My dear brothers and sisters, everyone is obligated to give advice, to encourage others to do good, and to avoid doing bad actions.
We need to act on the knowledge and experience that we have been blessed with for the good of those around us.
Allah SWT speaks of this in the Glorious Quran in Surea Al-Nahil, ayat 125:
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are living in a time where bad advice is rife. And this is something that we are warned of also in the Glorious Quran. The following passage is from Sura Ghafir, ayat 29 and 30 which is translated as saying:
My people, as masters in the land you have the power today, but who will help us against God’s might if it comes upon us?
But Pharaoh said, ‘I have told you what I think; I am guiding you along the right path.’
The believer said, ‘My people, I fear your fate will be the fate of those others who opposed their prophets.’
Dear brothers and sisters, this is telling us of the greatest of liars and deceivers, Pharaoh, insisting that he is sincere and guiding others in the correct path.
This demonstrates that we must be vigilant against people who may appear to be sincere but in actual fact have sinister motives in offering their advice.
A good guidance is from the opinions of people around that person. If they are able to vouch for the advice offered then it’s a good indicator but as always, seek assistance from Allah SWT in getting good advice.
As regards to giving the advice, as with all things in relation to our faith, our Prophet SAWS was the ultimate teacher of the etiquette of giving the advice.
What follows then are 6 points worth remembering so that we fulfil our obligation in giving advice but with the best of manners in delivery.
- Purify Intentions
We should examine our motives and intentions prior to offering the advice. It should be for the sake of Allah and not for the purposes of seeking fame, worldly gain or showing superiority.
As advisors we should have enough knowledge about the advice we are about to give. It is better to avoid advising someone if the knowledge isn’t there rather than accidentally offering the wrong advice based on ignorance.
- Maintain Privacy
Aim to give advice in private. Giving advice in Islam should not involve exposing the personal weaknesses of people.
This is a key point. We should try very hard to avoid giving advice in the form of a reprimand. Instead we should offer insights, experiences, and ideas as if there were another point of view for the other person to consider without being forceful. Avoid making judgments.
- Listen First
Half of being able to give advice is to listen first. Issues are often more complex than they initially appear. By listening first, we can truly appreciate the matter and understand it fully and then offer any suitable advice. And we should never impose ourselves on anyone. We should always ask if that person wants our advice otherwise it will fall on deaf ears.
- Lead by Example
Lastly, it is likely that a person will listen to you if you have faced a similar situation in the past and acted according to how you are currently giving advice. If our advice involves something that the other person clearly sees that we are not doing, then it is unlikely that they will follow our advice.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to always remember that Allah SWT describes Muslims as helpers, supporters, friends, and protectors of one another.
Therefore, we should be genuinely concerned about each other and help ourselves and others to prepare for life in the Hereafter. This means giving and taking correct, sincere advice and keeping one another on the right path.
May Allah SWT give us the ability to give sincere advice. May Allah SWT protect us from receiving bad advice and may Allah SWT reward us for our efforts in giving and receiving advice.