How to Choose Our Companions (Peer Pressure)
I think that you all agree with me, that a human being is social by nature, is a social person, he would like to socialize and one aspect of socializing is that people tend to affect you and you affect them, that is why, if you are depressed and you sit in a room with people laughing and saying funny things, by nature you are going to change and laugh with them and if you are sitting among people who are mourning a death and crying, you are going to feel depressed, so it all depends on the environment you are in and this is at a larger scale, but if you come down at the individual level you will find out that, yes, there is peer pressure and an individual is influenced by those whom he associates himself with. This is clearly stated in the quran and sunnah as well.
The prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says that an individual is following the religion of those whom he associates himself with so you should look to whom you associate yourself with.
These are the instructions of the prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and religion means that the way of life, not necessarily Islam or not Islam, other religions than Islam but it means the conduct, the values, the beliefs, the ethics, these all fall under religion so it depends on who you associate yourself with and this is clear to all. I believe that if your best friend for example uses jargons or uses a certain word by default you are going to find yourself using it as well and likewise if your best friend smokes, eventually you are going to smoke, if he prays eventually you are going to pray so there is a peer pressure influence on all of us and that is why it is very essential to choose whom you associate yourself with.
Sometimes people try to say that they just want to fit in, they change their dress, they tend to say,
I am just trying to fit in to the rest of my society, my group.
Well, actually it can be an excuse to justify the wrong things that you do, and on the Day of Judgment Allah says that you can make as many excuses as you can, but you are well aware of what good or bad you have done so you are going to be questioned accordingly. The problem with fitting in is that usually those who try to fit in dont measure whatever actions they are doing in accordance with the quran and sunnah, so that they would be able to determine whether it is right or wrong, because this is the only way to determine whether it is wrong or right, its not the logic, its not the common sense, its not what the traditions and customs imply, its the quran and sunnah, which definitive logic falls in, proper logic, that is. Also again we have to come back to the point of dignity, of being proud of being a Muslim. And a Muslim, once he is proud of what he is, then he does not have the need to fit in,
People will accept me as I am, because I am a Muslim
and this does not have to do with what you wear, or how you look, it does not have to do with the things you do, because again a Muslim always looks through the filter of the quran and sunnah, whether it is right or wrong. So if it is wrong I dont have to fit in, people have to accept me as I am, because my religion simply says I dont have to well it says I must not do this and this brings us to the point where in the West a lot of Muslim communities have the problem of blending in and this is the request of all non-Muslim governments for Muslims to blend in. And this is a big problem because our priority is our religion so whether you are going to choose between a nationality of a country or your religion, definitively your religion is going to come up on the top of the list and I read in an article a few weeks back that there is this European government that gives a test to those who want to come in, or to in that European country that they have to watch blue movies! And this is outrageous. So they say,
well we have to test their culture, are they susceptible to such influences that they find in the markets
In the media, they have to be immune to pornography and so on. And I do not know what type of religion or what type of thinking can ask a grandmother, a young man, or a child, in order to get the citizenship of that country you have to pass through this test and watch 60 minutes of pornography, but this is implemented, it still needs to be rectified by the parliament, but its there. So again you dont have to fit in, if it contradicts with your religion, you have to stand out and say,
this is my religion, this is how I am
The question on how to choose a friend is very important and you cannot put a general rule and say,
well you have to look at the closest mosque where you leave and choose the imam to be your closest friend to be with
Its not logical to have all your friends being imams, or scholars, it is a great help and its nice to have them, because they give you guidance, they give you knowledge, but again, I need someone to play squash with, I need someone to chat with about cars, I need someone to talk to about economy, so you have to have a variety of friends, but here is a trick, you have to have a friend that influences in the positive sense, or at least he does not influence you in the negative sense. So I can take somebody as a friend of mine, he is religious, his conduct is nice, he has a good spirit, I enjoy sitting with him for half an hour, an hour, talking about religious issues, I get my faith increased, I feel more powerful in my religion, but at the end, after an hour or so, I have to sit with somebody else, and talk with him about cars, used cars, new cars, I like sport cars, so Id like to know whats the latest model that does 0 to 60 in 4, 5 seconds.
There are criteria you should follow its not,
a friend in need is a friend indeed
In the sense of the financial aspects but because at the end of the day youll not have any friends in the sense of financing, but I believe its an overall way of looking, there is no perfect friend, in the sense that I could find somebody to be a good friend in the financial side, I could go and ask him to lend me money and he could borrow some from me, the exchange of financial benefits is excellent, but he cannot benefit me in the social form so I go to somebody else, who also falls short in another aspect such as the religious knowledge, bearing in mind that my relationship with all those I know is through the perspective of being good with Allah (Azza wa jal). Though I know the first person as being good as a friend, in the financial aspect, trading, yet if I know he is not a good Muslim, than he is not my friend and I should not be associated with him in that sense. Friendship is a high level of standard. Its not something that you just label everyone as your friend. Its not like that Mexican who said,
I kill people for money, but because you are my friend I kill you for nothing.
This is not the friendship we are looking for.
Friendship is a mutual thing. We benefit, but we dont benefit only for this life, we benefit in the sense of the next life also, thats why the prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that a man went out of his house to visit a friend, and Allah sent an angel, and this angel told this man,
where are you going? so the man answered, Im going to visit my friend, who leaves in so and so village so the angel asked him, are you going to get money from him, do you want something to benefit from him? he said, No, Im going to visit him for the sake of Allah and the angel told him that, Allah has forgiven your sins because of your intention.
How does someone seek friendship in the side of Allah? This is a concept that should be clarified, its not only to meet in the masjid and sit and thats it, no, this is not only for the sake of Allah. Even if you trade with someone, if you socialize with someone, if you are doing this because he is a good Muslim, because he represents Islam in a nice way, hes good to his parents, hes good to his next of kin, you associate yourself with him because he is a good Muslim, then this is for the sake of Allah.
Its not that easy to choose a friend. Its not like when a person comes and applies for a job we interview him, with friends we cannot do this. You cant say that ok, before putting you in my mobile phonebook I have to ask you a few questions. It is not like this. We as humans we learn from our mistakes, so somewhere down the line you tend to evaluate your friendships; you learn how to select the best you can. Its the same thing with choosing a wife. Its not a clear cut issue, someone says,
well Ive picked the perfect wife and after a few hours he says, I made the biggest mistake!.
Its like buying watermelons, you just tap it on the top and say hmm it sounds good, sounds red, etc. and when you open it its white and sour. The point is, that in the Quran, Allah tells us about friends, and He tells us that the friends on the Day of Judgment are the worst of enemies, except those who are virtuous, which means that you have to select a friend who is pious, who has the virtue in him, not in the sense that he is a scholar, or an imam, no, in the sense that he is a God fearing Muslim. Any Allah fearing Muslim would be your best friend, because he will not be an aggressor to you, he will not cheat you, he will not lie to you, because all of these things, his religion prevents him from doing, so you should screen those who are candidates to being your friends, you should screen them and see if they are pious and God fearing people.
As a Muslim your alliance should be to those who are good Muslims, but if you tell me that you have a group or a bunch of friends who do bad things and you cannot live without them, at the end of the day you will join them. And this is human nature. And if you look at the uncle of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Abu Talib, who cared for his nephew all his life, more than 40 years, he had been taking care of Muhammad, the prophet of Allah, he was defending him, he was doing everything in his control just to support him, just on his dying moments the prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went to him and told him:
O uncle just say the testimony – La ilaha illa Allah- I bear witness that is no God worthy of being worship but Allah. Just say this and I will be able to face Allah, to intercede for you at the side of Allah. And next to Abu Talib there was the heads of the Quraish and they kept on telling this dying man would you abandon the religion of your fathers and ancestors?
They kept on saying this to him until Abu Talib said that he remains upon the religion of his ancestors, and so he died a kafir because of his friends. So at the end of the day one of you is going to influence the other and by experience, usually, the other way around as well because you are a minority. A lot of the cases that take place is because the person does not have the will power, does not have the knowledge and he is not in the situation to influence others, to leave the temptations, you have to have something in you that forces you not to watch movies,
I enjoy watching movies, smoking, partying
There has to be something in you that makes you transform and leave these things and usually its not the case. Usually, you start to concede and you start to let go off things because they are your friends. I am a ashamed. I know a lot of people that used to pray on time, and they have good friends and bad friends and whenever they are with bad friends and its time for prayer, and he goes to pray, do you think that everybody else goes along with him to pray? No, they start ridiculing him,
O sheikh, make some dua for us, pray for us, now you will become tomorrow as the imam of the Haram (mosque) ma sha Allah, ma sha Allah
They mock them, so the next day when its time to pray he is going to think twice and in most cases he is not going to pray.
We learn from the quran and sunnah that the prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that there was a man who killed 99 people and he went to one of the monks and told him,
I killed 99 men, can I repent? And the monk said: What? You killed 99 men? Are you crazy? There is no way you can repent. So the man said: well might as well just finish 100, so he killed the monk and after a while he felt sorry again, so he went to a scholar, a person of knowledge and he told him: I killed 100 men, is there any way for me to repent? he said: Definitively, who intervenes between you and Allah? Allah is Most Forgiven, but the area you are living in is full of corrupt and bad people who are of bad influence so as a sign of repentance you should move to the village of so and so where there are a lot of pious people who are worshiping Allah.
Our prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that the man went on his way to move to the other village and in the middle of the journey he passed out, he died, so the angels of Hell came to claim his soul and the angels of mercy came to claim his soul, the angels of Hell said that this man had never done anything that was good and the angels of mercy said, well he came in repentance and repentance erases everything that was before so they had a dispute, Allah sent an angel to them in the form of a man, a human being, which tells you the degree and honour and the degree of humans over angels and this angel told them to measure the distance between the 2 villages and to see which village he was closer to and when they had measured it they found that he was closer to the bad village. Allah (Azza wa jal) told the good village to come closer, by the power of Allah, so they measured it and he became closer to the good village. In another narration, the man when he felt he was dying he pushed himself forward with his chest, he put himself over just to get closer to the good village though he is dying so the angels of mercy claim his soul and he was taken to paradise.
You should look for the good friends and they are everywhere, you just have to look, but unfortunately the temptation in us prevents us from doing it. Why do I choose this friend that I am choosing?
Because he knows all the movies, and I can get movies from him?
Why do I take him as a friend?
Because he says bad jokes and it is fun all the time why do I choose this friend? Well because he knows a lot of girls and I get to party with him all the time.
Its the temptation because you think that you will get rid of all these friends and my life will get dull and Ill crack down and die. No, this is not the case. You are doing what pleases Allah, and you do what is good for you in this life and the hereafter.
We are missing the point of mission and vision. We have to have a mission and we have to have a vision in our life as Muslims. Allah says and tells us that He has not created the jinns and the human beings except for one purpose and that is: to worship Him. Now worshiping Him has a very broad meaning. Whatever you do is a type of worship. If you are nice to your neighbours this is worshiping Allah, if you are nice to your next of kin and your relatives, and you contact them every now and then, you are doing a form of worship. If you smile in the face of other Muslims this is a charity, as we are taught by the prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). If you implement this idea and try to convince the youth of it, then you can easily guide them in choosing the right set of friends. Without that you are in the losing end because this is where they find there pleasure, in temptations, in pursuing the desires and lust.
I see Muslims as living their lives, in the good side, they are not fornicating, they are not smoking pot, and they arent doing anything that is forbidden by Allah and in all religions of Allah. These are universally forbidden things. But Islam is not boring because it tells you to do whatever you want to do. It tells you to play sports, you want to entertain yourself with permissible things go ahead, you want to go skiing, you want to go swimming, whatever you want to do is permissible, have fun, sit with your family, with your friends, enjoy yourself in playing sports. Live your life. You do not confine yourself into a masjid with 100 pieces of beads saying supplications, this is not Islam.
Islam tells you that Jannah has been surrounded by the things that people hate and Hell fire is surrounded by the things that people desire. So Islam is boring for those who are away from the quran and sunnah.
As a non-Muslim, what will you prefer? Going to the masjid and praying 5 times a day or would you prefer playing roulette?
Why? Because Hell is surrounded by temptations and desires, this is human nature. Humans by nature would like to pursue their desires. Islam comes and does not prevent them from temptations and desires, but it channels to them. You would like to fornicate? Its fun to have lots of girlfriends and party, but Islam tells you no, this is not good, its bad, you will not accept it for your mother, sisters or daughters, but will channel it for you, you would like to have this in a natural way, get married.
You tend to imitate and copy and this is a childs role. Whenever a child grows up he tends to look, observe and copy whatever he sees and thats why we tend not to say bad words in front of him, because he is going to pick it up and this learning process lives with us until we die. So whenever we see something good we tend to imitate and copy it.
There are so many things that influence an individual. The prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says that all individuals are born with their nature, clean and clear, in the sense that they have only one Lord to worship. So if you get a baby and throw him in an island with no surroundings, when the boy is 15 or 16 years old he knows that there is only one Creator for this Universe. He doesnt know Islam, he doesnt know Christianity, so the prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) tells us that all individuals are born on the fitrah, which is the basic monotheism and their parents tend to make them a Christian, a Jew or a fire worshiper so its the parents effect on this individual that transforms him from being a monotheist, worshiping one Lord, one God into worshiping other religions which are not in accordance to what Allah wants. So the parents have a great role in influencing a child, in changing his character, what he desires. Then you have the school influencing an individual, and this the peer pressure, you find good students then you tend to be a good student, you find bad students then you tend to be part of the gang, the group and so on. So again, the society, the neighbourhood and so many things can influence an individual. And above all to my understanding the media has the worst peer pressure on an individual because where I am from, we are a Muslim country and everybody is born Muslim, practicing Muslim. Nowadays we tend to find people wearing costumes that have no logic. You know when you find a boy wearing low pants with his underwear showing and the pants have almost fallen. I can see your underwear,
this is not my underwear, these are my boxers and you find people listening to rap music and if you ask them: Do you understand a single word they are saying? No, but the beat is nice.
This shows you that this individual does not have one personality, does not have something to hold up or look up to simply because they do not have the knowledge of Islam, they are away from how the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to behave, they are away from what the companions used to do and this is why we always emphasize on the word knowledge. You should always go back to the basics, you should always go back to the quran and sunnah and these are the peers you should look up to, the companions of the prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) how they treated each other, how they dealt in different situations they encountered, but to look at those around you and to choose those who are bad (Islamically that is) and make them your best friends, you have a problem.
How can we prevent ourselves from the negative side of media?
This is a very sensitive question. One way of doing this is by isolating the people from watching the media, this is a no win situation because you cannot isolate yourself from the media. At the same time you have to weigh and measure the pros and cons so if the only means of media that is available to me where I live is bad media; Islamically, then I have to completely isolate myself from that bad media. If I am living in the States (for example) and there are no Islamic media companies, there is only cable TV then the best thing is to completely isolate myself from that and try to look for an alternative and here lies the responsibility of businessmen, people of intellect, that they should provide the Muslims with alternatives because in Islam we have obligatory things and things obligatory on some of us. So, if the whole community does not do this they are all sinful and if a part of them does what is needed then the sin is not on all.
Adapted from assimalhakeem.net(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)