Surah Al-Asr is best known for reminding mankind about the significance of time. It is said he who gives no value to time is in loss. It is also said that each time you study the Qur’an you are introduced to a new perspective; a miracle that cannot be denied.
Containing only three ayaat, Surah Al-Asr details the characteristics required of the successful ones: those who believe; those who do righteous deeds; those who advise each other to truth; and those who advise each other to patience.
This ayah tells us that our believing in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, His Messengers ‘alayhim salaam, His Books and the Unseen is not enough. It does not end there. We must invite others to what we have chosen for ourselves: love for your brother, what you love for yourself. If Islam has shown us the purpose of our lives we will be concerned about others and hasten to save them from living a purposeless life.
[Commentary: Love for Your Brother, What You Love for Yourself]
Understanding there is a purpose of our existence, and that accountability awaits us in the Hereafter we will not plunge into anything that comes our way. We will be conscious of what we choose or in what deeds we engage. The limitation here is that our working only on ourselves is not going to improve things. We live in a society surrounded by different kinds of people. Unless we change collectively nothing is going to help. Therefore, we must work on ourselves and others too. We must do righteous deeds as laid by the Qur’an and Sunnah, and advise others to do righteous deeds, as well. Having understood the virtue of patience ourselves, we will encourage others to follow suit.
In a world where voicing your opinion means persecution especially when you are a minority, is the above even possible? Yes, we have the life of our beloved Rasoolullah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa salaam to look at and take lessons from. After understanding the message of Islam, he rushed to spread it among others. After conveying it to his family, he reached out to his friends. His companions then hurried to call their families to the true religion. Gradually, the goodness spread across Arabian Peninsula. The pre-Islamic ignorance was wiped out and replaced by the goodness of Islam. The weak and the oppressed had rights, and ill-practices were thrown out.
Twelve or thirteen years of school life, then college or university and later workplace introduces us to a group of people outside our homes. This is a group of strangers that are to become our friends based on our likes and preferences.
These are also the people that are going to influence us in the years to come. If we don’t pick them wisely our friends can either wreck our lives or transform for the better.
Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu reported that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa salaam said, “A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.” (Sunan Abu Dawoud, 4833)
Our friends help us see ourselves and get a direction in life. We turn to them to get an opinion validated or a stance rejected. A friend who is a person of high moral character will not just think of our temporary gain of this world but the eternal gain of the Hereafter, as well. This friend will not advise us to commit something that might displease Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. In Surah Furqan, it appears that on the Judgment Day man will regret his friendships. He will say, “Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one as a friend,” (25: 28).
So, how do we pick our friends in this world of confusion? The answer lies in the Qur’an and Sunnah. There are many ayaat and ahadeeth that address this topic but for now we will draw our inspiration from Surah Al-Asr.
Our first responsibility is to have the correct belief. There are six fundamentals of belief:
Amantu billahi wa malaikatihi wa kutubihi wa rusulihi wal-yawmil-akhiri wa bil-qadari khayrihi wa sharrihi minAllahi taala wal-ba’thu ba’dal-mawti.
Also known as Imaan-e-Mufassal, it means that I believe in the existence and Oneness of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that He has no partners and that He is free from all kinds of deficiencies. I also believe in the angels of Allah, in His Books, in His messenger and in the Last Day. I also believe in the destiny [Qadr] that everything that seems as good or evil to us takes place through the knowledge and law of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. I also believe in life after death and all of this is true.
At a time when our Muslim friends are declaring themselves to be atheists or agnostics, it is critical for us to sit down with them and talk about their beliefs. When friends are calling us to attend spiritual awakening seminars of those who bow before something other than Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, let us call our friends to be awakened by the study of Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions.
[Commentary: In Times of Affliction Protect Your Emaan]
Let us not leave our friends in the confusions that they are stuck in and that Shaytan has fooled them into believing to be true. Let us extend a helping hand and transfer what authentic knowledge we have.
In correcting one’s belief, we must strive to identify and simultaneously get rid of the different types of Shirk [associating partners with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala]. Riya [showing off] is a minor Shirk that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam feared the most for us. We should perform our worship and righteous deeds for the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala alone and not for the praises of the people. We should also protect ourselves and our friends from depending more on people than Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
When a friend’s husband dies and this friend is worrying about the burden of single-parenthood, we should remind her that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is our Wali — the Protective Friend. We do not even have to make a phone call or wait for His availability to share our concerns with Him. All it needs to approach Him is a sincere supplication from the heart. He is the closest to us without any barriers. If He gave us a spouse and children, and looked after all our needs for twenty or thirty years of our lives wouldn’t He continue to bless us? Then why do we depend on people more than Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? Why do we utter displeasing statements at the time of loss? We should remind ourselves and our friends that our dependability should entirely be on Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, for He is the Only One who will forever be there for us, as long as we are calling upon Him.
Another form of Shirk is the celebrity worship. Social media news feeds and our daily conversations are filled with celebrity gossips. When a celebrity dies or a popular soap ends we mourn as if this is the greatest calamity that has struck us. Our discussions for the next several weeks or months is going to be about this. We have become more interested in reading up on their lives than reading the lives of those beloved to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the Prophets ‘alayhim salaam and their Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum. We have more time to read entertainment magazines and blogs, than the Qura’n and the Prophetic traditions. Let us not limit our religion to a set of rituals. Let us devote our time in studying religion and be firmly grounded in the principles of this beautiful religion as the beloved Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum were.
One of our admins’ article published in The Intellect magazine, Pakistan.