To Advise...Not to offend :)

>> Monday, November 11, 2013

I have a question. There's a couple of girls in my class who are Muslims because of their family but they don't act like it, since they disregard a lot of Islam's basic rules and principles. Now, theoretically, I know that I'm not responsible for their actions and that it's their fault for not trying to be better people, but I feel guilty that as a classmate and a fellow Muslim sister who knows them well that I'm not helping them. But my problem is that I don't even know how to. Like would they even want to listen to me...and is there even a point, really, when they don't seem interested at all? Do you have any advice on what I should do?

Salaam Alaykum and Hi sis!

Your desire to want to help your classmates, rather than turning a blind eye to the situation is very admirable. Wanting to help someone better themselves; in any way, can never be considered a bad thing. In fact, as sisters in Islam, we should always seek to help one another and reach out a helping hand. 

Here’s a beautiful hadith portraying this:

On the authority of Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who said, ” Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter. Whoever alleviates [the situation of] one in dire straits who cannot repay his debt, Allah will alleviate his lot in both this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever conceals [the faults of] a Muslim, Allah will conceal [his faults] in this life and the Hereafter. Allah is helping the servant as long as the servant is helping his brother. Whoever follows a path in order to seek knowledge thereby, Allah will make easy doe him, due to it, a path to Paradise. No people gather together in a house of the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves, except that tranquility descended upon them, mercy covers them, the angels surround them and Allah makes mention of them to those in His presence. Whoever is slowed by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage.” [Muslim]

And, here’s another: 

“He who removes from a believer one of his difficulties of this world, Allah will remove one of his troubles on the Day of Resurrection; and he who finds relief for a hard-pressed person, Allah will make things easy for him on the Day of Resurrection; he who covers up (the faults and sins) of a Muslim, Allah will cover up (his faults and sins) in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah supports His slave as long as the slave is supportive of his brother…” [Muslim]

And, what could be more wonderful than seeking to invite others to learn more about the deen and helping one another through our journey? 

Supporting, encouraging and helping each other are things the ummah should always strive to do, even in the smallest of deeds. And the virtues of doing so are just incredible – in return for helping one another, Allah promises to help us. What more could we want?? 

However, in situations like this it’s important to be tactful and compassionate of someone else’s situation. 

As you say yourself – you are not responsible for their actions – but just as you’ve been observant of their behaviour, perhaps they’re aware of yours. Be the best person you can be and ‘practice what you preach’ by conducting yourself in a pleasing manner. Try to be a good role model and maybe these sisters will notice the way you conduct yourself and follow your example. You may not even need to say anything at all – your company and friendship itself could be a good influence on them.

So often we can mistakenly assume the worst of someone or jump to the wrong conclusions. Keep an open mind and give them the benefit of the doubt. They may be completely unaware or ignorant about the way they’ve been acting or they may even be remorseful of it but unsure of what do. While you may be offering them advice with the best of intentions, allow them to speak freely and be open to dialogue. You might think they won’t ‘seem interested at all’ but you may be surprised by their reaction and find your thoughts are very welcome! 

I understand it can be quite nerve-wracking trying to find the right time and the right words to approach a situation like this. I know you may be worried that your classmates will look at you negatively or think "Great the Haram police". The thing to keep in mind though is that Allah made us all protectors of each other, meant to help each other. None of us is perfect and that is why we should remind each other...

The Noble Qur'an - Al-Tauba 9:71 
The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.

Start off my by making it clear you don’t mean to hurt/offend anyone and just want the best for them. Something along the lines of “I hope you guys don’t take this the wrong way, but I really ...” and work from there. You could also be proactive and invite them to join a good Islamic group you may know of, or suggest books you’ve read or talks you’ve listened to. 

I want a share a quick story with you - it was brought to my attention by Little Auntie herself who’d written the article and it’s all about our obligation in correcting mistakes we see ... 

It’s the story of Ashab Al Sabt and it goes like this ... Allah (Subhanoo wa' Tala) ordered the people to take Saturday as a Sabbath day as the means of a test. This meant they weren’t allowed to fish that day, and that was the exact day that Allah would provide for the fish to come to them openly.

“And ask them (O Muhammad (peace be upon him)) about the town that was by the sea; when they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath (i.e. Saturday): when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath day, and did not come to them on the day they had no Sabbath. Thus We made a trial of them for they used to rebel against Allah’s Command (disobey Allah).” [Surah An-Nisa 4/154]

But, some of the people conjured a plan to try to “trick Allah”. They would cast their fishing nets on Friday and then collect them on Sunday – thereby catching all of Saturdays fish without actually going fishing on Saturday. 

Witnessing the disobedience towards Allah (Subhanoo Wa Tala), the town was divided into two – one group decided to speak up against this group, advising them against their plan and warning them of the punishments for their actions i.e. they commanded good and forbade evil. 

The other group of people however, felt it wasn’t really their responsibility – they thought Allah would just deal with them - and chose to remain quite. 

The Quran says: And when a community among them said: “Why do you preach to a people whom Allâh is about to destroy or to punish with a severe torment?”
How did the first group reply?: “(The preachers) said: ‘In order to be free from guilt before your Lord (Allâh), and perhaps they may fear Allâh.’” (4/155)

The first group of people had acted for 2 reasons 
– 1) for forgiveness from Allah (Subhanoo wa' Tala) by fulfilling their Islamic duty 
-  2) it might make the transgressors take heed and think twice about their actions.

And, as a result, it was  this group of people – the callers to obedience of Allah’s commands– who survived. 

That’s just one example of the duty we have to speak up when we see someone saying/doing something wrong. Check out the article for many more wonderful stories and examples!

I know you’re wondering ‘is there even a point’, and while it may seem like ‘it’s not our place’, if we see someone doing something wrong then we have a responsibility to speak up. We’re put in others lives for a reason and sometimes it’s okay and correct to step in or speak up if you don’t agree with something. 

You say you know them well, so perhaps that puts you in a good position to speak to them. They may understand where you’re coming from and that you just want to help. It’s obvious you care about these girls and their wellbeing, and hopefully that will come across. But, in the end all you can do is offer them advice - it’s up to them whether they want to take it.

And, never underestimate the power of dua. Remember to keep them (and the entire ummah!) in your duas and pray for the best. Ask Allah to help them understand you and not take your advice the wrong way and ask Him for guidance for us all :) 

All my love,


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Asalamu aialkum!
Well, what do you think? You know, you're part of the team, as well. Please help a sister out and share your own advice/experiences/etc. One for all and all for one =)
P.S. I reserve the right to remove any disrespectful comment ;)

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