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You Are Who Your Friend Is – Khutbah By Sh. Ibrahim Ezghair

This is a Khutbah by Shaykh Ibrahim Ezghair on Friday 3/19/2010 about our friends!

A sister sends a letter telling her story of how she repented to Allah. She writes:

How miserable a person can be when he/she lives a life of no purpose, living like animals with no concern other than to eat, drink sleep and fulfill their desires.

That was how I lived my life ever since I could remember. My parents were  religious people. They wanted me to be religious like them. However they were alone on that. The rest of my extended family was corrupt. They used to even make fun of my father may Allah have mercy on him for being strict and religious. They used to call him fanatic. As for me, I was Muslim by name. I disliked being religious intensely. I also despised those who are religious and practicing. I  hated to pray. All throughout my middle and high school I did not pray one raka’ah. When my father would ask me if I prayed I would lie to him and say yes.

My friends had a major influence on me. They corrupted me and would provide me with all kinds of dirty books and magazines. I used to wear short skirts and skin tight pants. I used to be annoyed by hijab and only wore when I was forced to. I didn’t know the wisdom behind it.

Time passed by and I graduated from high school. I left my village to the city where I enrolled in the university. I lived in the dormitory. I first had a roommate who was like me; very much into music and magazines. She and her friends encouraged me to continue on the same path I was on. But they were a little better than I in that they would say: “But do not stop praying.” Then do whatever you wish. There used to be some practicing girls who would sometimes talk to us and tell us about being obedient to Allah and so on, but their way of doing so was not encouraging so we would continue to do what we always did.

Until Allah blessed me with a roommate who was very kind to me. She would pray all of her  prayers in the Musalla with the jamaa’ah. She would sometimes wake me up for fajr and leave. I would turn on the music. It would show on her face that she did not like it, but would not say a word. So I would feel bad for hurting her. Days passed and my roommate was continually kind and patient with me until my heart opened up to her and followed her way. I started praying in the Musallah and gradually stopped the music. I repented to Allah (swt) and now I am daa’yah to Allah.

This sister lives in an Arab country.

Peer pressure is so effective in changing one’s behavior that it has been emphasized upon in the Quran and the Sunnah.

Peers influence your life. They learn from you and you learn from them. They can directly or indirectly apply pressure on you and thereby you find yourself compelled to change your behavior accordingly. Not all peer pressure is negative, because we see that it can cause you to change positively. As we saw in the story how this young lady was influenced by her peers in a way that made her hate Islam and everything to do with Islam. But later on she met up with the right peers who influenced her to change positively and to become an exemplary Muslim girl.

Why do we (both young and old) give in to peer pressure?

  • Many of us want to be liked and approved of.
  • Others may make fun of us if we don’t follow their ways.
  • Curiosity, especially among young people: they want to try it “everyone is doing it.” For that reason they leave off their better judgment.

At the time of the Prophet (saw) there was a man by the name Uqbah bin Mu’ait who had a friend to whom he was so attached. His friend went out on a business trip. During that time ‘Uqbah became Muslim. When his friend came back he told him that he would no longer be his friend until he leaves Islam and goes back to his old way and even hurt the Prophet (saw). He threatened to cut off his friendship with him. ‘Uqbah left Islam and became one of the staunchest enemies of the Prophet (saw).

About his story Allah revealed the ayat in surat al Furqan

( ويوم يعض الظالم على يديه يقول يا ليتني اتخذت مع الرسول سبيلا ( 27 ) يا ويلتى ليتني لم أتخذ فلانا خليلا ( 28

And the Day the wrongdoer will bite hon his hands he will say, “Oh, I wish I had taken with the Messenger a way. Oh woe to me I wihs I had not taken that one as a friend.”

It was emphasized in the sunnah in many ways. Sometimes the Prophet (saw) would say a simile’ to make the people realize how dangers it is to be with bad company and how inevitable it is to be influenced by them. The Prophet (saw) said:

إنما مثل الجليس الصالح والجليس السوء كحامل المسك ونافخ الكير، فحامل المسك إما أن يحذيك وإما أن تبتاع منه وإما أن تجد منه ريحاً طيبة، ونافخ الكير إما أن يحرق ثيابك، وإما أن تجد ريحاً خبيثة

“The likeness of good company is that of the seller of fragrance; he will either offer you some, sell you some or if nothing else you will smell good fragrance in his presence. Whereas the likeness of bad company is that of the blacksmith who blows into the fire. He will either burn your clothes, or give you bad odor.”

Allah described friendships based on other than Allah as an enmity in the hereafter. Allah said:

“Close friends that day will be enemies of one another except for the righteous ones.”

Their enmity in that day stems from the very reason they were friends in this life. They used to corrupt one another and lead one another astray. They liked each other because they were  partners in evil, but now that they have to face the consequences of their doing they will start blaming each other for their misguidance and hence become enemies.

As for the believers they love one another in this life for the same reason they will enjoy their extended friendship in the hereafter. Allah will say to them in the next ayah:

“O My servants. No fear will there be on you this Day, nor will you grieve; [You] who believed in Our verses and were Muslims. Enter Paradise, you and  your likes delighted.”

The Prophet (saw) in a straightforward statement warned us as to who we choose as friends. He said:

“The person is upon the religion of his friend. So let you see whom you will choose to be your friend.”

Peer pressure is so strong and can never be underestimated. Slowly but surely we find ourselves adapt to and more so adopt the behavior of our peers. Older people are not immune to it either. Our best   judgment of things can be overshadowed and sometimes replaced by the decisions we make due to the pressure of society. The most effective of which is the pressure of our peers, coworkers, classmates, etc. How many of us can say no to an invitation to a Christmas party, retirement party, birthday party? You know what is served in these parties. Can you sit at a table where alcohol is served? Or where ladies in their dinner gowns are sitting? Would you take your hijabi wife to such a party?

Do you like doing that? Do you want to do that?

I am certain that you do not want to do that. But what makes you do it (even if it were against your faith) is peer pressure. You don’t want to be ostracized or for whatever reason.

As for the young ones in high school. Prom is coming. This is the time when you have to put your foot down and say: “NO.” Like many others who say no. You will be exposed to drugs, alcohol, illicit sexual relationships, bullies, etc. It is time to be confident and decide that you are not going to give in to the pressure. You will find the reward for it sooner or later, but most importantly you will protect yourself will never regret saying NO.

Abu Taalib was at his deathbed when the Prophet (saw) was almost begging him to pronounce the shahaadah. Abu Taalib was one who helped the Prophet (saw) throughout his whole life. He was like a father to the Prophet (saw). But Abu Taalib’s peers (Abu Jahal and others) were standing there yelling at him “Are you going to give up the religion of your father Abdul Muttalib?” he gave in to them, even though he knew the Prophet (saw) was inviting him to the truth. Yet he gave in the peer pressure and died without ever pronouncing the shahaadah.

Allah says: “And whoever is blinded from the remembrance of the Most Merciful – We appoint for him a devil and he is to him a companion. And indeed they avert them from the way while they think that they are guided. Until when he comes to Us he says “Oh, I wish there was between me and you the distance between the east and the west-how wretched a companion. And never will it benefit you that Day when you have wronged that  you are all sharing in the punishment.”

Alqamah bin Qays gave this advice to his son:

“O’ my son! when the time comes that you will need a friend seek the friendship of one who if you do him a favor he will protect you; and  when you accompany him he will make you look good; and when you are in need he will fulfill your need; and when you extend a hand to him he will extend a hand back to you; and when he sees a good deed by you, he will count it for you and if he sees a wrongdoing he will correct you. Be the companion of the one who when you ask of him he will give you; when you are quiet he will be the first to talk to you; and if a mishap occurred to you he will comfort you. Be the companion of the one who when you speak will believe you and when you attempt to do something will assist you and if you dispute upon something will favor you over himself.”

Now that we see how dangerous peer pressure can be. What is the way to resist such influence?Indeed it is tough to be the only one who says: “NO”
  • You must pay attention to your own feelings and beliefs of right and wrong. That will help you to decide not to succumb.
  • Have inner strength and self confidence. Do the things that strengthens your relationship with Allah. Stand firm, walk away and resist. Allah will help you stand for what you believe in.
  • Keep Allaah always in your heart and mind. And Know that he is watching you and examining your decisions.
  • Have friends share the same beliefs and values as you. Have a friend who will always remind of Allah. Counteract negative peer pressure with the positive one.
  • Help a friend to resist.
  • Get your busy doing something beneficial and you will always find the people who are like you doing the same things.

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