I took this from the English explanation of the 40 hadith an-Nawawi. It was written by Shaikh Zarabozo. I have edited the English and summarised the article.
“The Religion is Naseehah”
عَنْ أَبي رُقِيَّةَ تَميمٍ بْنِ أَوْسٍ الدَّارِيِّ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنهُ اَن النَّبيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ سَلَّمَ قال: الدَّينُ النَّصِيحَةُ قُلْنَا لِمَنْ قَالَ لَلَّهِ وَ لِكِتَابِهِ وَ لِرَسُولِهِ وَ لِأَئِمَّةِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَ عَامَّتِهِمْ
On the authority of Abu Ruqayah 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 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.”
(Recorded by Muslim)
This hadith was recorded by Muslim, Abu Dawood, Al-Nisaai, Ahmad, al-Humaidi, Abu Awaana, Ibn Hibban, al-Baihaqi and a number of others.
This hadith is in the Sahih Bukhari, but without its chain. This is because it did not meet al-Bukhari’s criteria for his book as he included hadith only of the highest degree of authenticity in his collection. This particular hadith has been narrated through Suhail ibn Abu Saalih. Some scholars criticised him as a narrator, so al-Bukhari avoided him. However, his hadith are recorded in the major works of hadith and many scholars, including ibn Adi found him to be trustworthy and without any problems. In any case the hadith is definitely sahih.
Similarly hadith have been narrated b y Abu Huraira, Ibn Umar, Thaubaan and Ibn Abbaas. Furthermore, there are numerous other hadith that stress the concept of naseehah in general.
General Comments About this Hadith
Some of the scholars said that if thousands of hadith of the Prophet would be lost, this hadith would be sufficient to guide the Muslims. Abu Dawood stated that this is one of the hadith around which all of fiqh revolves. Some scholars have called this hadith one fourth of the religion but in fact, as shall be seen its meaning encompasses the entirety of the religion of Islam.
About the Narrator: Tameem al-Daari
Tameem ibn Aus al-Daari is a well-known Companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He embraced Islam in the year 9 A.H. Prior to that he was a Christian; some say that he was a monk. He participated in a number of the battles of the Prophet. He lived in Madinah but after the death of Uthmaan, he moved to Syria. He was known for his performance of the late-night prayers and his reading of the Quran. He was accredited with being the first person to put lanterns in the masajid. Furthermore, during the time of Umar, he was the first person to narrate stories in the masajid, he did that with the permission of Umar – although it was Umar’s policy to prohibit such a practice, he found that Tameem would only say what was truthful. Tameem died in the year 40 A.H. in Palestine.
This is the only hadith narrated by Tameem that is found in the Sahih Muslim. Overall, one can find 18 ahadith narrated by Tameem in the well-known books of hadith.
“The religion is the naseehah.”
In this hadith the Prophet (sas) has stated that the religion of Islam is naseehah. This is a profound statement. In this one brief sentence the Prophet (sas) has described the essence of Islam. Its implication is one of all inclusiveness. One of the interpretations of this is that one’s religion cannot be complete unless he fulfils the naseehah to Allah, His book, and the others mentioned in the hadith.
The meaning is not, and Allah knows best, that naseehah is all there is to Islam b ut the meaning is that naseehah forms the bulk of the most important pillar of this religion. It encompasses Islam, iman and ihsan. In the way that the Prophet (sas) once said, “the Hajj is Arafah”. As known, the Hajj involves many actions but the most important and predominate of the acts is that of Arafah. Therefore the Prophet (sas) called the Hajj Arafah. In the same way, this religion is naseehah.
If one studies the meaning of the word naseehah closely and looks at the meanings of the hadith, he would then be able to understand why the Prophet made such a statement. It can be argued that there is truly nothing in the religion of Islam beyond what is encompassed by the naseehah to the objects mentioned in this hadith.
The Meaning of Naseehah
The commentator on hadith Al-Khattaabi stated that naseehah is a comprehensive word that embodies every type of virtue and the wanting or desire for all forms of goodness. Both Al-Khattaabi and Ibn Hajr have stated there is no other word in the Arabic language that is so comprehensive (in the context of the hadith).
Naseehah is very difficult to translate into English. It is usually translated as “sincerity” since on of its essential connotations is the negation of deception or cheating.
In this hadith the word has been intentionally left in its transliterated form. The word seems to have two roots, both of them being explicitly brought out in this hadith as shall be seen in the explanation of the hadith below. The word naseehah has two basic linguistic meanings:
- To clean, purify or improve something of all unwanted elements, as in purifying honey from unwanted materials.
- To unite or join something together that is scattered or separated, as in sewing a garment.
Related to both the aspects of sincerity or purity and the second basic meaning, Allah (swt) has said in the Quran,
“O believers, turn to Allah with a sincere (nasooha) repentance” (al-Tahreem:8). It is as if the sins tear one’s religion apart and it is then mended and put back together again by sincere repentance (ibn Hajr).
Based on the linguistic roots and the Quranic usage of the term, al-Raghib al-Isfahaani has given the shareeah definition of the term as, “Naseehah is the seeking of an action or statement that contains goodness and improvement for the other person.”
Ibn al-Salaah has stated that the essence of naseehah is where the one doing the naseehah truly seeks the best for the one to whom he is making naseehah. In both his intention and his actions, he desires what is best for the other person. Ibn Uthaimeen makes this point in even clearer terms. He says that naseehah implies that a person loves for his brother what is good, calls him to it, makes it clear to him and encourages him to do it. This is part and parcel of the true religion of Islam. This is the real way of the believers and when the believers fulfil this type of condition that they meed the description given of the true believers in the Quran;
“Verily, the believers are but a brotherhood” (al-Hujuraat:10)
That brotherhood is the result of the correct and true naseehah. Lane aptly summarised all of the above when he gave the following definition of naseehah:
Sincere, honest, or faithful advice, or counsel, and conduct; direction to that which is for the good of the person who is the object, by words, or speech, or good advice or counsel; direction to what is good or sedulousness, or earnestness, in advice or counsel, or sincere or honest conduct; or benevolence, desire for what is good for the person who is the subject.
The Messengers and Naseehah
Naseehah implies that one advises and guides others to what is best for them in this life and the Hereafter. This was first and foremost the job of the Messengers and that is why in the Quran Allah has described many of them as fulfilling this role of persons giving naseehah. For example, Allah has said about the first messenger Noah (peace be upon him),
“I convey unto you the messages of my Lord and I am a trustworthy adviser (naasih) to you” (al-Araaf:68). Another example is the case of Saalih, Allah said,
“Then he (Saalih) turned from them and said, ‘O my people! I have indeed conveyed to you the message of my Lord and have given you good advice (nasahtu lakum) but you do not like good advisers (naasiheen)’” (al-Araaf:79)
Hence, when a person is fulfilling the obligation of naseehah to his fellow Muslims, he is actually fulfilling a role that was also an obligation upon the most noble of humankind, the messengers of Allah.
Other Hadith Concerning Naseehah
The hadith under discussion here gives a clear picture as to the importance of naseehah in the religion of Islam. There are other hadith of the Prophet (sas) that further demonstrate the place of this important concept. Note the following:
Jareer ibn Abdullah narrated that he had made the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet (sas) upon the condition that he would establish the prayer, give zakat and have sincere conduct (naseehah) toward every Muslim. (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Muslim recorded on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (sas) stated, “The rights of a Muslim over another Muslim are six.” It was then asked, “What are they, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “When he meets him, he greets him; when he invites him, he responds; if he seeks his sincere advice, he advises him; if he sneezes and praises Allah, he asks Allah to have mercy on him; if he is ill, he visits him; and when he dies, he follows him (in the funeral procession).”
The Messenger of Allah (sas) also said, “If a man seeks sincere advice (naseehah) from his brother, he should give him sincere advice.”
Naseehah to Allah
Making naseehah to Allah requires the fulfilling of the obligatory duties in the best way possible (ihsan). The naseehah to Allah cannot be complete or perfect without this. This should be the goal of every Muslim; however, this cannot be done without a love for what He has ordered. This also implies that a Muslim should strive to get as close to Allah as possible by doing voluntary good deeds and by forbidding the forbidden and avoiding disliked acts.
Making naseehah to Allah included all of the following acts of worship: believing in Him, denying any partners to Him, affirming all of His attributes that are stated in the Quran and the Sunnah, obeying Him, fulfilling His commands, abstaining from what He has forbidden, doing one’s best to remember Him under all circumstances, loving and hating for His sake, being friends to those who support Him and who work for His cause, and being against those who are against Him and who fight against His cause, having honour for the sake of Allah and being upset when the laws of Allah are ignored and disrespected, recognising the blessings He has bestowed and properly thanking Him for those blessings, and so on. This is the making of naseehah to Allah. (Note that all the above have some aspect of purifying something, such as one’s beliefs, or joining something together, such as one’s relationship to Allah and the believers in Him). This is the complete and desired naseehah and this is the religion of Islam as the Prophet (sas) stated.
It should be noted that this naseehah – implying having the correct intention in one’s heart to fulfil the rights of Allah – to Allah is obligatory under all circumstances, even under those circumstances wherein other duties are not longer obligatory because they are beyond one’s ability to perform them. For example, Allah says in the Quran,
“Not unto the weak nor unto the sick nor unto those who cannot find anything to spend is any fault (to be imputed though they stay home and do not participate in jihad) if they are true to Allah and His Messenger.” (at-Tauba:91) This is Pickthall’s translation and the word translated by him as “true to” Allah is from the
same root as naseehah – nasahu.
Obviously the one who benefits from this naseehah is not Allah. Allah is Self-Sufficient and is not in need of any of His creatures. Instead, it is the servant of Allah himself that benefits from this act. When he makes naseehah to Allah, he is purifying himself who alone benefits from this act. Such is the grace and mercy of Allah.
Naseehah to His Book
Next in the hadith the Prophet said that naseehah is to His Book. In the word “His Book”, refers to the whole class of revelation. Hence, it includes all of the previously revealed scriptures as well as the Quran revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (sas) (ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Riyaadh).
Naseehah to the book of Allah requires that one believe that the Quran is from Allah, that it is the speech and uncreated word of Allah, and that it is not like the word of man. In addition, the complete naseehah to the book of Allah requires that one, according to one’s ability, reads and recites it properly, applies it, studies its admonitions, lessons and parables. Calling others to believe in the book of Allah is also part of this naseehah.
An important aspect of making naseehah to the Quran is to defend and protect it from any kind of distortion or misinterpretation. Naseehah to the book of Allah includes defending it against the false claims make against it, such as the claim make by some non-Muslims and some Shiites that it has not been precisely preserved since the time of the Prophet (sas).
Having the proper respect and treating the Quran in the proper manner is also part of this naseehah. A Muslim should not touch the Quran while he is in a state of sexual defilement.
Indeed it is preferable that he not touch the Quran unless he has made ablution. One should also never do any act which would be considered an act of disrespect toward the Quran, such as throwing it down to the ground or leaving it on a pile of garbage.
Since naseehah is such an essential aspect of the religion, every Muslim should consider these points and ask himself if he is really truly making naseehah to Allah and to the Book of Allah.
Naseehah to His Messenger
The naseehah to the Prophet (sas) includes the following: believing his message, believing in all that he brought as being divinely inspired, obeying him, helping and defending him, defending his honour and respecting his status. An essential and most important aspect of this naseehah is that one accepts the Prophet as the true leader and only human final word with respect to the religion. He is the only real human authority and everyone else’s opinions and statements come after his. If any Muslim follows another person’s opinion in opposition to what the Messenger of Allah has said, then he is not making the proper naseehah to the Messenger of Allah.
Making naseehah to the Messenger also includes being a friend to those who love him and an enemy to those who are against him. It is also important to revive his Sunnah and fight any innovations, spread, learn and teach his message and make supplications for him.
Making naseehah to the Messenger of Allah (sas) includes loving his family and his companions. Ibn Uthaimeen notes that it is especially important that one love and respect the Companions of the Messenger of Allah. This is because somebody’s companions are, in essence, his closest friends and confidantes. Among the companions, the Prophet chose to be closest to Abu Bakr, Umar,Uthman, Ali and others. This was his choice and he expressed his love for his Companions on a number of occasions. When one insults or denigrates such noble Companions, one is actually insulting the Prophet for taking such people as his comrades. Indeed, Ibn Uthaimeen points out, one is actually insulting Allah when insulting the Companions of the Prophet because it was Allah who chose those noble souls to be the Companions of the Prophet and to be the people who would carry this religion, preserve the Quran and carry on the Sunnah of the Prophet. Furthermore, when one denigrates the Companions and casts doubt on their piety, one is casting doubt on the religion itself since it was through these people, by the will of Allah, that the religion was spread and passed on to following generations.
Finally, making naseehah to the Messenger of Allah (sas) includes loving those who follow, defend and strive to revive his Sunnah. They are working for the sake of Allah in supporting the Messenger of Allah, hence, there is no room for anyone to have hatred in their heart for them. It is this duty that led many of the early scholars to make statements like, “if you see someone who does not love Imam Malik or Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak or al-Shabi or Ahmad, then you should know that such a person in a hypocrite or zindeeq”, (those who entered Islam with the sole purpose of destroying it), for they were scholars who did their best to defend the Sunnah and transmit it accurately. The main reason they are hated by heretics and hypocrites is because of their efforts to defend and spread the Sunnah.
Naseehah to the Leaders of the Muslims
There are two kinds of leaders among Muslims, the first are the religious leaders or scholars while the second are the worldly leaders or rulers. The wording of this hadith implies both categories of leaders.
The importance of naseehah to those in authority can be found in other hadith. For example, the Prophet (sas) 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...”
The Messenger of Allah (sas) also said, “There are three things that if a person adheres to, they purify his heart from any form of treachery or evil: making his deeds purely for the sake of Allah, being sincere with those in authority and sticking to the Muslim community as (its members) supplications encompass each other.”
This statement of the Prophet (sas) shows that there is not one above receiving or accepting naseehah. Everyone is deserving of sincere conduct and sincere advice. Everyone is in need of naseehah and everyone is deserving of sincere conduct and sincere advice. Everyone is in need of naseehah and it must be given to everyone no matter how high ranking or prestigious the person may be. With respect to submitting to Allah and the shareeah, all are equal and no one is above the law and no one is above needing advice. Indeed, a ruler or a scholar should be the first to accept sincere advice from others. At the same time, they are among the first who are deserving of respect and sincere relations.
Making Naseehah to the Muslim Rulers
Making naseehah to the leaders of the Muslims includes: helping them when they are following the truth, obeying them in what is right, reminding them if they should err or forget, being patient with them when they do things the person does not like, making jihad with them and not revolting against their proper authority (proper authority is Islamic authority for rulers who rule by Islam).
One should also pray for the guidance and piety of the Muslim rulers, as their guidance and piety will benefit the Muslims as a whole. Abu Uthmaan Saad ibn Ismaeel al-Khairi said, “Sincerely advise the ruler and pray for him that he be righteous and guided in his statements and actions for if he is righteous, the affairs of the people will become good. And do not pray against them, thereby increasing their evil and increasing the trials for the Muslims.”
Ibn Uthaimeen states that one should advise them directly to their face if that is possible; otherwise one could write to them or contact those who are in direct contact with them. Imam Malik said, “It is a right for every Muslim in whose heart Allah placed knowledge and understanding to go to the people in power and order them to do good, forbid them evil and admonish them. This is because if the scholar goes to the ruler and orders him to do good and forbids him from evil, if there is any, this is the virtue beyond which there is not further virtue.
The hadith stresses that one must have sincere conduct with respect to the legal Muslim rulers because Muslim rulers are human beings and they make errors. Therefore, they are in need of naseehah and sincere advice like any other Muslim. However, since what they do has an effect on so many others, making naseehah to them is of even greater importance.
The models for the Muslim rulers such as abu Bakr and Umar, not only realised that it is a must for the Muslims to advise their rulers, but they actively sought such advice and reminded the Muslims as a whole that it is an obligation upon them to correct and advise the Muslim rulers. For example, in his first speech as the new caliph, Abu Bakr said, “I have been put in charge of you while I am not the best among you, if I do well, then support me, If I do wrong, then straighten me out.” It is also reported that Umar once said in a speech, “May Allah have mercy on the one who corrects us concerning our evil.” A man in the audience stood and said, “By Allah, if we were to find any crookedness in you, we would straighten it with our swords.” Umar replied, “All praise be to Allah who has put among the Muslims one who would correct Umar’s crookedness by his sword.”
The goal of one’s interaction with the rulers or one’s discussions about the rulers should be pious and to bring them back to what is correct. Therefore, speaking to them in an uncalled for harsh manner, showing a complete lack of respect for them and seemingly simply trying to embarrass them is not the proper way to make naseehah to the rulers. In fact, when Allah sent Moses and Aaron to the Pharaoh, whose evil and harshness they knew well, Allah commanded them;
“And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allah.” (Taha:44)
Spreading the wrong or evil of rulers without any overriding need or benefit goes against the naseehah that one should have toward the rulers. In general, the result of such deeds is hatred and evil without any corresponding good. Instead, when they are wrong, they should be told that they are wrong – but one must always be careful and ascertain that the steps he is taking lead to greater benefit than harm. For this reason, many of the pious forefathers of Islam emphasised advising the rulers in private and not publically. The Prophet (sas) made this point in his statement,
“whoever wishes to give advice to a ruler about a matter should not do so publicly. Instead, he should take him by his hand and be alone with him to talk about it. If he accepts the advice from him (the matter is finished). If he does not accept, the person has fulfilled the obligation upon him.” (Recorded by al-Haakim and Ahmad. According to Al-Albaani the chain is sahih)
Al-Bukhari records that someone inferred to Usaama ibn Zaid that he should speak to the caliph Uthmaan ibn Affan concerning Uthmaan’s half brother al-Waleed ibn Uqbah who had become known for drinking – and Usaama’s response was, “Do you think that I have not spoken to him simply because you did not hear it? I speak to him privately without opening a door such that I would be the first one to open that door.” The “door” he was referring to was the act of rebuking the rulers publicly instead of privately.
Part of the naseehah to the rulers also includes when the ruler puts a person in charge of any matter or gives him a job to do that is sanctioned by the shareeah, that person should discharge his duties honourably and honestly and not deceive or cheat the ruler in any way. Al-Khattaabi also mentions that one should not deceive any rulers by bestowing false praises upon them (quoted in al-Nawawi, sharh saheeh). In other words, one must deal with them in a way that is pleasing to Allah and do so for the sake of Allah and fearing His punishment.
Making Naseehah to the Scholars
The Muslim scholars are the leaders in the sense that they guide the others to the teaching of the Quran and Sunnah. They are the ones who understand and are aware of how the shareeah is to be applied in daily life. Their position is one of great importance for the community as a whole hence, it is essential that the proper naseehah be made toward them.
Naseehah to them implies for example, taking the knowledge that they pass on, accepting their personal rulings if they give should proofs for their decisions, having good thoughts about them and not suspecting them of evil. Furthermore, as ibn Uthaimeen notes, one should not attempt to find their faults or mistakes – all scholars are human and they are all prone to make mistakes. One must accept that fact and one should correct them in the proper way. To search for their mistakes and expose them is not proper. When one does so, one is not just casting doubt on that one scholar but in essence one is casting doubt on all scholars and the shareeah as a whole.
Naseehah to the Muslims
Making naseehah to the laymen of the Muslims would include: guiding them to what is good for them in both this life and the Hereafter, not harming them, teaching them about their religion and other things that they may be ignorant about, aiding them, concealing their faults, ordering them to perform good deeds and eradicating evil among them. It also includes having mercy for the young among them and respect for the elderly.
Al-Nawawi pointed out that the pious forefathers would work for one another and advise one another to the point that they even sacrificed their own worldly interests out of preference to their brothers’ needs.
When one is in a position of authority over Muslims, it is important that he act sincerely toward them and do what is in their best interests according to the shareeah. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “There is not person whom Allah gives authority over others and he does not look after them in a sincere manner except that he will not even get the scent of Paradise.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The obligation of sincere conduct by the ruler towards the masses included appointing people to governmental posts on the basis of their ability and qualifications. Umar ibn al-Khattab is reported to have said, “If a person is in a position of authority among theMuslims and appoints someone to a post due to love or blood relation between them, he has betrayed Allah and His Messenger and has betrayed the Muslims.” (Quoted in al-Qarni vol. 1 p. 437)
The Difference between Naseehah and Shaming or Embarrassing another Person
An important part of naseehah is to advise one another and correct each others’ actions. Speaking to another person concerning something that he does not like to have mentioned is common to both the praiseworthy act advising another person and the blameworthy act of shaming and humiliating another person. In fact, one of the early scholars said, “You do not really give me advice until you say to me in my face what I dislike.” (quoted in ibn Rajab, al-Farq, passim). It is important to realise the difference between these two acts in order to fulfil the obligation of advising one’s brother while remaining away from the sin of shaming one’s brother.
First, it must be understood that mentioning another Muslim’s faults or sins simply to blame, ridicule or shame him is forbidden. The Prophet (sas) forbade his followers from rebuking the woman who committed illegal sexual relations although he has ordered her to be punished. (The hadith about this incident is recorded in al-Bukhari).
If there is some overriding benefit in mentioning such faults, then it can be either recommended or obligatory to mention them. That was the case with the scholars of hadith who were forced to mention the shortcomings of specific narrators. This action on their part was part of their naseehah to the Muslim nation as a whole, in order to accurately preserve the hadith of the Prophet (sas). In the case of advising someone in regard to a future spouse, one has the right to know the shortcoming of the other especially in regard to adherence to the prayer and the obligatory actions. Another example is the refuting of the misinterpretations of the Quran or Sunnah that some people may try to spread throughout the Muslim community. It is a must to refute that evil, even if it is done publicly, as long as the goal is not to ridicule but to correct the mistakes, stop their evil and guide the Muslims.
It is noted that when advising others, it is best to do it in private. If one does it publicly, sometimes it can be a case of belittling or insulting the other person. This is especially the case if one Muslim is trying to advise the other about some wrong the person is committing. A Muslim who is making naseehah wants what is best and it is not his intention to harm or injure his brother Muslim.
Al-Fudhail ibn Iyaadh stated, “The believer conceals and advises the person while the evildoer exposes and disgraces the person.” (Quoted in ibn Rajab, Jaami, vol. 1, p. 225)
The Importance of Naseehah
Every Muslim should think about this hadith in which the Prophet (sas) described this religion by just one word: naseehah. This is the religion of Islam.
The companions of the Prophet (sas) were the people who best understood this hadith and how this hadith is to be applied. One time a companion of the Prophet (sas), Jareer, had his slave buy a horse and the slave paid three hundred dinars for it. Jareer went back to the person who sold the horse and told him that it was worth four hundred dinar and theman was willing to accept that. Then Jareer said it was worth five hundred dinars and so on until he reached eight hundred dinars for the horse that his slave had bought for only three hundred. His explanation was, “I made the oath of allegiance to the Prophet (sas) to do the following: establish the prayer, give zakat and make naseehah to every Muslim.”
Naseehah to Allah, His Book, the Messenger, the leaders of the Muslims and the common folk of the Muslims is something that affects every second of the Muslim’s life. If one looks at the examples mentioned so far, one will note that there is really no moment that passes except that the person must exemplify this quality of naseehah. If a Muslim cannot characterise himself as making naseehah then he should question his religion as a whole. If he is not making the minimum requirements of naseehah to Allah or His book or Messenger and so on, can he really call himself a Muslim? Where is his Islam or iman without naseehah? This is what the Prophet (sas) clearly pointed out when he said, “This religion is naseehah.”
Naseehah also plays an important role for the health of the Muslim society as a whole. It is one of key aspects protecting Muslim society from the spreading evil, as those who may slip and commit evil are sincerely, out of love and brotherhood, encouraged and helped to stop. Such behaviour genders love, cooperation and togetherness among Muslims while removing selfishness and hatred.
Is Naseehah only a Communal Obligation?
In many of the commentaries on this hadith, one will not the statement that naseehah is a communal obligation only. If some members of the community fulfil that responsibility, the others are absolved from any responsibility. Most likely, when scholars make statements like this, they have in mind only particular aspects of the general concept of naseehah (such as naseehah to the leaders). Ibn Rajab gives an example of a particular type of naseehah that is obligatory only on a specific population of the Muslims. He says that the obligation to refute the misled heretical groups is an obligation that falls upon the shoulders of the people of knowledge only. They are the ones with the ability to refute the gross mistakes and slips of other scholars.
As can be seen from this commentary of the hadith, one cannot make such a general statement. There are definitely acts of naseehah that are obligatory upon every individual at all times (naseehah to Allah, His Book and his Messenger) and there are other acts that can clearly be called communal.
Other Points Related to this Hadith
- A Muslim cannot be all to himself and not care about what happens to the other Muslims. Instead, it is his obligation to make naseehah to the other Muslims. This means he is required to wish the best for them and to bring about the best for them if he has the ability to do so.
- The best naseehah that one can make for himself is to make the naseehah to himself by encouraging himself to do what is right and proper and to stay away from sins and disobedience of Allah.
- Ibn Hazm points out that a person should not make naseehah only on the condition that his advice is accepted. His responsibility is first and foremost to Allah. Even if the others do not accept his advice, he should still advise them. Furthermore, if they find that his advice is not the best approach to follow; this is for them to decide. The important point is that the Muslim fulfilled his obligation toward Allah by sincerely advising others.
- When advising another person, the adviser should be sincere of heart. The goal of such advice is to make things better and remove some fault or evil. Deception and hypocrisy in one’s heart would probably not lead to such good results. And a deed is not accepted by Allah unless it is done sincerely for His sake, and if done so, The advice will have a positive reforming effect.
- The advisor must have knowledge concerning the act about which he will give advice. If he does not have such knowledge, ha may think he is giving sound advice while, in reality, what he is advising may be harmful for the receiver of that advice.
- A Muslim should accept the sincere and sound advice that comes to him from any source. He should not allow pride or any other reason to interfere with him accepting what is best for him. When advice or correction comes to him from his brother, he should not begin to doubt his brother’s intention and think that his brother is simply trying to ridicule or disgrace him. Umar ibn al-Khattaab once said, “Do not think evil of anything that comes from your brother Muslim’s tongue whenever there is a way to interpret it in a good way.”
- Naseehah is not just to the Muslims, The Messenger of Allah (sas) made naseehah to his people, the disbelieving Quraish of Makkah as well as other disbelieving groups in the way of dawa to Islam.
- Love is an important driving force behind naseehah. If one has strong love from Allah, His Messenger, His Book, and so forth, his conduct with respect to them will be more sincere.
Summary of the Hadith
- The reality of this religion, the essence of this religion or necessary component is naseehah.
- Naseehah means that the person has a true feeling of well-wishing for others. He wants what is best for them and strives for that goal in his actions. The result of that true naseehah is the complete brotherhood feeling of Islam.
- Naseehah is to be towards Allah, His Book, His Messenger, the leaders of the Muslims and the Muslim people in general.
- The following is an extract at the end of a booklet by Zamarli about naseehah.
I say to the one who is giving advice (naseehah): it is a must upon you that you abide by the conditions and manners of giving advice so that the one who is being given advice will accept it, tend to it and respect it. It is obligatory that your concern and intention, first and last, bring about some good or betterment for your brother; and the driving force behind your act must be love and brotherhood. You should never stray from that purpose such that your purpose becomes fame, being greater than another, boasting or acting for show. It is also a must for the one being advised to accept the advice no matter what its source, since it is a c cause of reform and good for him. He should be kind to the advisor and have respect and love for him. He should not be tough with him or harsh or reject his advice to his face. We must all bear with each other concerning our mistakes and excuse one another as long as our goal and purpose is goodness and reform.
 The majority of scholars state that it is prohibited for a person to touch the mashaf while he is in a state of either major or minor defilement. They also state that a woman is not allowed to touch the mashaf while experiencing her menses or post-partum haemorrhaging. However, these majority opinions are not based on the strongest relevant evidence (Jamal al-Din Zarabozo). I personally take the opinion that a woman can touch the mashaf while in her menses, but just to be safe some sisters wear gloves while reading from the mashaf during these times and Allahu Alam.
 Recorded by Maalik, Ibn Hibbaan and Ahmad. The chain is sahih and the same as that of Muslim.
 Recorded by Ahmad, Al-Daarimi and ibn Hibban. According to al-Arnaoot and Baajis, its chain is strong and acceptable.
 This does not appear in the original texts of Jamal al-Din Zarabozo, but it is still an important point so it has not been deleted.
 This story was recorded by al-Tabaraani.
 Ali Ibn Hazm, Al-Akhlaq wa al-Seer fi Mudaawaat al-Nufoos, Sharjah, UAE; Daar al-Fath, 1993.
 Quoted in ibn Rajab, al-Farq, p. 15