Show me your friend!
O! Ye who believe- fear the Almighty and stand with those who are truthful
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 ‘worlded’ 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.
Imagine how many people were here with us last year, but are no longer here again! Even our turn is soon approaching. She met him at a bus-stop close to the Unilorin campus gate; moments thereafter she was told the person she just met had departed this world. Out of disbelief, she sent Whatapp messages to his line; out of disbelief she kept on calling his line in empty expectation that he would pick up his call. Remember that day when that phone call would be picked up not by you anymore but by those who shall inherit that costly hand-phone you value so much.
On that day, your beautiful wife would once again become a ‘bride’ waiting to be betrothed afresh; you shall be taken out of that big mansion of yours in order to be interred outside of that beautiful dwelling of yours where you would be lonely and alone; except with your righteous deeds: the prayers you observed on time, the poor you showered with material gifts, the grieving sister you made happy. 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 Ph.D is a professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.