Moral counsel, according to the Holy Qur’an, is one of the three ways of invitation towards Allah (hikma, mawiza, al-jidal al-hasan, i.e. wisdom, good admonition, and honorable debate, as mentioned in following verse:
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: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.(Surat an Nahl:125)
The difference between hikma (wisdom, philosophy) and mawiza (spiritual and moral advice and admonition) lies in the fact that hikma is for instruction and imparting knowledge, while mawiza is meant for reminding. Hikma is struggle against ignorance and maw`iza is struggle against negligence and indifference. Hikma deals with the intellect and mawiza appeals to the heart. Hikma educates, while mawiza prepares the intellect for the employment of its reserves. Hikma is a lamp and maw`iza is an eye-opener. Hikma is for ratiocination, while mawiza is for self-awakening. Hikma is the language of the intellect, while mawiza is the message for the spirit. Accordingly, the personality of the speaker plays an essential role in mawiza, which is not the case with hikma. In hikma, two minds communicate in an impersonal manner. But in mawiza, the situation is like the passage of an electric charge that flows from the speaker, who is at a higher potential, to the listener.
For this reason, it has been said of mawiza that: “If it comes forth from the soul, then it necessarily alights upon the heart. Otherwise, it does not go beyond the listener’s ears. It is about the quality of mawiza that it is said: “The speech which originates from the heart enters another heart, and the words which originate from the tongue do not go beyond the ears.”
It is true that the words that come from the heart, being the message of the soul, invade other hearts; but if they do not convey the message of the soul, they are no more than empty literary devices which do not go beyond the listener’s ear-drum.