According to a common adage, a man is known by the company he keeps. Our friendships define and reflect our own persona and innate characteristics. Therefore, it is imperative to watch our steps, before we stride on the road to lifelong camaraderie. “Hiba” guides its readers regarding the kinds of people one should befriend, as mentioned in the Quran.
“A person is upon the religion of their friend.” (Tirmidhi) This simple Hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (sa) defines the sort of relationship we should have with people around us. We should be very careful before making friends. Even if one is pious and religious, if a person’s friends are not on the right path, they will bring about his/her downfall. Hence, we should be very careful, while making friends. Even if we have friends which are not on the right path, instead of following their desires, we should try to guide them and mend their ways. The relationships that we have in this world can lead to our failure or success in the hereafter. Achieving the latter is the ultimate aim of all Muslims. Hence, we should try to make friends who help us achieve this goal.
Since the Noble Quran guides Muslims in every walk of life, it also enlightens regarding the type of friends one should keep. These guidelines are presented by giving friends different terms that help identify the right kind. Following is a brief explanation of the sort of friends that we come across in our life.
The word Qareen actually comes from the Arabic term Kiham, which means ‘a rope that ties two camels together’. Hence, Qareen is a kind of friend, who is always with you, spending time with you, texting and emailing you. Such a friend is always around you.
When a person achieves paradise, he/she will remember their friends. They will say: “I used to have this friend, this Qareen, I wonder what happened to him?” They will remember that Qareen used to lure them towards sin. Many a times, they listened to their friend and did all that they were invited to.
Friends generally share the same activities. For instance, when one goes to movies or to watch a basketball game, he invites others as well, so that he may have company. Hence, friendships are based on mutual interests. Therefore, there might have been times, when one was compelled to join their friend in some vain activity out of sheer pleasure.
However, soon they realise that such activities are nothing but sin and mend their ways. On the contrary, their friend keeps egging them on towards such pleasures, making fun of them when they refuse. When one in paradise will inquire about such friends, they will see that they are burning in the worst part of hell. The pious one will thank Allah (swt) for guiding him and saving him from hellfire and will be happy that he stopped listening to his friend.
This is testimony to the fact that a friend can either utterly destroy you or guide you to the right path. The ones in paradise will thank Allah (swt) for guiding them and preventing them from following their friend. They have achieved the ultimate success, which in this context is to escape the temptation of a bad friend, who wants to pull you into evil deeds.
You may be a Qareen or you might have a Qareen. You might be a bad influence yourself, or you might be someone, who is influenced by one far worse than you. Gauge yourself, think about your life. What kind of role do you play among your friends? Are you the person who always uses foul language to get attention? Are you a Qareen, who makes fun of others, when they stop you from doing wrong? Do you look at the things that are highly inappropriate on the web and encourage other people to look at them too?
There is another Qareen that is discussed in the Quran and that is Satan. He befriends those who walk away from the remembrance of Allah (swt). Even when they perform prayers, they are not actually remembering Allah (swt). They just wait for it to be over, so that they can indulge in worldly activities. There is no other motivation for them. Their Qareen constantly compels them to indulge in evil. May Allah (swt) protect us from that kind of Qareen.
Khazool is a kind of friend, who only accompanies one in good times, and when the friend needs him, he simply vanishes. He poses to be sincere but shows his true colours in difficult times. Allah (swt) mentions that Satan has always been a Khazool for human beings. A person loses his/her humanity, when giving in to temptations. Satan deceives thousands of young people, because he wants everyone to land in hellfire. He is a Khazool, who will be with you in this life to misguide you, but on the Day of Judgement, when people who followed him will be cursing him, he will simply rebuke them saying that they followed him out of their own free will and he is not to be blamed.
Rafeeq comes from the Arabic word Mirfaq which means ‘a pillow, something on which you relax when you are exhausted’. A Rafeeq is a kind of friend that you can count on in the hour of need. Such a friend gives sincere advice and is a source of comfort. Allah (swt) explains that a person’s Rufaqah are Nabyeen, Siddiqeen, Shuhada and Sualeheen. Firstly, the prophets are our Rafeeq. Then, the Siddiqeen – those who relentlessly confirm the truth. Thirdly, the Shuhada – those who bear witness of the truth. These are the people who live Islam and are not afraid to show it. Lastly, the Sualeheen – the righteous people are our Rafeeq. These are the people that one can depend on.
In order to gauge who Rafeeq is, one should consider the character of a particular person. Does interaction with him or her make you a better person? One should befriend people who live Islam. They do not give in to temptations and live life for a higher purpose. The best thing to do in this regard is apart from spending time with people of your age, one should also befriend older people. When one spends time with people that are older, they become more mature and also get good advice.
In Islam, as soon as one reaches puberty, s/he becomes an adult. In other words, when you turn to certain age, there are some adult expectations from you. If prayer is binding upon you, then you have to pray, you have to be responsible, and you cannot do certain things that you could have done, when you were a kid. Hence, in this age, it is imperative that one chooses friends wisely, so that they are guided to the right path.
Wali is a protective friend, who is there to watch your back. You can rely on him/her whenever there is a danger. Your first Wali is Allah (swt) followed by His Messenger Muhammad (sa). Holding on to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa) is a means of protection. For example, for a young man, growing a beard is a big challenge; however, it protects him from so many temptations and problems. Just by holding on to the Sunnah of the Messenger (sa), such as to walk with humility and lower your gaze, you will be saved from committing a lot of sins.
Also, all the believing Muslims are your Wali. The ones who perform prayers and follow the limitations set by Islam. By performing regular prayers, they show humility. Nowadays, in schools and colleges, arrogance is being glorified. Five to six days a week, the youth witness that the one who shows arrogance is considered the star of the school. On the contrary, when such youth go to a Friday sermon, they hear humility being glorified. Hence, they remain confused and it does not impact their minds.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Whoever has the amount of seed worth of arrogance in their heart, they will never see paradise.” (Muslim) This Hadeeth includes even those who are religious – because of their following Islam, they have become arrogant; when they see others that are comparatively less religious, they think that they are better than them. This is also the arrogance that earns Allah’s (swt) wrath. Analyze yourself, remove arrogance from your heart and befriend a Wali.
Siddique is the most sincere and truthful friend that will tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. Such a friend knows what is in your best interest and does not shy away from expressing it. Sometimes your friends will not say the right thing, because they are afraid that your feelings might get hurt – Siddique will not do that. S/he is a sincere friend, who can point out your flaws and help you change.
We can learn a lesson from the sincerity of Yousuf (as), when he was thrown in prison. There were criminals all around him that are considered to be the worst kind of people in the society. He remained in such an environment; however, he did not change. Those he interacted with called him “al- Siddique,” the sincere one, who never shies away from telling the truth. We should have this kind of character.
Khaleel is a very close friend, for whom you feel love in your heart. Anything that hurts them, hurts you; any joy that comes to them gives you joy. This is the kind of relationship that is so honoured in the Quran. Allah (swt) chose Ibrahim (as) as a Khaleel. Ibrahim (as) shared a special relationship with Allah (swt). Many a times, when he was afflicted with trials, he relied only on Allah (swt), such as when he was thrown in the fire and when he was in the middle of the desert.
Hameem is the one, who is very close to you through kindness and generosity. They are always there, where you want them to be. Khaleel is in the heart, Hameem is in the manifest; on the outside.
Waleejah is the friend, whom you trust to the extent of involving him/her in your private matters. They help you out in business transactions or personal relationships. They assist you in managing problems and disputes in your life. Your Waleejah should only be a true believer. Allah (swt) has strictly forbidden us to keep Waleejah other than Muslims, as they will employ every means possible to cause you harm.
Make sure you are friends with those people who are good role models, rather than those who open doors to sins. The responsibility lies in parents as well. If they do not want their kids to be in trouble or have problems in life, they should make sure that their children have good, sincere Muslim friends. The five hundred people on your Facebook profile are not your friends. Your true friends are those, who guide you to the right path.
Akhdam are friends that you are attracted to. Nowadays, we call them boyfriend or girlfriend. Allah (swt) speaks about them in the Quran, too. Allah (swt) guides that marriage should not be based on some shallow infatuation. Media misguides youngsters, and they enter wedlock having lowly standards. Lose your addiction to entertainment. If you are involved with someone out of wedlock, then walk away from it; save yourself now. You think nobody is watching you; however, Allah (swt) is always there. You think you are not in trouble, because your parents do not know; however, Allah (swt) knows. If you even have an ounce of belief left in your heart, then you know that it is better to walk away.
Following are a few verses of the Noble Quran that explain how our friends will turn away from us on the Day of Resurrection.
“And (remember) the Day when the Zalim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist, etc.) will bite at his hands, he will say: ‘Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger (Muhammad). Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Quran) after it had come to me. And Satan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.’ And the Messenger (Muhammad) will say: ‘O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Quran (neither listened to it, nor acted on its laws and orders).’” (Al-Furqan 25:27-30)
Before making friends, we should understand the reality of resurrection. Those who believe in resurrection are well-aware of the fact that there shall be no relationships on that day. They will mean nothing on the Day of Judgment. All the worldly relationship that we nurture and blindly follow will not help us. We will be alone with our records in front of Allah (swt).
It is difficult for youngsters to save themselves from peer pressure at school. No matter how much parents try to guide their children, they at times succumb to it and, as a result, indulge in something that is forbidden by Allah (swt). They do it just because all their friends are doing it; hence, it is really important to choose our friends wisely – those who do not force us to tread the forbidden path. At that moment one thinks that they are deviating from what the whole world is doing and being experimental. A person feels his reputation will be at stake in this world. However, this is not so. People do not care for whatever we do in this. They forget, as they have problems of their own to deal with.
We should only think of saving our reputation in front of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) has blessed this Ummah with health and luxury, but we have forgotten His favours and indulge in petty worldly affairs whining about everything. This is all because we are over influenced by the company around us. The materialistic, self-centered people have become our role models. We should redefine our priorities by fixing our relationships with the fellow human beings. We should only be friends with God-fearing people for the sake of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) guide us. Ameen.
Transcribed for hiba by Sadaf Khalid
There are many blessings in friendship. In his essay “Of Friendship”, philosopher Francis Bacon states that a good, honest friend is a source of constructive feedback. This idea was also stated by the Prophet (sa), as he was reported to have said: “A believer is the mirror of his brother. When he sees a fault in it, he should correct it.” (Bukhari)
The benefits above are universal and apply to all human societies. Let’s see what our Creator has advised Muslims about such a beneficial institution as human friendship.
“Verily, your Wali (Protector or Helper) is Allah, His Messenger, and the believers…” (Al-Maidah 5:55)
On the face of it, one may think that Allah (swt) wants Muslims to befriend only the people of their own community and have no friendly relations with the non-Muslims. If one studies the Sunnah, it soon becomes apparent that this is not the case.
The most general human relation possible is Muwasat. This entails wishing well for all creation, including all of humanity out of compassion. After Badr, Muslims took the disbelievers as prisoners of war. They were kept in the Prophet’s Masjid and were treated in the best manner. They were given the best food, while Muslims had to do with little. During the reign of Umar (rtam), non-Muslims used to receive monthly stipends from the state treasury. Muslims were averse only to disbelief, not to the disbelievers.
The next type of relationship is Mudarat, where one deals with people of the other communities on a one-to-one basis. These interactions may take place if, for example, one has a non-Muslim guest or a neighbour or someone sitting next to them in a flight. Again, Muslims are supposed to show their best behaviour in such interactions. A Jew visited the Prophet (sa) once and was invited to eat there and sleep in his bed during the night. The next day, when he left, he forgot his sword. The Prophet (sa) kept it safe, until he came back to collect it later.
The third type of relationship is Muamalat, where Muslims associate with non-Muslims on the basis of some work – for instance, as an employer, employee, colleague, teacher, doctor, librarian, etc. The Prophet (sa) once borrowed money from a Jewish money lender by pawning his belongings to him.
The last category of friendship is Muwalat, in which people become close intimate friends with each other. They tend to support each other at all cost, even at the cost of their beliefs. It is this friendship that is prohibited for Muslims. Such friendships can influence one’s entire way of life. If a Muslim befriends non-Muslims intimately, there is a danger that the former will forget his responsibilities as a member of the Ummah. If a Muslim condones all actions of a non-Muslim friend, how can he invite him to the Deen?
Islam encourages Muslims to take full benefit of the institution of friendship. They must have compassion for all humanity, deal well with any non-Muslim they come in contact and work with them constructively for common objectives in society in an exemplary manner. However, they must reserve the intimate nature of friendship only for fellow Muslims.
Self-help guru Wayne Dyer said something very profound recently: “What you think of me is none of my business.” Islam taught us this way back.
You just started covering your head with a loose scarf. You are sitting with your friends and having a good time. All of a sudden, one of your friends, let’s call her Mona, starts talking about Hijab. She says something along the lines of “Hijab is only about being modest. I mean, the Quran doesn’t even say the word ‘hair’!” All of your other friends are nodding and looking at Mona like she’s some sort of saint. And then they look at you.
What to do? Speak up? Have them think of you as some preacher, or worse, an extremist? Or be quiet and not say anything? You decide to mumble something about “being pretty sure that wasn’t right”.
Of course, you say it just loud enough, I mean low enough, that they can’t hear you. But hey, at least you said it, right? Having done your duty, you relax and join in the “fun”. But when the scarf on your head slips down, you do not put it back on.
Now, picture another scene.
637 CE – Jerusalem offers a truce, provided that the Khalifah comes himself from Madinah to sign the treaty. Umar (rtam) sets out for Jerusalem with a slave and a camel. They take turns riding the camel. When they approach Jerusalem, it is Umar’s (rtam) turn to walk, so he enters Jerusalem holding the rope of his camel.
Abu Ubaidah (rtam), the commander-in-chief of the Muslim army, suggests that he change his clothes, so that the people of Jerusalem, accustomed to pomp and grandeur of kings and emperors, are not dissuaded from handing the keys over to him. Umar (rtam) hits him hard on the chest and reminds him that they had been a disgraced nation. Islam brought them honour; should they seek it from anything else, they would surely be humiliated again. “The only way for success is the way of the Prophet (sa),” he says.
What happened in the first scene? A Muslim began following Allah’s (swt) commandment – good intentions and all, faced peer pressure and caved under it.
And the second scenario? A strong Muslim, who doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of him, and does what his teacher has taught, and knows that is the right thing to do.
For us, practising Muslim wannabes, to get from scene one to scene two will take some serious working out.
Firstly, understand this: peer pressure is not a recent phenomenon. It is as old as human beings! All the prophets of Allah (swt) faced all kinds of peer pressure. So, if you face some unpleasant stuff when you begin your journey on the straight path – surprise, surprise, it’s no surprise!
Secondly, our public conduct is influenced by what other people think, because, like it or not, social pressure is a powerful force. Even when we know we want to do the right thing, we pause out of sheer terror of being labelled an extremist, fanatic or Mullah.
Good news, we can overcome this fear by making a concerted effort. Allah (swt) says: “Verily, Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves.” (Ar-Rad 11:13)
The strategy we find from the Sunnah can be summed up in a two-pronged approach:
Aimed Inwards – At You
- “Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death,” said a wise man.
This dependence on people’s opinion of us originates in weakness of faith – if our pride in Islam is not strong enough to provide the confidence we need to practice it, we get taken in easily by peer pressure. Work on your relationship with Allah (swt), plug into the sources of our Deen, the Quran and Sunnah, and, Insha’Allah, you will see a marked difference in your confidence.
- Understand your ‘identity’.
One major reason for falling into peer pressure is not having a secure Muslim identity. You can get that by going back to the roots. Arm yourself with the knowledge of Seerah and the lives of our predecessors for finding out who you are.
“Are those who know equal to those who know not?” (Az-Zumar 39:9)
- Get strength from the glad tidings for those who remain steadfast on Deen in the face of opposition and trials.
Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Islam began strange, and it will become strange again just like it was at the beginning, so blessed are the strangers.” (Muslim) Hello, stranger! You are in great company. Such news will keep you motivated.
- Don’t be a cry-baby all the time.
The road to Paradise is not for the weak hearted. Build up your nerves and learn to be thick skinned. When you mull over an incident, avoid the urge to magnify the negative.
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although there is good in each.” (Muslim)
- Hang out with ‘real’ friends.
If people around you give you grief for your beliefs: (a) it is their problem and (b) you need to bail out. Allah (swt) says: “And keep yourself patiently with those who call on their Lord, morning and afternoon, seeking His Face.” (Al-Kahf 18:28)
- Beg Allah (swt) for help.
You can’t do this on your own for sure – without His assistance. So, get down in prostration and pray for Istiqamah (uprightness/steadfastness). This beautiful Dua of the Prophet (sa) is spot on: “O Turner of Hearts! Keep my heart steadfast upon your Deen.” (Tirmidhi)
Aimed Outwards – At Others
- Deflect criticism, mockery and rudeness.
Follow this Prophetic example and you will be on your way to the straight path:
Members of Quraysh poked fun at the Prophet (sa) by making reference to him as “Mudammam” (a play on Muhammad), which means ‘ugly’. Muhammad was a unique name in Makkah at that time and it means ‘the one who is praised’. The companions complained to the Prophet (sa) with tears in their eyes. His response was that they should ignore the mocking laughter associated with ‘Mudammam’ because his name was Muhammad and not Mudammam. He defused the irony, neutralized it and pulled the rug out from under it, with gentleness, wit and humility.
- Keep your cool.
When ugly situations arise and peer pressure kicks in to high gear, it is very easy to get caught up in the moment and forget that you will have to live with the choices you make. If you give in and do something that is contrary to your core value system, it will cause you distress later and you will feel regret.
Remember, peer pressure only works if you let it. If you refuse to let it intimidate you, it loses its power. The secret is to be assertive, without becoming preachy or self-righteous. Stand your ground, but refrain from standing on a soap box.
The Third Story: Back to the Noor of Iman
How many of you know that Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan is an ex-atheist? Here is his story:
I went through an internal struggle, when I was in junior high school. Basically, it was a loss of religion. When I came to the USA in the ninth grade, it was a cultural shock. A lot of the values that I was raised with were all being questioned at the same time. There was nobody that I could talk to or verify my own beliefs with. Eventually, what happens is that you make friends based on proximity and common interest, so most of my friends were polytheists and a good number of smart people were actually atheists. Falling into that crowd and not being around any Muslims, I ended up with a good bunch of very messed up friends.
I hid my confusions from my family, because I knew how taboo they could be – you can’t really share these kinds of confusions at home, so I learnt to live with them. I began to have almost a hatred for the concept of God. Religion became something that I associated more with my friends, rather than my family. No matter how in touch you are with your religion, it’s just a matter of having messed up friends.
However, Subhanallah, with the Mercy of Allah, Allah (swt) opened many doors for me, one after another, that I couldn’t have opened myself – those doors led me back to Iman. Allah (swt) opened a door for me that led me to make friends with a person, who I would probably not have imagined associating with. I ran into him by chance. As I was sitting in the hallway, I saw this guy come up and post a flyer on the college billboard, which read “Muslim Student Association”. I thought: “Wow, these people will probably invite all the Muslims to jam together.” So I went over to him and started talking to him about it, and he said: “Yeah, it’s a lot of fun! You have to come!”
I skipped out on all the other clubs that I was part of and I went to this supposedly great party club. When I reached there, there was no one in the room, except the guy who had put up the flyers with a box of pizza, waiting for the others to show up. When I walked in, I felt sort of awkward, so I tried to leave. He, however, reeled me in – we started talking and became friends. He’d give me a ride home every day. And we’d hang out every other day. No Islam, no religion – he was just a friend.
One time, when we got stuck in traffic, he said: “It’s getting late. Would you mind, if I stopped here and offered my Maghrib prayer?” I readily agreed. At that time, it must have been six years since I had last prayed. Inexplicably, I felt the urge to pray with him. So I went, performed my Wudhu and prayed with him. And I felt something that I had not felt in a very long time. A sort of peace. I tried to bury it inside me. Thanks to the Mercy of Allah (swt), he gave me that consistent company and through him I got to meet a lot of wonderful people – young Muslims, who were really active in their community, doing things that mattered, trying to make the world a better place.
It made me think, wow, these people have such a sense of purpose – where are they getting it from? Because till then I had no sense of purpose. One of the other things he did for me was that he connected me to this programme, which was going on in the Muslim centre in Flushing. It was in Ramadan, and the programme included a Taraweeh prayer coupled with the explanation of the Quran. Then, for the first time in my life I realized that the Quran was actually a dialogue – Allah (swt) was talking to me. The Lord of the Worlds was directly engaged in conversation with me. I was mystified. I listened for the entire month. In the end, I went up to the presenter and told him: “I want to do what you do.”
Masha’Allah, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan went on to establish the “Bayyinah Institute”, an institute of Islamic learning that has transformed many lives since. All due to the Mercy of Allah (swt), Who connected him to that one friend, who led Nouman Ali Khan to the Nur of Iman once again.
The Fourth Story: The Miracle of Kabah
The following story is one of the most riveting tales I have ever heard in my life:
During his school days, a boy by the name of Aslam had a close friend, who eventually grew up to be one of the greatest scholars of this generation. They graduated from school and went ahead in their lives. Aslam was blessed with a wonderful education and career, a highly paid job and very meritorious position, lavish lifestyle and belongings. Life for him was, in a nutshell, perfect. And this perfection is what planted the seed of arrogance in his heart. “I have everything I want in this world,” he thought. “I’m dependent on nobody. There is no Allah (swt). I am the master of my own life.”
One day, he mentioned this to his friends at a gathering, in which his old school friend, now a Sheikh, was also present. When his friends heard directly from Aslam’s mouth that he had adopted atheism, there was no end to the mockery and remonstrance he was subjected to. Only the Sheikh maintained absolute silence. None of what his friends said, however, had any effect on him. He was resolute – there is no God. Allah (swt) continued to shower His infinite blessings upon Aslam, who, as time went on, became more and more complacent. On reaching the pinnacle of his power and wealth, he boldly stood up in a gathering and proclaimed: “There is no Allah! I am an atheist!”
It was at this assertion that Allah’s (swt) anger descended upon the smug man. Aslam contracted a strange disease that confounded doctors. He intermittently suffered from severe fits and profuse sweating. No doctor had ever come across this disease, nor had they ever heard of it – naturally, they had no idea of how to treat it. As a result, Aslam’s health steadily deteriorated. He lost weight and became weaker by the day. The fits rendered him unable to work and he was fired from his job. His wife and friends, assuming the disease was contagious, deserted him. He was left all alone. And that’s when he remembered his childhood friend, who had not mocked him, when he had announced his atheism. “He must be my true friend,” Aslam thought and rang up the Sheikh.
The Sheikh was a wise man. On hearing the plight of his friend, he replied: “I may be able to help you. I know of two other people, who were afflicted with the same disease. A doctor in the USA was able to cure them.”
Oh, were any other words sweeter than these? “Please help me contact that doctor!” Aslam pleaded.
“Of course, I will, my friend,” replied the Sheikh, “but only on one condition.”
“Anything,” Aslam breathed.
“You must promise me that on your way back from USA to Pakistan, you must stop at Makkah to perform Umrah.”
Aslam was caught unawares. “But I’m an atheist! Why would I go to Makkah?”
“This is my condition. If you want to get yourself treated by the right person, you have to promise.”
Defeated, Aslam agreed. The Sheikh gave him the doctor’s contact number and wished him a safe journey. Aslam arrived in the USA and visited the recommended physician. The physician examined his situation and remarked: “The disease you are suffering from is one of the rarest diseases in the world. Only three people have contracted it so far, but I have been able to cure them.” Aslam’s treatment began. But Allah’s (swt) will was such that instead of alleviating Aslam’s situation, the treatment made it worse. No medicine worked.
Realising that there was nothing to be gained in the USA, a distraught Aslam boarded the aircraft bound for home, barely well enough to travel. He was mere skin and bones, and the seizures overtook him more frequently than ever. As promised, he had arranged for a transit in Makkah. The thin, emaciated form disembarked in Makkah and the sunken eyes beheld the Kabah for the first time. The black box is indeed a miracle in itself. Allah’s (swt) glory manifested itself in the self-proclaimed atheist’s eyes, who cried out in pain and agony, clutching at the last straw, “Ya Allah, agar tu hai, tou mujhe theek karday!” (O Allah, if you are present, cure me!) The moment he uttered these words, his body relaxed. He felt calmer. And when the seizures came, they weren’t as intense as before. As days passed, they became less frequent, came with greater gaps and the intensity steadily decreased till the fits vanished altogether. Overwhelmed, Aslam saw the divine light. He returned home and took Shahada at the hands of his true friend, the Sheikh. The darkness of atheism would never hit him again.
The spirit that Prophet Muhammad (sa) came to instil was for one to take the flag of Islam and march forward. What is the quest of the Muslims? It is to attain salvation, gain the pleasure of Allah (swt) and follow the Messenger (sa). This quest is of the hearts and minds, thus, it is more significant than any military quest.
The Prophet (sa) enabled his companions to liberate themselves from the shackles of social pressure. Prior to Islam, the Arabs were enslaved by the Quraish. Psychological enslavement of humans always begins with the enslavement of the mind, when one carries a self-defeating attitude and suffers from inferiority complex.
Allah (swt) commanded the Prophet (sa): “O you (Muhammad (sa)) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn! And your Lord (Allah) magnify!” (Al-Muddathir 74:1-3)
Allah (swt) inspired the Prophet (sa) to take the people out of the enslavement of other people and connect them to the Creator. This is where freedom of body and mind lied. How did this journey begin?
When the Prophet (sa) received through Jibreel the first five verses of Surah Al-Alaq, commanding him to read in the name of his Lord, he got confused and ran to Khadijah (rtaf). Being a loving and trusting spouse, she assured the Messenger (sa) that Allah (swt) will never wrong him, as he used to stand for the truth and was considered to be the best man in the city. Khadija (rtaf) led him to Waraqa bin Nawfal, her uncle, who was a wise man and well-versed in the earlier scriptures. He perceived what was to come and informed the Prophet (sa) that he would be driven out of his home town, because he would challenge the socio-political status quo of the Quraish
A similar scene was sketched hundreds of years ago, when Allah (swt) brought Musa (as) to be nurtured in the palace of the Pharaoh. When Musa (as) was prepared for his mission, he looked at the Pharaoh in the eye and told him that he was a transgressor and doing wrong.
A common man from Banu Israel could not even have dreamed of demonstrating such courage. They were slaves. We always fear lack of experience or understanding. Musa (as) had nothing to fear, as by growing up in the palace, he knew the shortfalls of the Pharaoh’s system. He was not in awe of the Pharaoh and thus, he acted with confidence. Hence, Musa’s (as) quest began by liberating the suppressed slaves. He revealed to them that the Pharaoh was nothing compared to the power and grandeur of Allah (swt), Who had more right to their submission. Here began the quest, and the conquest followed soon after.
What was so magnificent about the Prophet’s (sa) companions and other early Muslims, which made them reach every known part of the world and enforce Islam? They conquered the Byzantines, the Persians, the Indians (through Muhammad bin Qasim), the Spaniards (through Tariq bin Ziyad) and the Chinese. The Islamic state was enormous in size – larger than what Alexander had conquered.
They were not super humans. They were simple Arabs. Rabiya bin Amir, a Bedouin clad in sheepskins, addressed Rustum, a king in silk and jewels. Allah’s (swt) soldier, commanding an army of merely 8,000, invited Rustum with a formidable army of 150,000 to embrace Islam. When asked by Rustum why he was there, Rabiya answered: To liberate your people from humans and give them into the enslavement of Allah (swt). Why didn’t the pomp and power of Rustum penetrate the heart of Rabiya?
No firm conclusions can be drawn over how Muslim conquests came so fast. In some cases, historians (Muslims and non-Muslims) believe that due to the tolerant nature of the Islamic rule, disbelievers preferred to take shelter with them. While Europe was facing the dark ages, Christians and Jews ran to Muslim lands to seek asylum.
In the final sermon, our beloved Prophet (sa) asked all 1,24,000 believers: “Have I delivered?” They all confirmed in unison. He then pointed towards the sky, addressing Allah (swt): “Bear witness, O Allah (swt), that I have delivered.” Then, he commanded the Muslims to go and deliver the message to the rest of the people. It was this spirit and sense of purpose that drove them. The Ashab-e-Rasool heard the Messenger (sa) and obeyed him until death.
Imagine the Sahabahs who had it drilled in their heads: Don’t just drink camel milk; eat dates and die; rise and take the message of Allah (swt) to the rest of the world! How come less than 10% of the companions died in Hijaz? Didn’t they know the merits awarded for prayers in Masjid-ul-Haram (1 Salah equivalent to 100,000 prayers), in Masjid-e-Nabwi (1 Salah equivalent to 1,000 prayers) and in Masjid-ul-Aqsa (1 Salah equivalent to 500 prayers)? Didn’t they have families or businesses? Then what was it that drove them out to conquer the world with limited capacity and scarce resources? Where did they all die? If you visit their graves, you will discover that Abu Ayub Ansari (rtam) is buried in Istanbul, Abu Ubaidah ibn Jarrah (rtam) is resting in Jordan, Zaid bin Harithah (rtam) is buried in Jordan, etc.
The single common thing among all companions was the Quran. This book was recited to them day and night. Umar bin Khattab (rtam) states that they were a disgraced nation; it was this Quran that bestowed honour upon them. They submitted to Allah (swt) alone and Allah (swt) freed them. No oppressor or tyrant was able to control them.
The quest of Muslim lies in liberating the minds and understanding the Quran. The Quran speaks for itself. If we, with all our iphones, ipads, TVs and jets, cannot reap results today, who can?
Today, Muslims collectively suffer from perpetual enslavement. We have the same Quran and its powerful message with us. However, we differ from the early Muslims in our understanding and application of the Quran. If the Quran could have such a deep impact on that generation, why doesn’t it work for 1.5 billion Muslims today? Simple! We think of ourselves as inferior beings. We choose to believe that we are slaves of the West -.we look up to them, we run after them and we obey them. The West is no different from the Quraish. They look down upon all and do not like to reason with anyone. However, we allow these social and cultural pressures to be imposed upon us. We do not have leaders; we have only beggars.
Learn your magnificent history! In the golden Andalusian period of the Shariah law, non-Muslims used to run to the Muslim lands for refuge. A Christian author George Maqdeesi writes that the present-day western university has been derived from the Islamic Madrassah model of Spain. In those Madrassahs, students learnt philosophy, Ahadeeth, Mantaq, Fiqh, chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc. Do our Madrassahs look like this today?
The reason the Sahabahs didn’t care for the riches of the world or fear any rulers of the time was because they were mentally liberated. For them, the quest began at home. They submerged themselves into the Kalamullah – the Quran, the finely mathematically tuned order of the universe.
The Quran is your quest, too. The command of the Prophet (sa) was as much for the companions as it is for me and you. The Quran is no joke. It is serious. Learn it. Act upon it. Intertwine Islamic and secular sciences. Gather material strength, and produce power and capacity within yourself to establish justice and peace in the world. Embark u[on the quest. By Allah (swt), everything will change – we will overcome all.
Based on the “Rise with Faith” conference organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for Hiba by Rana Rais Khan.
The thought of friends instantly warms up the soul. As Mark Twain sketched it, “it brings cheer in the face, song in the heart and sunshine in every step.”
No wonder childhood and youth are always brimming with life: we have surprises set upon us, with fun and laughter as a constant companion among the buddies. As life progresses, numerous responsibilities descend and slacken our ability to stay connected with friends. Those of us, who manage to keep in touch, would agree that it is no longer in the same carefree manner, and the frolic does eventually dilute.
However, what we all remember are the things we did for our friends and the sacrifices they made for us. Whether they were right or wrong is not the point, as friends seldom judge each other. They would let us copy their assignments at the eleventh hour; they would not tell on us when we puffed cigarettes; they would keep our secrets about our clandestine love affairs; they would lie for us to our parents or teachers when cornered, etc. And years later, they would laugh off the pranks and the deceptions.
However, companionship is dangerous, too. It has the power to change the course of our life, especially if we are not very certain of our own values and the direction we wish to take. Sincere friends, who tell us when we have been wrong and help us do right, are a blessing of Allah (swt). Consider the case of former pop star, Junaid Jamshaid, who was led to Allah (swt) by a friend. However, if we find camaraderie with someone who is misguided or a hypocrite, we can end up ruining our own lives as well as our precious relationships with others.
For the believers, Allah (swt) is One Friend, Who never forsakes them, whether in times of prosperity or adversity. Through Islam, Allah (swt) has set cordial and humane relations between nations: “There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you.” (Al-Anam 6:38)
Similarly, in the early days of prophethood, we see the unparalleled example of a friendship between Muhammad (sa) and Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (rtam) that lasted until the Prophet (sa) passed away. They rest in peace today besides each other in Masjid-e-Nabwi, too. The beloved Prophet (sa) inspired the Ansar of Madinah and the Muhajiroon of Makkah to set up similar relationships among themselves. He instilled the belief of loving people for the sake of Allah (swt). This idea gave birth to an unthinkable force within. It germinated the strength to break away from all negative and satanic emotions and notions. Thus, it became possible to exhibit patience, think selflessly, act proactively, and become an endeared comrade, because this would earn Allah’s (swt) love and pleasure.
Today, we have a very narrow vision of friendship. Plus, it is generally assumed that it is only for kids and young adults. It is also perceived that friendship can only be formed with the same age group. Often, it is only to fulfil our own insecurities or to exploit others for short-term gains. However, Islam talks about all sorts of friendships: a companionship between spouses to nurture principles and peace in the family, a supporting network between Mumin men and women in the way of Allah (swt) for the rise of Islam, a relationship of admiration and awe between teachers and students, and a bond of unconditional love and guidance between parents and offspring. These are all diverse pictures of relations based on friendships between the weak and the strong. Our Deen does not appreciate unjust relations between the oppressed and the oppressor or between the controlled and the controller.
The Sunnah teaches us how everyone – old and small – revered the Prophet (sa) because of his just nature. He was mild with those who deserved Allah’s (swt) mercy, hence, casting lasting impressions and befriending people. However, he punished those who were Allah’s (swt) enemies and did not consider them to be worthy of his friendship, no matter how lucrative a gain was in sight. This is something we, as believers, should be mindful of.
This then is the formula we need to follow in judging whom to befriend and to what extent we should support and love our friends. The question to ask is not what we think of our friends but what Allah (swt) might think of them. If the Prophet (sa) was alive today, would we be able to introduce them to him without any shame or hesitation? Do our friends help us improve our family relations or are they a reason we are drifting further away? Do they help us reach our potential and cherish our triumphs or do they constantly condemn us and compete with us instead?
We can assess our own role as a friend with others in the same light. While the Sahabahs were alive, their undying loyalty and love for the Prophet (sa) were exemplary. What greater lesson can we learn about friendship? And our dear Prophet (sa) never let an opportunity pass to guide them, compliment them, enjoy with them, console them, care for them, worry about them, and at times, even discipline them for their benefit.
When they passed away, he would pray the Salat al-Janazah for the sincere Najashi; he would carry Julaybib (rta) in his arms for burial; he would remember young and handsome Musab for his valour, etc. Such was the friendship of the Prophet (sa), who prayed for all to meet be in his company not only in this world but in the eternal bliss of Jannah, too. He loved all for the sake of Allah (swt). Friendships endure trials only if they have been formed for the sake of Allah (swt).
Rana Rais Khan
Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan, known in Europe as Geber, was born in Tus, Iran, in 721 CE during the rule of the Umayyad Khaleefah. He went to Kufa, Iraq, after the fall of the Umayyad dynasty, where he lived and received his education. In Kufa, he became the student of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq. After completing his education, he started his career as a physician under the patronage of the Vizier of Khaleefah Haroon ar-Rasheed. His connection to the Vizier cost him dearly, when the Vizier fell from the grace of the Khaleefah. In 803 CE, Jabir ibn Hayyan was arrested and spent the rest of his life under house arrest, till he died in 815 CE.
Jabir’s interest in alchemy was probably inspired by his teacher Jafar as-Sadiq. He was a deeply religious man, and repeatedly emphasizes in his works that alchemy is possible only by subjugating oneself completely to the will of Allah (swt). In the “Book of Stones”, he prescribes long and elaborate sequences of specific prayers that must be performed without error, alone in the desert, before one can even consider alchemical experimentations.
Jabir ibn Hayyan is widely considered to be the father of chemistry, but he was also an astronomer, pharmacist, physician, philosopher and engineer. His works in the science of chemistry are as important as those of such 18th century scientists as Priestly and Lavoisier. He is credited for the discovery of nineteen different substances, which we call ‘elements’ in modern chemistry.
According to “The Cultural Atlas of Islam” by Ismail al-Faruqi, Jabir invented a kind of paper that resisted fire and an ink that could be read at night. He invented an additive which, when applied to a textile, would make it water repellent. He applied his knowledge of chemistry to improve the manufacturing processes of steel and other metals. Several instruments, which he designed a thousand years ago, are still being used in modern chemical laboratories – for example, a pipette and a test tube. Jabir also made important contributions to medicine, astronomy and other sciences that are too numerous to mention here.
The writings of Jabir ibn Hayyan can be divided into several categories. The Arabic version of the “Emerald Tablet”, an ancient work that is the foundation of the ‘spiritual’ alchemy, was translated into Latin and widely used among European alchemists in the Middle Ages. One of his books, “Chemical Composition”, remained the authoritative textbook in the European universities until the eighteenth century. Several technical terms introduced by Jabir, such as alkali, have become part of scientific vocabulary.
This man was one of the greatest geniuses ever born. The Europeans translated his work into their languages and five hundred books, and essays can be found in the national libraries of France, Germany and the UK. There is no doubt that his writing and inventions strongly stimulated the development of modern chemistry in Europe. Sadly, he seems to have been ignored by the Muslims – I completed my Masters in Chemistry in India but knew nothing about Jabir, the father of chemistry.
Writer’s email: Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com
“O you who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet (sa), nor speak aloud to him in talk, as you speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds should be rendered fruitless, while you perceive not.
This verse specifies the special manners to be practiced with Prophet Muhammad (sa) and includes the following instruction: Don’t raise your voice above the Prophet’s (sa) voice.
This addresses two categories of people: those living during his lifetime and those who came after them (including us). To the Sahabah, the instruction is: don’t talk louder than the Prophet (sa) or don’t talk over him. For us today, the command is to refrain from making our speech more valuable than or over-riding the words of the Prophet (sa) (his Sunnah).
There are two reasons for the revelation of this verse, as recorded in Bukhari. One is the story of Thabit ibn Qais (rtam), and another is the story of Abu Bakr (rtam) and Umar (rtam).
Bukhari recorded that Ibn Abi Mulaykah said: “The two righteous ones, Abu Bakr (rtam) and Umar (rtam), almost earned destruction when they raised their voices before the Prophet (sa), who was receiving the delegation of Bani Tamim. One of them recommended Al-Aqra ibn Habis, the member of the Banu Mujashi, while the other recommended another man. Nafi (a sub-narrator) said: ‘I don’t remember his name.’ Abu Bakr (rtam) said to Umar (rtam): ‘You only wanted to contradict me,’ while Umar (rtam) said: ‘I did not intend to contradict you.’ Their voices then became loud; thereupon Allah, the Exalted, sent down this Ayah. Abdullah ibn Az-Zubayr (rtam) said: ‘After that, Umar’s (rtam) voice became so low that the Messenger of Allah (sa) had to ask him to repeat what he had said, so that he could understand what he was saying to him.’”
Bukhari also recorded that Anas ibn Malik (rtam) said: “The Prophet (sa) missed Thabit bin Qays and a man said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger! I will find out about his news.’ That man went to Thabit and found him sitting at home with his head lowered and asked him: ‘What is the matter?’ Thabit said: ‘An evil matter!’ And he said that he used to raise his voice above the voice of the Prophet (sa). He feared that his good deeds would be rendered useless, and he would be among the people of the fire. The man went back to the Prophet (sa), conveyed Thabit’s statement and returned to Thabit with wonderful news. The Prophet (sa) had said: ‘Go back to him and tell him this news: you are not among the people of the fire; rather, you are among the dwellers of paradise.’”
Note: the instruction to not speak loudly is different from raising one’s voice. It means: when you want to call him, don’t do so in a loud voice. Don’t talk to him directly in an outspoken manner. Don’t converse with the Prophet (sa) like you converse with each other. If he calls you, you need to respond. You can’t expect him to respond to you whenever you want. He is the Prophet (sa) and you have to show him respect. Remember, these instructions were directed at the Sahabah, the most pious individuals!
With instructions come the warnings. What if one does not obey these instructions? The answer: their deeds will be nullified and rendered void. Like a tornado, this action will blow away all prayers, Sadaqah and Jihad.
What was the reaction of the Sahabah? After this verse was revealed, they started whispering in front of the Prophet (sa), to the extent that sometimes he could not even hear them!
Now, let’s come to us! What is the impact of this verse for us? What is it instructing us to do today? There are four aspects of obeying this verse:
1) We should not talk loudly in Masjid An-Nabawi, where the Prophet (sa) is buried. Recall the story that once after the death of the Prophet (sa), Umar ibn Al-Khattab (rtam) heard two men chattering in raised voices in the Masjid and he admonished them: “Do you know where you are standing?
From where do you come from?” It turned out these two men were from Taif. Since they were unaware of the etiquette, Umar (rtam) commanded them to talk softly in the Masjid.
2) We have to respect the Ahadeeth and the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa) by obeying them.
3) Appreciating the Prophet (sa) is a way of showing gratitude to Allah (swt) that He sent a Messenger (sa) to us to guide us and lead us towards the straight path.
4) Our good manners should extend towards the scholars who are teaching us. After the Prophet (sa), they are our teachers who are delivering the message of Allah (swt) to us. This respect should be in moderation – one should be careful to not elevate the status of scholars or go to extremes in following them.
After the Prophet (sa), the Sahabah assumed the role of teachers. The Tabieen used to learn from them, and they in turn, became the educators of the generation after them. In this manner, future generations graduated from the university of the Prophet (sa).
Today, we see individuals backbiting scholars. One must remember that scholars are human. They can make mistakes. However, scholars follow the same Aqeedah and Sunnah, and have knowledge from which one can benefit! The minute differences are in terms of Fiqh. Sometimes, people get enraged over a Fatwa that is not in accordance with their convenience. They use this as an excuse to spread negativity about that particular scholar. This is a very serious matter and a cause of deviation! People who spread malice in the society about scholars are usually over-ridden with jealousy, envy, following of Nafs and a desire to imitate others.
Remember: scholars are teachers and they need to be shown respect. The same warning as given above applies to all of us. If we don’t show this respect to the Prophet (sa), the pious predecessors and the sincere scholars among us today, our deeds will not be accepted. Note also that this respect needs to come from the heart. It should not be mere lip service.
To be continued in the upcoming issue of “Hiba”. Adapted by Umme Ibrahim from a workshop conducted by sister Eman of “Al-Huda Sisters”, Dubai.
“My son finally got a job in a well-established multinational company! I am so relieved of all the tensions now that his career is set and future is secured.” Parents usually worry about their children’s future. If their kids get good grades and eventually obtain a lucrative job, they think that they have achieved success. Hence, such remarks from satisfied mothers are commonplace. However, is our future really secured? Is it the ultimate success or even the key to it?
This dazzling world deceitfully makes us forget the hereafter. We know that the grave is our ultimate destination, as no family member would be willing to keep our dead body, no matter how dear we are to them. However, Allah (swt) buys this useless flesh and in exchange, grants us the splendours that we can never even imagine.
“Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for (the price) that theirs shall be the Paradise. (…) And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success.” (At-Tawbah 9:111)
Though this is Allah’s (swt) true promise, it is conditional. In return, He wants us to fulfil certain obligations. All humans possess two main assets: life (time, talent, skills and efforts) and wealth. One can spend these to earn either this world or the pleasure of Allah (swt). A Mumin only sells himself to the Rabbul-Alameen (swt). He knows that only his Rabb (swt) can give the best return. Shouldn’t we then hurry up to sign this deal with our Him?
The qualities of those who want to sell themselves to their Rabb (swt) are: “(The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are) those who turn to Allah in repentance (from polytheism and hypocrisy), who worship (Him), who praise (Him), who fast (or go out in Allah’s Cause), who bow down (in prayer), who prostrate themselves (in prayer), who enjoin (on people) for Al-Maroof (that is, Islamic Monotheism and all what Islam has ordained) and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (that is, disbelief, polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and who observe the limits set by Allah (do all that Allah has ordained and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden). And give glad tidings to the believers.” (At-Tawbah 9:112)
Let us study these eight qualities in detail.
- Those who turn to Allah (swt) in repentance
This refers to those who repent after committing sins and the ones who turn to Allah (swt) in all matters. A faithful believer keeps record of his deeds, and as soon as he realizes his faults and sins, he seeks forgiveness. Allah (swt) loves this quality in His slave.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) reported that the devil said to Allah (swt): “I shall continue to lead Your servants astray as long as their spirits are in their bodies.” Allah (swt) replied: “(Then) I shall continue to pardon them as long as they ask for My forgiveness.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Constantly turning to Allah (swt) in repentance is truly beneficial for us, as the Prophet (sa) said: “If anyone continually asks for pardon, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide for him from where he did not reckon.” (Abu Dawood)
A Mumin consults Allah (swt) in all matters through an Istikhara, whether it is a wedding or some business deal. He first tries to find out what Allah (swt) says about the related matter, so he can make the decision accordingly.
- Worship Allah (swt)
A true believer is a slave of Allah (swt) by choice. This quality of servitude consists of extreme love. Serving Allah (swt) consists of both Haqooq Allah and fulfilling the rights of people which is Haqooq al-Ibad.
- Praise Allah (swt)
A Mumin is a positive person and thanks Allah (swt) for each and every blessing, no matter how small it may be. This keeps him away from worries and stress, as Allah (swt) mentions: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (that is, disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Ibrahim 14:7)
How can we be thankful? Through our tongues by verbally thanking and praising Allah (swt). We should practice saying small phrases like Alhumdulillah or Subhan’Allah loud enough, so that it can impact our hearts.
The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah is surely pleased with His servant when he eats something and thanks Allah for it, and when he drinks something and thanks Allah for it.” (Muslim)
We can also be thankful through our actions by using our five senses to please Allah (swt). For example, if one has been bestowed with knowledge, he should thank Allah (swt) by educating others. Similarly, if Allah (swt) has blessed someone with wealth, he should thank Allah (swt) by giving to the needy and to the poor.
If we ponder over this, we realize that a loyal believer’s entire life is an act of gratitude to His Rabb (swt).
- Move about in the land for His sake
This term is used for people who leave their homes in order to struggle, strive and gain the knowledge of Islam.
It is related by Anas ibn Malik (rtam) that the Prophet (sa) said: “A morning spent in the way of Allah or an evening is better than this world and everything it contains.” (Bukhari)
According to scholars, another meaning of moving about in the land for Allah’s (swt) sake refers to Umrah and Hajj.
Furthermore, it refers to migration for the sake of Allah (swt). Migration can be of two types: (1) a physical one – moving to a Muslim country; (2) an intellectual one – shunning sins from one’s life and changing the lifestyle according to the Quran and the Sunnah.
- Make Ruku (bow down)
This attribute reflects a true believer’s humility and down-to-earth personality. Arrogance wastes good deeds. Abdullah ibn Masood (rtam) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “No one who has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart will enter the Garden.” A man said: “And if the man likes his clothes to be good and his sandals to be good?” He said: “Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Pride means to renounce the truth and abase people.” (Muslim)
- Those who prostrate
A Mumin is humble which is reflected in his act of prostration to His Rabb (swt). A faithful believer is not just concerned about obligations; he makes special preparations for performing voluntary prayers. He draws closer to His Rabb (swt) by not only performing the obligatory duties but also the extra good deeds.
The aforementioned attributes come under the category of personal development and to some extent are easy to adopt. Hence, most of us stop at these only, as we consider them to be the definition of piety. We fail to acknowledge the next two qualities stated in this verse:
- Enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil
This attribute reflects a believer’s well-wishing nature for the Ummah.
The Prophet (sa) said (thrice): “Religion is sincerity and sincere advice.” The companions asked: “To whom?” He replied: “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger and to the leaders of the Muslims and the general people.” (Muslim)
The above Hadeeth implies guiding others to what is beneficial for them, both in the hereafter and this life, educating them about Islam and refraining from sins by words and actions. The job of every Mumin is to spread Allah’s (swt) message by inviting people towards good and forbidding evil. However, this is not an easy task, as we all try to avoid clashing with society and, therefore, are hesitant in forbidding people from doing wrong. We should supplicate a lot, asking Allah (swt) for wisdom, so we can perform our role as Daees.
- Observe the limits set by Allah (swt)
A faithful believer will be careful in observing the ordinances of Islamic jurisprudence. We can understand Allah’s (swt) limits by an easy example of a gatekeeper, whose duty is to be watchful all the time, in order to provide security to the household members. Similarly, a believer has to care about observing Allah’s (swt) limits at all times.
Upon adopting these qualities, our Rabb (swt) has promised us the great reward of paradise. We are as incompetent as can be. We make a promise in the daytime to rectify our sinful lives, but by nightfall, we break it. May Allah (swt) enable us to make such an intention that even if we fall flat on our faces, we stand up again and struggle. We must strive till our last breath and become among those who repent to Him, worship Him, praise Him, travel for Him, bow to Him, prostrate to Him, enjoin good for His sake, forbid evil for His sake and observe His limits – do everything only for His sake and in His name.
One of the most beautiful verses of the Quran sums it all up: “As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (that is, Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinun (good doers).” (Al-Ankabut 29:69)
Transcribed and adapted for “Hiba” by Amreen Rehman.
Any princess, who was swept up to the altar in the arms of her prince charming, can tell you that, a few months later, she’d gladly trade in the glittery clothes and tinkling laughter for a comfortable pair of pants and a good chuckle over a cup of coffee with her prince. Marriage is for the long haul, and like any journey, it is more fun when your travelling companion is a good friend.
Friendship in marriage must be developed and nurtured. Unfortunately, once the ethereal feeling of the honeymoon period ends, most couples take living together for granted. The following are top five “tried and tested” reminders of how to cultivate your relationship with your best friend – your spouse.
Companions on the Sirat-ul-Mustaqeem
We have been instructed: “O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…” (At-Tahrim 66:6) Regrettably, many couples interpret this as fault finding and preaching to one another. A true friend desires to aid his companion grow as a person; husbands may arrange to oversee the children so that their wives could study the Quran or attend a class; similarly, a wife may ungrudgingly arrange the family schedule so that her spouse can spend time with beneficial brothers.
Buy mustard and Achar
Expect to have differences in opinion, tastes and even sleeping habits. Our Prophet Muhammad (sa) stated: “A believer must not hate (his wife) believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” (Muslim) Accept each other’s diversity and respect it. To put it simply: if he prefers mustard above your Achar, just serve both with dinner. To each their own.
Your spouse is not your extension
Best friends need not do everything together or account for every moment spent without each other; allow your spouse to chill with her friends or dedicate time to a project she values. Does his office work or other family obligations limit time spent with you? Focus upon the time you have together instead of the time you feel you are being cheated out of. Value the quality time that you spend with each other; don’t fret upon its quantity.
Giving a gift is just as much fun as receiving one, for Prophet Muhammad (sa) asserted: “Give gifts to one another, and you will love one another.” (Bukhari) So why wait for a ‘special’ occasion? Whether it is something wrapped up, a dinner for two, setting off with him to his favourite electronic store to get that gizmo he’s been raving about or taking the toddler outdoors so his exhausted mommy can get some sleep, a gift can be anything that is valued by your friend. Remember – rewards must be earned, but giving a gift is rewarding.
Love is saying you are sorry and meaning it
The term ‘sorry’ is much abused by couples: some don’t feel the need to say it, while others say it as a muscular reflex. The term ought to be valued and used to mean: “I apologize for my actions, which hurt you, and will try my utmost not to repeat them.” Use the term with sincerity and it will strengthen your relationship immensely, Insha’Allah.
Are you a happily-married couple? What tried-and-tested reminders would you like to share about cultivating friendship with spouse? Email us your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Life after marriage can be either a constant tug of war or your spouse can become your best friend forever. Achieving the latter is the key to a healthy, happy and hearty family. Here’s how you can unlock the door to eternal bliss.
Khawar is fifteen years older than his wife Fouzia. He is diabetic, hypertensive, has had a kidney transplant and now cannot work or earn a living to support his family – the entire responsibility is on Fouzia’s shoulders. Then why does she stay with him and take care of him with a smiling face and a happy heart?
My dad is seventy and has had a bypass surgery. When my mom went on a short trip to another city, my dad called her thrice every day. Heeding to our advice, he did not call her one day, so that she may enjoy unhindered; however, she could not bear not to hear his voice and called him to ask if he was fine, and if not, should she take an earlier flight? Was it simply her responsibility that fuelled her concern?
In the above-mentioned relationships, it was the strengthened bond of love, care and communication that compelled the spouses to be concerned for each other. Apart from being a couple, they had always been each others’ best buddies. How can a couple become BFF? The answer lies in the three verses that are recited as part of the Nikah ceremony:
“O You who believe! Fear Allah (by doing All that He has ordered and by abstaining from All that He has forbidden) as He should be feared…” (Al-Imran 3:102)
“…fear Allah through whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship)…” (An-Nisa 4:1)
“O You who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth…” (Al-Ahzab 33:70)
According to these verses, the basis of any relationship is God-consciousness, which compels one to avoid anything that displeases Allah (swt) and work towards creating a feeling of mutual respect, trust and honest communication among the spouses – the building blocks to lifelong friendship. To achieve this, it is imperative for both spouses to:
- Develop frank communication.
- Not be judgmental – listen and offer sincere advice. Sometimes, just listen.
- Respect and support the decisions of your spouse and their consequences.
- Define roles and give each other time and space.
- Rearing children should be a joint endeavour.
- Grow together in faith.
- Remember that fights are normal but forgive and forget quickly.
- Be loyal as true friends – always stand up for each other, against all odds.
- Intimacy is an essential part of any marriage. Dress up for each other and do something out of the ordinary once in a while to surprise your best friend.
- Finally, accept each other as BFF and make nurturing this relationship a priority through all odds.
I have been happily married to my BFF for seventeen years, and our secret is laughing at ourselves, making up quickly after a fight, and working towards paradise together. Alhumdulillah.
By Shaikh Omar Suleiman – Member, ICNA Shariah Council and Instructor, Al Maghrib Institute, Canada
In this day and age, the success of a marriage rests upon the material comforts that one provides to his spouse. However, these soon fade away. The bond of love created for the sake of Allah (swt), with the success in the hereafter at heart, is what really strengthens a nuptial bond.
This is a very touching story about one of the great companions of Prophet Muhammad (sa) called Abu Darda (rtam). Let me introduce you to Abu Darda (rtam). He was a man with abundant knowledge of Islam. His love to disseminate this treasure and to seek more of it took him far and wide. Being highly enthusiastic, he wanted to share this valuable treasure with all and sundry. He used to relate Ahadeeth about the virtues of knowledge.
When the Prophet (sa) and his companions migrated to Madinah, every Ansari hosted one of the immigrants, the people who were expelled from Makkah. The Prophet (sa) paired every migrant with an Ansari brother, thus strengthening the ties of love and brotherhood between them. Who was the brother of Abu Darda (rtam)? Salman Farsi (rtam). Was Salman Farsi (rtam) an immigrant? Yes. He did migrate but not from Makkah. He was from Persia and had been going to places looking for Prophet Muhammad (sa), whom he finally found in Madinah. The Prophet (sa) paired him with Abu Darda (rtam).
Whenever Salman (rtam) would enter the house of Abu Darda (rtam) (and this was before the verse on Hijab was revealed), he would see Umm Darda (rtaf) wearing a cloth with patches and stains all over it. He asked her why she was dressed that way, and she replied that Abu Darda (rtam) is not interested in the luxuries of this world. She had blisters over her hands but she never complained. She was always smiling with contentment, as all their efforts and prayers were directed to attain success in the hereafter.
One day, Salman (rtam) came to Abu Darda’s house. Abu Darda served him a meal and said to him: “(Please) eat for I am fasting.” Salman (rtam) said: “I am not going to eat, unless you eat.” So Abu Darda ate. When it was night, Abu Darda (rtam) got up (for the night prayer). Salman (rtam) said (to him): “Sleep” and he slept. Again Abu Darda (rtam) got up (for the prayer), and Salman (rtam) said (to him): “Sleep.” When it was the last part of the night, Salman (rtam) said to him: “Get up now (for the prayer).” Both of them offered their prayers and Salman (rtam) said to Abu Darda (rtam): “Your Lord has a right on you; your soul has a right on you; your family has a right on you; you should give the rights of all those who have a right on you.” Later on, Abu Darda (rtam) visited the Prophet (sa) and mentioned that to him. The Prophet (sa) said: “Salman (rtam) has spoken the truth.” (Bukhari)
Since Abu Darda (rtam) was always keen to please Allah (swt) and his Messenger (sa), he changed his ways. However, his financial situation was not that sound. Umm Darda (rtaf) was someone who used to be around the Prophet (sa) from a very young age. When she was a little girl, she used to play in the Masjid. She grew up loving and following the tenets of Islam. She was always in search of more knowledge about this beautiful religion. Both Abu Darda (rtam) and his wife were pious and God-fearing – they spent their lives in service to this great religion. They never tasted the sweetness or strove for the treasures of this world. Hence, he was not a rich man. They both lived to achieve the true success in the hereafter.
When the time of death came near for Abu Darda (rtam), his wife was with him. She said to her husband: “When you proposed to me in this world, you asked my father for my hand and I accepted it. Ask Allah (swt) for me to be your wife in the hereafter as well. I want to be your wife in paradise.”
One might think that she said this out of emotion and love, when her husband was leaving this world, but that is not so. She was truly in love with her husband for the sake of Allah (swt) and wanted to be with him in paradise after death.
Later on, when she got a marriage proposal from Muawiyah (rtam), who was the caliph of the Muslims, she refused saying that she is engaged to Abu Darda (rtam) in paradise. Muawiyah (rtam) was a man with wealth and status. Despite all these facts, Umm Darda (rtam) refused him. Unbelievable, Subhan’Allah!
This illumines her thoughts and her mission in life. Even though her marriage and life with Abu Darda (rtam) did not have all the material things of this world, those that in today’s time and age we consider important to make a union successful, it had the ingredient that cannot be taken away by any economic crisis or aging process – love of Allah (swt).
Transcribed for “Hiba” by Nazia Wahab Khan.
Marketers are reaching out to the embryo in the mother’s womb to hook it up for lifetime. From baby wear to infant accessories and play stuff, it all awaits the new arrival even before it is born. And that is where the producers are hitting the bull’s eye. Kids spend USD 40 billion annually. Such is their power in the economy. Naturally, everyone is out to get them as often, as early and at as many places as possible to convert them into lifelong consumers.
Some of the tactics that companies exploit and parents must be aware of are as follows:
- Nagging works. Imagine your seven-year-old rolling on the floor of a store, yelling at the top of his lungs for a toy that you have refused him/her. Research shows that such pressures work on parents, who lack determination and want face saving in public. Bluntly, they would rather have the kid shut up than exert proactive parenting. Hence, the reactive measures work. Also, soft and persistent whining and whimpering on the part of kids strikes deals for them, and parents eventually give in a while later.
- TV rules. The top three selling toys are generally the ones that are advertised the most on the television or are associated with some popular cartoon or kids’ show. Naturally, numerous companies have married their name to a myriad of products. They have a ready consumer sitting right before the screen, who would drive his parents all the way to the mall to become the proud owner of one of the paraphernalia on offer.
- Manipulative advertising. Marketing researchers have blink tests for kids. If a child sits through a TV commercial without blinking, it means the advertisers have nailed it. But if they observe him/her to blink in between, it means the quality of the advertisement is not mesmerizing enough. They immediately change the ad. After all, it is their motive is to sell the products.
- Defining culture. Another recent trend has been the cultural shift in consumer choices. The kids’ culture has gone from cheap to upscale. It is stepping into the world of brands. The companies take advantage of the kids’ natural desire to grow up faster and richer. Children’s idols are no longer teachers, astronauts, etc. They are teen idols, movie stars, sports’ icons, etc.
- Emerging lifestyles. Girls’ toys and Barbies tell little girls that the ultimate success is to look beautiful and sexy. What they buy and how they look is very important because this determines their value. Similarly, boys’ games are being brought closer to virtual reality, where violence, power and domination are dished out as entertainment to them. This is how we resolve conflicts, too, by killing and hitting.
- Good media vs. bad media. When some smart parents deciphered the exploitation scheme of these companies, the producers set out another false trap. A popular mantra these days is: “Kids don’t just grow up, they think up” – meaning: get your infant to watch educational videos and surround him with mind stimulating toys to turn him into a genius. And if you do not take the initiative, your kids will surely fall behind. This was another way to appeal to parents’ insecurities. As a result, in the year 2010, USD 7.8 billion worth of educational videos were sold.
- Reality bites. There is no solid scientific evidence that an infant or a toddler, who is introduced to electronic educational material, will be any smarter than the one who is not. In fact, research does confirm the opposite. Kids exposed to early screen time have a poor vocabulary, their ability to learn is hindered, they are caught with attention issues, etc. Their cognitive and social skills have no great leaps as super ambitious parents might want. It only trains the child to watch more TV.
- What does help then? Since the brain is rapidly changing in the first two years of a baby’s life, close family involvement and experiences help it thrive. The baby learns to hear sounds and voices, sights loving faces around him and feels the hugs of parents. Creative play is the foundation of critical thinking, problem solving and empathy. However, with the TV culture, kids are deprived of imagination. They are only learning to imitate. They can’t play a hero, unless they have the entire product range to represent it. In other words, a stick will not work for a sword.
There is a USD 15 million industry working to undermine parental responsibility. Naturally, these companies want to own these kids for life and have a share of their mind. Branded baby paraphernalia begins this journey of cradle to grave brand loyalty. Later, it determines their choice of cereal for breakfast, backpacks used in school, bed sheets spread over their beds and even socks worn for sports.
To many parents, this might seem very trendy or even innocent, but they must understand that while it will soar the company’s profits, it is a sure shot recipe for their children to stay dissatisfied and depressed further in their lives.
Consumerism has connections to satanic thoughts and desires, whereas Zuhd (abstinence from the riches of the world) grants deep peace and liberation to the soul – a soul that is owned only by the Creator (swt) and not by some service/merchandise warehouse planning its next product line and producing lies to sell it.
Be a moderate. It is okay for children to use and wear unpopular and unbranded stuff once in a while, and not worry about their class or image all the time.
There have been many, many companions of the Prophet (sa), who were considered to be among the less privileged in terms of financial matters. However, in terms of morals and manners, they were the elite. One of them was Umair ibn Sad (rtam). He grew up in the household of Julas ibn Suwayd (rtam), his mother’s second husband. Julas (rtam) gave him an excellent upbringing.
During the Battle of Tabook, Umair (rtam) saw the large amount of booty, along with a bag of one thousand Dinars that Usman ibn Affan (rtam) handed over to the Prophet (sa). Although he was in great financial need at the time, he did not utter a single word of request to the Prophet (sa). And this is how he was. He was among the three companions of the Prophet (sa) known to be Zahid (practicing Zuhd), along with Abu Ad-Darda (rtam) and Shaddad ibn Aws (rtam).
During the Caliphate of Umar ibn Al-Khattab (rtam), Umair (rtam) was appointed as the governor of Homs. When he walked towards Madinah from Homs to meet the Caliph, Umar (rtam) asked: “Didn’t any of the Muslims offer you a ride?”
He replied: “They neither offered it, nor I requested it.”
Umar (rtam) responded: “How indifferent have the Muslims become!”
Umair (rtam) admonished him: “O Ameer-ul-Mumineen! Allah (swt) has forbidden backbiting.”
When Umar (rtam) later asked him about the distribution of war booty and collection of Jizyah, he replied: “I have spent all the wealth, wherever it is most needed.”
Later, when Umar (rtam) sent to him one hundred Dinars through a messenger, Umair (rtam) summoned the children of those who had been martyred in different battles, and distributed the entire amount among them. He did not keep a single Dinar for himself, though he did need money at the time.
Indeed, this companion’s life is a role model for all of us in these materialistic times!
Adapted (with permission) from “Sunehray Huroof” published by Darussalam. Translated and compiled for “Hiba” by Umm Ibrahim.