Real Naseeha and the "Holier than Thou" Attitude

As Muslim Sisters we are called to enjoin good and forbid evil. We all know this. But, when it comes to the art to offering and receiving Naseeha, a lot of hijabs can get ruffled in the process. I use the term “offering” because lately in our Ummah it seems that anytime some good-intentioned Sister does so (who may suffer from the inability to determine appropriate timing,) she ends up having her offering thrown right back in her face – along with a string of insults and accusations. The usual ones heard coming from the back of the Masala are: “When was the last time you made Witr prayer?”, or “You don’t always wear proper hijab.” Or even better, “ Please, everyone knows you don’t eat Thabiha! Who are you to tell me that Im doing something wrong?”. The abayas really seem to fly when this topic comes up.

So often our immediate reaction to someone pointing out our faults (whether they are right or wrong Islamically speaking) is to find every fault and sin possible in the Sister and essentially call her a hypocrite. Yes, it is our duty to give Naseeha. But if our intention is wrong, meaning that we want to make ourselves look good, we want to embarrass someone, we want to prove that we are right and they are wrong, we want to “win” the argument...whatever....THAT IS NOT NASEEHA. Correcting someone in public ( I.e. Publicly chastising a fellow Sister– even in a sweet tone!) whether it is in the Mosque, at school, at the mall, at the gym, or even on her Facebook or Myspace wall is Ta-eer, not Naseeha.

The “Holier than Thou” attitude really comes into play when someones pride can get hurt. More so – being corrected or humbled by someone that we believe is somehow “less” than us in terms of faith, intelligence, behavior, material means, knowledge, or what have you - is embarrassing to say the least. But I think the real questions that come into play here are: Why do you think you're better? What was their intention in giving you Naseeha? And – How can we learn to accept Naseeha with humility and grace?

Watch this video and see how the lady of the house treats her cook, do you think she would accept Naseeha from her?

In this video the lady of the house abuses her cook in front of her guests. Clearly she has status, fine clothes, many friends and great wealth. If her cook came and offered her sincere Naseeha, would her heart accept it? Would yours? Her pride and arrogance are clearly getting in her way keeping her from showing mercy. Would they not also block her ability to receive honest Islamic advice? While we may not be rich, we may perceive other attributes of ourselves to be better than others. Too good to be given Naseeha by “certain people.” Indeed pride will only be our downfall.

“Anyone who possesses half a mustard seed of Pride (kibr) in his heart will not be granted admission to Paradise. And anyone who possesses half a mustard seed of Iman will not enter the (Eternal) Fire.” [Muslim]

So how can we really open ourselves up to accepting Naseeha?

First – Take your pride and arrogance and flush it. Arrogance is an attribute of al Shaytan ir Rajeem. We dont need it. It has no place in our faith. Although it is really hard, we must put aside our perceived status and keep in mind that the only status that counts is our Iman-o-meter! Don't let it run on low because you refuse to accept Naseeha. One would hope that the Sister offering it would do it kindly and gently in secret, with the utmost sincerity and care for the feelings of the other person, avoiding embarrassment and chastisement, picking the appropriate time and circumstance, putting aside any personal issues of superiority or “Holier than Thou” attitudes and hopefully getting the context and Fiqh correct – Insha Allah :).

Second – Read some “heart softeners”. Read about instances from the Life of the Prophet(sws ) or the Sahaba (ra) and how they showed mercy and kindness to one another, and even to their enemies. Concentrate on opening your heart to kindess and compassion. Practice being compassionate to others, just as you would be to your own child.

Third – Take stock of your own spiritual life. This can be a fairly weighty task, but since we arnt Buddhist or Hindu and believe that this life is our only shot, it is worth sitting down and taking some time to really look at your faith. Do you have prayers or fasting to make up? Have you paid all your zakat? Could you be giving more in Sadaqa? Do you have old grudges that you should let go of? If you have all your prayers, what about starting Witr prayer? Fasting Mondays and Thursdays? You get the idea.

Fourth – Ask Forgivness from Allah(swt),and seek refuge in Him. He knows all that we think, experience and do. Who better than Him (swt) to cleanse our hearts and minds of pride? Insha Allah he will open us up to truly being able to give and receive Naseeha as it was intended.

So I guess the conclusion is: Fear Allah(swt) to the point where you will accept Naseeha from a child. Be truly humble and open to accepting it from anyone before you expect others to accept it from you.

For more info please read: http://www.saqibsaab.com/2007/11/15/lowlier-than-thou-naseeha-tips-from-ibn-rajab/

Taken with permission from The Musing Muslima. :)

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