The Art of Naseeha

It is related that Imam Malik went to Masjid An-Nabawi after ‘Asr. The Prophet (SAW) had commanded that no one who enters should sit until he prays Tahiyatul Masjid, but Imam Malik was of the opinion that Rasulullah’s forbiddance of praying after ‘Asr took precedence.

However, when Imam Malik sat, a young boy said to him: “Get up, and pray the two rakaats of tahiyatul masjid!” Imam Malik stood and prayed. Afterwards, students asked if he changed his opinion. Imam Malik said, “My opinion has not changed, nor have I gone back on what I taught you earlier. I merely feared that had I not prayed the two rakaats as the young boy commanded, Allah might include me in the ayat which stated:

And when it is said to them, ‘Bow (in prayer)’, they do not bow. [77:48]

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To see someone lash out after receiving advice is a common scenario, and often the response is to re-evaluate the way in which we give naseeha. But regardless of the manner in which it is delivered, the true benefit of naseeha will never be realized unless we look at the manners in which we accept it.

Just as it is to be given with kindness, gentleness, and softness, it should be received in the same way. Just as the one giving naseeha must humble themselves and wish the best for their companion, the receiver should respond similarly. For each mannerism of delivering sincere advice, there is a counterpart for the behaviour of the recipient.

If a child entered a masjid and began commanding his elders, you would expect to hear reprimands about respect and knowing your place. But in looking upon the story above, the only response was humility. Humility ensures that all opinions are seen as valuable, and that you are at least willing to consider what is being said.

So next time you receive naseeha, think of Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) and a quote from his first khutbah after becoming Khaleefa to the people of Medinah:

“O people, remain conscious of God, forgive me my faults and help me in my task. Assist me in enforcing what is good and forbidding what is evil. Advise me regarding the obligations that have been imposed upon me by God…” – Umar ibn al-Khattab 12AH

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