Bismillah ar-rahman ar-raheem
After witnessing some interesting conversations, I would like to give some gentle naseeha on the subject of gentle naseeha. I am not an expert or anything, and as always this reminder is for myself first. Allah save us from intentionally or unintentionally pushing others away from our beautiful religion, ameen.
I found this quote that pretty much sums up the topic I wanted to discuss:
Shaykh Kamil Mufti writes in his article Directions to Giving Naseehah:Naseehah is a wonderful weapon, but like most weapons, if the user does not know how to use it properly, it can cause more harm than good.
We should all be aware of the dangers of giving naseeha in the wrong way and the guidelines for giving effective advice.
1. Be sincere. Give advice for the sake of Allah and the love of your brothers and sisters in Islam. It is important, before you give naseeha, to check your intention. Are you doing it to make yourself feel better, or to please Allah and help a fellow Muslim? Be truthful!! This is really really important.
2. Be kind. Anger or rudeness is a quick way to guarantee the person you are advising will not listen to you and could be pushed farther away. Always Always Always Always Always use kind and understanding language with your brothers and sisters. As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey.
3. Give it privately. I know this one is tough online since our problems are posted publicly and so we feel compelled to correct people publicly, but this is a sure way to turn your naseeha into criticism and embarassment for the person you are trying to help. When possible, send an e-mail or give the person a call to discuss the issue calmly.
4. Be mindful of time, place, and setting. This includes privacy, giving yourself time to cool off if you are upset about the issue, and the mode of conveyance (e-mail, msn, phone, in person, etc.) Think of the best time and place to have the conversation and make sure that the mood is light and everyone is clear on the purpose of the discussion.
5. Be patient. The person may not implement your naseeha right away, but know that if you have done it correctly, there is a greater possibility that they will eventually change for the better. Don't keep pushing.
6. AVOID CHASTISING THE PERSON. Contrary to popular belief, naseeha is not the same thing as chastisement. It is not your job to "scold" others as if they are children.
7. Do not EVER EVER EVER question their faith. No matter a person's outward actions, only ALLAH knows what is in their hearts and you have no right to judge their level of previous, current, or future iman or their status as a Muslim.
8. Follow up. Show concern for the sister or brother outside of the initial naseeha. Praise them if you notice them doing something good. Express happiness if they achieve a goal. Let them know that you continue to think about them and care for them, even if they are still struggling to move forward.
If any of you have any other pointers to add, please feel free to discuss and leave comments below
Note: Some of the ideas in this post come from an article I read here, and the rest is from my own experience here online and in real life :-)