الحَمْدُ للهِ، الحَمْدُ للهِ الذي ألّف بين قلوبِ أهلِ الإيمان، وجعل من أفرادِهم أرصَّ البُنيان، وأَمَرَهم بالاجتماع على عِبادةِ الرحمان، نَحْمَدُهُ تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، مَنْ يَهْدِ اللهُ فلا مضل له، ومَنْ يُضلِلْ فَلاَ هَادِيَ لَهُ، ونَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ، له الملك وله الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشْهَدُ أَنَّ سَيِّدَنَا ومولانا مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُه وَرَسُولُهُ، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدّى الأمانة ونصح الأمّة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحقّ، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعَلَى آلِهِ وأَصْحابِهِ ومَنْ تَبِعَهم بإِحْسانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّيْنِ. أَمَّا بَعْدُ، فَيَا عِبَادَ اللهِ اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون، يا أيها الذين آمنوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا، يُصْلِحْ لَكُم أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا، يا أيها المسلمون اتقوا الله فيما أوصى وأمر، وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر.
When pushed to describe the essence of Islam and the most important thing for the new Muslim, I often find myself speaking about keeping the right company and the effect that company has in lightening the load and making the transition smooth and easy. There is no doubt that changing one’s milla and adopting new patterns can be a tough task, especially if you continue to live in the same place and the same circumstances as before. But it is not something that anyone has to go through alone. Aside from the fact that our Lord is always with us and never leaves us to our own devices, we have a whole body of Muslims, a whole community to turn to. The Muslims are brothers – they are there to help one other, they are there to guide, they are there to remind and help overcome any obstacles. For example, say you don’t know how to pray? Then pray in jama’a behind an imam and you are relieved of having to say anything while you learn. All good things are achieved through working together, through having Companions who strive and want the same thing. Allah says,
وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى
the translation of which is, “Help one another to acts of goodness and taqwa.” Try to do it alone, and more often than not, you will find that you fall short or slacken off and falter, no matter how fine your character or sincere your intention. Look at Sayyidina Musa, a Messenger of Allah and one of the greatest human beings to walk this planet. When his Lord commanded him to go to Pharaoh, what did he ask? Allah says, quoting Musa,
وَأَخِي هَارُونُ هُوَ أَفْصَحُ مِنِّي لِسَانًا فَأَرْسِلْهُ مَعِيَ رِدْءًا يُصَدِّقُنِي
the translation of which is , “My brother Harun is more eloquent than me so send him with me to support me and back me up.” He asked for company, for the help of another like-minded human being to help him with his task. The Messengers rarely acted alone and when they did, it was only for the shortest of periods until our Lord provided them with Companions to help lighten the task. Isa was given his hawariyyin and our own Prophet was given his Sahaba. And when there was no one else to provide company, Allah created them. Allah says,
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً
the translation of which is, “O mankind! Have taqwa of your Lord who created you from a single self and created its mate from it and then disseminated many men and women from the two of them.” Such is the essential nature of the human being. He was not created to be a solitary creature. He was not created to live alone, eat alone or work alone. Rather, he was created with a company imperative, with the need to seek out and get to know others. Allah says,
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا
the translation of which is, “Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know one another.” Not so that we can all go our separate ways, not so that we can all live in our individual bubbles and cut ourselves off from whatever is going on around us. Those who deny themselves this company, whether through thinking that they are self-sufficient and more than capable to do whatever they need to do on their own, or whether because someone in the community has caused them grief and they decide to cut off ties with everyone as a result, those who deny themselves the company and plough a lone furrow, end up lost and increasingly susceptible to the whisperings of Shaytan. The Prophet said,
إن الشيطان ذئب الإنسان كذئب الغنم يأخذ الشاة القاصية
“Shaytan is mankind’s wolf, and like the wolves that hunt sheep, he takes down those that stray far from the pack.” And he desires nothing more than to take you with him to the Fire. He is an enemy to mankind and leads you away from what is good. Allah says,
إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ كَانَ لِلإِنْسَانِ عَدُوًّا مُّبِينًا
the translation of which is, ‘‘Shaytan is a clear enemy to mankind.”And the longer you spend alone, the more entrenched your bitterness and resentment at your perceived treatment at the hands of people, and the more difficult it becomes to return. And even disregarding Shaytan, even if the people really were treating you shabbily, it would still have been better for you to remain in their circles. The Prophet said,
الْمُسْلِمُ إِذَا كَانَ مُخَالِطًا النَّاسَ وَيَصْبرُ عَلَى أَذَاهُمْ خَيْرٌ مِنْ الْمُسْلِمِ الَّذِي لَا يُخَالِطُ النَّاسَ وَلَا يَصْبرُ عَلَى أَذَاهُمْ
“It is better for a Muslim to remain in people’s company and put up with harm from them than for him to isolate himself from them and not put up with their harm.” Company is not a matter of like and dislike, nor is it a matter of perfect harmony and complementary personalities. But it is a matter of love, it is a matter of unconditional support in times of need and when the chips are down. It is a bond that goes from heart to heart and that very little can rent asunder, very much like the bond between members of a single family. Sometimes, brothers cannot stand the sight of one another, but they will drop everything and rush to each other’s aid in times of great need. The same is true of companions in the true sense of the word. They may not like you, but they love you for the sake of Allah. Look at Sayyidina Umar and Sayyidina Khalid ibn al-Walid. It is well documented that disliked each other intensely, but that did not stop them from together achieving great and lasting victories for the deen of Allah. So do not let your dislike of certain people keep you from the jamaat, and do not let minor disputes cut you off from the group. You may satisfy your self-righteous ire in the short term, but in the long term you will be one of the losers, and you will struggle to find such elevated company elsewhere.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله العظيم لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو التوّابُ الرَّحيم
الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته.
Company truly is one of the keys to existence in this dar, in this abode. But it is important that that company be the right company. Bad company can be as detrimental for your well-being as good company is good. If you gather the wrong people about you, or associate and hang with the wrong crowd, ever moment that you spend with them will take you further from Allah. When you are alone, you are in the company of Shaytan, but when you are in bad company, you are in the company of many shayatin. Their company destroys instead of uplifts. Allah warns against this in the second part of the aya we just quoted, saying,
وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ
the translation of which is, “And do not help each other to wrongdoing and enmity.” You may think you are immune to their effects, but no matter how strong your intention, if you go among them alone and without the protection of good company, something from them will rub off on you, no matter how small. The Prophet indicated this when he said, describing the likeness of the bad companion,
نافخُ الكير إما أن يحرق ثيابك، وإما أن تجد منه ريحاً منتنة
“[He is like] the one who blows on the blacksmith’s bellows – either your clothes will get burnt or a nasty smell will be left on them.” And the more time you spend with them, the more you absorb from them until you eventually become like them, and even take on their deen and their milla. The Prophet said,
الرجل على دين خليله فلينظر أحدكم من يخالل
“Men follow the deen of their close friends, so look carefully at those whom you befriend.” We must keep company, but at the same time we must be careful of who we keep company with. So we must have a yardstick with which to judge potential company. We must know what qualities to look for in our fellow man before we let them occupy an important role and position in our lives. What are those qualities?
The first is belief in Allah and His Messenger. And by this, we mean an activated belief, not simply a passive one. One which leads to action, one which pays heed to His commands and prohibitions, one which causes the human being to become jealously protective of the name and Sunna of His Messenger. Anyone who is happy to stand by and let Allah be openly disobeyed and His Messenger abused without at the very least feeling sick at heart is not a believer in this, the true sense of the word, and his company will bring you no benefit nor aid you on the path to Allah.
And that is because such people lack taqwa, the quality that makes a person honoured in the eyes of Allah. The basic essence of taqwa is protecting yourself from the punishment by avoiding what Allah has prohibited, with the limbs if you can, but at the very least with your tongue and with your heart. The people who do that, the true believers, are the only ones whose companionship will survive the rigours of the last day and last into the Next World. All other associations will collapse and melt away, and be transformed to enmity. Allah says,
الْأَخِلَّاءُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقِينَ
the translation of which is, “On that Day the closest friends will be enemies to one another – except for those who have taqwa.”
The second quality is sidq. Allah says,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ
the translation of which is, “O you who believe, have taqwa of Allah and be with the saadiqin.” The saadiqun are those whose words are true, whose actions are correct and whose intention is sincere. If someone cannot be true to themselves and cannot be true to their Lord, then how can they be true to you, especially when it is most difficult. Avoid their company.
The third is that sitting in their company reminds you of your Lord, and reminds you of your task and why you are here in this world. Ibn Abbas narrated that when the Messenger of Allah was asked what the best type of companion was, he replied,
من ذكّركم اللهَ رؤيتُه، وزاد في عملكم منطقُه، وذكّركم في الآخرة عملُه
“The one whom when you see him you are reminded of Allah, when you hear him you increase in right action, and when he does something you are reminded of the Hereafter.”
The fourth is that they are of the people of dhikr, for true believers remind themselves constantly of the One they belief in, and are compelled by their love for Him to mention Him frequently. Those are the ones we must seek out, and whose company we should never leave. Allah says,
وَاصْبِرْ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ وَلَا تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا
the translation of which is, “Remain patiently with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, desiring His face. And do not turn your eyes from them, desiring the attractions of this world.” Seek out their company and join them in their remembrance of Allah. Sit in their circles and one such circle will be reconvening tomorrow night. There will be a gathering for the purpose of dhikr of Allah after salat al-Isha tomorrow night in the zawiyya adjoining this mosque.
These are the qualities we must look for, and if and when we find them, we must hold fast to the company of those who embody them and never leave their sides. They are the true believers, the ones whom Allah has promised to help. It is through them that this deen will be re-established, and in their company that we will enjoy victory and success. It is through company with them that our lives will find meaning and the feelings of emptiness that are so common a symptom of modern life will fade away.
Such people are not hard to find for those who look. Indeed, they are amongst us. So find them and work with them. Keep their company and the company of those that keep their company. And keep far away from all those who would take you away from your Lord.
May Allah always keep us in company, and protect us from going apart and becoming prey for Shaytan. May He make that company the best of company and protect us from the worst of company. And may He make us be there for another as the Companions were there for the Messenger of Allah and for each other. And may He re-establish the deen at our hands as He established it at theirs, and give us success and victory over our enemies. May He enable our Muslim brothers throughout the world to realise wherein lies their success and give them discrimination in their dealings. All power and all strength lies with Allah and His people.
إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً.
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن أم المومنين عائشة التي أمرنا الله في سورة النور أن ندافع عنها، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ، وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.