Friday, 5 October 2012

WDTO Part 2 - Sneak Preview

The following is a chapter from the book, When Desire Takes Over - Part 2. For more details, please click --> Available for pre-order at Azhar Academy.


Good Company

I begin this book with a chapter about friendship; Rasūlullāh g said, “A man will follow the religion of his friend; so be careful as to who you make friends with.”[1]
We’ve all had friends with whom we spent our childhood, attended primary school with and stuck with through secondary school and perhaps even college. A lot of the time, people change in college/university and as a result, friendships are broken and new friends are made. This is quite normal, as new friends are bound to be made in new places. The more popular a person becomes, the more friends he makes (he also gets more enemies)!
However, the group of friends we make from the time we hit puberty till the end of university really form who we are. They are the people who go through thick and thin with us. They are the people whom we phone late at night to empty out the sadness or the happiness of our hearts and they are the people who we share cheesy jokes with. As soon as we enter college/university, they are the first thing we think of and our hands immediately grab our phones in order to text them, “I’m here, where you at?” Quite simply, our friends know our private life more than anyone else. They may not know our private habits but they sure do know the details of our private life. By this, I mean to say that our family know our secret household habits (i.e. refusing to throw out the trash, leaving the bathroom floor wet, leaving the toilet seat down etc) but our friends are the ones who know what is going on in our minds (i.e. what we are worried about, what we are looking forward to).
Inevitably, when a person becomes so close to a group of people, his mind and thoughts coincide with theirs. What they seem to do and wish always appears to be acceptable no matter how insane it may be. We have been made in such a way that we are heavily impacted by those people who surround us.
Thereafter, people are of two types; some are leaders and others are followers.
By leaders, I am referring to those individuals who hold the strongest opinion within their social groups. For example, if they were to put an opinion forward in relation to an outing, the majority of their friends would adhere and listen.
On the contrary, there is what is known as the follower; this is in reference to that person who doesn’t really hold any strong opinion within their social group. They just go with whatever is decided and rarely makes any fuss about the decision.
Having understood this, it is now important to understand the importantce of maintaining good company in Islam.  Rasūlullāh g said, “A man will follow the religion of his friend; so be careful as to who you make friends with.”  In this ḥadīth, Rasūlullāh g is highlighting towards the huge impact friends can have upon a person. Rasūlullāh g highlights that a man follows the religion of his friend. This means that a human being generally follows what his friend does; if he sees his friend as a person who neglects prayer, he generally will do the same. Take the example of a boy who goes to play football with his friends; if at the time of prayer, nobody is bothered to pray, that young boy will ignore the call for prayer too. However strong a person’s friend is in his religion, this will be reflected in oneself. Similarly, however weak a person’s friend is in his religion, this too will be reflected in oneself. Having said that, this is a generalised approach, there are obviously a minority who are an exception to this.
Then in the ḥadīth Rasūlullāh g said, ‘Be careful as to whom you befriend’. Why was Rasūlullāh g so worried about the friends we make? The answer is quite simply down to the impact they can have upon our religious beliefs which is central to our lives. If we befriend people who doubt Allāh f, they may bombard us with questions to which we do not have the answers and as a result, they will influence us to join their path. As a result, a person will take his friend to be knowledgeable and follow him all the way into the fire. Similarly, if a person has friends who are of a pious disposition, he will immediately feel strong within his beliefs for if he has any doubts, his friends will help him remove these feelings.
Furthermore, friends tend to dress similarly to one another. You will generally see people who have beards hanging out with each other in the Islamic Society prayer room. Similarly, the sisters who wear ‘abāyah and ḥijāb all hang around together too. The reason to this is quite simply down to the fact that we have created classes amongst us; you will notice that in every college/university there is the ‘IT group’, ‘the art group’, ‘the religious group’,  ‘the Asian group’, ‘the Black group’ and so on. If you look at the interests and appearance of each group, you will find them separate from each other but those who are actually part of the group, all look similar. There may be some differences but generally, they all look the same.
Thus, if a person wants to be pious, the best companionship they can gain is that of pious people. Imām Shāf’ī r said, “There are three things that will increase you in your knowledge: (1) the gatherings of the scholars (2) the gatherings of the pious (3) leaving that which does not concern you.”[2] Therefore, if a person sits with a group of people who are pious, it becomes easy to be pious.
During my final year of university, I had a coursework to submit for one of my modules. Alḥamdulillāh, I completed my work well in advanced but there were some brothers (some of whom were practising and some of who weren’t) who were doing a ‘deadline day mission impossible’. I felt some compassion for them as I remembered being in tight situations myself only to be helped by brothers and so I stayed back in the library and ICT room to help them. There was a good amount of practising brothers in the room, and one brother who was not so practising. Whilst we were discussing the work, the time for prayer arrived and we all got up to go and pray. It was at this point that the non practising brother uttered some words that struck my heart; whilst in the elevator he said, “You know, normally, I would have said ‘you guys go’ and I would have stayed behind.” I immediately realised that he was finding it easy to pray because he was with a congregation of brothers who found it easy to pray.
If you want to be pious, then hang around with the pious. A person who joins a group of complete nutters will act like one. Thus, it is established that keeping good friends contributes highly towards how pious a person will be.
The reason I have mentioned this at the beginning of this book is because many of the problems I have written about from here on can easily be remedied if a person keeps a good set of friends. However, we find it difficult to part from those people whom we have known for years despite them being terrible people and sinful Muslims. The reason why we can’t change for the best is because the people whom we revolve our lives around quite simply won’t let us. I know tons of individuals who have been ridiculed by their alleged ‘mates’ when they have chosen to take the path of the Prophet g. As a result, they just stop practising altogether or if they do practise, they still end up doing dodgy things because they just can’t part with bad company.
Thus, many friendships in our society are based upon sin and to be frank, ‘if you start on the wrong foot, you are more than likely to finish on the wrong foot.’
If a person really wants to change, it is important that he ditches the wrong type of company. It may be hard at first; a person might really want to go and reminisce but if a person is damaging for you in your life as a Muslim, then quite frankly, you should not be with them. Allāh f highlights the state of those people who lived their lives with the wrong company on the day of Qiyāmah. He says,
وَيَوۡمَ يَعَضُّ ٱلظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيۡهِ يَقُولُ يَـٰلَيۡتَنِى ٱتَّخَذۡتُ مَعَ ٱلرَّسُولِ سَبِيلاً۬ يَـٰوَيۡلَتَىٰ لَيۡتَنِى لَمۡ أَتَّخِذۡ فُلَانًا خَلِيلاً۬ لَّقَدۡ أَضَلَّنِى عَنِ ٱلذِّڪۡرِ بَعۡدَ إِذۡ جَآءَنِى‌ۗ وَڪَانَ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ لِلۡإِنسَـٰنِ خَذُولاً۬
“And (Be mindful of) the Day the wrongdoer will bite his hands saying, ‘Would that I had taken a path along with the messenger! Woe to me! Would that I had not taken so-and-so for my friend! Indeed he led me astray from the advice after it had come to me.’ And the Satan is man‘s betrayer.”[3]
We shouldn’t wait for such a time to come but rather, we should rectify our friendships now so that on the day of Judgement we can be those people upon whom Allāh f has bestowed His favours. They are those from amongst the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the pious; Rasūlullāh g wasallam said, “You will be with those whom you love.” Anas h said, “Nothing made us more happy than the statement of the Prophet g, ‘You will be with those whom you love’ for I love Rasūlullāh g, I love Abū Bakr, ‘Umar and Uthmān j and so I hope to be with them in the hereafter’.
Those people whom we unconditionally love should be people who will help us straight into Jannah.
The underlying message here is that we must analyse our life and the people within it; we must hold onto those who are doing good for us and take a step back from those who aren’t. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely cut off from them but rather, it just means that you should keep your distance. It will be hard but Allāh f will reward you with better friends inshā’ Allāh.
Some people find religious people annoying; however, if you listened to them and acted upon what they say, you won’t find them annoying but you will find them as your best advisors. You’ll be thanking them when your imān is buzzing and your life is back on track. However, first, it requires you to swallow the bitter pill.
May Allāh f give us the ability to make good friends. Āmīn. I remember writing a poem about this issue and so I will put it here:
My best friend is always there for me,
He makes du’ā and Istighfār just for me.
He yells out 'Salām' when he sees me,
And will always smile as he embraces me.
My best friend always has time for me,
He will always ring and check up on me.
If I haven't spoken to him he will email me,
And if he hasn’t seen me he will surely contact me.
My best friend always spends freely on me,
He does not think twice when feeding me.
When we are together he will look after me,
And when it's ‘Īd he will buy gifts for me.
My best friend always prays in Jamā’ah with me,
He hasn't got time to take drugs with me.
He will always have a good influence on me,
He will never say anything bad about me.
My best friend is most dear to me.
 I stay around him because it is good for me.
I make more du’ā for him than he does of me,
I care for him because he’s a part of me...
"A man will follow the religion of his friend, so be careful as to whom you make friends with."[4]

[1] Abū Dāwūd
[2] Sharḥul Arba’īn lil Ḥumayḍī
[3] Sūrah 25:27-29
[4] Abū Dāwūd

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