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Friends of a Feather Flock Together.

by | Dec 13, 2020

Yeah, I know, I got the saying wrong, but it does make a better alliteration. Anyways, the point is that you assemble with who you resemble (another alliteration, or rhyme, or whatever…). Whether it be in race, origin, background, ideology, thinking or action; you hang out with who and what is familiar to you. Which, in a way, is normal; the less difference, the less disagreement. Let’s face it, differences are what cause disagreement and ultimately conflict. So when it comes to choosing friends, one more often than not limits the differences. Why, because you actually get to chose who is your friend, unlike your family or your neighbors; your friends are of your own doing.

Now, as the next sayings goes: “Tell me who are your friends and I’ll tell you who you are”, and this other one in Arabic: “As-Sahib, Saheb”, meaning: “The friend can drag”. Explanation, please!? The fact that you chose your friends, anoints them with a kind of invincible power over you that compels you To follow along Regardless of the outcome. Now, this could be detrimental to one’s self if it involves wrongful conduct (stealing, drugs, intimidation) but can only be characterized as fruitful if righteous conduct is involved. For instance, there is a car stuck in the snow (yes in Canada we have snowbanks the size of houses), you see this but you don’t react, so you keep on going minding your own business. However, your friend says: 

  • C’mon let’s go!

and the only thing meant by his words is “help”. Therefore, by doing so, you’ve just alleviated someone’s turmoil (asking for help, paying for towing, arriving late, etc.). The fact that your friend dragged you into something was actually beneficial for you. Here is an example of what a bad acquaintance is capable (or almost capable) of doing.

And they will approach one another blaming each other.

They will say, “Indeed, you used to come at us from the right.”

The oppressors will say, “Rather, you [yourselves] were not believers,

And we had over you no authority, but you were a transgressing people.

So the word of our Lord has come into effect upon us; indeed, we will taste [punishment].

Sourat As-Saffat (37 – 27-31)

And they will come out [for judgement] before Allah all together, and the weak will say to those who were arrogant, “Indeed, we were your followers, so can you avail us anything against the punishment of Allah ?” They will say, “If Allah had guided us, we would have guided you. It is all the same for us whether we show intolerance or are patient: there is for us no place of escape.”

Sourat Ibrahim (14 – 21)

As for the people of Heaven

And they will approach one another, inquiring of each other.

A speaker among them will say, “Indeed, I had a companion [on earth]

Who would say, ‘Are you indeed of those who believe

That when we have died and become dust and bones, we will indeed be recompensed?'”

He will say, “Would you [care to] look?”

And he will look and see him in the midst of the Hellfire.

He will say, “By Allah, you almost ruined me.

If not for the favor of my Lord, I would have been of those brought in [to Hell].

Sourat As-Saffat (37 – 50-57)

This also reminds me how Allah recompenses a believer when he is in good company on Earth:

Allah (glorified and exalted be He) has supernumerary angels who rove about seeking out gatherings in which Allah’s name is being invoked: they sit with them and fold their wings round each other, filling that which is between them and between the lowest heaven. When [the people in the gathering] depart, [the angels] ascend and rise up to heaven. He (the Prophet (ﷺ)) said: Then Allah (mighty and sublime be He) asks them – [though] He is most knowing about them: From where have you come? And they say: We have come from some servants of Yours on Earth: they were glorifying You (Subhana llah), exalting you (Allahu akbar), witnessing that there is no god but You (La ilaha illa llah), praising You (Al-Hamdu lillah), and asking [favours] of You. He says: And what do they ask of Me? They say: They ask of You Your Paradise. He says: And have they seen My Paradise? They say: No, O Lord. He says: And how would it be were they to have seen My Paradise! They say: And they ask protection of You. He says: From what do they ask protection of Me? They say: From Your Hell-fire, O Lord. He says: And have they seen My Hell-fire? They say: NO. He says: And how would it be were they to have seen My Hell-fire: They say: And they ask for Your forgiveness. He (the Prophet (ﷺ)) said: Then He says: I have forgiven them and I have bestowed upon them what they have asked for, and I have granted them sanctuary from that from which they asked protection. He (the Prophet p.b.u.h) said: They say: O Lord, among them is So-and-so, a much sinning servant, who was merely passing by and sat down with them. He (the Prophet p.b.u.h) said: And He says: And to him [too] I have given forgiveness: he who sits with such people shall not suffer. 

40 Hadith Qudsi, English book reference, Hadith 14.

Another important factor, when it comes to a friend, is that the religion of Islam is the only jurisdiction that defines the right of a friend over you. As far as I know, no law, constitution or code engages you to be responsible in front of the law towards your friend. In Islam, you have a duty to help him materially if he is in need (and you have the means); you must check on him should he fall ill; and you have the obligation to keep him on Allah’s path by enjoining him to do good and prevent him from doing injustice.

Another story that comes to mind is the one of Jaafar As-Sadiq who was asked, who was his dearest friend. To which he replied, it is Sufyan Ath-Thawriy, for the reason that Sufyan does not shy away to bring up my (Jaafar’s) faults. This is an example to learn from and apply, we are talking about two great Islamic scholars after all. It is not useful to have fair-weathered friends or yes-men surrounding you; you need someone who can tell you what you need to know even if you don’t want to hear it.

With this said, there are a lot of other obligations towards your friend but they are not exclusive or specific in nature; such as overlooking his faults, forgiving his mistakes, offering protection, providing company, etc. Now, even if you choose your friend diligently and do your part as a friend, you will never get through life without having an argument, the best among people argued.

For instance, Abu Bakr and Umar used to disagree and argue on different matters, to the point that they would leave the sitting angered. However, in the morning, they would always reconcile and mention “oh, how the night was long!” for not being in company with one another and for having regretted leaving one another angry.

Let’s all remember that disagreements are a mercy, but dissension is a scourge. Let’s face it, it is being with others that makes life interesting; friends are the spices of life. No spice, and your life is bland; too much spice, and it will burn you. So add carefully.

As for one final saying, a good friend is hard to find, harder to let go, and impossible to forget. So make the most of this privilege and responsibility in choosing a friend.

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

When I mean bad, I mean something that everyone will agree to as fundamentally wrong. I don’t mean what is acceptable to modern standards, but fundamentally evil. Not only there is no evil within what is ordained, but it can only be depicted as righteous and good when looked at as a whole. Here are some Islamic principles that are listed in the Quran:

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.”

And do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weight in justice. We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you testify, be just, even if [it concerns] a near relative. And the covenant of Allah fulfill. This has He instructed you that you may remember.

And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.

Surah Al-Anam (6 – 151-153)

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 90)

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.

And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”

Your Lord is most knowing of what is within yourselves. If you should be righteous [in intention] – then indeed He is ever, to the often returning [to Him], Forgiving.

And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully.

Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.

And if you [must] turn away from the needy awaiting mercy from your Lord which you expect, then speak to them a gentle word.

And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent.

Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, Acquainted and Seeing.

And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.

And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].

And do not approach the property of an orphan, except in the way that is best, until he reaches maturity. And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned.

And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with an even balance. That is the best [way] and best in result.

And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.

And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.

All that – its evil is ever, in the sight of your Lord, detested.

That is from what your Lord has revealed to you, [O Muhammad], of wisdom. And, [O mankind], do not make [as equal] with Allah another deity, lest you be thrown into Hell, blamed and banished.

Surah Al-Isra (17 – 23-39)

Most of the accusations come from people who do not agree with the standard of morality or virtue that is ordained in Islam. For instance, the Hijab for women; not being allowed to have a sip of wine or not even having a girlfriend… These practices have become customary in “modern” civilizations, yet they are considered illicit in Islam. Society is always faced with dumbing down standards and laws to curtail the desires of the majority. But the fundamental question remains; what makes it right now but made it wrong before (and vice versa)? This type of thinking induces decadence. Virtues and morals become trivial, unattainable utopias, unrealistic… mockeries.

This was the same discourse used by the people of Lot thousands of years ago when they wanted him and his family out of their city.

But the answer of his people was only that they said, “Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure.”

Surah Al-Aaraf (7 – 82)

Wow! Accused of being too pure… It’s like someone who says: “Ah! He gets on my nerves because he is too polite.” or: “look at her; she thinks she is so superior! She doesn’t even want to dress like us.” and the classic: “Look at that geek; he thinks that his A+ is going to stop him from that face pounding.” What is it that makes that person’s conduct wrong in the first place; what did he do to deserve this reprimand? Is it high self-esteem (or lack of it)? Is it because a person is different (where his difference is not accepted)? Is it because of jealousy (or more likely envy)?

It is sad to see that we have reached a point where righteous conduct is ridiculed and marginalized. Someone who gives his seat on the bus is looked at awkwardly; a student who says Mam and Sir is called a suck-up; a 16-year-old virgin is made fun of. But, as we have seen, this attitude has been present for millennia, all depending on the context and stage in which a society is to be found.

But in the end…

And it will be said to those who feared Allah, “What did your Lord send down?” They will say, “[That which is] good.” For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous –

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 30)

Faith

the process of belief