A person is known by the company he keeps

Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam has said, ‘Do not have intimate companionship with anyone except a Muslim; and let only those who fear Allah partake of your meals.’ Note: In this Hadith Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam has indicated two guidelines. One, there should be no intimate companionship and close association with non-Muslims. The second part of the Hadith is a guideline for a good Muslim, in that he should avoid relationship even with the impious Muslims. It is also indicated in another Hadith that no one should enter your house except the pious. The Hadith could also mean that a Muslim should associate with non-Muslims only per necessity. There is an insistence in the Hadith on keeping oneself in pious company. A person is known by the company he keeps: association has its influence according to the character of those who are associates; that is why Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam has warned against the entry of impious people in the house. Intimacy with such people is bound to have an adverse effect. Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam has said that the company of pious people is like meeting a musk-merchant; when one sits with him, he may give a small piece as present and one can also buy some musk from him; otherwise, at least one will enjoy the fragrance of musk while sitting with him. Bad company has been likened to sitting near a blacksmith’s furnace, where a spar may rise and burn the clothes; if that does not happen, at least one will suffer from its smell and smoke. Another Hadith says that a person adopts the religion of his friend, therefore, take care as to who is your friend. This means that the company of a friend gradually influences one, so that a day comes when one adopts his religion; therefore; look carefully into the religious disposition of a person before adopting his company. Sitting frequently with the irreligious people is bound to lead one into irreligiousness. It is a matter of common experience that one’s intimate association with drunkards and chess-players, even for a few days, leads to indulgence in those habits. In another Hadith, Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam told Abu Razeen Radhiallaho anho, "I will tell you something that will give you the power to earn good of both the worlds; it is to adopt the company of those who constantly remember Allah Ta’ala and, when alone, keep your tongue moving as far as possible in His remembrance. (Zikr), your friendship and enmity should be for the sake of Allah Ta’ala and not to follow your personal liking." Imaam Ghazali Rahmatullah alaihe has said that a companion should have five attributes in him. First, he should be intelligent, as intelligence is the real wealth, while a stupid person’s company may cause annoyance or a break among blood relations. Sufian Thauri Rahmatullah alaihe considers it a folly even to look at a stupid person. Secondly, he should have good manners as, very often, bad manners affect a man’s intelligence. For example, an intelligent person understands a matter very well but, very often, his anger, passions or niggardliness do not let him act rightly. Thirdly, he must not be corrupt; as such a person lacks fear of Allah Ta’ala and cannot be trusted as a friend; one never knows when or where he may lead one into trouble. Fourthly, he must not be

an innovator in religion, as one is likely to be influenced by his innovations, which should be feared as contagious evils. In fact any connection with him must be severed and friendliness discouraged. Fifthly, he must not be greedy about increasing his earnings; intimacy with such a person is deadly poison. It is natural to follow and intimate such persons whose secret influence in inevitable. Imaam Baqir Rahmatullah alaihe had said that his father Zainul Abideen Rahmatullah alaihe strongly advised him to keep away from five persons and never talk to them or even walk with them on the same path. One, an immoral person; for he will sell you for a single morsel or even for less than a morsel. When Baqir Rahmatullah alaihe asked what less than a morsel meant, the reply was, "He may sell you in the hope of receiving a morsel and eventually, he may not get even that morsel." Two, a stingy person, as he would break all connections with you when you need him most. Three, a liar, as he is misleading like sand; he shows a near thing to be far and the far to be near. Four, a blockhead, as he will wish to give you profit but it will result in a loss. Five, one who has severed relationship with his kith and kin, as the Qur’an has cursed him in three different places. It is not that one is influenced by men only. Actually, a person is imperceptibly affected by anything with which he is closely attached. Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam is reported to have said that a Shepard has humility, while a horseman suffers from boastfulness and arrogance; this is because these attributes are to be found in these animals. The owners of camels and oxen are known to be severe and hard-hearted. Several sayings forbid riding on a leopard-skin (saddle); the Ulama have said that the ferocity of the animal is likely to give similar habits to the user of the skin. The second advice mentioned by Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam in the above Hadith indicates that your meal may not be shared by anyone but a pious person. This subject has been covered in various Traditions. One Hadith says, "Feed the pious and make Mo'mineen the object of your kindness." Here, feeding refers to a meal by invitation and not food given to a needy persons. One Hadith says that only that person should be invited to partake of your food whom you love for Allah’s sake. As regards feeding a needy person, Allah Ta’ala has praised feeding of even a captive and in those days only non-Muslims used to be in captivity, it has been mentioned earlier in the series of Ayaat of the Qur’an, and in the series of Ahadith, that a lewd woman was granted Divine pardon simply for giving a drink to a thirsty dog. Several narrations have covered this particular subject in different ways. Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam has given a clear-cut rule that there is a reward for good treatment given to any living being, which includes the pious, the nonMuslims, human beings and animals alike. Hence, in the case of a need and exigency regarding food, the one who needs it will not matter but how urgent and severe the need is, will count; the severe the need the bigger the reward from Allah Ta’ala. If the food is being provided through an invitation or because of some relationship, or for the intention of meeting some religious good, the reward will be in proportion to the nature and degree of the welfare and good in view. If, however, there is no special

religious interest, the extent of reward for feeding someone will depend on the degree of the piety of the invitee. The author of Mazaahir and Imaam Ghazali Rahmatullah alaihe have written that giving meals to the pious results in encouraging piety, while feeding an immoral person implies supporting immorality. It is obvious that if a pious person gains physical strength through good food, he will engage himself more in acts of piety while similar food given to an immoral person will make him go further in sin and frivolities, because of the additional strength. A certain divine often gave meals to the needy among religious devotees. When someone told him that it would be better if he fed the common poor, he said, "The people to whom I give food have their full attention and devotion towards Allah Ta’ala and, when they become hungry, their attention is naturally disturbed. If I help even one of them to maintain his attention to Almighty Allah, it is far better than helping a thousand hungry people whose total attention is towards this world." Junaid Baghdadi Rahmatullah alaihe was very pleased when he heard of this. A tailor asked Abdullah Ibne Mubarik Rahmatullah alaihe that, if he stitched the dressed of cruel rulers, was that an act of helping the cruel? The reply was, that he was not just a helper of the cruel but he himself was a cruel person; the helpers were those who sold needle and thread to him. In one Hadith, Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam has said that when a person does some favour or good turn to a generous man, the latter becomes his slave and if someone does a favour to a mean person, he invites the enmity of the latter. Another Hadith says, "Give your food to the pious people and grant your favours to Mo’mineen." Apart from the above benefits, there is the inherent honour and respect for the pious and Mo’mineen, which is very desirable. Rasulullah Sallallaho alaihe wasallam has forbidden accepting an invitation from impious and immoral people. Beside other reasons for this, there is the element of giving them undesirable importance through accepting their invitation.

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