Friend or Foe?

“To be alone is better than bad company, but good company is better than being alone.” a statement the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) made over 1400 years ago. Nowadays, people tend to make friends for various reasons. Some want to be able to gain some name and fame by the person that they hang out with, others have their eye on the wealth of the person and yet others hang out with anyone and everyone just because they want to “fit in”. Companionship and friendship is taken very lightly in today’s time.

Suhbat is another word for the company a person keeps. People need to understand the importance of having good Suhbat. You adopt the characteristics of the people you hang out with, and they definitely affect you in some way or the other whether you realize it or not, whether that contact takes place on a daily basis, or whether that contact be once a year in any, way, shape or form, for example, in person, over the phone, or online etc. There are three signs of a true friend: 1. Seeing them reminds you of Allah. 2. When they speak, your knowledge increases. 3. Their actions remind you of the Hereafter. Now, one can gauge for themselves who their actual true friends are.

Allah has stated in Surah Tawbah: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and be with those who are true (in word and deed).” In a simple sense, adopt Taqwa and attach yourselves to the pious people. Bad company obviously affects people in negative ways. Instead of those people taking you higher on the stairs to success and nearer to your Creator, they take you downhill; they influence you in a negative manner. For example, if someone is punctual with his five Fardh prayers and he begins to hang out with people who do not pray at all, sooner or later that one person who was punctual will also stop praying because those people around him do not pray either. Similarly, if one keeps company with those who are trying to gain a nearness to their Lord and those people that are involved in good actions, one will be influenced in a positive manner.

The Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) also once said, “A believer is a mirror for his brother…” Now the job of a mirror is to give a reflection and it will give a reflection of the person who looks into it. If someone has dirt on their nose, the mirror will reflect that. If a person has a fairly clean face, the mirror will reflect that also. Similarly, if you have some fault in yourself, when looking at your believing brother, that will be reflected. If you happen to have a clean record and no problems at all, when you look at your believing brother it will reflect that. Mirrors that are rusty will not show you the fault of your face when the mirror is rusty. Hence, you will not get a true picture. If the mirror gives you a true picture, you will work towards bettering yourself.

There are three simple steps in order to solve a problem: One, you acknowledge the problem; in this case for some it may be that we need to change our circle of friends. Two, you think of a solution, it is better to ask someone who knows a solution and can help you, Three, you implement that solution and your problem is solved. Though, there is one condition, you need to implement the solution if you really want your problem to be solved.

After acknowledging the problem one may have the question of how one can remove one self from bad company. Depending on your situation for some it may be better to slowly disassociate yourself from those people. For others, you move away from bad company by disassociating yourself completely, i.e. cutting off any form of interaction excluding those things which are amongst the huqooq of another Muslim, for example: replying to a salaam etc. Suhbat is Suhbat, whether good or bad. But for those of us who are concerned about our aakhirat need to be in good Suhbat.

Some may think the former solution is more efficient and yet others may think the latter solution is better. Think of it this way: Sin is dirt and filth. If you had some filth on your clothes, would you wash it off slowly bit by bit, or would you get rid of it all at once, immediately? I hope the answer is the latter. This attitude needs to be adopted with sin also.

So, bad company will influence you negatively, in turn leading to committing sin. So, to stay away from that sin and to stay away from the environment of sin, adopting good company and leaving the bad company right away would be a smarter choice to make.

Make the effort to find good company, if it is difficult, then as the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) said it is better to be alone. It may be hard in the beginning, but these little sacrifices and struggles will pay off in the long run, Insha Allah.

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