Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question : Are there contexts which excuse the sunna of sincere counsel?
For example, some Sufis may say that it’s just the nafs that likes to have advice given with sweet words. If we were truly sincere, then, even if it’s harsh or embarrassing we’d take it with open arms i.e. if done in front of people or in a blunt manner. I guess this kind of tarbiyya is like tough love (?)
It’s just many times i’ve noticed that the person is so upset or turned off that the focus of the advice is lost or at least takes some time to sink in after one calms down.
So, my question is are there excuses of not following the sunna of sincere counsel or are there hadith that show that the prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, gave counsel to one in front of all or counsel in a blunt even harsh manner?
Answer : There is a difference in the sunna of giving and taking advice.
One should take advice that is correct, even if harsh, even from someone at enmity to one or one trying to put us down. This should be taken in the positive spirit of finding something one can do to make oneself more pleasing to Allah. (What a gift!)
As for giving advice, the sunna is gentleness. “Allah is Gentle and loves gentleness, and He gives for gentleness what He doesn’t give for harshness or for anything else,” said the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). He also said, “Allah loves gentleness in all things.”
And the sunna in advice and correcting is to do so in private; or without specifying the person or singling them out–unless there is a clear interest otherwise.