Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Out of the innumerable great virtues of the Prophet was that he would convey very comprehensive messages in very few words. This is overwhelmingly evident when you have a look at the books of explanations of hadiths. A single hadith could sometimes take a whole book when scholars tried to explain it.
One such hadith is the following:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The deen (religion) is naseehah (advice, sincerity).” We [the Sahaba] said, “To whom?” He (ﷺ) said, “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.” [Muslim]
Let’s have a very brief look at each of the following in light of Imam Zarabozo’s explanation of the hadith.
The deen (religion) is naseehah (advice, sincerity).
Here the Prophet has made the whole religion of Islam equivalent to naseehah. This type of sentence can be found in other hadiths such as: ‘The Hajj is Arafah.’ Of course, standing at Arafah is not the only thing you do in Hajj, rather it is the most important and predominate action of Hajj. In the same way, the religion of Islam contains many types of obligations, acts, recommendations etc., but the essence of it is Nasihah.
What then is Naseehah? Zarabozo mentions al-Khattabi to have said that it is a comprehensive word ‘that embodies every type of virtue and the wanting or desire for all forms of goodness.’ Another more specific definition is: ‘the seeking of an action or statement that contains goodness and improvement for the other person.’ Lane’s definition is: ‘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.’
All the above meanings are encompassed by the one word naseehah.
Naseehah with respect to Allah Azza wa Jall means to do good deeds that are pleasing to Him with excellence (ihsan). It is having the correct intention, sincerity or ikhlas in one’s heart, which will manifest in one’s speech and actions. Allah says in the Quran (translation):
There is not upon the weak or upon the ill or upon those who do not find anything to spend any discomfort when they are sincere (nasahu) to Allah and His Messenger. There is not upon the doers of good any cause [for blame]. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. [9:91]
- Naseehah to the Book of Allah requires:
- Firm belief that this Book is from Allah, that it is His uncreated Speech.
- Reading it properly and accurately*
- Studying its messages, its admonitions, lessons and stories.
- Applying its teachings in one’s life
- Calling others to believe in it
- Defending it against corruption by the enemies of Allah
Being sincere to the Messenger involes:
Believing in him, respecting and obeying him, acknowledging and obeying his absolute authority, helping his da’wah, defending his honour, reviving his sunnahs and fighting innovations, spreading his message.
The leaders of the Muslims
Nasihah towards the leaders or those in authority over us is to obey them and be loyal to them, as long as they are not transgressing Allah’s set limits. If they do so, then nasihah towars them is advising them and guiding them towards righteousness. Imam Zarabozo quotes Abu Uthmaan al-Khairi: ‘Sincerely advise the ruler and pray for him that he be righteous, the affairs of the people will be good. And do not pray against them, thereby increasing their evil and increasing the trials of Muslims.’
Their Common Folk
Sincerity towards common Muslims involves: guiding them towards Allah, not causing them harm, giving them good advice, concealing their faults, enjoying good and forbidding evil.
*In order to be truly sincere to the Quran, we have to learn how to read it accurately. Learn Tajweed in 20 hours with Understand Quran.