How to Correct or Advise a Fellow Muslim?

Giving advice and counsel to a fellow Muslim is an important aspect in Islam. One should not conceal things from them which would yield a positive outcome or preserve him from something bad. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has said: “Religion is good counsel”. It is important that when a Muslim asks for advice, that one should not guide him in a course which he knows is not beneficial. Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) from his infinite mercy sent prophets and messengers time and again to invite towards righteousness through advice. For example, Prophet Nūḥ (ʿalayhi al-Salām) said to his people: “I convey to you the Messages of my Lord and give sincere advice to you. And I know from Allāh what you know not.” Al-Qur’ān, 7:62

The lack of good advice can be identified with the presence of envy towards the favors Allah has bestowed upon other Muslims. It has been said that “envy consumes good deeds just as fire consumes dry wood”. One may, when it has seen that a favor has been bestowed on one of his servants, ask Allah SWT to grant him the like.

One must feel dislike for his praises with the heart when someone praises you. If he has praised you for something you truly possess, say: “praise belongs to God who has revealed the good things and hidden the ugly things.” and if he praises you for something you do not possess, say “o God! Do not call me to account for what they say, forgive me what they do not know, and make me better than they think.”

Abū Hurayrah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) narrated that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said “the mu’min is owed six things by the mu’min” of which he mentioned “when he asks for your sincere good counsel, then advise him.” Muslim (2162). Furthermore, when you wish to give advice to someone. Make sure you’re the best person or in the best position to give that advice. One must possess the relevant knowledge in that area. If one doesn’t have knowledge on that area of advice needed, one may give the wrong advice perhaps by forbidding good and instead of forbidding evil.

Moreover, one must be gentle when giving advice as well as respect their privacy. It is narrated that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “[For] whoever pursues the shortcomings of people, Allāh will pursue theirs.” At-Tirmidhi. Thus, one must try to talk to the person in private as whatever he urges his brother will be done in private. This would be regarded as sincere good advice and counsel. If you are given something as a trust, you have to guard it better than if it was yours. Return that which was entrusted to you, and beware of betraying trust.

It is also important to listen before we give advice. By listening first, it would be easier to grasp the issue and understand the matter. One must also refrain from being judgemental because it could make matters worse than they were. It is important to be mindful of our words  and give good words of advice.

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