How should we give advice to our family members who have no religious knowledge?

The Details of the Question

- My family is Muslim and they perform prayers. However, if all of them have fallen into polytheism (shirk) without realizing it, do I have to warn them about it?
- I had also done what they did without
realizing it, but learned about it and repented. How can I convey to them what I have learned?
- I cannot think of anything; if I try to say it to them directly, there will be problems. I fear that Allah will question me because of it, but I cannot think of any way to explain it. What should I do?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

First of all, the faith system of Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah, represented by madhhabs of creed and deed, should be taken as a basis in the determination of issues such as errors, sins and polytheism (shirk). The issues of rukhsah (permission) and azimah (strict rule) should also be well known and the decree should be given accordingly.

Secondly, we should say in principle that man is a human being. He can make mistakes and even rebel from time to time. He can be dragged into the darkness of polytheism. He may be caught by the delusions of Satan and his assistants. What a Muslim needs to do regarding the issue is to fulfill the duty of amr bil-ma’ruf, nahy anil-munkar (enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil) as much as possible. As a matter of fact, the following verses give the believers this duty:

“Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.” (Aal-i Imran, 3/110)

“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil.” (at-Tawba, 9/71)

“But teach (thy Message) for teaching benefits the Believers.” (adh-Dhariyat, 51/55)

Who should fulfil this duty, when and how?

According to scholars, those who are to perform the service of conveying the message of Islam should have all of the traits of intelligence, knowledge, wisdom and taqwa (sincerity). However, every Muslim has the responsibility of expressing the truth as much as possible in their environment.

It is the duty of every Muslim to convey the message of Islam starting with the people closest to him. The advice of God Almighty to the Prophet (pbuh) is as follows:

“And admonish thy nearest kinsmen.” (ash-Shuara, 26/214)

First of all, a Muslim should learn and practice the religious issues that he needs, and then convey it to others both with his words and deeds. While fulfilling this duty, he should base everything on the Quran, the Sunnah and the practices of the Companions.

As for advice and guidance in the family:

It is known that the advice of the younger ones in the family, even if they are competent, to the older ones is not very welcome and is ineffective. In that case, it is necessary to avoid a situation that will pave the way for discussion because it is not regarded permissible to discuss religious issues. If there is an issue, it is necessary to ask someone who knows it and the matter is over.

Ways and methods of conveying the message of Islam in every environment and to everyone:

1. Reminding and leaving the result to Allah: Allah addresses the Prophet (pbuh) as follows: “But teach/remind (thy Message) for teaching benefits the Believers.” (adh-Dhariyat, 51/55) It is known Hz. Abu Bakr reminded Hz. Umar of some verses of the Quran from time to time and calmed him down.

2. Avoiding insistence and pressure:  Allah addresses the Prophet (pbuh) as follows: “Therefore do thou give admonition, for thou art one to admonish. Thou art not one to manage (men’s) affairs.” (al-Ghashiya, 21, 22)

There is no compulsion in religion. Allah addresses even His prophet as follows: “Your duty is to tell them. It is up to them to follow your advice.” People are told what is right and they are shown the way, but they cannot be forced to choose that way. If they are forced, they will not be considered to have done it based on their own will. Therefore, it will be of no value in the eye of Allah.

3. Speaking softly and avoiding being harsh: When Allah sent the Prophet Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron) to Pharaoh, he said to them, “But speak to him mildly” (Taha, 20/44) It is a method of conveying the message that although Allah the Exalted knew that Pharaoh would not believe, He ordered them to speak to him softly and mildly.

Since prophets serve as a model for believers in all issues, believers should follow their path and method.

The Quran states the following about the Prophet (pbuh):

“It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee.” (Aal-i Imran, 3/159)

4. Saying wise, nice and thought-provoking words:

“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” (an-Nahl, 16/125)

We should act in accordance with the verse above.

Wise words contain logical, scientific, thought-provoking and useful words. The Quran advises us to choose the most beautiful and best options during intellectual discussions when we give answers. Otherwise, both parties of the discussion may be harmed.

5. Considering the position and level of the addressee: Talking to people according to their level is the method of the Qur’an.

The following is stated in a hadith: “Speak to people according to their minds.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 20) It shows us an indispensable rule while conveying the message and guiding.

6. Being consistent in words and deeds: The words and deeds of the person who gives advice should be consistent. Otherwise, it will have no effect. The Quran warns us as follows: “O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not?” (as-Saff, 61/2)

7. Knowing the addressee, taking into account the place and time: Factors such as the environment, the mood of the person and his expectations are also important. The verses revealed in Makkah and Madinah took into account the position of the addressees.

8. Making things easy and giving good news: The Prophet (pbuh) states the following:

“Make things easy; do not make things difficult; give people glad tidings, do not make them hate.” (Bukhari, Ilm, 11)

It is necessary to consider carefully where and how to start while talking to a person. It is something based on knowledge, skills and experience. The hadith guides us in this regard.

In conclusion, we can say that after fulfilling his duty and giving advice and making suggestions in accordance with the rules above, a Muslim leaves the results to Allah and does not interfere with Allah’s affairs.

It is Allah Who governs minds, hearts and souls; He guides or does not guide whomever He wills.

Our duty is to be a means, to fulfill our responsibility and to push the button; it is not in our power to give light and to illuminate.

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