Show me your friend!
“AND (remember) the day when the unjust one shall bite his hands saying: O! Would that I had not taken such a one for a friend! Certainly he led me astray from the reminder after it had come to me. Ah! The Evil One is but a traitor to man!.” (25:27-29)
Brethren, whenever I chance upon beautifully crafted words, words of wisdom, words on marble, I am immediately attracted to it; I become like the honey bee which is forever attracted to beautiful flowers. Imagine what it would be like if the words were to be words of faith, words carefully ‘worded’ in order to impact the soul, return our hearts back to the origin, back to our Creator. Such is the state I am presently as I read this sermon; a sermon of and on faith; a sermon, which is meant to impact my faith, and yours. The Imam says: “surround yourself with Muslims who practice the Deen; they are your true friends in this life and in the Hereafter”
But what a very difficult admonition this is for those brethren of ours who constantly desire to belong. Remember, there are only two types of friends for us in this world- those who, whenever we are in their company, we are reminded of the world, of the necessity to pursue the world, to compete for the world. Your multi-billionaire friend. He owns almost everything money can buy in this world- except happiness. He has it – the latest car in town, the best apartments and house. Only yesterday, I learnt of a multi-millionaire in the United States who rode his care from the ground floor straight to the corridor of his office on the tenth floor of the office complex. He then contemplated the wealth around him. He said – ‘were the Almighty to have an office, this should be the one He would prefer”. In the estimation of men and women like this, the worth of life lies in the material comfort they provide. Whenever you find yourself in their midst, they remind you of this life and of how poor you are in relation to them. These are friends who deprive you and forever too of the opportunity to be grateful to the Almighty.
Yet, there are other friends. Friends who constantly remind you of the hereafter, of the imminence of resurrection, of the ephemerality of this world. Contentment. Gratitude. Sincerity. Charity. These among others are their most cherished values. Not the unconscionable acquisition of material comforts. Not the insatiable lust for money and fame. Now who is your best friend today? Is he someone who would accompany you to paradise, or is he a companion on the pathway to hell? Indeed, a friend who does not care about your al-Akhirah is not really your friend.
But what if you have turned the corners? What if that friend has become your “soul-mate”?; Illusions. We often think we are indispensable; we often consider the other indispensable in our life. The person who merited that description is Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). Yet he had to answer the higher call when his time was up. If indeed this is a change that deserves your consideration, then bear this in mind -the greatest obstacle on your way is not that friend of yours but you; the hardest person for you to correct is yourself. There is no shame in being wrong, the shame is in choosing to stay on the wrong path.
Always remember this principle- whatever brings you closer to the Almighty, takes you farther away from Hellfire; whatever takes you away from your Creator brings you closer to Hellfire.
Remember we all take tomorrow for granted because we believe tomorrow will always be there. But bear this in mind- tomorrow may be there, but we may not!
Yesterday many thought that they would see today, but they are gone; today we all think and pray to see tomorrow, but not all of us will: reality. Death could be tonight, in the next hour, the next second, yet we live as if we still have so many years to live. You may be rich, famous or have a high status in this world- “Your Excellency Sir, Governor of Eldorado; Your Excellency, Madam! the first lady of Corruption; as far as the angel of death is concerned, you are nothing but another name on the list. Our death and meeting with our Creator is approaching and yet our biggest worry is what are we going to wear tomorrow? Dear sister, live your life to please your Creator only, not the creatures. If the Almighty is pleased with you, the displeasure of His creatures counts for nothing.
Remember you cannot expect to enter paradise when you have not worked for it while on earth. To have that type of expectation would be like expecting to pass an exam you never took a class for.
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Afis Ayinde Oladosu is a professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies.Dean, Faculty of Arts,University of Ibadan.
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