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 morning there death and crying you are going to feel depressed, so it all depends on the environment you are at 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 a individual is influenced by those whom he associates himself with. This is clearly stated in the Quran and Sunnah as well.
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) says that an individual is following the religion of those whom he associates himself with so you should look to whom you associates yourself with.
These are the instructions of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and religion means that the way of life, not necessary Islam or not Islam, other religions than Islam but it means the conduct, the values, the believes, the ethics, these all fall under religion so it depends on who you associates your self 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 again 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 the peer pressure influence on all of us and that is why is very essential to choose whom you associates yourself with.
Sometimes people try to say that they just want to fit in, they change there 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 at you can, but you are well aware of what well 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 is right or wrong , because this is the only way to determine whether 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 definitively 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 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 few weeks back that there is this European government that gives a test to those who want to come in, or to get their in that European country that they have to watch blue movies. And this is outrageous. So they say well we have to test there 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 of 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 can not 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 logically 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 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 sense of the financial aspects 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 is also 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 (ﷻ). 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. Friend is a high level standard. Its not something that you tell to everyone that is 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 worldly life also, thats way the Prophet (ﷺ) 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 (ﷻ) 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(ﷻ) ? This is a concept that should be clarified, its not only to meet in the masjid (mosque) and sit and thats it, no this is not only for the sake of Allah (ﷻ). 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, he’s good to his parents, he’s good to his next of keen, you associates yourself with him because he is a good Muslim, than this is for the sake of Allah (ﷻ).
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 can not 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 tappet 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(ﷻ) 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 can not leave 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 (ﷺ), Abu Talib, who cared for his nephew all his life, more than 40 years, he is been taking care of Muhammad, The Prophet of Allah(ﷻ), he was defending him, he was doing every thing in his control just to support him, just on his dying moments the Prophet (ﷺ) 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(ﷻ). 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 were the head of the Quraish and they kept on telling this dying men
|would you abandon the religion of your fathers and ancestors?|
and they kept on saying this to him until Abu Talib said that he remains in the religion of his ancestors, and he died a kafr because of his friends. So at the end of the day one of you is going to influence the other and by experience and usually the other way around because you are a minority and a lot of the cases that take place, 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 me not to watch movies, I enjoy watching movies, smoking, partying there has to be something in you that makes me transform and leave these things and usually its not the case. Usually you start to get concessions and you start to let go of things because they are my friends. I am a shame. I know a lot of people that used to pray on times, and they have good friends and bad friends and when whenever they are either bad friends and its time for prayer, and goes to pray, do you think that every body else goes along with him and 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 of them, so next day when its time to pray he is going to think twice and most cases he is not going to pray.
We learn from the Quran and Sunnah. The Prophet (ﷺ) 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 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?|
|Definitively, who intervenes between you and Allah(ﷻ)? Allah is Most Forgiven, but the area you are living in is full with corrupt and bad people 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(ﷻ).|
Our Prophet (ﷺ) told us that the men went on his way to move to the other village and in the middle of the road 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 so 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 every thing that was before so they had a dispute so Allah sent an angel to them in the form of a man, a human being, which tells you the degree and honor and the degree of humans over angels and this angel told them to measure the distance between the 2 villages and to see to which village he was closer and when they had measured it they found that he was closer to the bad village. Allah (ﷻ) told the good village to come closer, by the power of Allah(ﷻ), 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 there are everywhere, you just have to look, but unfortunately is the temptation in us that 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 if 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(ﷻ), and you do what is good for you in this life and the hereafter.
A lot of the Muslim youth who are away from the Quran and Sunnah tend to see the teachings of the Islam as being boring, you tend to tell me that praying 5 times a day in the masjid, fasting during Ramadan, not eating or drinking during day time, performing pilgrimage with all these millions, paying my savings instead of buying an I-pod or going to a movie, paying this money to the poor beat party and going to discos, and going to concerts and going to the movies? Definitely is not. This is how they look at it. That is way we try to teach people to seek there pleasure in what pleases Allah(ﷻ). 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(ﷻ) 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 neighbors this is worshiping Allah, if you are nice to your next of keen 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 (ﷺ). 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 aren’t doing anything that is forbidden by Allah(ﷻ) and in all religions of Allah(ﷻ). These are universal 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 your self 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 a 100 pieces of beads and saying supplications, this is not Islam.
Islam tells you that Jennah is 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 there desires. Islam comes, 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 goes 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 (ﷺ) says
| all individuals are born with there 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 and no surroundings when the boy is 15, 16 years he knows that there is only one Creator for this Universe. He doesnt know Islam, he doesnt know Christianity, so the Prophet (ﷺ) tells us that all individuals are born on the fitra, 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(ﷻ) want it to be. So the parents have a grate 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 you tend to be a good student, you find bad students you tend to be part of the gang, of the group and so on. So again, the society, the neighborhood and so many things that influence an individual. And above all to my understanding the media has the worst peer pressure to an individual because from 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 are almost gone fall. 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 his one personality, does not have something to hold up and look up simply because they do not have the knowledge of Islam, they are away from how the Prophet (ﷺ) 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 (ﷺ) how they treated each other, how they dealt to different situations they encountered, but to look at those around you and to choose those who are bad (Islamic 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 can not isolate yourself from the media. At the same time you have to weight and measure the pros and cons so if the only means of media that is available to me where I live is bad media, Islamic talking, then I have to completely isolate myself from that bad media. If I am living in the States (for an example) and there is no Islamic media companies, there is only cable TV then the best thing is to completely isolate myself from that and try to look on an alternative and here lies the responsibility of businessmen, on people of intellect, that they should provide the Muslims with alternatives because in Islam we have obligatory things and obligatory on part of them so if the whole community does not do this they are all sinful and part of them does what is needed then the sin it is not on all.
Written by Assim al-Hakeem
Taken from www.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.)