Islamic Religious Council of Singapore
24 January 2020 / 28 Jamadilawal 1441H
Advising One Another: A Muslim’s Role
Blessed Friday Congregation,
Let us together elevate our taqwa of Allah s.w.t. with sincerity and conviction. Let us be steadfast in obeying His commands and avoiding His prohibitions. May we be among the people of faith and taqwa, who are blessed by Allah in this world and saved from hellfire in the hereafter.
My dear brothers,
Allah s.w.t. has granted human beings with many gifts; among the most invaluable of them is the gift of speech. Our speech can produce various effects, either positive or negative. There are those who use their gift to do good; they utter the remembrance of Allah, supplicate to Him, read the Quran and give salam. But there also are others who lack the ability to control their speech, contributing to conflicts among family and friends.
Listen to what the Prophet s.a.w. tells us in a hadith narrated by Imam At-Tirmizi:
Meaning: “When the son of Adam gets up in the morning, all the limbs admonish the tongue and say: 'Fear Allah for our sake, because we are as you are. If you are straight, we will be straight; and if you are crooked, we will become crooked.”
This hadith reminds us to be cautious when speaking. We should ensure that our speech do not incur Allah’s wrath, even if its honest and true. It also teaches us that the tongue has the potential to make an impact and play a positive role. Due to the constraints of time, allow me to highlight one of the tongue’s roles and that is to advise one another. This is among the greatest teachings of Islam. Rasulullah s.a.w. once said: “This religion is but an advice.” (Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim)
Besides giving advice in person, one may also advise others via social media platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and others. Regardless of the platform, or the evolution of methods of communication among humans – Islam has provided guidelines with regards to advising one another. This is because our excitement in advising another person may lead us to believe that it is a genuine advice, when in fact we may end up pushing him/her further away.
In order to ensure that our advices are effective, let me share three guidelines which will help us in our efforts to provide guidance to others.
Firstly: Correcting our intentions.
Every advice that we give should be based upon clear and correct intentions. Advices that are meant to put down others should not be given. Let our intentions be that the good we desire will not be polluted by any wrongful purpose. Allah s.w.t. tells us in Surah Az-Zumar, verse 11:
Meaning: “Say, [O Muhammad], "Indeed, I have been commanded to worship Allah, being sincere to Him in religion.”
The scholars have defined the Arabic word “An-Nasihah” as desiring good for the individual for whom we are providing counsel. This is an indication of the importance of sincerity when giving advice. If we sincerely wish to help others through our advice, we should be aware of what we say and how it may impact them. We should not be sarcastic nor degrading.
Secondly: Knowing the individual’s background and personality.
While it is important to be sincere, we are also taught not to be impulsive when saying or doing something. We must ensure the words of advice and motivation we offer are appropriate for the individual we are addressing. Learning their psyche and background is key in providing accurate and effective advice.
The Prophet s.a.w. himself, when asked for advice regarding a matter, would answer in a way that best suited the inquirer. He was asked on multiple accounts about what was the best deed in Islam. On one occasion, he instructed the inquirer to care for his parents. On another, the Prophet instructed the individual to guard his manners and control his anger.
My brothers, this is an example that we must follow when offering advice, guidance and motivation. For the advice to have a positive effect on the individual, we must ensure that what we say suits the person seeking it.
Thirdly: Taking a progressive approach.
My brothers, the purpose of giving advice and encouragement is to help others improve themselves. Change requires time before its desired outcome may be achieved; there are no shortcuts to it. All advices should be given through stages. The Quran itself was revealed in stages, taking into account society’s receptiveness towards the verses and their needs, to ensure that they will be properly guided. Our approach in providing advices should also be carried out in stages.
My dear brothers,
All these measures mentioned are an effort on our part to become a source of guidance and hope to those around us. May our efforts bring good to us and may Allah s.w.t. be pleased with us. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.