What Are the Qualities of a Friend?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: According to Islam what is the purpose of a friend? How does one show gratitude to Allah for a friend?

Friends

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

One’s friends should be people who are helping one draw closer to one’s Lord.

Imam Ghazali (rah) in his Beginning of Guidance (Bidayat al-Hidaya) lists a number of qualities to look for in a friend noting the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “A person’s religious life is only as good as that of his friend, so let one of you consider well whom he befriends.” [Tirmidhi]

[1] Intellect

– As there is no good friendship with a foolish person;

– Specifically seek someone with practical intelligence who has the capacity to seek benefit, even if worldly;

[2] Good Character

– Ghazali states that someone of bad character is one who cannot restrain their [i] anger or [ii] desire;

– Somebody who truly cares for others. “The religion is sincere counsel.”

[3] Righteousness

“Do not obey someone whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who follows his inclinations, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.” [Qur’an, 18:28]

– As witnessing the transgression of a wrongdoer on a regular basis will remove from your heart all sense of the enormity of the crimes and make them seem insignificant.

[4] Lack of Greed

– Someone concerned with amassing “things” of this world

– Human nature is designed to imitate and follow (by example), so one person’s nature may take from another without even realizing it.

[5] Honesty

– As one will always face deception from the liar.

Imam Ghazali (rah) continues that after finding a decent friend, one should uphold, respect and fulfill the duties of being a friend.

Gratitude and Growing

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an, ‘If you are thankful, I will surely increase you’ [Qur’an, 14:7] The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Whoever does not thank people has not thanked Allah’. [Tirmidhi]

Be grateful for them, appreciate them, and grow in love for one another — the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, narrating from His Lord, “My love is incumbent for those who love one another for my sake; those who sit with one another for My sake; those who visit each other for My sake; and those who spend on each other for My sake.” [Musnad Ahmad]

And Allah knows best.

Wassalam,

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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Making 70 Excuses for Others in Islam – A Key Duty of Brotherhood

In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful

Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, said, “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.” [Imam Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 7.522]

Imam Ghazali (Allah have mercy upon him) also quotes this in the Ihya.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Overlook the slips of respected people.” [Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad; Abu Dawud; Nasa’i in al-Kubra; and others–rigorously authentic (sahih), from A’isha (Allah be pleased with her)]

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The General Basis for Making Excuses

Ibn Ajiba (Allah have mercy upon him) mentions that making excuses for others returns to the Prophet’s words (peace and blessings be upon him) that, “A believer is a mirror of the believer. [Abu Dawud, from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him); sound (hasan)] So what you see in your brethren is a reflection of what is within you–so beware.

The way of purity and sincerity is to look at everyone–friend and foe–with the eye of sincere concern (nasiha) and mercy. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said that, “Religion is sincere concern (ad-dinu’n nasiha).” [Muslim and Nasa’i, from Tamim ad-Dari] And, “It is only the merciful who are granted mercy by the All-Merciful. Be merciful to those on earth and the Lord of the Heavens will be merciful to you.” And, “None of you believes until they wish for others as they wish for themselves.” [Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi, from Abdullah ibn Amr (Allah be pleased with him); soundly authentic (hasan sahih) according to Tirmidhi]

This is why Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Munazil (Allah have mercy upon him), of the early Muslims, said, “The believer seeks excuses for their brethren, while the hypocrite seeks out the faults of their brethren.” [Sulami, Adab al-Suhba]

Why 70 Excuses?

This is because the default assumption about all humans and their actions is that they are sound and free of error. This is considered our operating certainty. After this, if we find something that makes us doubt about them, we are not permitted to leave this operating certainty that they did not err for mere doubts or misgivings.

Allah Most High commanded us: “Believers! Leave much doubt, for most doubt is sinful.” [Qur’an, 49.12]

The doubts and misgivings about others that are sinful are those that do not have a sound basis that would be sufficient to leave our operating assumption about others that they are upright and their actions free of error.

And Allah alone gives success.

-Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ayat ash-Shifa (Six Quranic Verses of Healing)

وَيَشْفِ صُدُورَ قَوْمٍ مُّؤْمِنِينَ

wa yashfi sudoora qawmin mumineena
And [God] shall heal the breast of the believers. (at-Tawba, 9:14)

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءتْكُم مَّوْعِظَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَشِفَاء لِّمَا فِي الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

Yaa ayyuha an-naasu qad ja’atkum maw`izhatun min rabbikum wa shifaun limaa fee as-sudoori wa hudan wa rahmatun lil-mumineen
Mankind there has come to you a guidance from your Lord and a healing for (the diseases) in your hearts, and for those who believe a guidance and a mercy. (Yunus, 10:57)

َيخْرُجُ مِن بُطُونِهَا شَرَابٌ مُّخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ فِيهِ شِفَاء لِلنَّاسِ

yakhruju min butooniha sharaabun mukhtalifun alwaanuhu feehi shifaun lin-naas 
There issues from within the bodies of the bee a drink of varying colors wherein is healing for mankind. (an-Nahl, 16:69)

وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاء وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

Wa nunazzilu mina al-qurani ma huwa shifaun wa rahmatun lil-mumineen
And We sent down in the Quran such things that have healing and mercy for the believers (an-Najm, 17:82)

وَإِذَا مَرِضْتُ فَهُوَ يَشْفِينِ

Wa idha maridtu fahuwa yashfeeni
And when I am ill, it is [God] who cures me.” (ash-Shu`ara, 26:80) (A supplication of Prophet Abraham [as])

قُلْ هُوَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا هُدًى وَشِفَاء

qul huwa lil-ladheena amanoo hudan wa shifaun
And declare (O Muhammad) that [the Quran] is a guidance and healing for the believers. (al-Fussilat, 41:44)

Prayers and Supplication

One day the Messenger of Allah  ﷺ  said: “If a Muslim asks for something from Allah, Allah Most High will definitely grant his wish or He will remove evil from him in proportion to what He would have given him, as long as he does not ask for anything sinful or does not cut his relations with his relatives”

One of his Companions said: “In that case we desire many things from Allah”.

The Messenger of Allah  ﷺ  responded as such: “Allah’s grace is greater than the things you ask from Him” (Tirmidhi, Deavat, 115/3573; Ahmad, II, 18).

Almighty Allah does not reject sincere prayers. However He does not accept certain demands made that do not comply with Absolute Destiny, even though they may be asked for in complete sincerity. However, the slave should never give up and should continue to pray. This is because in those cases the response to the prayer has been deferred to the afterlife. Almighty Allah has said: “Your Lord says, “Call on Me and I will answer you” ( Mu’min, 23:60)

The Prophet Muhammad  ﷺ  said: “The prayer of the slave will be answered as long as he does not ask for something that will lead to sin or to his relations with his relatives being severed and if he is not impatient about the result”

He was asked: “O Messenger of Allah! What does it mean for him to be impatient (about the result)?”

The Messenger of Allah  ﷺ  said: “The slave says: “I keep praying but my Lord does not answer my prayer”. He gives up when his prayer is not answered immediately and he stops praying. (This is how he becomes impatient). (Muslim, Zikir, 92).

Likewise the prophet Zaccharia (Alaihi Salaam) prayed ““My Lord, do not leave me on my own…. (Anbiya, 21:89)

In saying so he asked for a son with the purpose of strengthening the religion, yet his prayer was only answered 40 years later in the form of the prophet Yahya (Alaihi Salaam).

One time the Messenger of Allah  ﷺ  saw a man in ritual prayer, who did not send blessings on the Prophet before he started supplicating. Upon this he said:

“This man was impatient (in a hurry)”. Then he called that man to him and said as a caution to his entire community: “Whenever one of you prays, let him first praise Allah Most High and then send blessings upon me. Then let him ask for whatever he so wishes” (Tirmidhi, Deavat, 64/3477).

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What Is the Best Way to Put the Ego in Check?

What is the best way to attain beneficial knowledge in such a way that puts the ego in check?

Answered by  Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Seeking Knowledge With Excellence

The best way to attain beneficial knowledge that puts the ego in check is: sincere focus, with humility, attentive listening, and concentration upon what is imparted to one, of the words of Allah or the words of the Chosen One (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him and his folk), assuming you find a teacher who is a “possessor of heart,” i.e. one who imparts this knowledge from his heart and soul.

Connecting to the Inheritors of Prophetic Guidance

This, along with connecting oneself to a chain of transmission that goes back to the Prophet and observing good manners, is the way we are familiar with from the Successors of the Companions (tabi’in), those who followed them, and those who followed them, until this day and age.

Knowledge is the Prayer of the Soul

For knowledge is not perfected with caprice or pride. Nor is the reality of knowledge acquired by studying, “so and so said”, or mastering legal scenarios. It is rather acquired through sincerity to the Most Great and Most High, and through approaching this endeavor with veneration, love, and longing to draw close to Allah (Mighty and Majestic) thereby, while also connecting one’s self to a chain of transmission to the Chosen One, Muhammad (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him and his folk). This is indeed the way to acquire beneficial knowledge that puts the ego in check and elevates it to high stations.

Translated by: Abdullah Alrajhy. (Link to the original answer)


Habib Umar bin Hafiz is a descendant of the Prophet (upon him be Allah’s peace and blessings). Born into a family of scholars, Habib Umar, pursued the sacred sciences from a young age, including Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, ‘Aqeedah, Arabic, and Spirituality. In 1994, he established Dar al-Mustafa, an educational institute in Tarim, Yemem.

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Improving oneself

One day, one of the disciples of Bayazid (Alaihi Rahma) asked him:

– Will you give a piece of your coat so that I can carry it with me to gain blessing?

Bayazid responded:

– O my son, if you do not improve yourself until you become a perfect person, it is not going to help you even if you cover your entire body with my skin.

The above story about Bayazid Bistami is well known for illustrating that one cannot reach high levels of spiritual attainment only by virtue of externally improving oneself.

“This shall too pass”

The expression, “This shall too pass,” articulates the following: “O human! The sorrows and joys that come to you are but guests. Do not think that they are permanent!” Do not be disturbed by life’s sorrows, because they will go. Do not be too happy with the joys of life, because they too will not last forever. That is, you are a guesthouse and your guests for but a few days are alternatively sorrows and joys.

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The subjects of your guesthouse, that make you upset, do not belong only to you. They also belong to those who will follow you. They are like transferable property. Therefore, they are not worthy of the fixed attention that can lead to drowning yourself in a sea of sorrow.

Maulana Rumi, quddisa sirruh, said:

“O seeker of the Truth! Be happy if you have sorrows! They are the tricks of reunion that the Beloved has set for you since one remembers Allah and seeks refuge in Him when one is overcome by sorrow.”

“Sorrow is a treasure. Your illnesses and the other troubles you face are all treasures.”

“Likewise, sorrow is as a blessed wind that blows on the mirror of the heart to clear the dust from it; never compare it with harmful winds.”

“In this path of love, no one but grief remembers me, thousands of thanks to it.”

Another poet who has understood this secret strove to explain it in the couplet below. The poem expresses that everything that comes from the Beloved is a blessing; even sorrows exist for thousands of good reasons. They are prepared by the Beloved to distinguish between false lovers whose only capital is their pretension and talk, and real lovers who are lost in Him:

“The unkindness of the Beloved is but an expression of loyalty, not cruelty; The one who blames his Beloved with unkindness is not a true lover!”

This is because the sorrows and pains common people perceive as punishment are in fact divine gifts in the eye of the lover of Allah. Sad hearts remember Allah more. They gain nourishment from the fountain of submission. And Allah blesses their hearts with lasting happiness by granting them exceptional gifts because of this spiritual dependence and intimacy.