While giving advice, he demonstrated love and affection to Hadhrat Mu’aaz. He refrained from doing anything that could seem embarrassing or disrespectful to him. Thus, he taught us that by acquiring excellent character qualities, the advisor truly becomes a loving role model, and qualifies to be the most likable and trustworthy advisor. Everyone in the community feels comfortable listening to such advisors and takes their advice seriously. The advice-giving process becomes more beneficial, impactful, and result-oriented. By exhibiting this compassionate and genuine behavior before communicating anything, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) has established his sincerity in the eyes of the listener, and thus increased the impact of his words.
Developing a sense of responsibility and self-accountability is an essential prerequisite to becoming an influential advisor. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) says in a Hadeeth as related by Hadhrat Abdullah Ibne ‘Umar:
راع و كللكم مسؤل عن رعيته كللكم
"All of you are guardians and are responsible [accountable] for your subjects.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
The quality of Taqwaa (Righteousness and Piety) is a virtue and an honor from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). It motivates a person to act responsibly.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ [الحجرات: 13]
“Surely the noblest of you, in Allah‘s sight, is the one who is most pious of you.” (Al-Hujuraat 49:13)
A righteous person is aware of his behavior and is always ready to accept the consequences of his actions. The quality of righteousness enables the advisor to understand others’ pain and difficulties and give sincere and beneficial advice. Therefore, it’s extremely imperative for the advisor to act responsibly and demonstrate effective self-control over his anger, emotions, and feelings, especially under stress. With congruency between one’s speech and actions, the advisor succeeds in winning the people’s trust, and everyone takes his advice seriously.
Proper understanding of the concept of Al-Amaanah (Trustworthiness) is another required prerequisite for the advisor. He / she must serve as a trustworthy advisor to ensure privacy and confidentiality of all matters. The quality of Al-Amaanah (Trustworthiness) is a unique character trait being practiced by all prophets of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). At the same time, they delivered Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s message to their people in the most challenging circumstances. In the face of open resistance, mockery, and ridicule from their people, the beloved Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam), as well as all other prophets of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), demonstrated the quality of trustworthiness during their interactions with their people.
Now let’s talk about the most amazing aspect of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam)’s unique advice-giving behavior. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has taught him the art of delivering the most comprehensive statement using very few words. This beautiful skill is called جوامع الكلم (Jawaami’-ul-kalim), which means a brief, concise statement with a comprehensive meaning. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said in a Hadeeth as narrated by Hadhrat Abu Hurairah:
وَأُوتِيتُ جَوَامِعَ الْكَلِم
"I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning.” (Muslim).
The advice mentioned above to Hadhrat Mu’aaz Bin Jabal is a perfect prophetic demonstration of Jawami’-ul-kalim in his conversation. Here, while being purely focused on teaching Hadhrat Mu’aaz Bin Jabal a simple Du’aa, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) used the most relevant, brief, and concise words when he spoke to Hadhrat Mu’aaz.
As a result, he was able to encourage his student to learn, understand and practice the three important concepts of Zikr (Remembrance) of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), Shukr, (giving thanks and gratitude) to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), and Al-Ihsaan (achieving the quality of excellence while performing the act of worship).
In the first part of the advice, for example, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) has amazingly excited Hadhrat Mu’aaz to learn about the importance, significance, and virtues of doing Zikr, and motivated him to develop a permanent habit of saying the Zikr frequently.
In the second part of the advice, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) wanted to inculcate the concept of Al-Shukr (giving thanks and gratitude) and Al-Kufr (being ungrateful) in his mind. He amazingly encouraged him to learn how to admit and recognize the divine bounty and thank Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) as the bounty’s sole Giver.
In the third and last part of his advice, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) taught about how to achieve the level of Al-Ihsaan (quality of excellence).
The true definition of Al-Ihsaan is, as arrated by Hadhrat ‘Umar Bin Al-Khattaab:
الاحسان أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه فان لم تكن تراه فانه يراك
"The level of excellence in Ibaadah (Worship) is as if you see Him and if you do not see Him (i.e. do not achieve this high status of devotion), then you must consider that Allah is watching you. (Muslim)
In an increasingly polarized world, everyone wants to share their opinion and give advice to the other.
But it is essential to recognize that counsel must be done with Ikhlaas (Sincerity) and the sole intention of earning Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s pleasure. Additionally, it is vital for the advisor to always keep in mind that anything shared must be kept between the advisor and the advisee only. All matters must be discussed respectfully, in private, without humiliating anyone. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said, as narrated by Hadhrat Abu Hurairah:
المسْلِمُ أَخُو المسْلِم لَا يَظلِمُهُ وَلَا يَخْذُلُهُ وَلَا يَحْقِرُهُ
"A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim. He neither oppresses him, nor does he look down upon him, nor does he humiliate him.” (Muslim)
Advising others is essential to improving ourselves, our families, and our communities. Still, it is imperative to understand the significance, virtue, and manners behind this prophetic practice. We must also remember that while advising others for the sake of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has its reward; our top priority needs to be improving ourselves.