"There was for Saba, aforetime, a sign in their homeland [Yemen] two gardens to the right and to the left . . . be grateful to Him[Allah] . . .But they turned away, and We sent against them the flood released from the Dams [Maarib dam]" (Qur'an. Saba:15-16)
The countdown for when Shaytan will be chained has started—but don’t think that he will submit without a fight. So, we ought to be on “red alert” until we safely enter the month of Ramadhan. He is a spoilsport and he may very well spoil Ramadhan for you.
Shaytan’s given name is “Iblis” and his nickname is “Shaytan.” Shaytan comes from the root word, “Shatan” meaning, “deviate or stray from.” It’s perfect because he has indeed strayed (deviated) from Allah’s (SWT) path, commands, obeying Him, repentance and Paradise (Jannah)–from all possible ways to success. So beware of taking on the trait. He was no angel—literally or figuratively—but rather of the Jinn as Allah clearly points out, “So they prostrated themselves except Iblis (Satan). He was one of the jinn; he disobeyed the Command of his Lord” (Qur’an18:50).
Is he indeed an enemy? Yes, he definitely is a self-proclaimed enemy of ours; he picked a fight right from the onset, “And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves unto Adam.” So they prostrated themselves except Iblis (Satan). He was one of the jinn; he disobeyed the Command of his Lord.” (18:50). He justified this disobedience saying, “: “I am better than him (Adam). You created me from fire, and him You created from clay” (38:75-76). Excuse me, but who said that fire is better than clay, white is better than black, Arab is better than a non-Arab, and the list can go on. You get my drift! Tut tut tut, don’t follow in Shaytan’s footsteps! It was exactly his arrogance made Shaytan ineligible to be a resident of Jannah, and it may make you ineligible too. The Prophet of Allah (saw) said, “He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise.” (Muslim)
Shaytan’s disobedience to Allah (swt) made him a “disbeliever.” But he does believe that Allah (swt) is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and all that’s in them. Mark his words: “You have created me” (38:76); and in another verse he swears by Allah’s (swt) glory “By Your glory” and knows that Allah (swt) controls life and death when he asks Allah (swt) to: “Give me then respite till the Day they (the dead) will be resurrected” (7:14).So how come he is described as someone who has “disbelieved”? Pay attention to this point, it is crucial. Shaytan considered believing in Allah (swt) and obeying His orders as two separate issues—not related in any way. In other words, it is true that Allah (swt) created him but he can wander about in the world as he likes—free to choose what to obey and what not to. But Allah (swt) says, “Surely, His is the Creation and Commandment. . . “(7:54). In another verse, Allah (swt) drives the point home and says, “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision” (33:36).
So, mark that Shaytan was not an atheist or misguided for that matter, indeed he was guided but by choice refused to follow. He invalidated Allah’s (swt) command by simply relying on his own lowly opinion. Many of us fall into similar situations.Why can’t we eat pork? I guess, because it is unclean! Well, what if I were to rear it in a clean environment, feed it germ-free food, and sanitize it day in and out, and before I eat it I will place in under a high powered microscope to make sure it clean. That will make it halaal. I don’t need to pray because I have a good heart. Hijab is really cultural and not in any way related to Islam. The examples are exhaustive. The simple clear answer to all of these actions and many more is: Allah (swt) ordered us to do them. That should suffice a believer. When we accepted Islam out of our own freewill, Allah (swt) asked us as He (swt) asked Prophet Ibrahim (as), “. . . submit” and “he [and we Insha Allah will do the same] said, ‘I submit to the Lord of the Worlds’” (2:131). When you accept Islam, Allah (swt) asks you to surrender to His (swt) will, whether you are convinced or not and whether you like it or not. Choosing to be followers of Allah (swt) through obedience is a clear sign that you are not from the party of Shaytan.
Want more proof? Well we were, and are, ordered to bow down just as Shaytan was. Yes, in Salaah (prayer)– the last thing that Holy Prophet Mohammad (saw) emphasized on his deathbed. He also said that it would be the first thing we will have to answer for on the Day of Judgment. In this sense, Salaat the way it has been prescribed (with the ruk’u and sujood) is a declaration that we as Muslims announce exactly the opposite of what Shaytan did, namely that we are: on Allah’s (SWT) path; that we listen to and obey His commands; adhere to the practice of repentance and do so for eternal residence in Paradise. Praying as Allah (swt) has ordered us, and in the same manner as the Prophet of Allah (saw) prayed—is a clear break from the ways of Shaytan. Indeed it was narrated by Abu Kuraib that the Prophet (saw) said “when Satan sees the son of Adam in prostration, he says: ‘Woe unto me, the son of Adam was commanded to prostrate, and he prostrated and Paradise was entitled to him; and I was commanded to prostrate, but I refused and am doomed to Hell.'” (Muslim)
Now let’s list some forms of arrogance:
1) Not praying and invoking Allah (swt), “And your Lord said: ‘Invoke Me, I will respond to your (invocation). Verily! Those who scorn My worship they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!’” (40:60).
2) Being your own boss—no one else is fit to give you advice. Allah (swt), “And when it is said to him, ‘Fear Allah,’ he is led by arrogance to (more) crime. So enough for him is Hell, and worst indeed is that place to rest!” (2:206).
3) Showing off, for Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari narrated that the Messenger (saw) once said, “Three (kinds of people) will neither be spoken to by Allah on the Day of Resurrection, nor looked at, nor purified (from their sins), and shall receive a painful torment.” He repeated that thrice, so Abu Dhar said, “They are failures and losers. Who are they, Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet replied, “Al-musbil (the one dragging his lower garment), the one who is used to reminding people of his generosity towards them, and the one who sells his goods through false swearing” (Muslim).
I am sure you can come up with other forms of arrogance.
So, what is Shaytan’s plan of action? Well, he asked for respite till the Day of Judgment to “. . . sit in and wait against them [human race] on the straight path. . . Then I will come to them from behind them, from their right and left, and You will not find most of them as grateful ones” (7:16). He is saving all his effort for those of us who are on Allah’s (swt) path, and intensifies his effort with the depth and power of our belief. He attempts to makes us ungrateful of Allah’s blessing. Even Allah (swt) confirms that in this particularly Shaytan will be successful, “Few of My servants are thankful” (34:13). Beware of forgetting Allah’s (swt) blessings and graces on you. Shaytan’s ultimate plan is as Allah (swt) warns, “O Adam! Verily, this is an enemy to you and to your wife. So let him not get you both out of Paradise, so that you will be distressed. Verily, you have (a promise from Us) that you will never be hungry therein nor naked. And you (will) suffer not from thirst therein nor from the sun’s heat” (20:116-119). Let me just briefly comment on “that you will never be . . . naked”—our father Adam (as) and mother Hawa were never naked, as the supporters of nudists and naturists would have you think. They claim that nakedness comes natural to the human race. We were never abandoned by Allah (swt) after we were created–we were never left to wander naked learning through trial and error. Allah (swt) is the Creator and Sustainer for He (swt) says, “And He taught Adam the names of all things” (2:31). We were taught from day one that nakedness is not the way of Allah (swt) but the way of Shaytan.
Shaytan does not stop at stripping us of your clothes to humiliate us in the name of “fashion,” but “…and certainly, I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allah” (4:119)—plastic surgery, tattooing, piercing, cloning, genetic engineering etc. take your pick. He promises to put the bridle around our mouths and attach the reins, exactly as is done to animals, to lead us to whatever he wants:“ I will surely put the bridle on them and mislead his offspring (by sending them astray) all but a few!” (17:61-62). How rude? He will help himself to a share of our wealth and children (4:118). Basically, it is a full-fledged war, “And befool them gradually, those whom you can among them, with your voice; make assaults on them with your cavalry and your infantry; share with them wealth and children, and make promises to them.” But Satan promises them nothing but deceit” (17:64).
Our religion is one of prevention rather than cure; we have been forewarned by Allah (swt) of all doors to the path of Shaytan. Allah (swt) says to Adam (as) and Hawa to not “. . . approach this tree otherwise you both will be of the unjust and wrong-doers” (7:19) and in another verse Allah (swt) says, “Do not come close to adultery” (18:32). And in another Allah (swt) says, “Do not follow in the footsteps of Shaytan . . .” (2:168). Just consider the footsteps that will lead to illicit relationships, ones that Shaytan will argue are not called “illicit” relationships but “girl-friends” and “boy-friends” he likes to change the names of things as well. Islam nips all of this in the bud, and asks both sexes to dress modestly and lower their gaze—one will not work without the other.
So, what is the solution? It is “Surely, Shaytan is an enemy to you, so take and treat) him as an enemy. He only invites his followers so that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire” (35:6). But don’t worry, Allah (swt) has given you 10 powerful ways to fight back:
1. Seeking refuge with Allah: Allah says, “And if an evil whisper comes to you from Shaytan, then seek refuge with Allah. Verily, He is All-Hearer, All-Knower” (7:200).
2. Dhikr (remembrances) of Allah (swt).
3. Reciting the Ma’audhatayn: the last two surahs of the Qur’an.
4. Reciting Ayat-al-Kursi:Prophet Muhammad (saw) says, “When you go to your bed, recite Ayat-al-Kursi, (2:255) for then there will be a guard from Allah who will protect you all night long, and Shaytan will not be able to come near you until dawn” (Bukhari).
5. Reading Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow): The Prophet (saw) says, “Shaytan cannot come near the house whose people read Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow)” (Muslim).
6. Saying “There is no God but Allah, He who has no partner, owns everything, and to Whom we are all thankful. He has the power to create life and death and He is capable of everything.” Prophet Muhammad (saw) says, “Whoever says this 100 times daily is saved from Shaytan” (Bukhari).
7. Lowering one’s gaze:The gaze is a wide entrance for Shaytan.
8. Seeking the company of righteous Muslims.
9. Prayers (salaah):Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says, “If a man performs the Fajr (dawn) prayers and prostrates in worship, Shaytan says, “Woe to you! Man is ordered to prostrate and he did, hence his reward is Paradise. I was ordered to prostrate but I disobeyed, and my punishment is Hell” (Muslim).
10. Repentance: When Shaytan said to Allah, “I swear by Your Glory and Exaltedness to lure them” 38(:82) the Prophet (saw) reported that Allah (swt) responds to: “I shall continue to lead Thy servants astray as long as their spirits are in their bodies.” And God replied: “(Then) I shall continue to pardon them as long as they ask My forgiveness” (Al-Tirmidhi).
If you don’t make use of these tools, then the odds are against you: “And indeed Iblis did prove true his thought about them: and they followed him,” (34:20).So if we let our guards down and follow him we will be attending his final lecture in the hellfire, ““And Shaytan will say when the matter has been decided: ‘Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, and you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Shaytan) as a partner with Allah (by obeying me in the worldly life). Verily, there is a painful torment for the polytheists and wrong-doers)’ ” (14:22). Insha Allah we won’t be there to listen to it, because we already listened to it in this life and took heed; and may we not be among those who is said to them, “O my slave! Read your book! “Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you: Verily Shaytan is an open enemy unto you” (7:22). Insha Allah we will be the exception, those whom he says he will not be able to lead astray, “all except a group of true believers” (34:20).
There were a lot of teary eyes during last Thursday’s halaqa. We talked about the Prophet’s Farewell Pilgrimage, Farewell Sermon and Death. His legacy is truly attests to the fact that through perseverance the victory of truth over falsehood can be realized. It shows the possibility that through faith one person can revive and change the world forever. Belief and success in a Muslims life are intertwined–both this world and the Hereafter.
We are not a “Nobel Prize Ummah.” For us the most prestigious prize is as Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an,” . . . whoever is spared Hell and is admitted to Paradise shall surely triumph” (3:185)–and if along the way according to “human” criteria we win a Nobel Prize so be it. But it is not our ultimate goal. It is not a goal in and of itself, for Allah (swt) warns us,” . . . the life of this world (with all its luxuries, wealth and privileged positions. awards, prizes etc) is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion” (3:185). This is a powerful concept, one that those dealing with Muslims would pounce on rather than crinkle their noses at. You see when a person works for a financial goal, a person’s time and effort is worth how much one is paid. Consequently when paid less the hours worked and the effort follow suit. And if one is not paid enough, then there is no reason for one to work at all–it simply is not worth it. The same applies if one is not appreciated through raises and promotions.
But imagine when Muslims do all that they do in this world solely for the sake of Allah (SWT). It is a life-long powerful concept and motive. Whether they are paid or not, appreciated or not, promoted or not in this dunya it does not matter because they have their eyes on the real prize–a life of eternity close to Allah (SWT) in a Jannah whose width is that of the earth and the heavens. This is what Umar Ibn Al-Khattab meant when he said, “We are a people whom Allah has elevated with Islam, and if we sought elevation through any other means we will be humiliated and disgraced.”
This is what makes us Muslims unique–sets us apart from other “wordly” nations. And amongst ourselves we should also seek uniqueness–so if by praying, fasting, doing hajj or umrah, and wearing hijab you think you are already unique think again? Millions pray, fast, do hajj or umrah, and wear hijab ! This is the collective uniqueness about the Muslim Ummah–something you share with the whole Ummah. But what really makes you unique among them? What are you doing for Islam that is unique? If you can’t answer this question yet, you have not found your niche in Islam. The best job you can ever have is with Allah (swt)–all the Prophets (as) worked for Allah (swt). He (swt) was their boss. So, if you are truly sincere, hand in your job application to Allah (swt) through dua, and He (swt) will guide you to your job “title” and “description.” Insha Allah. Be sincere and motivated, Allah (swt) only accepts the best among His slaves to work for Him (swt). Are you up for it?
Now to the farewell pilgrimage and sermon. They were witnessed by 100,000 Muslims. In it he (saw) showed them and us the rulings for pilgrimage–and to this very day we imitate him (saw) to a T. As for his farewell sermon, it was a message both to the Ummah during his time and the Ummah at large. They were his final commandments that he (saw) wanted us to hold on to firmly after his death. He begins:
O People! Lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year I will be amongst you. Therefore, listen carefully to what I am saying and take these words to those who could not be present here today. O People! Just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, your deeds.
He then warned us against Shaytan,” Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope of that he will be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.” The “big” things are those that are like “associating gods with Allah (swt) and worshipping them either with or instead of Allah.” But remember he can lead us astray in other ways. See my summary on the BB4 Muslimas Halaqa on Shaytan.
He (saw) did not forget to warn men about our rights over them, and to remind us of our rights over men:
O People! It is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.
Throughout the Seerah we have witnessed how much the Prophet (saw) was a supporter of women’s private and public roles and rights–whether in the home or in society at large. Yea even in warfare, he (saw) never excluded women. If you ever come across someone who claims the opposite, now you know. Doubt yourself and your understanding of what you come across about his sayings related to women, but never doubt the Prophet (saw).
He (saw) warned against discrimination and racism–at a time way before anti racism, discrimination and abolition movements:
All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
Furthermore, he (saw) reminds us that he (saw) will boast about us on the Day of Judgment to other nations, and in turn asks us not to shame him on that day by coming with sins that will prevent him (saw) from it. Then the most emotional part of all in the whole sermon was when he (saw) said:
I am a human being, and I will die. Allah will ask you about me, what are you going to tell Him?” The companions said, “We will tell Him that you had informed us with His message and you had done your best. We will ask Him to reward you with the best thing He will ever reward any prophet with. Will you bear witness that he (saw) did? Will you be able to say, ““We will bear witness that you have conveyed (the message), discharged (the ministry of Prophethood) and given wise (sincere) counsel”?
Saying it is not enough, but acting upon, implementing and applying it is the only way to appreciate it. By doing so you are attesting that it is a message that it is worth following. Nothing other than that will bear witness–i.e being true to your word. For complete farewell sermon click here. Finally on the day of Arafa, on a Friday, the following verse signaling the completion of Allah’s favor upon us is revealed. Allah (swt) announces the completion and perfection of our religion in the verse, ” Today I have completed your relgion for you, and I have perfected My favor on you, and I am satisfied with Islam as a religion for you” (5:3).
Now back in Medina, the Prophet (saw) addresses the people of Medina saying, “O my people. I am pleased with Abu-Bakr, Omar, Ali, Othman, Talha, Al-Zobayr, Sa’d, Ibn-Ouf, Al-Muhajireen, and Al-Ansar. I am asking you to take care of my family, and companions.” He (saw) warns against “whipping” others with our tongues, “Do not ever talk ill of anybody without a proof.” Then the beautiful hadith mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim by Ibn ‘Abbas (raa) said:
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “All the nations were shown to me and I saw a Prophet with a small group, and a Prophet with one or two men, and a Prophet with no one at all. Then an enormous mass was shown to me and I thought that they were my community. I was told, ‘This is Musa and his community, but look to the furthest horizon,’ and there was an enormous mass. It was said to me, ‘This is your community. Among them are seventy thousand who will enter Paradise without reckoning or punishment.'”
The Prophet (saw) then fell ill, during this time he (saw) led the prayer sitting. Also during this time the last verse of the Qur’an was revealed, “And protect yourselves against a Day in which you will be returned to Allah. Thereafter ever self will be paid in full what it has earned, and they will not be done injustice” (2:281)
During the Prophet’s (saw) final days he thought about us, yes us. He missed us then without knowing us, so you can imagine what a reunion with him (saw) for real will be like insha Allah. Abu Hurayra reported:
The Messenger of Allah (saw) came to a graveyard and said, ‘Peace be upon you, abode of believing people. Allah willing, we will join you. I wish that we could see our brothers.’ They [the companions] said, ‘Are we not your brothers, Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘You are my Companions. My brothers are those who will come after me, and will believe in me without seeing me. I missed them so I cried’”(Related by Muslim and Malik in Al-Muwata).
The last three days he (saw) was too sick to lead prayer and accordingly he ordered that Abu Bakr to take his place. He (saw) then gathered his wives and asked them to grant him permission to be nursed at his wife Aishah’s (raa), and they all agreed. The prophet (saw) experienced the agony of death and said, “There is no God but Allah; death indeed has agonies.” The Muslims started to worry about him (saw). So, he (saw) with difficulty addressed them on the pulpit reminding them of the final meeting place by Al-Kawthar. He (saw) added, “Allah (SWT) gave a choice to one of (His) slaves either to choose this world or what is with Him in the Hereafter. He chose the latter.” Abu Bakr (raa) wept profusely–he understood that the world would forever weep over the loss of the noblest man who walked this earth.
Then the prophet (saw) said, “To whoever I whipped, come and whip me. To whomever I took money from, come and take my money. To whoever I cursed, come and curse me.” The prophet (saw) continued, “Fear Allah in Salah. Fear Allah in your relatives. Fear Allah in women, and take care of them.” Realize the importance of prayer. Then he (saw) made dua for this Ummah, “May Allah shelter you, grant you victory , protect and support you”. Finally he said, “Remember me to all the Muslims who will come after my death till the Day of Judgment.” He sent his salams to you back then. Wa Alaikum Assalaam O Prophet of Allah.
It is the final night, and Fatima (raa) came to see her father. She sensed that it was the end, because for the first time in his life he did not greet her at the door and kiss her on the forehead. He (saw) asked her to come close so that he (saw) could tell her a secret. He (saw) whispered in her ear and she started to cry. He whispered again, and she smiled. When asked later by Aishah (raa) she said, “He told me that it was his last night, so I wept. Then he told me that I will be the first of his family to follow him, so I laughed.”
It is the final hour, and the Prophet’s (saw) head is resting between the chest and chin of his wife Aishah (raa). Angel Gabriel (as) entered and asked permission for the entry of the Angel of Death and he (saw) granted permission, at which the Angel of Death said, “Allah sent me to ask you if you want this world or the Highest Companion?” He (saw) chose the latter, at which the Angel of Death stood at the Prophet’s forehead and said, “O good soul of Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, come out to a Lord who is totally pleased with you.” I wonder how the Angel of Death will address our souls? Will it say, “Come to a Lord who is totally pleased with you” or otherwise?
The death of the Prophet (saw) was a hard blow on the companions–how could it no be when they had spent 23 years, if not more, with him (raa). Even Umar (raa) was in shock. He drew his sword and threatened anyone who claimed that he (raa) was dead. In the midst of this all, Abu Bakr (raa) the most soft hearted of all the companions after confirming the Prophet’s (raa) death and bidding his body farewell saying, “Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you. By Allah, Allah will never cause you to die twice. As for the death which was written for you, it has come upon you.” stood up and said:
If anyone amongst you used to worship Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead. But if anyone of you used to worship Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die. Allah said , “And in no way is Muhammad (anything) except a Messenger; the Messengers have already passed away before him. Then, will it be that, in case he dies or is killed, will you turn (Literally: turn (s) over on) on your heels? And whoever turns (Literally: turn (s) over on) on his heels) he will never harm Allah in anything; and Allah will recompense the thankful” (3:144).
He (raa) shook the Ummah to its senses.
But despite the fact they were sad, and with sadness and difficulty they washed, shrouded, prayed over and buried the body of the Prophet of Allah (saw). With heavy hearts they went home, and grieved for the greatest calamity that had ever befallen them. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab from that moment on used to say, “Whenever a calamity befell me after that, I would compare it to the loss of the Prophet of Allah (saw) and it would seem very trivial.”
The following Fajr Bilal (raa) called for prayer and on reaching, “I bear witness that Muhammad is His Prophet,” he (raa) broke down crying as did the whole of Madinah. He (raa) asked to be relieved from that duty, a request that Abu Bakr (raa) granted.
We wept last Thursday overcome with an immense feeling of loss. But remember the real loss is if you are not reunited with him (saw) by Al-Kawthar, the promised meeting place where he (saw) will be waiting to meet you. If your lifestyle in this world is far from that of his (saw) Sunnah, it would indeed make you ineligible to be one of his companions in Jannah. He was unique in every way, are you?
Notes from the 2nd BB4 Muslimas Halaqa July 14th, 2010.
Love is reciprocal emotion. We can only truly love Allah (SWT) if we know how much he loves us. So, how much does Allah (SWT) REALLY love us?
Since childhood we have been told that we must love Allah (swt). But no one really took the time to tell us why. Maybe if you summoned up the courage to actually ask, you would have either been told, “Because he is Allah (swt)” or “Just do as you are told!” Of course, if we searched in the depths of our heart we would find our Creator (swt). But Allah (swt) out of His Mercy has made Himself (swt) known to us through His creations as well as our sacred texts, Qur’an and Sunnah.
Even before Allah (swt) created us, He (swt) prepared for us our two abodes: the temporary abode (earth), and the permanent abode (Paradise). If we look at our temporary residence, Allah (swt) has asked us to “enjoy our stay.” Look around you, at the beautiful places on earth with all its rivers, seas, waterfalls, oceans, mountains and valleys and everything in them. Look at the phases of the sun, the breathtaking view of it rising or setting in the horizon; or the phases of the moon in a single month from a crescent to a full moon. Listen to the birds chirping a thousand melodies. I mean, how many birds do we actually eat? Very few, right? The rest are for us to enjoy their colors and their melodies. And don’t forget the flowers—we hardly eat any flowers do we? Okay some of us do–but the majority of us enjoy their fragrances and their radiant colors and styles. How about the assortment of nuts we know of or not know of? We have pistachios, peanuts, cashews, almonds and the list can go on endlessly. How about the kinds of fruit and vegetables? Every human is bound to find something that they like. All of this and more if we were but to contemplate on them would bring us to one reality. Our Creator (swt) out of affection for us wants us to “enjoy our temporary stay” here on earth before we head home to our original and final abode “Paradise.”
Yet at the same time Allah (swt) has through the Prophets (as) guided us to what “enjoy” means in the forms of what is permissible and what is not permissible. Not to restrict us, but because our very creation calls for only that that is good and pure on earth. We were created from the two purest elements on earth “dust” and “water”—need proof that they are pure? Well, we know that they are the only two elements we can use to purify ourselves for prayer (salaat). If that has already “wow-ed” you, well here’s another: Allah (swt) created you with His (swt) very own Noble Hands and not with “be and it was” to show you how much He values you—He (swt) personally took it upon Himself (swt) to mold you into the shape you are in, yes into the best of proportions. I can probably knock you down with a feather right now. But there’s more. He (swt) created our father Adam (as) in Paradise, your original birth place—your final destination in the journey called “life” insha Allah. To top it all, Allah (swt) did the greatest thing of all for you. Allah (swt) says, “. . . when I have fashioned him and breathed into him (his) soul created by Me. . .” (Saad: 72). Guess what, you have a Heavenly breath inside you. Don’t worry yourself with how, what it looks like etc. but know that you do. That is enough of an honor. Hence the angels had to bow down to you. Do you see how dear you are to Allah (swt)? Isn’t this a noble legacy to internalize, or one that tells you that your grandfather was an ape or chimpanzee? How can we after knowing this contaminate our pure bodies and souls with impurities and vile actions? It only leads to our corruption and eventual destruction. Don’t believe me. Just look around you.
Let us take the opportunity this coming Ramadhan to know Allah (swt) like we have never known Him (swt) before. How about deeply studying one of the 99 names and attributes of Allah (swt) every day of Ramadhan? How about studying the Hadiths Al-Qudasiyah?
I ask Him (swt) that through our pure intentions and genuine efforts He (swt) make Himself (swt) known to us, so that love for Him (swt) fills our hearts and results in Him (swt) becoming the very and only center of our existence.
The Prophet (saw) said: “A man will follow the religion of his close friend, so let each of you look to who he takes a close friend.” (Narrated by Al-Tirmidhi, 2378)
It’s a piece of religious advice, which to many might not be associated with religion at all. We usually see forms of worship such as prayer, fasting etc. as part of religion, but friendships? Well, remember Islam is a way of life, so you can’t be choosy and apply it to some areas of your life and not others. So yes our Islam has a say about who we befriend.
Let’s go back to the hadith. So if we look up the meaning of the phrasal verb “look to” in Arabic we realize it has a deeper meaning: “to look attentively and closely, scrutinize, weigh, consider carefully, and speculate.” Sounds like a scientific process, not a friend-choosing-process. In other words, every “potential friend” is pending approval. For this purpose, the Qur’an has actually gone through great pains to describe to us the kinds of friends we will encounter in our lives.
During our first BB4 Muslimas Halaqa we talked about a number of friends as they appear in Qur’an. The first kind we talked about are very close and intimate friends called “qareens” which mean “intimate companions.” They can either be from the Jinn (43:36) as Prophet Mohamed (saw) told us or humans (37:51-61). The second kind of friends are those around you in good ole times—called “khadool” (25:29). They are the opposite of the common saying, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” By the way, Shaytan is this kind of friend—don’t be surprised some of us befriend Shaytan—and on Judgment Day he will totally abandon all his friends. Another friend Allah (swt) warns against as well are “al-akhdaan” (5:5) who today are to girls “boyfriends” and to girls “boyfriends.” These are friends of the opposite sex with whom one has lewd relationships out of wedlock.
Those were the negative kinds of friends. Let’s now look at the positive ones in the Qur’an. The first is a “rafeeq” (4:69) who at hours of need offers support and real comfort. A “rafeeq” should have the following characteristics: is righteous, relentlessly confirms the truth no matter the consequences, and is a walking example of Islam. Another great friend is a “walee” (5:55) who is a protective friend who has your back when you are in trouble—so you can definitely rely on them. Such friends are: Allah (SWT); the Messenger of Allah’s (saw) legacy; and the righteous Muslims who establish regular prayer, are humble, and purify their wealth through zakat. The third kind is a truthful friend– “sadeeq” (12:46)—who like a mirror gives you an honest image of yourself. A “sadeeq” is sincere in that he sees your flaws and points them out to you in all honesty. Another close friend whose love you feel deep in your heart, yea indeed you can almost call family is a “khaleel.” A “khaleel” is highly honored in the Qur’an for Allah (swt) took Prophet Ibrahim (as) as this type of friend. Moving on, another kind of friend appears in 70:10-11 in which Allah (swt) emphasizes the difficulty of the Day of Judgment, when those friends who were “hameem’s” in dunya would be within sight of each other but would each be occupied with redeeming himself. A “hameem” is a friend who expresses his friendship through actions, in other words they are willing to go all out for you. Yet, on the Day of Judgment you are a complete stranger to them.
Such are some of the kinds of “friends” in the Qur’an, and I am sure there are many others. But let’s take Prophet Mohammad’s (saw) advice to heart and pick out our friends with the utmost of care.