In the beginning of Ramadhan, I wrote something on making hijrah and somewhere during mid-Ramadhan I wrote about the path in life (hijrah towards goodness / islah) that not many people dare to take even though they wish they could. Now I'm gonna share something on the essence towards making hijrah and encouraging other people to make hijrah or evolution towards attaining piety (taqwa).
- a loving process of gradual, progressive change or development
Affecting change in family or friends is no easy task. Unfortunately, sometimes we observe the da'wah process from some quarters bringing more hurt than healing. That's because many do not understand that the process of change or evolution is not just about stating religious laws or values. It needs to begin with LOVE.
The Eloquence of Advice
"Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His path, and He is the best aware of those who are guided."
[ 16:125 ]
Fair preaching and eloquence in advice is an integral component of da'wah and tarbiyah, and such eloquence will appear when one is clear in the purpose of da'wah - to invite others to the way of Allah and to the eternity of His Paradise. How can a Muslim ever be hard-hearted and harsh in his advice when even the evil Pharaoh was called to Islam with such LOVE and eloquence?
"Go, both of you, to Fir'aun (Pharaoh). Verily, he has transgressed. And speak to him nicely, perhaps He may accept admonition or fear Allâh."
[ 20: 43-44 ]
The lack of soft-heartedness and eloquence may result in dire consequences. Harshness has no place in tarbiyah and da'wah and may instead turn someone away from Islam, as Allah has warned.
"It is part of the Mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. And had you been severe or harsh-hearted, surely they would have broken away from you: so look over (their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them..."
[ 3: 159 ]
However, such perfection is only afforded to our prophets. Normal Muslims like us who are not free from sin may sometimes lack the required eloquence. Inevitably, harshness may surface in difficult circumstances - whether it be a bad day at work or school, or a lack of time or meticulousness in our choice of words.
Even bears do love each other.
"O My Lord! Open for me my chest (grant me self-confidence) and ease my task for me; and make loose the knot from my tongue so that they understand my speech."
[ 20: 25-28 ]
The Wisdom of Silence
The long, arduous road of tarbiyah and da'wah is not without its perils. One of the most difficult challenges to overcome is the sense of powerlessness when you see family or friends in situations where you knew something needed to be said but yet, silence reigns...
The sense of need to give advice or even warnings to family or friends is something natural in good Muslims. Anger, regret and sometimes even depression becomes the consequence of our "lack of courage" to pursue corrective action. But is our inaction truly a lack of courage or an act of wisdom?
"Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much."
As we grow older, we tend to realize that some people do tend to "over-communicate". And this tendency raises doubts about the importance of what that person saying. Hence, saying too much will deter people from listening intently and "over-advising" may cause family and friends to tire from such repeated advice, even if they knew that it was for their own good.
This was something that the Prophet saw knew all along. One of the Prophet's companions, Ibn Mas'ud, said:
"The Prophet used to take care of us in preaching by selecting a suitable time, so that we might not get bored."
[ Hadith Narrated by Imam Bukhari ]
So, even the Prophet himself abstained from pestering people with sermons and religious knowledge all the time.
This cycle of advice and silence is not a simple process. Many times, the "advisor" needs to make instantaneous decisions between the two. And the main motivating factors are:
1) The suitability of time & surrounding - giving advice in presence of others is embarrassing
2) The sense of prioritization - it is always wise to remain silent for negligible matters when there are bigger matters at hand
3) The level of emotions - witnessing an unlawful act may make a person agitated and it would not be an advisable time to give advice
Let's spread the message with love
Rasulullah saw said:
"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent."
[ Hadith Narrated by Imam Bukhari & Muslim ]
Sometimes our emotions are expressed without words, but etched in our expressions. Just like our Prophet saw who sometimes turned away in disgust when he saw something he disliked.
EVOLution - Let It Begin With LOVE
One of the key ingredients in tarbiyah and da'wah is LOVE. A deep personal relationship and forging a sense of trust is essential for evolution to take place. This builds appreciation, LOVE and understanding where shared perspectives become commonplace. A need to participate in activities together and to help one another fulfill their respective needs naturally arises.
Such a relationship would ease a path towards contributing to Islam, nurture LOVE towards fellow Muslims and build unbreakable bonds of brotherhood.
Two key ingredients in building LOVING relationships are:
1) Spreading Salam
Rasulullah saw said:
"You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you about something which, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread salam amongst yourselves."
[ Hadith Narrated by Imam Muslim, Ahmad & Tirmidhi ]
2) Avoiding Negative Suspicions (su'uzh zhon)
"O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins..."
[49: 12 ]
Many of us make the mistake of wanting others to understand our feelings without actually taking the time to understand how others might feel. Now that we have understood that advice is required as much as silence in a relationship between family and friends, it's time to learn how to be forgiving.
Do not despise your family or friends for their harsh advice. Forgive them. Their advice was out of LOVE.
Neither should you hold your family and friends forever accountable for the times when they remained silent instead of giving good advice. Forgive them. Their silence too was out of LOVE.
Forgive. But never forget. For life provides many lessons for those willing to learn. And the best of learners are those who do not repeat the mistakes of those from our past.
Verily, Allah knows best.
With LOVE & salam.
"(On the Day of Judgement) you will be with those whom you love."
[ Hadith Narrated by Imam Bukhari ]