Once upon a time, the most precious of gifts which one could offer a Muslim was sincere advice. S/he would express such indebtedness to you! Such gratitude for pointing out his/her mistake! So appreciative that you found time to address his/her slip-up with honest words of wisdom which they’d then take away with the utmost of enthusiasm.
Omar Ibn al-Khattab (may Allah have mercy upon him) would say: “May Allah have mercy on those who gift me with my faults” .. notice, the companions saw it as a “gift”, not as a bullet.
Omar would also go to Huthaifa Ibn al-Yaman (who was given by the messenger of Allah PBUH the names of all of the hypocrites of Madina!) and plead to him, saying:
After them however, came another people ..
A people whose skins would cringe at the thought of being advised .. Whose chests huffed and puffed, and whose jugular veins would bulge out when addressed with:
“Brother/Sister .. Do you mind if I present you with a gentle naseeha?”
Prophet Muhammad PBUH said: الْمُؤْمِنُ مِرْآةُ الْمُؤْمِنِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُ
The primary use of a mirror isn’t vanity. Although self admiration is sometimes involved, but the principal function of a mirror is to reveal your physical blemishes for you then to fix.
Likewise, we Muslims are mirrors of one another. I must see the reflection of my inner blemishes through you and you must see yours through me .. You must not withhold your gentle advice when needed nor allow inappropriate actions to go without a “reflection”.
It used to be a craving of the early Muslim generation! To have a companion along the way who’d serve as that clear mirror, a mirror which displays true and honest reflections of your religious commitment. In fact, this is one of the chief objectives of Islamic brotherhood! … “Reflections” and advice!
When Prophet Musa PBUH was commanded by Allah to approach the Pharaoh of Egypt and invite him to Islam, what did Musa PBUH request from Allah? He wanted a companion, namely his brother Haroon PBUH .. But for what reason? Read with me the verses. Before prophet Musa sets out to Pharaoh, He beseeches Allah, saying:
“And appoint for me a helper from my family”
“Haroon (Aaron), my brother”
“Increase my strength with him” <——- you see it?
“And involve him in my task”
“That we may glorify You much”
A mirror however doesn’t merely reveal your blemishes .. but it displays your charms at the same time. Likewise, we as mirrors of the Muslims should do the same. Don’t hand over advice in the form of a shopping list!
“You’re smoking, gambling, cheating, lying, praying too fast, eating too much, no hijab .. ” (!!)
.. Rather, first reflect the positive aspects in that person before moving onto the negatives.
Abu Bakra (may Allah be pleased with him) enters the Mosque whilst the Muslims were praying. They were bowing .. and so out of his eagerness to not miss any part of the prayer, he went into bowing before reaching the rows and then walked, as he bows (!) towards them. The prophet PBUH advises him afterwards:
Notice! He opens up his heart by first addressing his good qualities, his eagerness to do good .. and then, upon this fertile ground, he plants his gentle seeds of advice.
Also, a mirror - if it’s flat – doesn’t exaggerate. It gives you your blemishes as they are without blowing your spots out of proportion. Likewise, you and I need to be fair when addressing our Muslim counterparts. We do not magnify faults nor are we snipers who crave the trigger. Convex or concave mirrors do just that however! They distort images and make the skinny look obese and vice versa. Your duty as a mirror for the believers is to be real and fair.
Finally .. Mirrors are precious
They are expensive and when purchased, we place them on the walls of every room, we polish them regularly, we become angry at the one who breaks them, we keep one handy .. and we look into them several times a day .. because they pin point our faults.
Likewise, if Allah has sent to you a Muslim who offers a gentle word of advice from time to time, addressing your mind and heart from the Qur’an and Sunnah, then by Allah, you’ve been blessed with one of the rarest and most valuable of treasures which Allah gives to His close servants.
.. a treasure which, as you read above, was sought after by the prophets.
So do not break this person .. but keep them at hand.
With this understanding, I anticipate that the advice which you receive from your brothers/sisters, when delivered with knowledge and kindness, will have a much softer landing on your heart .. and that you will respond:
“May Allah have mercy upon you for gifting me with my faults”