Part I | Part II
“Look at her!” the Auntie shrieked, pointing to the girl making wudhu (ablutions) at the nearby sink. “She is using so much water!” Turning to the girl she said, “Don’t you know, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us we shouldn’t waste water, even if we are by a river? Look at how much water you are wasting!” Burning with embarrassment, the girl meekly finished up, quietly put on her hijab and left.
In an attempt to guide others to the Qur’an and Sunnah (prophetic way), we often do the exact opposite. Instead of following the Prophetic model of calling to Allah, we follow the subtle arrogance in our hearts in guise of calling others to piety. We ridicule, belittle and insult another with the noble aim of giving advice so that the person can truly be on the right path – our path – of an obviously more righteous lifestyle.
When was the last time you learned something when someone was yelling at you – in front of others – about your deficiencies, your obviously sinful intentions (since clearly other people can read your heart) and your un-Sunnah and un-Qur’anic actions?
There is a difference of opinion on issues such as eating zabiha (Islamically slaughtered) or non-zabiha meat and celebrating non-religious holidays. However, there is no difference of opinion on the importance, the necessity and vitality of preserving the honor and dignity of a fellow brother or sister and maintaining the unity of our Ummah.
Once, a man joined the congregational prayer with the companions of the Prophet ﷺ. While in prayer, another man sneezed. The man said to him, “May God have mercy upon you.” Still in prayer, the people started staring him down so he responded, “Why are you looking at me like that?” At this, they started hitting their thighs, trying to get him to realize to keep silent during prayer. Afterwards, the Prophet ﷺ approached him. Let’s look at what the man reported was said to him, “When God’s Messenger ﷺ finished his prayer, he neither punished, rebuked, nor expressed displeasure with me. He just said to me: ‘It is not permissible to say any ordinary talk during prayer; it consists of God’s praise and glorification and reciting the Qur’an’.” (Muslim)
Subhan Allah (glory be to God), we’re such weak sauce; we resort to staring people down and trying to keep them in check by any means possible. But look at the Prophet ﷺ! Unlike the parent who’s had the last straw or the teacher who just can’t handle it any more, the Prophet ﷺ didn’t beat the man down verbally or psychologically; rather, he empowered him by giving him drops of knowledge and thus allowing the man to self-reflect, learn, and confidently improve.
On another occasion, a man came into the masjid of the Prophet ﷺ, found a place to handle business and started urinating. The homeboys of the Prophet ﷺ – very much like us today – were outraged at his offensive action. They started reproaching him while he was relieving himself, shouting, “Stop it! Stop it!”
I mean, what could be worse than urinating inside the masjid?! But what did the Prophet ﷺ do? Did he tweet the man’s mistake? Did he write about it on his wall? Did he start shouting at him publicly, or go to him directly and make him feel like a fool?
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not interrupt him; leave him alone.” So the Companions held back. When the man had finished, the Prophet, the Messenger of Mercy, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, calmly called the man over and said to him (notice: he didn’t divert the matter by chastising him for possibly having an earring or wearing tight pants, he just simply taught him), “Inside these mosques it is not appropriate to do anything like urinating or defecating; they are only for remembering Allah, praying and reading Qur’an,” (or the Prophet ﷺ said words to that effect). Then, after instructing a bucket of water to be poured over the urinated area, the Messenger of Mercy ﷺ said, “Verily, you were sent only to make matters easy, and you were not sent to make matters difficult” (Ahmad).
Realize that when we come to someone, outraged by some “sin” they are committing, something which in our mind is nothing less than haram, evil, wrong, messed up and straight hypocritical, with the plan to help them recognize how outlandishly far they are from the “true path,” we could understand that perhaps it’s really us who are committing the bigger sin.
By exposing another, causing them to feel ridiculed, embarrassed and dishonored, our “piety” is perhaps self-inflicted and our methodology of da`wah could be far off from following the very Qur’an and Sunnah which we are calling a “soul in need of guidance” towards.
The Qur’an instructs us to, “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.” (16:125).
How can we be of those who invite to Allah with wisdom and beautiful speech? We first have to know Who we are calling towards.
1) Come to know Allah through having a consistent relationship with the Qur’an.
a. To know Allah, perhaps start with reading a fixed amount, possibly just five ayaat (verses) a day, in a language we understand, to insha’Allah help revamp our relationship with Him ‘azza wa jall. Also, suggested book reading: The Way to the Qur’an by Khurram Murad.
2) Get to know the Prophet ﷺ.
a. The ‘walking Qur’an’ has already showed us the most effective ways to help call those we love to our Creator. The closer we feel to him ﷺ and the more we’re aware of his psychologically in-tune strategies, insha’Allah the more powerful our two cents of humble advice will be in truly helping our own selves and others turn back to Allah. Suggested reading: Muhammad, Man and Messenger by Adil Salahi.
b. Send a plethora of blessings on the Prophet ﷺ as has been taught to us, “Whoever supplicates Allah to exalt my mention, Allah will exalt his mention ten times and remove from him ten sins and raise him ten degrees.” [Muslim]
3) Work on purifying our hearts
a. It’s important to advise each other on ways we can improve our relationship with Allah, our character, and our work for the betterment of society. We need to hear critical feedback (To understand just a drop of the importance of this concept, check out If I do Good, Help Me; If I do Wrong, Correct Me), but there’s an art in doing it without causing pain to the receiver. Sometimes we may be more caught up in a person’s mistakes and our lack thereof, that we allow Shaytan to deceive us into believing our advice leads others to the righteous path when in reality, we’re simply exuding an almost arrogant thought pattern. Perhaps we are more sorely in need of a good heart cleaning ourselves than giving others advice which comes off belligerent.
b. Suggested readings and lecture: In the Early Hours by Khurram Mourad, Purification of the Soul CD series by Imam Suhaib Webb.
c. Make istighfar (ask Allah to forgive us) constantly.
4) Learn how to give advice
a. Read books like the Positive Discipline series on how best to help teach others learn from mistakes, intrinsically feel motivated to improve and develop an action plan for accomplishment.
Check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. Let’s start focusing on implementing the Qur’an and Sunnah’s respectful and empowering approach when we call others to Allah and let’s remember that the very first person we need to make dawah towards is our very own selves.