Hadith 07: The Religion is Naseehah

“On the authority of Abu Ruqayyah Tameem ibn Aus (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The religion is naseehah.’ The people said, ‘To whom?’ The Prophet (s) replied, ‘To Allah and His Book and to His Messenger and to the Leaders of the Muslims and to the common folk of the Muslims.’” (Recorded by Muslim)

The Narrator

Tameem ibn Aus al-Daari (r) embraced Islam in the 9th year after the Hijrah. He was previously a Christian and some commentators have said that he may even have been a monk. He lived in Madinah and was well known for his performance of the late night prayers and his reading of the Qur’an. He is also credited with introducing lanterns into the mosques. He narrated 18 hadith in total, but this is the only hadith narrated by him inSahih Muslim.

“The religion is naseehah.”

In this hadith, the Prophet (s) stated that the religion of Islam is naseehah. This is a very profound statement. It implies that the essence of the religion can be found within this concept.

Naseehah is a very comprehensive term that encompasses sincerity, virtue, good advice, well-wishing, the desire for all forms of goodness, purification, cleansing, improving, removing unwanted elements, uniting and joining something that has been separated. It can be understood as seeking an action or statement that contains goodness and improvement for another person. In this we can see that both the intention and the action are desiring what is best for the other person. It is loving what is good for our fellow Muslim and calling them to it. This is the essence of the practice of the religion of Islam, and the way of the true believer.

SubhanAllah, this sounds like something so simple, to want what is best for another person and to guide them to it, but many times this can feel very difficult. How often do we see someone doing something that we know to be wrong, or perhaps doubtful, and yet we are too afraid to speak out for fear of offending them or hurting their feelings? The essence of naseehah is that we should want what is best for another person, so we should try to find a way to gently guide them to what is better, with wisdom and good preaching. It is only when we do this, that we will be fulfilling this essential aspect of our religion.

The rest of this important hadith will be discussed in upcoming posts inshaAllah.

“On the authority of Abu Ruqayyah Tameem ibn Aus (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The religion is naseehah.’ The people said, ‘To whom?’ The Prophet (s) replied, ‘To Allah and His Book and to His Messenger and to the Leaders of the Muslims and to the common folk of the Muslims.’” (Recorded by Muslim)

Naseehah to Allah

Making naseehah to Allah (swt), as outlined in this commentary, implies having the correct intention in one’s heart to fulfill the rights of Allah. This requires fulfilling our obligatory duties to Him in the best way possible, with IhsaanNaseehah to Allah (swt) cannot be perfected without this, and it therefore be the goal of every Muslim. To acheive this we need to love what Allah (swt) has ordered us to do. This means that we should strive to draw nearer to Allah through what He (swt) has made obligatory upon us, and by performing voluntary good deeds, as well as avoiding what is forbidden or disliked by Allah (swt).

Making naseehah to Allah (swt) includes the following acts of worship: believing in Him; denying Him any partners; affirming all of His names and attributes as stated in the Qur’an and the Sunnah; obeying Him and fulfilling His commands; obstaining from what He has forbidden; striving to remember Him at all times; loving and hating for His sake; supporting those support Him and work for His cause; being against those who are against Him or who fight against His cause; having honour for His sake; being upset when His laws are disrespected; recognising the blessings He has bestowed on us and thanking Him for them, and more than this. This is the naseehah to Allah that the Prophet (s) was referring to in this hadith.

The one who benefits from this naseehah is the believer and not Allah (swt). Allah (swt) is Self-Sufficient and is not in need of any of His creation. When the believer makesnaseehah to Allah, they are drawing themselves closer to Him (swt) and purifying themselves. Allah (swt) in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has made these acts obligatory upon us, so we are literally obligated to purify ourselves and draw nearer to Allah (swt). SubhanAllah, the beauty of Islam.

But are we meeting our obligations? Are we remembering Allah (swt) and obeying Him? Are we upset when His laws are disrespected? Do we love for His sake? Are we thankful for the blessings of food, shelter and health? What about hearing, sight and speech?

Let’s make dua to Allah (swt) to assist us remembering Him as He should be remembered, thanking Him as He (swt) should be thanked and worshipping Him as He should be worshipped.

“On the authority of Abu Ruqayyah Tameem ibn Aus (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The religion is naseehah.’ The people said, ‘To whom?’ The Prophet (s) replied, ‘To Allah and His Book and to His Messenger and to the Leaders of the Muslims and to the common folk of the Muslims.’” (Recorded by Muslim)

Naseehah to His Book

After instructing us to make naseehah to Allah (swt), the Prophet (s) then advised us to make naseehah to His Book. As we saw in the previous example, although naseehah can be understood in the general sense to refer to giving sincere advice, giving naseehah to Allah, His Book and His Messenger, in fact implies giving naseehah to ourselves in respect to purifying our relationship with these things.

Naseehah to the Book of Allah (swt) requires that we believe in the whole class of revelation including previously revealed scriptures (although none of the original revelations remain) as well as the Qur’an. We should believe that the Qur’an is the speech and uncreated word of Allah (swt) and that it is not like the word of man. We should seek to defend and protect the Qur’an from any kind of distortion or misrepresentation, including anyone making false claims about its authenticity or state of unchanged preservation.

We should also strive, according to the best of our ability, to gain the blessings of the Qur’an in our daily lives through reading it (with translation if we don’t understand Arabic), reciting it correctly, studying it and learning its lessons and parables.  Calling others to believe in the Qur’an as a revelation from Allah is also part of this naseehah.

Naseehah to the Book of Allah requires us handle the Qur’an with the proper respect. We should not touch the mushaf (Arabic Qur’an without translation) while we are in a state of sexual impurity or during a woman’s menstruation. Some scholars also recommend that one does not touch the mushaf without wudhu (ablution).

Since naseehah is such an essential part of our religion, we need to ask ourselves sincerely if we are in fact making naseehah to the Book of Allah. What place does the Qur’an hold in our daily lives? Do we turn to it as our first source of guidance? Do we know all the lessons that it teaches us? Are we striving to recite it in the best way possible? And are we calling to others to believe in it?

We have this astonishing jewel that is like no other treasure in the world. Let’s cherish it, contemplate it, and share it with others.

“On the authority of Abu Ruqayyah Tameem ibn Aus (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The religion is naseehah.’ The people said, ‘To whom?’ The Prophet (s) replied, ‘To Allah and His Book and to His Messenger and to the Leaders of the Muslims and to the common folk of the Muslims.’” (Recorded by Muslim)

Naseehah to His Messenger

Naseehah to Allah’s Messenger (s) includes believing in the message that he (s) brought and believing it to be divinely inspired; obeying him (s); helping and defending him (s); defending his (s) honour and respecting his (s) status. It also includes accepting that the Prophet (s) was a true leader and the best example with respect to this religion. He (s) is the only real human authority and everyone else’s statements and opinions come after his (s). If we follow another person’s opinion in opposition to that of the Prophet (s) then we are not making proper naseehah to Allah’s Messenger (s).

Reviving and guarding the Prophet’s (s) Sunnah is an important aspect of this naseehahand we should strive to fight any innovations in the religion. We should love those who love him (s) and be an enemy to those who are against him. We should also strive to spread his (s) message and make supplications for him (s).

Making naseehah to the Messenger of Allah (s) includes loving his (s) family and his Companions (r). The Prophet (s) loved his Companions – including Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali – very deeply and he expressed his sincere love for them on many occasions. If one were to insult or denigrate any of his (s) beloved companions it would be like denigrating the Prophet (s) himself for choosing such people to be close to. In fact, one is actually insulting Allah (swt) if they insult the Prophet’s (s) companions because they were chosen by Allah (swt) to be the people who would carry His (swt) religion, preserve the Qur’an and carry the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) to the following generations.

Finally, making naseehah to Allah’s Messenger (s) includes loving those who follow, defend and strive to revive his (s) Sunnah. They are working for the sake of Allah (swt) in supporting the Messenger (s), so we should not hold any hatred for them in our hearts. It’s a very sad thing to imagine, but there is a lot enmity in the hearts of Muslims towards fellow Muslims. Communities become polarised through following different scholars, and even within like-minded communities there are differences and quarrelling. It is an astonishing and truly saddening thing that we can not be united upon the practice of theSunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (s). May Allah (swt) guide us to what is better and grant unity to the Muslim Ummah. Ameen.

As a way of making naseehah to Allah’s Messenger (s), let’s try and revive the Sunnahwithin our own daily lives. Can you think of something that you know from the Sunnahthat you are not practicing? What about the Duha prayer (between the sunrise and dhurprayer)? Shaking the hand of your fellow Muslim when you greet them? Spreading the greeting of Salam to those who you don’t know? Try and think of a Sunnah that you are not currently practicing and revive it in your life. You will reap the benefits.

“On the authority of Abu Ruqayyah Tameem ibn Aus (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The religion is naseehah.’ The people said, ‘To whom?’ The Prophet (s) replied, ‘To Allah and His Book and to His Messenger and to the Leaders of the Muslims and to the common folk of the Muslims.’” (Recorded by Muslim)

Naseehah to the Leaders of the Muslims

After outlining they ways in which an individual should make  naseehah to themselves in respect to purifying their relationship with AllahHis Book and His Messenger, the Prophet (s) goes on to explain that naseehah should also be given to others, including the leaders of the Muslims as well as those in the wider society.

This statement of the Prophet (s) shows us that no-one is above receiving or acceptingnaseehah, no matter how high-ranking a person may be. With respect to our submission to Allah and our need to follow His Shareerah, we are all equal and everyone is in need ofnaseehah or sincere guidance. Indeed, if a leader is sincere, they will welcome naseehahand change their views if they are shown to be wrong. At the same time, they are also amongst the first of those who are deserving of our respect because of the responsibility that they take.

There are two kinds of ‘leaders’ amongst the Muslims, and both are referred to in the wording of this hadith. The first are the religious leaders or scholars and the second are the worldly leaders or rulers.

Making naseehah to the scholars implies taking the knowledge that they pass on and applying it in our daily lives, accepting their rulings if they provide sound proofs for their decisions, having good thoughts about them and not suspecting them of evil.

Making naseehah to the leaders of the Muslims includes: helping them when they are following the truth; obeying them in what is right (this will be discussed further in a later hadith Insha’Allah); reminding them if they make an error or forget; being patient with them when they do things that a person does not like; fighting for them and praying for their guidance and piety.

It is the right of the Muslim subject who has knowledge and understanding to advise the rulers to what is best, and to forbid them from evil. Because the actions of those in power affect so many people, making naseehah to them to advise them as what is right is of even more importance. If it is at all possible, naseehah should be given face to face. If that is not possible, it can be done through those who are in contact with them, or by writing to them directly. Many scholars state that it is preferable to advise in private and not in public.

The best examples for the Muslims rulers, such as Abu Bakr (r) and Umar (r), certainly realised what an important role naseehah played in their rule. They actively sought advice reminded the Muslims as a whole that it was an obligation upon them to correct and advise the Muslim rulers. Umar (r) reportedly said, “May Allah have mercy on the one who corrects us concerning our evil.” This was a sign of their sincerity subhanAllah.

It’s a sad fact that when we read this, our hearts can only sink when we think of what has become of Muslims rulers of today. Where can we see any example of rulers who are truly living and implementing the Shareeah? Where can we see any examples of rulers who are willing to listen to the naseehah of their subjects? As I write this, the streets are filled with protesters in Arab countries voicing their discontent with their rulers.

On a more personal level, let’s ask ourselves how willing we are to accept sincere naseehah? Are we willing to listen if someone wants to advise us to what is best concerning our conduct, our speech or how we dress? Pride gets in the way and tells us we don’t want to be told what to do, even if what we are being advised to is best for us in terms of our religion. We should reflect not only on giving naseehah to others, but also on how to accept it, and to change our conduct for the sake of Allah (swt).

“On the authority of Abu Ruqayyah Tameem ibn Aus (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The religion is naseehah.’ The people said, ‘To whom?’ The Prophet (s) replied, ‘To Allah and His Book and to His Messenger and to the Leaders of the Muslims and to the common folk of the Muslims.’” (Recorded by Muslim)

Naseehah to the common folk of the Muslims

Making naseehah or giving sincere advice to the common Muslims includes: guiding them to what is best for them in this life and the Hereafter; teaching them about their religion and other things that they may be ignorant about; aiding them; not harming them; concealing their faults; ordering them to perform good deeds and eradicating evil amongst them. It also includes having mercy for the young and showing respect to the elders.

Al-Nawawi points out that our pious predecessors would work for one another and advise one another to the point that they would even sacrifice their own worldly interests out of preference for their brothers’ needs. They would love for their brother what they loved for themselves, only more so. This illustrates the important point that naseehahshould be done with the correct intention, that is, wanting what is best for the other person.

There is a difference between giving naseehah and shaming or embarrassing another person. Mentioning a Muslim’s faults or sins simply to blame, ridicule or shame them is forbidden. It is recorded in a hadith in al-Bukhari that the Prophet (s) forbade his followers from rebuking a women who committed illegal sexual intercourse, even though he had ordered her to be punished.

However, if there is some overriding benefit in mentioning such faults, then it becomes either recommended or obligatory to do so. This was the case when scholars of hadith had to speak out against the reliability of some narrators of hadith. This action was part of their naseehah to the Muslim community as a whole, in order that they could accurately preserve the hadith of the Prophet (s). This type of naseehah also becomes obligatory when refuting a misinterpretation of the Qur’an or the Sunnah that people may try to spread throughout the Muslim community. It is obligatory to refute this type of act even if it is done in public, as long as the goal is not to ridicule them, but rather to correct their mistakes.

Naseehah therefore plays an important role for the Muslim community as a whole. It is one of the key aspects to protect a society from the spread of evil. Those who slip, should be sincerely advised and helped to stop. Such behaviour engenders love and brotherhood amongst the Muslims and removes selfishness and hatred.

As with the naseehah to the Muslim leaders, it is best if naseehah amongst members of the Muslim community is done in private. We should have sound knowledge of what we are giving advice about, otherwise we may lead someone astray. We should also be prepared to accept naseehah, and not be so proud as to think that we are above correction.

This is such a profound hadith, SubhanAllah. The Prophet (s) summed up the religion of Islam in just one word, naseehah. Being engaged in naseehah to Allah, to His Book, to His Messenger, to the leaders of the Muslims and to the common folk of the Muslims, effectively has an impact on every second of our lives. If we were to be effectively engaged in these types of naseehah, we would purify both ourselves and our societies. How simple the call, how much we struggle to implement it.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s