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Choosing a Friend

Jul 03, 2010
By Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi Saheb RA

The following Hadith consists of an "informative sentence" (Jumlah Khabariyah) as well as an "injunctive sentence" (Jumlah Inshaiyyah). The first portion of the Hadith "A person is on the creed of his companion" is an informative sentence and the latter portion of the Hadith "every man should ponder over who he befriends" is an injunctive sentence: so the informative sentence is a comprehensive rule whilst the injunctive sentence is an application or elaboration of the first sentence so the object of the first sentence is as invariable as the second. So the comprehensive rule is: "Every man is on the creed of his friend". Applying this rule, it is further stated that since you are now aware that a person is on the religion of his friend and the reformation of a person's religious outlook is imperative, it therefore transpires that everyone should contemplate the company he chooses so that he can evaluate the effect his company has on his Deen (religion). From the sentence "Every man should ponder…" any person well-versed with the Arabic language can deduce that one of two things can be established; the companion is religious or irreligious. Henceforth, from this sentence (viz, every man should ponder…) two injunctions are deduced. The first is: "seek pious company" and the second is: "refrain from evil company." Now we should examine our own Deeni (religious) condition. Our present Deeni condition is such that every single one of us is content with the little Deen (piety) that he has without any intention of progressing.

A Greater Need for Pious company than Ilm:
Experience has proven that there is a greater need for pious company than Ilm (knowledge). This is why we see that people who have been in the company of pious saints, are far better than those learned people who lack the company (suhbat) of the pious.

We Don't Consider Deen to be Necessary: We have totally cast aside the importance of pious company. The main reason for our apathy is that we fail to grasp the importance of Deen. Friends! what is surprising is that we regard everything else such as eating, drinking, clothing and all other worldly activities as the indispensabilities of life while the only dispensable thing is Deen? If there is no Deen, what is the use of the dunya in its entirety? When people don't consider the Deen itself to be necessary, why will they consider the avenues leading to Deen as necessary?

Pride! Another Factor for the Relinquishment of pious company:
Another reason for us relinquishing the pious company of the saints is our pride. We are under the notion that we are in no need for another human being like ourselves. After all, what are we short of? Friends! if you lose a guinea and learn that a certain despicable person is in possession of it, surely you will ask him for it. What a shame! Look at the condition of worldly wealth that a person has no qualms about asking somebody much more inferior than him. Deen on the other hand had belonged to you once upon a time but you lost it. But shame and humiliation now precludes you from seeking the same from somebody of your own status.

A landlord once asked me to pinpoint a Shaikh (spiritual guide) who, while being splendid himself, honours his followers as well and he neither despises nor scorns them. This, I said, is a sign of pride. The Kuffâr (disbelievers of Makkah) also commented in the same grain. They said:- "Why was this Qur'ân not revealed upon a noble person hailing from either of the two cities (ie. Makkah or Taif)." The same ancestral haugtiness continues to this day.

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