The Company We keep, By S N Smith — April 11, 2019
It is important that we be mindful of the company we keep because those with whom we continually associate will, over time, play a pivotal role in shaping who we are and the decisions we make in life.
This reminder is emphasized over and over again in the teachings of Islam as found within the verses of the Quran and the utterances of the Prophet Muhammad, as well as many pious and learned scholars of the Islamic faith.
Consider the following.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And (remember) the Day when the wrong-doer will bite his hands and say: Woe to me! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Woe to me! If only I had not taken so- and-so as a friend! He has led me astray from this Reminder (the Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Satan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” [Qur’an: Chapter 25, Verses 27-29]
Allah, also says:
“Friends on that Day [of judgement] will be enemies one to another, except al-Muttaqoon (i.e. those who have Taqwah).” [43:67]
The Prophet Muhammad said:
“The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.” [Muslim]
In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad said: “A person is on the way of life (deen) of his close friend, so let people look into whom they take as close friends.” (Abu Dawud)
Does any of the above need any kind of further explanation?
Are not these Quranic verses and sayings of the Prophet as clear as the light of day regarding the importance of keeping good company?
With this in mind, if we, as a community, wish to be strong we need to support and encourage one another in a time were many of us life lives of isolation.
Many of us are falling into depression.
Many of us have suicidal ideation.
Many of us are simply leaving the deen behind altogether.
When even one of us is left unsupported, we become that much weaker as a community.
Allah has made it clear in the Quran regarding the purpose of our creation, but we cannot fulfill that purpose in isolation, but require the help of others.
Allah says in the Quran:
“O you who believe! Take care of your own selves. If you follow the right guidance and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong no hurt can come to you from those who are in error. The return of you all is to Allah, then He will inform you about (all) that which you used to do.” [5:105]
How do we take care of ourselves other than to carry out those actions and associate with those people who will help us achieve our goals?
Can associating with unmindful people who give no thought of their deen, and even scoff at it, be of any real benefit to us in the long run?
Of course, it is essential that we treat everyone with a gracious and just manner for we cannot totally isolate ourselves from the wider society in which we live and work.
The Prophet said, “Allah has sent me as an apostle so that I may demonstrate the perfection of character, refinement of manners and superiority in behavior.” (Malik)
But we need to also keep in mind the influences the social environment has on us and how it can draw us away from our true life purpose.
And this influence can be very subtle.
The Prophet said that, “A person will be [in the hereafter] with whom he loves.” (Bukhari)
So the question we have to ask ourselves is whom do we love and are drawn to the most?
Can we expect sincere advice and encouragement from people who are unmindful and indifferent regarding the purpose of their existence?
On the other side, the Prophet has stated that “a believer is the mirror of his brother,” which, according to the scholar Habib `Abdullah bin Husayn bin Tahir, has a number of inter-connected meanings.
What does a mirror do other than remind us of our faults?
A mirror never lies and always presents us as we are.
And that is what a good friend should also do.
Ibn Hazm said: Anyone who criticizes you cares about your friendship. Anyone who makes light of your faults cares nothing about you.”
Our true friend should be that person that when we see them we will be immediately reminded of Allah.
We learn from one another.
We correct one another.
We support one another.
Having such people in our lives will be of the most benefit, both in this life, as well as the hereafter, for they will help as achieve the purpose of our creation.