Getting Advice

Salam

You cannot put a price on the value of getting good advice from someone.  Seeing some very young ulema barely out of their teens being in the position of offering advice/issuing fatawa does make me wonder what depth and quality of advice they can offer those faced with difficulties in their daily lives; as the saying goes, there is nothing like experience itself.

A young scholar who has never tasted the delights of what of many of us experience on our daily commutes and full time work cannot offer advice in that area (sorry Mawlana/Mufti Sahib, that part time job in a supermarket/family business doesn’t count).  Just as a young scholar who hasn’t been married long and hasn’t raised a family cannot really offer much in the way of marriage counselling or a convincing lesson on ‘ways to raise your family’.

I found the following guidelines to be quite useful from the work Ghayat al-Manuwwah by Hazim Khanfar (p.73 onwards) where he quotes Imam al-Mawardi on those whose advice should be sought.  Perhaps the guidelines mentioned may enable us to reflect and take note before we seek advice from people and prevent us from being misinformed about a correct course of action.

Imam al-Mawardi mentioned 5 characteristics of those whose advice should be sought:

First:  Sound intellect along with previous experience

Al-Mawardi said, “Because extensive experience allows for sound contemplation.”

Second:  That the person be a practising Muslim and pious.

Al-Mawardi said, “For this is the pillar of all good and door to all success.”

Third:  That the consulted be one giving sincere advice (nasiha) and caring.

Al-Mawardi said, “Sincere advice (nasiha) and love enables a person’s thought to be correct and view to be clear.  One of the early Muslims (salaf) said:  The strike of the person who gives you sincere advice is better for you than the greeting of the one who insults you.  One of bedouins said:  The sincere advice of a friend is training (ta’dib) and the advice of the enemy is a rebuke (ta’nib).”

Fourth:  That the person being consulted is free from worries and concerns.

Al-Mawardi said, “As the person whose thoughts are preoccupied worries cannot think objectively nor concentrate on a matter.”

Fifth:  That person whose advice is sought does not have a personal interest in the in the matter being discussed.

Al-Mawardi said, “Because peoples personal objectives pull them and personal desires will repel.  If thoughts are conflicted by personal desires and are pulled by personal objectives they will be ruined.”

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Wassalam