From the morals and manners of the Salaf was that they would advise one another sincerely. Remarkably the elder person would not be offended if advised by the young one. The young people would know how to advise the elders with good manners, humbly and respectfully while the elders would accept such advice in the best way and with thanks.
This is the opposite to the situation we see from the light-headed people we have today. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah honour him and grant him blessed peace) said, “The Religion (deen) is advice/sincerity (naseeha).” They asked, “To whom O Messenger of Allah?” He (may Allah honour him and grant him blessed peace) said, “To Allah, to His Book, to His Messenger, to the leaders of the Muslims and their public.” 1
They used to accept advice and thank the adviser. One of them would not think that he had repaid his adviser fully even if he was benevolent to him all his life. That is because the matters related to the Afterlife cannot be compared to the vain and temporary things of this world.
A person once said to Hasan al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him), “Advise me.” He replied to the man, “Exalt the commands of Allah wherever you are, and Allah will exalt you wherever you are.”
They would also write to each other even if they rarely saw one another, being far apart in their lands. The one who was counselled would accept the advice and thank his counsellor though things have become quite the opposite today. Thus you rarely advise anyone today who does not complain about your own faults or insult you.
Tawus wrote to Makhul (may Allah have mercy on him) and he said to him, “After greetings – My brother! Beware of thinking that you have a high standing in the sight of Allah, because of what you see of your actions. The one who thinks that about himself moves onto the After-life empty-handed. The people may treat you with a lot of respect because of your good deeds but that is so that your reward is quickly given to you in this world.”
O believer! Let us know these facts, advise ourselves and then our fellow worshippers, whether in words or in writing, but beware of being offended if someone advises us.
1. Muslim, Abu Dawud and An-Nasai
- Transcribed from: From the Ways of Our Pious Predecessors | Adapted from Ahmed Fareed’s Min Akhlaaq-us-Salaf