It is no secret that the first ten verses of Suurah 80 (‘Abasa) of the holy Qur’an were revealed to correct The Prophet Muhammad over his reaction to a blind companion who had approached him at a time The Prophet was speaking to, and hoping for the conversion of one of the great people of Quraysh to Islam, but there lay some hidden lessons to learn from the incident.
Ibn Kathir mentions in his exegesis of verse 1: “More than one of Qur’anic exegetes affirm that The Prophet had one day been speaking to some of the great people of Quraysh, eager and hopeful of their conversion to Islam, then one of his companions,l who was a blind man and had accepted Islam for long – Abdullah Ibn Ummi Maktium approached the Prophet and started asking him questions; The Prophet wished Ibn Ummi Maktoum would depart so that he could speak to (those great) people (not for his personal gains, but because he hoped the conversion of great people would be more influential and useful to the cause of Islam than teaching a blind man about the religion) so the Prophet frowned his face and ignored Ibn Ummi Maktoum and instead faced the great men he had hoped would accept Islam.”
The first ten verses of this chapter were used to correct The Prophet’s behaviour, but over a thousand years later, some of the lessons have yet to be learned by us followers.
What lessons then?
It is reported that after the incident, The Prophet would always honour and give audience to this noble companion- who despite his blindness died a martyr on the battlefield – whenever he sought it.
Allah clearly taught us with these verses, that the most honourable ones to him are not the influential or popular ones in the society, rather they are those who are pious and are constantly seeking guidance about their religion, even if they may be regarded as peasants and non entities in the society.
But a thousand years later, Muslims, no, you reading this, still make your most important criteria – when you seek friendship and companionship of people – their fame, wealth, family-background, book-smartness and other things that can have a positive impact on your worldly life. However, it has been demonstrated through this incident, that the criterion before Allah – to choosing honorable ones – is simply one: PIETY. But when last did you seek to be close to a brother because of what you see in him of piety? When last did you ‘die’ to be close to a sister simply because she would never watch you take a wrong step without correcting you, because she would never allow you indulge in a bad deed without scolding you?
Allah says regarding those we regard as honorable, and consequently take them as friends and companions:
“Close friends, that Day (Of Qiyaamah), will be enemies to each other, except for the righteous”
-Sura Az-Zukhruf, Ayah 67
“And the Day the wrongdoer will bite on his hands [in regret] he will say, “Oh, I wish I had taken with the Messenger a way.
Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one as a friend.”
-Sura Al-Furqan, Ayah 28
Oftentimes, we draw our circle of friends with the same pencils with which we draw our life ambitions. It is a widely
connoted idea that the friends you keep determine a significant fraction of how you live your life, and consequently, how
successful you get in life.
But wait! Do you know, that the friends you keep determine not only your fate in this world, but also in the hereafter?
On a day when the Sun would be brought within a mile of our bodies and we would be left in the scorching heat for an
equivalent of thousands of years. on a day when the people of Noah, after spending 950 years with him- would deny him, there is
a set of friends, who, if we keep them, would not deny us, and rather, would intercede on our behalf.
Narrated in Albukharee, Hadith 7439, on the authority of Abu Sa’id that the prophet of Allah said:
“You (Muslims) cannot be more pressing in claiming from me a right that has been clearly proved to be yours than the believers in
interceding with Almighty for their (Muslim) brothers on that Day, when they see themselves safe.
They will say, ’O Allah! (Save) our brothers (for they) used to pray with us, fast with us and also do good deeds with us.’ Allah will
say, ’Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of one (gold) Dinar.’ Allah will forbid the
Fire to burn the faces of those sinners. They will go to them and find some of them in Hell (Fire) up to their feet, and some up to
the middle of their legs. So they will take out those whom they will recognize and then they will return, and Allah will say (to them),
’Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of one half Dinar.’ They will take out whomever
they will recognize and return, and then Allah will say, ’Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the
weight of an atom (or a smallest ant), and so they will take out all those whom they will recognize.”
The Hadith clearly states those amongst the Muslims who have been assured of their safety from Hellfire will intercede on behalf
of other believers, claiming they used to know them to be upright.
On a day when mothers will deny their children, and conversely, children will deny the mothers, what we would be left with is the
intercession of those among our Muslim friends who are upright enough to be allowed to intercede.
And in another complementary Hadith, the prophet of Allah said, “On the day of judgement, man will be raised and judged with
those he loved and regarded closely in life.
Think about it: is your best friend a person you hope to be raised with, and in front of Allah and be called an acquaintance of?
When last have you, yes you yourself- chosen a friend by virtue of their love for Allah?
The reality of it is that oftentimes, those we
trust amongst the people to be upright, are those who, by being close to them, we believe- we might never get close enough to worldy success, or they are those who criticize a lot of what we do; claiming “this is haraam, this is wrong, this is truly
permissible but you shouldn’t engage in it as it might drift you away from the right path.” We know them!
But, read the story of ’Abd Rahman Bn ’Awf , whose wealth was almost unquantifiable -but surrounded himself with peasant but upright friends – and you would realize that if anything hinders your success in life, it is not keeping friends who are always concerned about keeping keenly to the laws of Allah. (it is most probably the hours you spend following memes on WhatsApp that is hindering your success, not pious friends)
And, learn to bear with those among your friends who correct you justly, for those who truly love you are those who want
you to avoid the darkness, heat, torment of the grave while knowing that your graves will be miles apart.
The only time one should take a non-pious person as friend is when they are willing to be upright but are finding it hard to be, those ones who admire you, who wish to be like you, who appreciate it when you correct them, (of course, you gonna do that honourably, you know?) who seek means to change, these ones, even if they are still struggling to use the Hijab, struggling to stay away from music, should be kept close to constantly soldier them on to be more pious.
As for those who are not upright, and are not willing to be, and would tell you to mind your business and not judge them based on what you see – but to judge them based on what you don’t see, then those do not deserve your companionship.
Our prayer to Allah is to make us of those who intercede for our friends and not those who would need their intercession, but do
you- given your current standard of life and relationship with Allah -think, that you could be of those?