice someone not to smoke and they will not be a hypocrite. This does not mean that the person giving advice should not care about giving up first. That should be their first priority. The advice is for you, their action is for them. You advising them would then be another issue.

Another thing to remember, when giving advice, is not to adopt “a holier than thou attitude.”

In the army of Gwalior was a Muslim soldier who was clean-shaven. Other Muslim soldiers always criticized him for shaving his beard. However, he ignored their criticism and never kept a beard. Coincidentally, the king ordered that henceforth, all soldiers would have to be clean-shaven. The others told him: “Now you may rejoice. All have to be like you.”

He replied: “Until now I refrained from keeping a beard on account of the mischief of my Nafs. Now I shall not abstain from a law of the Shariah because of an order of a Kafir king. I shall rather work elsewhere as a laborer.”

He resigned and grew a beard while the others who had criticized him, shaved their beards. It appears in the Ahadith that whoever criticizes another person’s action, adopting a holier than thou attitude, will not die before having committed the same misdeed. Only Allah Ta’aala was aware of the condition of the heart.

In conclusion, the one giving advice does not make them a better person that the one taking advice. Nabi (s) also took advice in matters of war etc. When the trench suggestion was accepted, did it make Salman al-Farsi better than Nabi (s) for giving the suggestion? Remember, take advice as a suggestion and not as an order, it will be easier to follow. If you take the advice as an order, you have another quality, you are humble. The one taking advice can hold many qualities which can result to them being in a very high position in the eyes of Allah.

When Sheikh Abdul Qaadir Jilaani (ra) was on his death bed, his son Abdul Wahhab (ra) said to him: “O my master, leave me with some advice to put into practice after you are gone.” To this he (Sheikh Abdul Qaadir Jilaani) replied: “You must observe your duty to Allah, fear no one but Allah, pin your hopes on no one but Allah, and entrust all your needs to Allah. Do not rely on anyone but Him, address all your requests to Him, and put your trust in no one other than Allah. Affirm his oneness. All is contained within the affirmation of his oneness.

Here is some more advice from Sheikh Abdul Qaadir Jilaani (ra):

Three things demand the attention of every believer under all circumstances.

  • A commandment to be obeyed,
  • A prohibition (haraam) to be respected, and
  • A divine degree to be accepted with good grace.

In even the most trivial situation (a situation not considered important), at least one of the three will apply. The believer must therefore keep his mind and feelings focused upon them, talk to himself about them, and practice the physical self-discipline they require of him at all times.

Here is some advice from Hazrat Hamdoon (rah):

  • When you see a drunken man, take care of your own nafs. Fear for its transformation and corruption so that you may not be overtaken by a similar calamity.
  • He who reflects on the lives of the illustrious predecessors (the Auliya of former times) will understand his
    own deficiencies and how far behind he lags from attaining the lofty ranks of the Men of Allah.
  • Do not reveal such deeds of others, which you love to be concealed if you had committed them.
  • Rizq which suffices for you is drawn to you without effort and toil. Toil/effort is in (the pursuit of) excess
    (i.e. what is in excess of your needs).
  • The Salf (Saaliheen) spoke for the honor of Islam; for salvation from the Nafs and for the pleasure of Ar-Rahmaan. We speak for the honor of our Nafs; for the search of the dunya and for the pleasure of people.
  • When Iblees and his armies assemble, nothing gives them greater pleasure than three persons: A Mu’min who kills another Mu’min. A man who dies a kaafir. A heart in which there is fear of poverty.
  • As long as you do not recognize your own faults, you remain barricaded (from all goodness).
  • He, who is diverted from the Aakhirah by the quest for the world, will be disgraced in this world and
    the Aakhirah.

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