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Seeking good friends and companions

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Friendship and companionship plays a very important role in a person’s life. The influence that friends / companions have upon one’s character, conduct and speech is tremendous and we may not realise this until a period of time has lapsed.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) often raised the issue about the value of good friendship and companionship.  He emphasised the need to surround ourselves with good people.  It is worthy to note that people, who hold the same values and beliefs that we do, will indeed make the best friends and companions.  Differences of opinion, different lifestyles and interests may make our friendships interesting and sometimes challenging but if the core value system is not the same, the friendship itself probably has no solid foundation and can have a disastrous effect upon a person in the long run.

There may come a time when we regret the bad influences of our friends and companions. “And on the Day (of Judgement) the wrong-doer will bite on his hand (in regret), he will say: ‘Oh!  Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger.  Woe to me!  Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend!  He indeed led me astray from the truth (reality) after it had come to me.’” (Quran 25:  27)

Initially it may not be a priority for us but it is important to choose your friends carefully.  Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) warned the Believers about this too.  He said that a person would be influenced by his friends, and he warned that everyone should look carefully at those they consider to be their friends.

Once we have found good friends it is important to keep and maintain their friendship.  A person must be prepared to overlook some of the faults of his/her friend and must be prepared to give them excuses for any incorrect or bad behaviour they see in them. This, however, does not mean you should turn a blind eye to wrongful behaviour and sin.  Not at all, rather it means that you must maintain the ties of friendship while seeking to understand their situation and helping as best possible to get them to rectify their bad ways, etc.

Believers must never embarrass or publicly harass one another nor indulge in exposing each other’s faults.  Kindness and mercy must be part of our lives. Furthermore, Believers should never be jealous of one another, they should always be happy when the blessings of God Almighty fall upon their friends and companions. Believers are connected by their love of God Almighty and this surely entails certain responsibilities.

We may not realise it but common and ethical values lay the solid foundation and a good friend is one who is truly tolerant of your mistakes or shortcomings and is forgiving, but at the same time guides and supports you in a respectful and sincere manner.  A good friend is one who accommodates your faults but corrects them where possible.  A good friend is one who will love and forgive you for the sake of God Almighty. A good friend is one who does not hold or harbour anger, envy, hatred or malice against you and is always kind, loyal, generous, and regularly pray for you whilst wishing you good at all times.

From a very young age of our early childhood years, through to the days of our schooling, through varsity and even to today we had and have friends. It is part of human nature to have friends and the basic need for friends is to have company. But as time moves on and we move on we lose some friends along the way and make new ones.

Sometimes we lose contact with them when they have moved on in life or settled elsewhere or have even passed on.  Some of us may be fortunate that our childhood friends still remain our friends to this day. I recently had the good fortune to go to London, where I met with met with and shared dinner with six of my old school buddies. Without giving my age away – we had last seen each other some 50 years ago!   

Today in our twilight years we still remembered with affection and recalled the times we shared with our buddies / friends of yesteryear. We remembered and recalled the good times, the naughty times and the bad times of our childhood years. I don’t know about now, but in the past I am sure all of us remember when our parents would disapprove of our friendships with certain of our friends. We would be warned not to associate with them and they even tried to break our friendship with them. Why? The reason was and is simple our parents were worried about the negative / bad influence in leading us astray that those friends would have on us.

This is so true because as we are older and have our own children, we come back the full circle. Now we also face the same challenge of ensuring that our children associate and have the ‘right’ friends that will have a positive influence on our own children. As the saying goes you are known by the friends you keep. We have to accept that it is easy to be influenced by the people around us. 

It is easy to take on their manners and qualities without even being aware of it.  If these are good qualities then it is a good thing but what if the people you consider friends have pushed you onto the wrong path and away from the remembrance of God?  This could be a disaster to our lives as we will have diverted from the path of goodness and onto the path that leads us astray.

Allah Almighty declares in the Holy Quran : “Content yourself with (remain in the company of) those  who pray to their Lord morning and evening, seeking His approval, and do not turn your sight away from them out of desire for the attractions of this worldly life. And do not yield to those whose hearts We have made heedless of Our remembrance, those who follow their own low desires, those whose ways are unbridled (and transgressive).” (Quran 18 : 28)

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) gave an example of the issue of the influence that friends may have upon a person, when he gave the following example of a good companion (friend) in comparison with a bad one to be like that of the perfume dealer and the ironmonger (blacksmith). By remaining in the company of the perfume dealer, you may buy some perfume; he may give you some as a gift or you will at least get a good fragrant smell at all times.

Whereas by remaining in the company of the ironmonger, you may get your clothes burnt with the flying sparks; you may feel the intensity of the heat whilst he is smelting/welding, etc. or at least you will get the bad smell of the heated fumes at all times. It is not always easy to find sincere and true friends overnight; but once we find them they will become a part of our lives.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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