On the authority of Tameem ibn Aus, the Prophet ﷺ said: “Religion is naseehah. The people said: “To whom?” The Prophet ﷺ said: “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.” [Muslim]
- Some scholars commented that if thousands of hadith would be lost, then this hadith would be sufficient to guide Muslims.
- Abu Dawood said that all of fiqh revolved around this one hadith.
- Other scholars have called this hadith to be 1/4th of the religion, i.e., this hadith encompasses the entirety of the religion of Islam.
“The religion is naseehah…”
This is a very profound statement from the Prophet (ﷺ) where he says the entire religion is naseehah. This is so because naseehah includes Islam, imaan and ihsan making it an all inclusive entity. Just as the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The pilgrimage (Hajj) is Arafah”. We all know there are several rituals and actions involved while performing Hajj but the predominant one is that of Arafah, therefore, our Prophet (ﷺ) said the pilgrimage is Arafah. Similarly, here the Prophet (ﷺ) says, the religion is naseehah, so what is naseehah?
Meaning of Naseehah
Al Khattabi and ibn Hajr have stated that there is no word in the Arabic language as comprehensive as naseehah. This word is very difficult to translate in English, and although it’s most often translated as “sincerity”, it has a much deeper meaning to it.
The word naseehah has 2 basic linguistic meanings:
- To clean, purify or improve something from unwanted elements
- To unite or join something that is scattered or separated
Taking the linguistic meaning and the Quranic usage, al Raaghub al-Isfahaani has given a shareeah definition for naseehah as follows: “Naseehah is a seeking of an action or a statement that contains goodness and improvement for the other person.”
So if you are giving naseehah to someone, you truly wish the best for that person in terms of your intentional and actions.
Naseehah to Allah:
This requires you to fulfill the obligatory duties in the best possible manner. This can only be achieved if you love Allah more than anything or anyone else. Additionally, you must strive to make this your goal in life. Naseehah to Allah includes striving hard to do that which He loves and staying away from the deeds which He has forbidden.
Naseehah to Allah consists of:
- Believing in Allah and denying any partners with Him. Believing in His attributes.Obeying Him.
- Fulfilling His commands and abstaining from what He has forbidden.
- Doing what is best to remember Him, under all circumstances.
- Being friends to those who support Him and work for His cause.
- Loving whatever He loves and hating whatever He hates, be it objects, persons, actions, sayings or deeds.
- Recognizing the blessings He has bestowed upon us and properly thanking Him for these blessings.
Of course, it should be noted that naseehah to Allah does not benefit Allah as He is self sufficient. When a believer does naseehah to Allah, he is benefiting himself by purifying himself and bringing himself closer to Allah. This automatically makes us more sincere in our dealings with those around us and with our deeds as well, increasing the chances of our deeds being accepted.
To His Book:
His Book refers to the whole class of revelation; therefore, it includes Quran and all of the previously revealed scriptures too. Naseehah to the Book of Allah implies that we believe that the Quran is from Allah, it’s the speech and uncreated word of Allah, and not the word of any man.
Naseehah to the Book includes that you:
- Read and recite the Qur’an according to your ability and also practice it.
- Study its admonitions, lessons and parables.
- Defend and protect it from any kind of distortion or misinterpretation.
- Call and invite others to believe in the Qur’an
- Defend the Qur’an against false claims made against it by deviant sections of the society or non Muslims
- Respect the Quran and treat in a proper manner. A Muslim is not allowed to touch the Quran when he is in major ritual impurity.
To His Messenger
- Believing the Prophet’s sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam message.
- Believing in all that he (saws) brought as being divinely inspired.
- Obeying him, helping him and defending him by defending his honor and respecting his status.
- To accept him as the true leader and only human’s final word with respect to the religion, he (saws) is the only true human authority and everyone else’s statements/opinions come after his.
- Loving him more than we love ourselves and our families
- Our love for him should lead to other obligations like obeying him.
- Respect and love his Sunnah which is an implication of loving him.
- To say “sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam” whenever his name is mentioned
- To accept his Sunnah as a scale by which we judge things, actions and sayings.
- To love those who love him.
- Reviving his Sunnah by learning, understanding, teaching and spreading it.
- Fighting any kind innovation or bidah that might creep in.
- Being a friend to those who love him
- Loving his family and his companions.
It is important to keep in mind that while defending our Prophet’s (ﷺ) honor and safeguarding his sunnah, we must engage in peaceful and gentle methods to get the point across and not get hostile or rude. Rudeness will push people further away from the deen and indulging in needlessly harsh arguments will make people hate the sunnah, and in turn, hate Islam itself. Our Messenger (ﷺ) was sent as a mercy to mankind, therefore, while correcting people’s mistakes or defeating falsehood, we must do so in a wise and gentle manner. This can prevent people from getting confused and also prevent them from getting a false image about Islam as being too rude or intolerant towards others.
While making people understand about Islam, whether they are new Muslims or those who’ve just recently started practicing, it is wise to focus on major issues (basics of Islam) before dissecting the minor issues. Therefore, if you find someone not wearing hijab or not sporting a beard, first try to make sure they are praying five times a day and reading the Quran with meaning. Once their prayer is fixed and once their love for Allah and His book is fixed, they will be more than willing to start following His commandments. But creating a fear of hellfire or admonishing them by telling they’ll land in Hell for not wearing hijab/etc., might push them away from Islam altogether. This sledgehammer approach might even prevent them from performing salah! Most importantly, give them naseehah in private and not in public.
To The Leaders of Muslims
There are two kinds of leaders among Muslims, namely the religious leaders and scholars, and the worldly leaders and rulers. In this hadith, the word “leaders” includes both categories. This statement of the Prophet (ﷺ) proves that no leader is above receiving or accepting naseehah. Therefore, when a leader or scholar is given sincere naseehah, he should be open-minded to accept it.
Naseehah to leaders include:
- Helping them when they are following the truth
- Obeying them when they are right
- Reminding them if they err or forget
- Being patient when they do things which a person dislikes – this implies giving naseehah and at the same time, being patient with the leader else, it may lead to instability in the Muslim community
- Making jihad with them and not revolting against their proper authority
- Pray for their guidance and piety
Ibn Uthaimeen says that giving naseehah to the leaders face-to-face is recommended if you have the means to do so. However, there are certain conditions that need to be met for this:
- You must have good intentions (ikhlas)
- Naseehah should be done mildly, calling them with respect.
- Avoid harshness and don’t embarrass them
- Don’t show off
- Give them naseehah privately and not publicly.
- Don’t divulge or inform others about their wrong-doings as this may lead to more problems in the society.
However, remember that if the leader does something which contradicts the Shariah, you shouldn’t obey him. This disobedience needs to be done in a mild and assertive manner. Using aggression will lead to more problems than answers.
Naseehah to the Common Folk of the Muslims
- Guiding them to what is good for them in dunya and akhira
- Teaching them about religion and other things that they are ignorant about
- Not harming them
- Aiding them, concealing their faults, advising them to do good, preventing them from doing evil
- Showing respect to the elderly and mercy to the younger ones
As you can see, this hadith covers almost every single act we do with respect to ourselves and those around us. In this hadith, our Prophet (ﷺ ) asks us to take care of our obligatory duties towards Allah, implement, understand and love His Book, follow His Messenger and call others to this deen, give advice to the leaders and help them in goodness and prevent them from doing evil, and lastly, make sure everyone around us including our friends and family benefit from our presence.
Therefore, when you look at this hadith, you understand how comprehensive and all-inclusive it is in helping us become better slaves of Allah and better human beings towards others. May Allah help us give proper naseehah and forgive us if we’ve fallen short in our duties towards our own souls and people around us. Ameen
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