Companionship and its Impact on Character Building

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all worlds, Who says in His Ever Glorious Book, “On that Day, friends will become each other’s enemies. Not so the righteous.” I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him, his Household, Companions and upon those who follow their path to the Day of Judgment.

Man is a social creature by nature; he lives in and interacts with his society which influences him. Though every man has his own personal characteristics that differ from others’, living with others has a clear and powerful effect on man’s thought and behavior, and this effect is effective in defining one’s destiny in this life and the Hereafter.

No doubt that we need a strong personality that is blessed with the best human values of humanness and the highest degree of patriotism, so as to have a generation that builds and does not destroy, develops and does not destruct, and prefers the interest of the nation over any other interest.

The Islamic Shari’ah has called to build one’s character so as to be a conscious one, which is aware of the risks, able to handle burdens of life, and able to avoid seditions and discords. The Almighty Allah said, “Beware of discord that harms not only the wrongdoers among you.”

The Shari’ah has also ordered that one should have a confident and unhesitating character that is aware of what is right, and follows the truth. The Prophet (PBUH) said,  “Do not let yourselves be ‘yes-men’, saying: ‘If people are good then we will be good, and if they are wrong then we will be wrong.’Rather, make up your own minds, if the people are good then you are good, and if they are evil, then do not behave unjustly.”

There is no doubt that one of the most important things that has a profound impact on the building of a human character is “Companionship”, as everyone is influenced by his companions and follows their thought, beliefs, and practices. This has been proven by texts of Shari’ah, reasoning, and life experiences.

Having a righteous friends is of great importance in building of a strong personality that if useful for its religion, nation and society. This was what the Prophet (PBUH) taught his Companions, including Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq who set the most wonderful examples in good company and loyalty to his friends, as it is clear in his saying to the people od Mecca when they said to him, “Your friend claims that he was taken on the journey to Bait Al-Maqdis and retuned on the same night?” Abu Bakr answered them , “If he said so, then this should have happened. I believe him beyond that…I believe him in conveying a Holy message.”

This was the practice of the Prophet’s Companions. They represent the best examples of good companionship that is based on brotherhood, altruism, loyalty, unity, positivity, compassion and cooperation. Al-Nu’man Ibn Bashir reported the the Prophet (PBUH) said, “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.”

To have a company of righteous people is a blessing in this life and in the Hereafter, as the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Allah, The Exalted, has teams of 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) said: Then Allah, the Almighty, 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 Allah), 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 p.b.u.h) 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) said: They say: O Lord, among then is So-and-so, a much sinning servant, who was merely passing by and sat down with them. He (the Prophet) said: And He says: And to him [too] I have given forgiveness: he who sits with such people shall not suffer.”

Among the fruits of having righteous friends is that it is a cause to get the love of the Almighty Allah and a way to win paradise. Abu Hurairah reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “A man set out to visit a brother (in Faith) in another town and Allah sent an angel on his way. When the man met the angel, the latter asked him, ‘Where do you intend to go?’ He said, ‘I intend to visit my brother in this town.’ The angel said, ‘Have you done any favour to him?’ He said, ‘No, I have no desire except to visit him because I love him for the sake of Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious.’ Thereupon the angel said, ‘I am a messenger to you from Allah (to inform you) that Allah loves you as you love him (for His sake).”

Such company is also a cause to be resutrructed on the Day of Judgment with those righteous people. Anas narrated that, “A man asked the Prophet (PBUH) about the Hour (i.e. Day of Judgment) saying, “When will the Hour be?” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “What have you prepared for it?” The man said, “Nothing, except that I love Allah and His Messenger.” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “You will be with those whom you love.” [Anas said] we had never been so glad as we were on hearing that saying of the Prophet. Therefore, I love the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar, and I hope that I will be with them because of my love for them though my deeds are not similar to theirs.”

May Allah have mercy with Imam al-Shafi’i who said:

I love the righteous poelpe, even if i’m not one of them,
And I hope I can obtain their intercession;

And I hate he whose trade is disobedience,

even if we are the same in our deeds

Also, from the fruits of having righteous friends, it reminds one with Allah, the Exalted, and gives one good friuts in this life and the Hereafter. Ibn Abbas narrated,  “The Prophet (PBUH) was asked, ‘Which people with whom we sit are better?’ The Prophet answered, ‘Those who make you remember Allah when you see them, who increase your knowledge when they speak and those whose deeds remind you of the Hereafter.”

A true friend is indeed a mirror to his brother; he urges him to do good, forbids him from doing bad, and loves for him what he loved for himself. Allah, the Almighty, says, “By time, (1) Indeed, mankind is in loss, (2) Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience. (3)”Anas (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” This is actually what has been done by the good companion who saw his friend deviating from the truth and following the path of the Satan; he advised him and told him about what he should do and warned him the consequences of showing disobedience to Allah, Most High. Allah says, “His companion said to him while he was conversing with him, “Have you disbelieved in He who created you from dust and then from a sperm-drop and then proportioned you [as] a man? (37) But as for me, He is Allah, my Lord, and I do not associate with my Lord anyone.”

How impressive are the following verses of poetry:

Indeed, a true brother of yours is the one

Who helps you, and harms himself for you

The one, when the difficulties of life weaken you,

Sacrifice himself to keep you sound

Just as a good companionship has a good impact in the life and the hereafter, the bad companion also has its negative impact, as it contributes to forming a character of negative, destructive and deviating attitudes, let alone the bad consequences it incur to its owner in this life and the life to come. Bad companionship truly destructs noble values, eradicates good morals, corrupts youths and new generations, hinders the course of work, and spreads rumors and corruption. So, a bad companion seeks to lead his companion away from obedience, with the help of corrupt creeds and destructive thoughts. The Noble Quran records a very explicit example for the bad companion, “And they will approach one another, inquiring of each other. (50) A speaker among them will say, “Indeed, I had a companion [on earth] (51) Who would say, ‘Are you indeed of those who believe (52) That when we have died and become dust and bones, we will indeed be recompensed?'” (53) He will say, “Would you [care to] look?” (54) And he will look and see him in the midst of the Hellfire. (55) He will say, “By Allah, you almost ruined me. (56) If not for the favor of my Lord, I would have been of those brought in [to Hell]. (57) Then, are we not to die (58) Except for our first death, and we will not be punished?” (59) Indeed, this is the great attainment. (60) For the like of this let the workers [on earth] work.” He, Most High, also says, And the Day the wrongdoer will bite on his hands [in regret] he will say, “Oh, I wish I had taken with the Messenger a way. (27) Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one as a friend. (28) He led me away from the remembrance after it had come to me. And ever is Satan, to man, a deserter.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told us the bad companion looks like the blacksmith, “The similitude of good company and that of bad company is that of the owner of musk and of the one blowing the bellows. The owner of musk would either offer you some free of charge, or you would buy it from him, or you smell its pleasant fragrance; and as for the one who blows the bellows (i.e., the blacksmith), he either burns your clothes or you smell a repugnant smell.”

In addition, bad companion is considered a tool for destruction and wronging oneself and others. One of the worst effects of bad companions is those who try to allure you to the way of the deviant groups of destruction that call for corruption and spreading mischief on the earth; another bad effect is for the friend to allure his companion to the way of drug addition, because these two ways lead the person to the way of destruction and incurs Allah’s Wrath in this world and the Hereafter.

With that said, I ask Allah to forgive me and you

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All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds; I bear witness that there is no god but Allah; I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger; may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be him, his family and companions.

Muslim brothers,

We all should beware of the bad companions and not to mingle with them, as Allah, Most High, says: “And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together – (140);” and “And when you see those who engage in [offensive] discourse concerning Our verses, then turn away from them until they enter into another conversation. And if Satan should cause you to forget, then do not remain after the reminder with the wrongdoing people. (68)” In this regard, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend” and “Do not accompany except a believer, and do not serve your food except to one with Taqwa.” ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) said, “Hold your opinions on people based on their friends, since man does not accompany but whom he admires.”

Yet, we affirm that character building through good companionship is a joint duty of the entire society, and all of us shall be fully aware of this duty, a fact which is recorded by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who said, “All of you are guardians and are responsible for your subjects. The ruler is a guardian and responsible for his subjects; the man is a guardian of his family; the woman is guardian in her husband’s house and responsible for her wards; a servant is guardian of his master’s property and responsible for his ward. So all of you are guardians and are responsible for your subjects”. So, we should care about educating and keeping our generations through the cooperation of the family, the school, the mosque, and all the other societal, educational, intellectual and media establishment, so that we could protract youth form falling prey to extremist thought of terrorist groups. We should also work on reinforcing national belonging, sine educating our sons and helping them choose their companions is a great responsibility; Allah, the Almighty, says, “O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Indeed Allah will question everyone who is responsible about his charge.”

O Allah! Provide us with good companions, and make us benefit from it