By Dr. Jasser Auda
Do not befriend someone who does not elevate you with his state. How can one’s friends draw them closer to God and elevate their spiritually? And, how should the believer choose his friends?
“Do not befriend someone who does not elevate you with his state.” The meaning of the “state” and its influence on elevating one’s spirituality has been emphasized by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in different traditions.
The Prophet said, “One dirham has become greater than a hundred thousand dirhams.” The Companions asked, “How can that be O Messenger of God?” He replied, “A rich man takes a hundred thousand dirhams from his wealth and gives it away as charity. Another man has nothing except two dirhams, and so he takes one dirham and gives it away in charity.”
The only difference between the two men is in the state of their hearts though the second man gave one hundred thousand of dirhams in charity, and the first man gave one dirham only in charity.
It is reported that the Prophet performed the Fajr Prayer and he read the Chapter of Ar-Rum and he got confused in the recitation. When he finished the prayer, he said; “What about people who pray with us while they do not perfect their ablution. So we get confused in the recitation of the Quran because of them.” The hadith is about the state of an individual which affects negatively on the society as a whole.
Jubair ibn Mut`im reported that: I heard the Prophet reciting Surat At-Tur in the Maghrib Prayer, and when he reached the verse:
“(Or do they deny the existence of God?) Have they themselves been created without anything (that might have caused their creation)? or were they, perchance, their own creators? (And) have they created the heavens and the earth? Nay, but they have no certainty of anything! (How could they?) Are thy Sustainer’s treasures with them? Or are they in charge (of destiny)?” my heart was about to fly (when I realized this firm argument.)
Ubayy ibn Ka`b reported: I was in the mosque when a man entered and prayed and recited (the Qur’an) in a style to which I objected. Then another man entered (the mosque) and recited in a style different from that of his companion. When we had finished the prayer, we all went to God’s Messenger and said to him: This man recited in a style to which I objected, and the other entered and recited in a style different from that of his companion. The Messenger of God asked them to recite and so they recited, and the Messenger of God expressed approval of their affairs (their modes of recitation). There occurred in my mind a sort of denial which did not occur even during the Days of Ignorance. When the Messenger of God saw how I was affected (by a wrong idea), he struck my chest, whereupon I broke into sweating and felt as though I were looking at Allah with fear.”
It is as if the Prophet was asking Ubayy if he doubted the authenticity of the Qur’an. Ubayy was one of those who wrote down the Qur’an when it was later collected in one book. He was the head of the committee which supervised the process of collecting the Qur’an. The Prophet struck his chest, he changes his state form that of doubt to that of excellence which means “to worship God as though you are seeing Him, and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you.” Whereupon Ubayy said; “As though I were looking at Allah with fear.” Here Ubayy is describing the state to which the Prophet changed him in a moment.
I have seen many of my teachers who used to speak one word and this word would elevate my state for days. They may not even speak at all, but they are in a state of remembering God, or in a state of fearing God. This state draws you closer to God and elevates you spiritually.
Then Ibn `Ata’illah says; “And does not guide you to God with his speech.” If your friend does not elevate you with his state, he might guide you to God with his speech when he sincerely advises you or speaks to you about something good.
We pray to God to keep us away from bad friends and help us make good friends. We also pray to God to elevate us spiritually through our state and speech.
The article is excerpted from “Some of Al-Hikam Al-Ataiyyah” (The Path to God: A Journey with Ibn `Ata’illah’s Words of Wisdom In the Light of the Quran, the Prophetic Tradition, and Universal Laws of God- By Dr. Jasser Auda