Abu Ruqayyah Tamim bin Aws ad-Dari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) said, “Religion is nasihah.” The people said, “To whom?” The prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) replied, “To Allah and to His Book, and to His Messenger and to the Leaders of the Muslims and to the common folk of the Muslims.”
[Muslim – Kitab al-lman (Book on Faith), 55/95]
Importance of the Hadith
This hadith is one of the hadiths upon which fiqh focuses.
Al-Hafizh Abu Nu’aym said, “This hadith has a great position.”
Admonition in the Sunnah
Admonition to Muslims, is found in many hadiths. In some there is advice to their rulers, and in some, advice of the rulers to their subjects.
1.Admonition to Muslims in general
On the authority of Jarir bin Abdullah, who said, “I swore my allegiance to the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) to perform the prayers, and pay zakah.” [Bukhari – in Kitab Mawaqit as-Salah (Book on the Prayer Times), hadith 524; Muslim – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith), 52/97]
In this hadith, the counsel is for all Muslims.
Also, it was related on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, who narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) said, “The rights of the believer upon the believer are six,” and from these six, he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) mentioned, “if he asks for your advice, you advise him.” [Muslim – Kitab as-Salam (Book on Greetings), 2162/5]
2. Admonition to those in authority
It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) said, “Verily Allah is pleased with you for three matters and displeased with you concerning three matters. He is pleased with you for worshipping Him and not ascribing any partner to Him, for clinging to the cord of Allah and not dividing, and for being mutually sincere with those whom Allah has put in charge of your affairs … ” [Al-Adab al-Mufrad – hadith 442; Sahih Ibn Hibban – hadith 3388]
3. Admonition to those in authority over their subjects
It was narrated on the authority of Mughaffal bin Yasar that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) said, “There is no person to whom Allah gives authority over others and who does not look after them in a sincere manner that he will not even get the scent of Pardise.” [Bukhari – Kitab al-Ahkam (Book on Rulings), hadith 7150; Muslim – Kitab al-lman (Book on Faith), hadith 142/229]
Allah mentioned in His Book that the Prophets advised their people, as is related about Nuh (Noah) and Salih.
The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) stated, “Religion is nasihah.” – This saying indicates that nasihah includes the branches of Islam, Iman and Ihsan which were mentioned in the hadith of Gabriel, as they were all termed to be a “religion”.
Correct admonition necessitates performing what He has made mandatory in the most complete fashion possible, which is Ihsan. Thus, admonition is not complete without it, which does not come without the mandatory complete love and appreciation. This requires effort to draw close to Him by performance of supererogatory acts of obedience, and leaving the unlawful and disliked.
Al-Khatabi said, “ ‘nasihah’ is a word that expresses a sentence; it the desire for good for the one who is advised. ” He further said, “The linguistic root of ‘nasihah ’ means purity.”
This is in the same sense as, “Honey is purified from the wax.”
Thus, the meaning of nasihah for Allah is – The correctness of belief in His Oneness and sincerity of intention in His worship.
The meaning of nasihah for His Book is faith in it and acting according to it.
Nasihah for His Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) is belief in his prophethood, and obeying him (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) in what he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) ordered and prohibited.
Nasihah for common Muslims is guiding them to what is for their benefit.
The Explanation of Nasihah (Admonition)
Nasihah is the heart’s attention for an advised action regardless of the person. It is of two types – obligatory and supererogatory.
The nasihah which is obligatory in the sight of Allah is the intense attention of the one giving advice for that which is advised in performing that which is obligatory and avoiding that which is prohibited.
The nasihah which is supererogatory is the preference of the love of Allah over the love for oneself. For this reason, if one is faced with two matters, one for one’s own sake, and the other for the sake of his Lord, he should begin with that which is for his Lord and defer that which is for himself.
The nasihah for His Book is the intense love and reverence for its positon, as it is the Speech of the Creator and the intense desire to understand it. It is also the intense care to reflect upon it, and to stop while reading it to find the meanings of what his Lord loves for him to understand about Himself, and to perform it for Him after he understands it.
The nasihah for the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) was to exert effort in his obedience, support and aid, and spend wealth if he desired and speed to his love. After the death of the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam), it was the care to pursue his sunnah, revive his manners and ethics, honor his orders and perform them, and extreme anger and turning way from any who performed their religion away from his sunnah, and anger for whomever followed his sunnah for the sake of some earthly gain, even if he were devout by doing so. It is also love for whomever was one of his, such as his relatives, in-laws, hijrah support, or who accompanied him even one hour of the night or day for the sake of Islam and imitated him in his manners and dress.
The nasihah for the leaders (political and religious) of the Muslims, is love for their righteousness, guidance, justice, and desire that the Muslims unite under their leaders, as well as hate when Muslims divide because of them. It is also to be devout by obeying them in obedience to Allah, and hating those who choose to rebel against them and prefer to glorify themselves rather than show obedience to Allah the Glorified and Magnificent.
The nasihah for Muslims is to love for them what you love for yourself, and to hate for them what you hate for yourself, and to feel mercy towards them. One should respect their elders, feel sad in their sadness, and feel happy in their hapiness even if it harms one in one’s livelihood. This could happen by lowering prices when selling merchandise, even if this causes a loss in profit in his trade. Similarly, he should share their feelings regarding whatever harms them in general, and to feel happy with what benefits them, and to feel happy for their continual success, as well as supporting them against their enemies, and keeping all injury or ill away from them.
Some of the ways of nasihah to them are by keeping injury or ill from them, preferring the poor, educating the ignorant and returning with gentleness any of them who went astray from the truth in word or action, and being gentle with them in ordering righteousness and forbidding evil, and loving removal of their corruption, even if it causes harm to him in his life. Just as some of the Pious Predecessors said, “I wish that this creation obeyed Allah, even if it required that my flesh be torn from my body.”
Types of Nasihah (Admonition)
Among the types of admonition for the sake of Allah and His Book and His Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam), is that which is specific to scholars, such as returning the desires which lead one astray back to the straight path with the Qur’an and sunnah, and clarifying the proofs against such desires. Similarly, it includes rejecting weak statements from the mistakes of the scholars, while clarifying the evidence of the Qur’an and Sunnah in answering them, as well as the clarification of what is correct from the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam)’s hadiths, and what is not authentic by clarifying which narrators were accepted and those who were not, as well as clarifying the mistakes from the trustworthy narrators whose narrations were accepted.
Among the greatest types of admonition is to advise he who seeks consultation on his matters, just as the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa Sallam) said, “If one of you are asked by his brother for advice, advise him.” [Tirmidhi – Kitab al-Adab (Book on Good Manners), hadith 2737]
In some of the hadiths it is narrated that it is among the Muslim’s rights upon the Muslim to admonish in his absence. [See: Tirmidhi – Kitab al-Janaiz (Book on Funerals), hadith 1917; Musnad Ahmad 2/321]
The meaning of this is that if people speak badly about a man in his absence, the Muslim should support him and answer for him. If he later saw that person whom he defended in his absence, he should not mention it. For advising in someone’s absence indicates the sincerity of the advisor’s intention, rather than making that advice known in his presence, flattering him, yet cheating him in his absence.
The Manners of Nasihah (Admonition)
The Pious Predecessors were secretive when giving advice to anyone, to the extent that some of them said, “Whoever advised his brother regarding what is between them, it is advice. Yet whoever advised him in front of people, it is a reprimand.”
By: Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali , From the book: Jami’ al Ulum wal Hikam.