Focusing on the importance of being surrounded by righteous company, this article was a personal reflection on how I came to realise the importance and beauty of Islam in my life.
Originally published in : http://www.habibihalaqas.org/2012/10/who-do-you-hang-out-with-part-1.html
Back in the days as a teenager, there were two goals I wanted to achieve: top in academics and have “cool” friends. The ones who are popular in class, the ones who would take part in all the extra curricular activities and come off as well-rounded, the ones whom others would look at in awe; not the snobbish ones though, let me clarify.
And, since I had almost 75% of those qualities, it was not too difficult to find “like-minded” friends and hang out with. Of course, where was Islam here, you might wonder. For me, back in the days when I was revelling in my pre-Islamic ignorance, Islam was limited to praying 5 times a day (without understanding a word) and reciting the Quran (without understanding a word, again). Needless to say, I was excelling in this dunya but had invested nothing for my Hereafter.
Countless advises and encouragement on why hijab was a blessing fell in deaf ears. It seemed “un-cool”. When I was told that Islam was a way of life and had a lot more to it than what I perceived it to be, I never bothered much either.
Moving on, during University days, my “goals” hadn’t changed much. So where exactly was I going wrong? A little bit of introspection made me realize that I wasn’t necessarily spending my time with the right type of friends. I had no friend who would remind me about Islam, about the stories mentioned in the Quran or about Allah subhaana wa ta’aala’s Names and Attributes or about why and how I had to consider Islam a way of life.
I’ve heard countless stories of how people change when a loved one passes away or when they meet with an accident that leaves them bed ridden, but for me change took place when I was left with lots of time, which I leisurely spent on doing nothing.
And so the change began. It began when I randomly landed upon audios of tafseers by Muhammad al Shareef. So what happened to those friends, you might ask. I started becoming a bit insular. Naturally, my time spent with them was limited but I didn’t cut off my friendship altogether. That would have been naïve. I wanted to limit time with them because I had spent enough time neglecting Islam and was thirsty for knowledge, much like a traveler on a desert searching for an oasis. The more I heard about why a surah was revealed and what it signified, the more my heart yearned for.
Since I had time (and lots of it), scholars and their audios became my constant companions. I would have them in my mp3 and listen to it day and night. And Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala started blessing me with more alhamdulillah. If you are familiar with the situation I was in, it is easier to conclude that having righteous company is extremely important in helping you stick to the Straight Path.
If you are having a difficult time finding the right type of friends, read on:
1. Make The Right Intention
Make your intentions clear. Tell Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala that you want to get closer to Him subhaanahu wa ta’aala, and understand the beauty of this religion. I of course, had no intention whatsoever, quite simply because I was Islamically ignorant at that point of time and really did not know what the big deal was, back then.
2. Make Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala your Friend and Guide
Want to make Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala your friend? Start by building your relationship with the Book of Allah. Why do I say this? Because you would be building your relationship with Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala by trying to understand why He subhaanahu wa ta’aala revealed what He subhaanahu wa ta’aala revealed and why He subhaanahu wa ta’aala chose us to reveal His sacred words. My entire perspective about Qur’an changed when I started listening to the audio tafseer series of Juzz Amma (Touched by an Angel) by Muhammad alShareef.
So, go out of your way and make an effort to understand the Miraculous Book that has survived without any type of change for more than 1,400 years. You have miracle in your own house! It is more than just a Book. It’s Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala’s way of talking to you, of trying to assure you that everything will be fine. Acknowledge that. Make Him your companion by listening to what He subhaanahu wa ta’aala has to say to you, insha’Allah.
3. Cut Back A Little Bit
If you don’t have the right type of friends to hang out with, spend less time with them and more time with yourself in doing beneficial things. Sitting idle is a self-made disaster. Never ever ever sit idle and do nothing. Satan will become your companion then. Rather, play a beneficial Islamic video in the background even if you’re not listening to it. You might hear a word or two that might interest you to listen to more.
4. Make Imaginary Friends
I obviously did not have a large Islamic friends circle, so, I made imaginary friends (yeah, you can laugh, that’s okay :)). I started building friendship with the videos and scholars whom I’ve never gotten to meet personally so far. Yet, I would wake up and tell to myself, “So right, I would be listening to the tafseer of this surah and spend time with that scholar by listening to that audio about that Prophet, and then I would go on to memorize this surah after asr and understand why it was revealed by listening to such-and-such scholar.” So, you see, my life started revolving around videos and audios of scholars whom I never got a chance to meet but who became my constant companions. I started hanging out with my ipod.
We have access to cool sheiks who are half way across the world. Do you realize the blessing Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala has gifted you with? In other words, we have been chosen by Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala to live in an age where a jummah khutbah being delivered in the United States will reach the other part of the world in a matter of minutes. All we have to do is sit on YouTube and watch it. We have been chosen to live in an age where we are blessed with multiple sheiks and scholars, who in our own words can be termed “cool” and “hilarious”, someone whom we can relate to, alhamdulillah. Utilize this blessing excessively to learn more about this deen. Remember, ignorance in Islamic matters will breed ignorance. Instead, be an Ummah that would one day become the torchbearers of Islam, insha’Allah.
5. Friendship For The Sake Of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala
A random friend request on Facebook to a friend whom I had hardly met for a few minutes in my University went on to become one of the most sweetest relationships I could ever get into. Why? Because our friendship started for the sake of Islam. It’s been four years and our enthusiasm to discuss about Islamic talks and verses or some funny incident shared by some funny scholar remains the same till today. There’s a beauty in hanging out with friends who remind you to do good and ask you to persevere for the cause of Islam. Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said in a longer hadith, “There are seven whom Allah will shade in His Shade on the Day when there is no shade except His Shade: …two people who love each other for Allah’s sake, meeting for that and parting upon that…’
Wouldn’t you want to be covered under the Shade when there would be no other? So, start making friends for the sake of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala, friends who would remind you of Him and whose company might please Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala, insha’Allah.
Part II will be out soon, inshaAllah
Sometimes, being left in solitude to do productive things is much better than spending time with people and indulging in mundane discussions. Early on, I thought Islam was just a religion, like all others. Imagine the spiritual awakening I had when I realised it was more than just that, when I understood Islam was a way of life.