*Excerpt adapted and translated from a Malay translation, ‘Bekalan di dalam Perjalanan Da’wah’, Zadun ala al Tariq by al marhum Ustadh Mustafa Masyhur.
And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth God make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.
This is a huge bounty and blessing which can never be bought by any amount of wealth or world’s riches but all of it is realised and perfected only due to Allah’s Grace and Will. al anfal: 63:
And (moreover) He hath put affection between their hearts: not if thou hadst spent all that is in the earth, couldst thou have produced that affection, but God hath done it: for He is Exalted in might, Wise.
Indeed, the bond of aqidah Islamiyah is the strongest of all bonds. Indeed people who live in the shade of love and brotherhood in Islam, for Allah, because of Allah, will feel and enjoy true happiness, boundless satisfaction, whereas all of these can never be felt by those who only value life with temporal and limited worldly values. The community of the Muslim brotherhood has experienced such happiness. They really feel a loss, loneliness and sadness when one of them is away or get separated either due to conditions and situations or forced by the events that unfold. So they coined a parable to symbolise this closeness and camaraderie: Verily the environment of the Muslim brotherhood enjoyed by its loyal members are like fish to water.
Because of the importance of brotherhood because of Allah, ukhuwwah- brotherhood in Islam on the path of da’wah, culminated in the historic kinship where the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. made the Muhajirin and the Ansar as brothers, the greatest example, the highest in terms of love where each person prefers his brother before himself.
Indeed, the greatest duty performed by the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. to Muslims was to establish the Islamic aqidah (purity of faith), aqidah tawhid (faith in the Unity of God) and to develop the Islamic state. In its implementation requires the unity and bond of the community as a whole – the ummah. The parties to Islam have sold themselves to Allah and have helped His religion so that they became a single unified formation as if the perfect constituted blocks of a building.
A Muslim does not walk down the road ever in peace and security, for he has to tread paths full of thorns and spikes, slippery puddles and patches, full of mischief and pitfalls. There lies awaiting are robbers and syaitan – the devil, whether they be jin or man spying and eavesdropping at every move. So the Muslim needs a guide to lead him, to show him, to hold him up when he slips and to pull him away from danger, to give reminders when he forgets and to help him when he is weak.
This is truly from Allah s.w.t.: al asr 1-3:
By (the Token of) Time (through the ages),
Verily Man is in loss,
Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.
Sometimes comes a time of laziness, carelessness, neglect, err or tempted by the whispers of syaitan. If left alone in such circumstances, he shall surely be washed away and carried into destruction and doom. Indeed a wolf will attack the lone sheep which is separated from its flock. A good friend shall never allow his brother to surrender to the urgings of syaitan and let him flounder to do wrong, but he will search and look out for him, call upon him, remind him, counsel him, to help him fight against the temptations of syaitan and his own selfish desires. This friendship is a great provision on the path of da’wah.
Indeed, a good friend is someone who always encourages us towards the good and the righteous. When look at him, he reminds us of our faith to Allah s.w.t. and our obedience to Him. On the other hand, a bad friend is someone far from it, goading us towards evil and enjoining us to sin and iniquity.
It is true what the Prophet s.a.w. said:
Indeed a good friend is like a seller of perfumes who sits in a gathering together with us, even if we do not get anything from him, we still get to smell to fragrance of the perfumes. And the example of a bad person sitting with us in a gathering is like an ironsmith who even if we are not touch by the sparks of fire but you will still feel the irritation of its fumes.
Man is a reflection of his friend. He shall feel empty and useless without him and he feels rejuvenated when he is around.
If the forces of evil men who devour wealth and dishonour others can and are able to muster unity and choose their leadership, surely the supporters of truth and the bearers of the message can unite. It is impossible for the community to stand tall and be effective if they do not work hard to strengthen their brotherhood and unity.
There is no piece of ivory without cracks. There is no person without shortcomings. These facts seem to be easily forgotten and not realised. One wishes that a friend guides him and saves him from wrongdoing, mistakes and shortcomings. However this cannot be done by anyone except the loving, the caring, the sincere, always kind in words and wise in counsel and giving advice. This is the best provision in the path of da’wah.
In counselling and giving advice, it is better to understand its etiquette, of how to do it wisely as guided by Allah s.w.t.: An Nahl: 125:
Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.
One of the salaf as salih, sages of the past said: Give advice in the most perfect way but accept it in whatever manner it comes. Anyone who advices his friend in secret, then he has done him good and has decorated him, but whoever advices his friend in the open in public, he has ashamed him and betrayed him.
Good friendship multiplies the energy of a person. In thinking out, he can seek opinions and views of others, resulting in mobilising the best of thoughts. In any task, he is helped out by friends of various skills and capabilities.
Happiness is shared and hardships are lightened. We see a Muslim walking on the path of da’wah not alone but it is as if he carries the hearts of his friends with him. Every brother is not miserly as to lend him a spiritual and an inner provision so that he may withstand any challenges and this is priceless. Al Ma’idah: 2:
Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear God: for God is strict in punishment.
This command is not meant for an individual but a group, a jama’ah. Is it not wonderful if the spirit of cooperation and togetherness be alive in the villagers, the neighbourhood, the district, the nation so that it enables an environment of good and obedience to Allah s.w.t. This is especially when all have been deteriorated and neglected. Many shun the solat jama’ah – in congregation, especially the subuh and the isya’, the night prayers, the qur’an studies and classes, the knowledge lectures, the dhikrullah gatherings, the da’wah effort, and helping out the poor and the needy.
How vital and valuable good friendship in times of trials and tribulations. In such dire circumstances, a Muslim is exposed to attacks and pressures to deviate from his path, to flee from the straight way. Here lies the essential qualities of a true friend to take care of his brother, to prevent him from falling out, stop him from being fooled or be influenced by false promises ad threats. The enemies of Allah s.w.t. work hard carrying out the orders and syaitan’s inspirations to thwart the Muslims so that they neglect their duties and leave the frontlines of jihad and the field of da’wah. This can be clearly seen from the experience and history of the Islamic movements always beset by calamity and tribulations. These are all overcome by the blessing of a community held by the bond of love and brotherhood wholly because of Allah s.w.t.
Seeing each other meaningfully sincerely because of Allah s.w.t. They shake hands with a loving smile in their faces. They visit each other, they counsel one another always towards good deeds.
Among the hadith:
Seven persons will be shaded by the Allah s.w.t. on the day when there shall be no shade except by Allah s.w.t. One of them are two men who love one another because of Allah, they meet because of Allah and they depart because of Allah.
There is a man who was visiting his brother in another village and Allah s.w.t. commanded an angel to await him at the crossroads. Upon seeing the man, the angel asked: “Where are you going?”
He replied: “I want to visit my brother in that village”
The angel asked: “ Are you going in order to return his favour”
He replied: “No, but I love him because of Allah”
The angel: “Indeed I am the Allah’s messenger sent to you to tell you that Allah loves you as you love him because of Allah”
The Messenger of Allah s.a.w. met some companions in a gathering and he asked them: “Why are you sitting here?”
They replied: “We are sitting here to remember Allah and to praise Him because He guides us to Islam. He has granted us His blessings”
The Messenger of Allah s.a.w.: “By Allah, is there any other reason which cause you to sit here other than that?’
They said: “ By Allah, we swear, there is no other reason for us to sit here except for that”
The Messenger of Allah s.a.w.: I did not mean to ask you to swear or to accuse you, but Gabriel came to me and told me that Allah praises you in front of His angels.”
Because friendship is central and imperative to Islam and its communities, we see Islam and the shariah nurtures and safeguards the values of companionship from whatever that may wreck unity and accord. Islam forbids envy, jealousy, hatred, deceit, treachery, cheating, fraudulent transactions, riba – usury, drugs and alcohol, gambling, vilifying and ridiculing one another, prejudice and conjecture, spying and finding faults of each other, severing relations and betrayal.
Do not severe relations, do not betray one another, do not hate one another, do not envy one another. And be servants of Allah in brotherhood. And it is not permitted for a Muslim to be not in speaking terms with his brother for more than three days.
Al Hujurat: 9
If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them
Al Hujurat 10
The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear God, that ye may receive Mercy.
Al Anfal: 46
And obey God and His Apostle; and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For God is with those who patiently persevere:
Al Isra’: 53
Say to My servants that they should (only) say those things that are best: for Satan doth sow dissensions among them: For Satan is to man an avowed enemy.
So my dear friend! Seek good friends and be noble companions because it is a reliable assistant and provision throughout the path of da’wah.