The following was taken from a lecture given by Habib Ali al-Jifri in the blessed city of Tarim in the majestic valley of Hadramauwt, Yemen. Habib Ali gave commentary on the book “The means of arrival to the characteristics of the Messenger (SS),” by Imam Yusuf al-Nabahani. He expanded the topic to encompass brotherhood and da’wah
You can extract an important principle of da’wah from the many names of the Prophet (SS); which are, the essence of da’wah…praiseworthy attributes. Without having praiseworthy attributes that have been inherited from the Prophet (SS), it is rare for a person to have Allah (SW) guide others by his hands. Struggling to acquire and inculcate these attributes into our being is preparation for the reality of the da’wah that must be given. From amongst the most important of these attributes is to love good for others. Whoever is sincere and a true caller to Allah, and the light of da’wah becomes firm in his heart, will want the greatest good for everyone. So how could it weigh heavy on one’s heart for people to receive blessings?
A sign that you have begun to love good for others is the manifestation of this attribute in your relationship with your brothers who are near to you. If you see that Allah (SW) singles out one of your brothers with a particular blessing, either worldly or religious, it is incumbent that you search deep into your heart and find feelings of sincere happiness for him. It is stated in a hadith, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.” A sign of this love is that you do not become quickly angered if your brother makes a mistake while trying to do something good. Rather than opposing or criticizing him, you should assist him in the rectification of his mistake in a gentle way. It is not easy to have this attribute become firmly planted in the heart, because envy (hasad) is subtle, even a m o n g y o u r companions. However, by being sincere and turning to Allah Most High continuously, this affair becomes easy. So, if you see that Allah (SW) has blessed one of your brothers with uprightness, enlightenment, or righteousness, and it weighs heavy on your heart, the cure for this is to pray that Allah increase him in what He has given him. Say:
O Allah, increase him!
O Allah, give him openings!
O Allah, give him Divine success!
O Allah, guide others by means of him!
The existence of the darkness of envy in the soul is a sign of not loving good for others. If Allah bestows a blessing up someone, you might say to yourself, “Masha-Allah, Allah has blessed him with that.” However, if he happens to make the slightest mistake, you become angered and say things like, “He doesn’t know what he i s doing! He doesn’t understand! He ‘ s not benefiting people!” Pay attention to what you are saying here. Which is greater, the good he was doing, or the mistake that he made?
Another sign that the heart does not desire good for others is hastening to mention people’s errors. This does not mean that you remain silent about the mistakes. Rather, it is upon you to advise your brother and strive to rectify the fault, without diminishing their honor. Your duty when rectifying is to correct the mistake, not to diminish the stature of the one who made the blunder. There is a big difference there is between the two. From the subtle, evil aspects of the soul regarding this, is the claim that your self is perfect and the other is deficient. Take for instance, when one says, “I am more knowledgeable than him. How could he be the one who does that? How could he have more students? Why are people praising him?” This is claiming that the self is perfect. Or when one says, “I have been studying longer than him. I have more sincerity than him,”
I. I. I. Do you know who said “I?” Pay attention! The one who said, “I,” was Iblis. “I am better than him. You created me of fire, while You created him of mud.” (7:12) He (Iblis), laughs at you and makes you his student when you say, “I” like he did. You are students of the inheritors of the Prophet (SS), not of Iblis.
As for the other aspect of seeking deficiencies in your brother, when you say things like, “He does not know. He doesn’t understand. He made a mistake in that. He didn’t organize this, etc.” What is your intention in saying these things? If your intention is to try to rectify his mistake, may Allah bless you because loving good for people necessitates this. However, if your intention when he makes a mistake is that you don’t want him to do something good, sacrifice, or work hard… look into your hearts. Do you want to stop a good action from being done? Pay attention to what is going on.
Also, from among the signs of not desiring good for others, is your desire to disassociate yourself from your brother and not advise him when you know he made a mistake. You might avoid speaking against, criticizing, or belittling him, but then say things like, “I don’t want to have anything to do with the affair. Leave it to him. L e t him make mistakes. People will see later that he is wrong.” This is your intention? For your brother to be exposed? You know that he is wrong, yet you just leave him? It is your duty to give him advice. It is your duty to inform him. It is your duty to give him a hand. It is your duty to pray for him secretly. It is your duty to tell someone who will be able to advise him if you are unable to. However, to see your brother make a mistake, and not say anything to him about it, is treachery. This attribute should never be in religious people. Do not wait to implement this attribute. This is a principle of daw’ah that must be implemented now. Mutual concern for one other, giving advice to one another, desiring good for one another, hastening to serve one another, these are all signs that you are sincere. And if you are sincere, and implement these attributes, Allah will benefit others through you.
People from the western countries come from societies that Allah has given a type of worldly advancement. From this advancement is the attribute of seriousness regarding worldly affairs that causes one to constantly work hard. If this attribute becomes separated from your connection with Allah Most High, it leads to a blameworthy attribute in the soul (selfishness) and not being concerned with others. We must take the good aspects of these societies, such as seriousness and hard work, and connect them to a divine meaning one that entails directing them towards the next life, not towards this world. The f r u i t of implementing this i s deliverance from the blameworthy aspect of the self. Each one of you must feel that all of your brothers around you are a sacred trust upon you. You must think of ways to help them in everyway you can. In adapting these attributes of seriousness and hard work, the difference between a Muslim and a non- Muslim is that his seriousness and hard work is for the sake of Allah Most High, not for the life of this world. By focusing on this, you will be rid of selfishness and actualize the saying of the Prophet (SS) that, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.”
Seek this affair (of true brotherhood) by taking five steps of action. The first step of action is to have a daily litany (wird) of supplication (du’a) for your brothers. Habib Umar has a specific (du’a) one can make for his brothers, which is titled, “The Prayer of Brotherhood.” [This translated du’a can be found on page #] Seek closeness to Allah Most High by supplicating for your brothers. This is the first step of action.
The second step of action is to devote a certain time of the day to serving your brothers, outside of your classes, study time, and other obligations. Don’t think that by devoting a short time to the service of your brothers will hinder your daily routine. Rather, it will be a means for openings, and will benefit you by giving you experience in service (Khidma).
The third step of action is to not sleep at night with something in your heart against your Muslim brother; regardless of what happened, or whether you were right or wrong. If you are unable to rid your heart of it, go and speak to the person, but with love and sincerity. Say: “I feel in my heart such and such towards you. Maybe I am wrong, but help me rid my heart of this.” The one who is content to sleep while harboring something in his heart against his Muslim brother is treacherous. If you are unable to rid your heart of it, unable to speak to him, or find it hard for him to accept your approaching him, then go to a third person. Go to an understanding, trustworthy person that you rely on, and tell him that you are unable to rid yourself of what you have in your heart against brother. Ask that person: “How do I get rid of what is in my heart?” This animosity towards your brother is filth; don’t be content to sleep at night with filth in your heart. This is extremely important.
The fourth step of action is to avoid speaking against any of your brothers. Don’t say anything that your brother would dislike if he were to become aware of what you said. You may only speak to the extent that is needed to rectify a wrong and give advice. You must address him first, if you are unable to, a third person that you know could benefit the situation by influencing him, or speaking to him. But to let your tongue loose and talk negatively about him saying things like, “So and so did this. So and so doesn’t know. So and so made a mistake. So and so just wants this for himself. So and so just wants to be known.” What does saying these things really mean? This is backbiting (ghibah), and completely impermissible.
How could this be an action of one who is preparing himself to be from the elect of the Ummah by seeking knowledge and giving service to the Din? You can speak to the extent that is necessary to rectify the mistake, but it is not permissible to criticize or dishonor your brother. If you are able to gently allude to your brother’s imperfection (‘Aib) to rectify the situation, it is better than speaking to him directly. If you are able to simply move your lips to inform the person, it is better than raising your voice so that others can hear. If you can speak directly to him, it is not permissible to speak to another about it. If there is one person that can help rectify the mistake, then it is not permissible to speak to two. If two people can rectify the mistake, then you can’t speak to three.
You must speak to the minimal amount of people needed to rectify the mistake. This mistake is considered to be from the nakedness (‘awrah) of your brother so you should strive to veil the mistake and not expose it. If someone was sitting, and, unintentionally, part of his nakedness became uncovered, and you happen to see this, then you should inform him. If he is far and you are unable to speak to him, don’t tell a person to your right or left, or who is in front or back of you, only tell the person who is closest to him so that he can tell him. When the person tells him, he will cover his nakedness and say, “May Allah reward you.” But if you were to see the nakedness of someone exposed, and then say to the one next to you, “Look! His nakedness is exposed.” And then he says to the person next to him, “Look! his nakedness is exposed.” And then he says to the one next to him, “Look! his nakedness is exposed.” Did you rectify the situation or humiliate your brother? Is this an affair of our Din? The spiritual nakedness is more severe than the physical nakedness regarding your brother’s honor.
The fifth step of action is to distinguish between judging something that is from the unseen and something that you clearly see. There is a difference between actually seeing a mistake of your Muslim brother and thinking that your Muslim brother had a bad intention.
For instance, one of your brothers wears a big turban, robe, shawl, and carries prayer beads, and if someone wants to kiss his hand, he sticks it out for them to kiss. Yes, this type of action is blameworthy. The appropriate etiquette, as we have seen from our teachers, even the elderly of them, is that if someone kisses their hand, they also try to kiss their hand. So to advise your brother regarding this is acceptable because it was something you clearly saw. But to say things like, “So and so is just showing off! So and so just wants to be known by people!” Amazing! This is an intention that is in the heart, so how did you see it? It is impermissible to judge something that is from the unseen with a bad opinion (su’ al-dhann). Maybe your brother became heedless. Maybe he was negligent. Maybe he didn’t pay attention. In terms of his intentions, have the best of opinions regarding them, even when he makes a mistake. And, at the same time, don’t leave the mistake. Rather, give sincere advice and try to rectify the situation.
Another example, for instance, if one of your brothers is given success (Tawfiq) by Allah to open a school and build a mosque, but he wants to do all of the arrangements and the activities himself. He doesn’t want his brothers to take any part. He wants to arrange the mosque. He wants to arrange the classes. He wants to arrange the Daw’ah activities. Him. Him. Him. This is a mistake because he is unable to do everything by himself. He must consult his brothers and include them in the work. However, we don’t say, “So and so is selfish, he only loves himself, so and so wants to be known by others.
The first problem is with you not with him! Cure the filth that is in you! How could it be heavy on your heart for Allah to bring about something good on the hands of your brother? What if someone told him, “Your brother is saying that you are selfish and that you only want good for yourself?” Then, he says, “And he is envious! He also doesn’t want good for me!” Each one of them is judging the other about something that is from the unseen. Does this establish anything? Da’wah is not established this way.
The proper way to deal with this situation is to offer your service to your brother. You should tell him, “I want to serve you. What do you want me to do? Do you want me to sweep the mosque? Do you want me to clean the bathrooms? Brother, you are doing something good, and I want to serve along with you in this good.” Don’t tell him, “You must take my opinion! You must consult me! Don’t do everything by yourself!” By saying comments of this sort, you are proving that your desire to give service is for the sake of yourself, not for the sake of Allah. At the same time, you don’t say, “He didn’t consult me so I am not going to help him. He can work alone. I don’t want to have anything to do with it.” What is this? Is this his da’wah or yours, or is it the da’wah of the Prophet Muhammad bin Abdullah (SS)?
Wanting to give your opinion, even with a good intention, desiring good for your brother, is not praiseworthy in its essence. Loving to serve is what is praiseworthy. There is a difference between loving to serve and wanting to give your o p i n i o n , a b i g difference.
Habib Umar once said, “Anyone who serves the Din in any way, in the east or the west, it is incumbent upon us to serve him to the extent that we are able.” We don’t say, “This is my school. This is my way (Tariqah). This is my institution. This is my organization. This is ours, and that is theirs.” As long as it is a part of the Din, done with the correct understanding and methodology, it is incumbent to serve them. They are building a foundation of the Din, which is in reality, one foundation. If someone is constructing something and you tell him that you want to help, but he tells you, “I don’t need you. You don’t know how to build.” Don’t leave. Say to yourself, “If he doesn’t want me to build, then I will help him by preparing what he needs so that he can build.” If he says to you, “You don’t know how to mix cement properly.” You say to him, “Okay, I will bring you the cement and pour water on top of it and then you mix it. I just want to serve.” But, if he says to you, “You don’t know the correct measurements of the cement and the water.” You say, “Fine. I will bring the cement and the water and you make the correct measurements.” If he says to you, “You don’t know how to carry the cement, you will ruin it (he is being stubborn and just doesn’t want you to help).” You say, “Okay. I will clean the car that carries the cement.” If he says to you, “You don’t understand anything! You are not able to do anything! You can’t help!” Remain quiet and leave him until he goes inside his room and takes his shoes off, and then clean his shoes for him with the intention that these are shoes that became dusty from serving the Din.
How can we attain these attributes that were mentioned? How can it become a reality within us? First, by realizing that we are completely poor and in need to serve the Din and the Din does not need us. We should fear to meet Allah without having served His Din. Second, by realizing that we don’t deserve to serve the Din, rather, we should hope that by the grace of Allah, He will honor us to be from among those who serve the Din. If this becomes firmly implanted in your heart, Allah will use you for the service of His Din. But, if you believe that the service of the Din is in need of you, and say things like, “Leave them! They will eventually know who I am. They don’t know how to do anything. They will try, but fail, and then come running to me. I am the one who knows how to do it.” Does Allah need you? Are you crazy?! You believe that Allah needs you?! The Din needs you?! Or to say, “They didn’t give me a good position. I deserve a higher position than that which they gave me.” What do you deserve?! Or if you say, “I have this and this.” What do you really have?! Were Allah to expose your smallest sin, no one would even greet you. So, we must be humble and broken before Allah and annihilate ourselves in the love of service.
One scholar recently took a daw’ah trip and was scheduled to give a talk at a certain university. The people of this university had certain views that differed from the views of the scholar who was going to give the lecture. When they found out about the ideologies of the scheduled speaker, they cancelled the lecture. After this, the students of the scholar were upset and complained about what happened. But the scholar said, “Let’s go visit them.” The students then said, “But they cancelled the lecture?” And to this the scholar said, “We are not going for the lecture. We are going to visit them for the sake of Allah Most High.” When he went, the administration was surprised to see the scholar and told him, “We’re sorry. Our students have exams. We are unable to have the lecture.” But, the scholar said, “I didn’t come for the lecture. I came to visit you for the sake of Allah.” The administration gathered with the teachers and they all sat together, and welcomed the scholar, and eventually forced him to speak. He spoke a light, gentle speech, without showing any anger, and then when he was leaving, the administration walked with him and asked his forgiveness for all happened. This is the correct way (minhaj), may Allah bless you. May Allah give all of us openings and prepare us to implement these meanings and place these principles firmly in our hearts and make us from the elect that adopt them and unto the presence of the Prophet (SS). [Al-Fatiha]
There are five steps to follow when setting out on the path of achieving true brotherhood in the service of the Din.
- The first step of action is to have a daily litany (wird) of supplication (du’a) for your brothers.
- The second step of action is to devote a certain time of the day to serving your brothers, outside of your classes, study time, and other obligations.
- The third step of action is to not sleep at night with something in your heart against your Muslim brother; regardless of what happened, whether you were right or wrong.
- The fourth step of action is to avoid speaking against any of your brothers.
- The fifth step of action is to distinguish between judging something that is from the unseen and something that you clearly see.