The Company of the Journey
When one sets their heart on taking this journey of migrating to Allah and His Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, one also seeks a companion to befriend along the way. But one seldom finds such a companion. All one finds are:
i) those who contradict and oppose you
ii) those who blame and rebuke you
iii) or those who avoid you, having absolutely no inclination to consider such a trip
Would that all people were of this last category rather than of those who inflict harm upon you. A poet once said:
“We are in a time when refraining from evil is viewed, by most people, as an act of bounty and kindness.”
With this being the common practice of people, what is required today is from them is to help in this journey by avoiding blame and opposition, except to those who drop out along the road. One should not rely on this trip on such drop outs, but should move along, even if one has to be a lone stranger. Pursuing this journey without company would then constitute a strong proof of the truthfulness of one’s love for Allah and His Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him.
The Living and the Dead
He who intends to undertake this journey should accompany the dead who are in reality alive because of their lasting knowledge and bounties. their company will enable one to reach their goal. One should avoid the company of living people who are in reality dead, being as they are immersed in futile pastimes. One of the Salaf once said:
“The difference is indeed great between those who are dead – but whose remembrance brings life to the hearts, and those who are alive – but whose company causes death to the hearts.”
Thus nothing is more harmful for a person for a person than their peers and associates. One’s eyesight and aspirations are usually limited to imitating them, boasting to them, and following their footsteps.
Good Manners in Dealing with the Ignorant
After a person turns away from the company of those ignorant associates, and turns to the company of those who are absent in person , but whose bounties and good influence continue to exist in the world, they will then acquire a new zeal and direction and will as a result become a stranger among the people, even if they are a relative or close acquaintance. One can see clearly the obscurity that they suffer, but they cannot see the splendor that you enjoy. Thus one looks at them with two eyes. With the first, one recognises Allah’s commands and prohibitions, and based on this, advises and warns them. With the second one recognises Allah’s Decree and Measure. Based on this, one sympathises with them, makes du’a for them, and asks Allah to forgive them. One engulfs them with kindness and forgiveness, heeding to Allah’s command to His Messenger:
“Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish.” (Surah Al-A’raf 7:199)
If a person abides by this ayah, it would suffice them. It calls for:
a) Good manners in dealing with people: by forgiving them and showing them compassion to the limits of one’s character and nature.
b) Fulfilling Allah’s rights in people by enjoining what is good, which applies to matters that the minds attest to their goodness and merit, based on what Allah has commanded.
c) Avoiding their evil: to ward off the harm resulting from their ignorance, without trying to avenge oneself.
How else can a person attain perfection? And what policy and behaviour can be better in this world than this? If one tries to consider every evil reaching oneself from others they will find that it arises from neglecting one of these three matters. If one abides by them all, then whatever is inflicted on them by people will be good, even if it is encased in a situation of harm. Allah said:
“Verily! Those who brought forth the great slander [against Aisha] are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing for you. nay, it is good for you.” (Surah An-Nur 24:11)
And he addressed His Messenger, peace be upon him, said:
“So forgive them, ask Allah to forgive them, and consult them in the affair. Then when you have taken a decision, put your full trust in Allah.” (Surah Ali-Imran 3:159)
This ayah instructs the Messenger, peace be upon him, to fulfill Allah’s rights and the people’s rights. When people do wrong, they would either be violating Allah’s limits or harming the Messenger personally. If they harm the Messenger, he should respond by forgiving them. But if they overstep Allah’s limits, then he, peace be upon him, should ask Allah to forgive them and soften their hearts. he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, should also extract their opinions by consulting them, because this tends to make them more obedient and willing to advise. One he forms his decision, he should seek advice no more, but rather should put his trust in Allah and go forth to fulfill what he decided, for Allah loves those who trust Him.
Three Conditions to Acquire Excellent Manners
This is one example of the excellent manners with which Allah has equipped his messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. he described him as:
“Verily, You [Muhammad] are on an exalted standard of character.” (Surah Al-Qalam 68:4)
Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, described him as:
“His character was just [a reflection of] the Qur’an.” (Recorded in Muslim)
Such excellent character cannot be attained without three conditions:
1. The foundation must be good. If one has a rough and dry nature, it will be hard for them to submit to this through knowledge, will orpractice. On the other hand, a mild and smooth nature will be ready and willing to receive the ploughing and the seeds to prepare it for character excellence.
2. The soul must be strong and capable of conquering calls of laziness, transgression and desire. these matters contradict perfection, and souls which cannot defeat them will always be defeated and conquered.
3. One must possess a discerning knowledge of the truth of matters, enabling one to put them in the rightful position, and to distinguish between flesh and cancer – between galss and jewels.
If these three qualities are present in a person, and Allah’s facilitation helps them, then they will be among those whom the best has been decreed for and for whom Allah’s care has been secured.