Reduce Socialization and Choose the Right Friends


The following is an excerpt taken from the book The Manners of the Knowledge Seeker by Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad Sa’id Raslan

People have always been greatly divided over the issue of mixing and seclusion. So, some went with the opinion that one should always mix with the people, and some went with the opinion that one should always seclude himself from the people, and everyone is satisfied with his point of view.

And Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have Mercy on him) touched upon this issue and clarified the dispute, saying:

“This issue – even though the people have differed over it, either partially or completely – the reality of it is that mixing with the people is sometimes obligatory or recommended. The same individual can sometimes be obligated to mix with others, and can at other times be obligated to separate form them.

The way to properly reconcile between these two stands is to realize that mixing, if it involves cooperation upon good and piety, is obligatory, and if it involves cooperation upon sin and transgression, is forbidden. Mixing with the Muslims for the purpose of congregational acts of worship, such as the five prayers, the Friday prayer, the ‘Id prayer, the eclipse prayer, the prayer for rain (istisqa’), etc., is from what Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) commanded. Such is also the case when mixing with the people during the Hajj, to fight the disbelievers, Khawarij, and rebels, even if the leaders of and participants in such activities are corrupt. This is also the case with a gathering in which the worshipper can increase his faith – either because of it benefiting him, or he benefiting it.

And a person must have time alone to engage in supplication, remembrance, prayer, reflection, take himself to account, and rectify his heart. These are issues that nobody else can participate with him in, and these are affairs that need to be seen to on an individual basis, whether at home or otherwise, as Tawus said: “How excellent of a refuge is the home! In it, one can restrain his gaze and his tongue.” So, it is incorrect to mix with people unrestrictedly, and it is incorrect to seclude yourself from people unrestrictedly. As for exactly how much every person needs of each, and what is best for him at all times, this is something that requires further investigation.

What is best is that one sometimes pick from the various types of worship based on their inherent virtue (prayer is in itself better than recitation of the Qur’an, and recitation is better than dhikr, and dhikr is better than supplication), and sometimes based on what time of day he is in (recitation, dhikr, and supplication after Fajr and ‘Asr are preferred over prayer), and sometimes based on the physical position he is in (dhikr and supplication in bowing and prostration are legislated instead of recitation of the Qur’an, and dhikr and supplication during tawaf is legislated by consensus, while recitation of the Qur’an during tawaf is differed over), and sometimes based on his location (what is legislated at ‘Arafah, Muzdalifah, at the Jamar, and at Safa and Marwah is dhikr and supplication instead of prayer, etc. and tawaf of the Sacred House for the visitor is better than prayer, and prayer is better for the inhabitants of Makkah), and sometimes based on the appropriateness of the worship for the person (Jihad for men is better than Hajj, while the jihad of women is Hajj, and obedience to the husband is better than obedience to the father for the married woman, as opposed to the single woman who is commanded to obey her father), and sometimes based on the capability of the servant, as the worship he is capable of is better for him than the worship he is incapable of, even if what he is incapable of is inherently better. This is a point where many people go to extremes and follow their desires: some people who see a certain action as being better for them due to their own circumstances, or due to it being more beneficial to their heart and a better way to obey their Lord, wish to then make this the best action for everyone around them, and proceeds to command them to do the same.

And Allah sent Muhammad (peace be upon him) with the Book and Wisdom, and made him to be a mercy and guide for the servants, commanding each person with what is best for them. So, the Muslim should be a well-wisher to every person, wanting what is best for them.”112

And the scholars – may Allah be Pleased with them – would mix with the people and teach them while simultaneously being the most careful of people of wasting their time, and Ahmad (may Allah be Pleased with him) was the most patient of people upon being alone, despite the fact that he was the imam of the world during his time. His son, ‘Abdullah, said: “My father went out to Tarsus on foot, performed Hajj two or three times on foot, and he was the most patient of people upon being alone. Bishr, despite his status, was unable to remain by himself, and would always go out to see this person and that.”113

So, mixing and socialization should not be with one who has a dead heart, as he is like a highway robber. Rather, it should be with one who will increase you in faith and action.

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

“The one with a dead heart will make you feel lonely. So, take advantage of his absence as much as possible, because you will not feel lonely except when he is with you. If you are put to trial with him, give him your outer attention, wander from him with your heart, separate your inner self from him, and do not let him distract you from what is more deserving of your attention.

Know that the greatest of losses is for you to be preoccupied with one who will bring you nothing but a loss in your time with Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – and being cut off from Him, wasting of your time on him, weakening of your energy, and dispersing of your attention. So, if you are tested with this – and you must be tested with this – deal with him according to how Allah would wish, and be patient with him as much as possible. Get closer to Allah and His Pleasure by way of this person, and make your getting together with him something to benefit from, not something to incur a loss from. Be with him as if you are a man who is on a road who was stopped by another man, who then asks you to take him on your journey. Make sure that you are the one who gives him a ride, and that he is not the one giving you the ride. If he refuses, and there is nothing to gain from traveling with him, do not stop for him, bid him farewell, and do not even turn back to look at him, as he is a highway robber regardless of who he really is.

So, save your heart, be wary of how you spend your days and nights, and do not let the Sun set before you arrive at your destination.”114

“So, the student of knowledge should abandon socialization, as this is from the most crucial things that he can do, especially in regards to members of the opposite gender, and especially with those who spend most of their time in amusement and little of their time in thought, as the nature of others can rob you of your own. The harms of socialization include the passing of your life without any benefit, as well as the decline of your wealth and religious commitment if this socialization were to occur with the wrong people.

The student of knowledge should not mix except with those who he can benefit or can benefit from. If he is offered the friendship of one who will waste his time with him, will not benefit him, will not benefit from him, and will not assist him in reaching his objective, he should politely end the relationship from the start before it progresses to something deeper, as when something becomes established, it becomes more difficult to change it. There is a phrase that is constantly on the tongues of the scholars: ‘Repelling something is easier than removing it.’

If he requires someone to befriend, let that person be righteous, religious, pious, wary, intelligent, full of benefit, having little evil, good at complying and rarely conflicting, reminding him if he forgets, cooperating with him when he is reminded, helpful if he is in need, and comforting if he is in distress.”115

Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have Mercy on him) said:

“Know that not everyone is suitable to be your friend. You must verify that this potential friend has the necessary characteristics that make friendship with him something to be desired. The one you seek to befriend must have five characteristics:

• He must be intelligent. There is no good in befriending an idiot, as he will only harm you when he wants to benefit you. By intelligent, we mean one he understands things as they are on his own or if they are explained to him.

• He must have good manners, and this is a must. One who is simply intelligent might be overcome by anger or desire, and obey his desire. Thus, there would be no benefit in befriending him.

• He must not be a fasiq. Such a person would not fear Allah, and whoever does not fear Allah cannot be trusted.

• He must not be an innovator, as there is a fear of being overtaken by his innovation.

• He must not be an innovator, as there is a fear of being overtaken by his innovation.

• He should not be eager for the dunya.

‘Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be Pleased with him) said: “Stick with your true brothers. You can live in comfort with them, as they are a delight in times of ease, and you can lean on them in times of hardship. Assume the best about your brother until he comes with something that should alarm you from him. Avoid your enemy, and beware of befriending anyone but the trustworthy, and there is no trust for the one who doesn’t fear Allah. Do not befriend the corrupt, as he will teach you his corruption, and do not reveal your secrets to him, and only consult those who fear Allah, the Exalted.”

Yahya bin Mu’adh said: “A friend is the one who you don’t have to remind to remember you in his supplication, and that you don’t have to flatter and impress, and that you don’t have to apologize to.”

And Abu Ja’far said to his companions: “Can any of you put his hand in the pocket of his brother and take what he wants?” They replied: “No.” He said: “Then you are not brothers as you claim.”


112 ‘Majmu’ al-Fatawa’ (10/425)
113 ‘Tarjamat al-Imam Ahmad’ (p. 18)
114 ‘al-Wabil as-Sayyib’ (p. 45)
115 ‘Tadhkirat as-Sami’ wal-Mutakallim’ (p. 83)

Post Surgery Reflections: God, Family, and Good Friends

On Friday, April 17, 2020, one week before Ramadan, I was doing my Arabic class via zoom and began to feel short of breath followed by pain on my left side. At first, I thought maybe I pulled a muscle or something, but it started to become more and more intense and I knew immediately this was something more serious. I ran to my wife and informed her of what was happening so she drove me to Urgent Care. They did an X-ray and discovered that part of my left lung had collapsed and that I needed to get to the ER. They also said it was not related to Covid-19, which was a relief. They called an ambulance and I headed to the hospital.

After arrival at the hospital, they studied my X-ray and said I was suffering from pneumothorax, when air leaks into the space between the lung and chest wall. This air pushes on the outside of your lung and makes it collapse. Since I had no history of lung disease, they said my case in particular was that of primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP), when it occurs without an apparent cause and in the absence of significant lung disease. Apparently, it could happen to tall and thin males without any reason. They have no idea why it happens to some people who do not have history of lung disease or physical trauma. They inserted a tube in my chest to get the excess air out in hopes of the lung expanding back on its own and healing itself, which is possible and usually the first procedure to treat it. However, after spending 3 days in the hospital with the tube, they said the pneumothorax seems to be increasing not decreasing and that I would need to go into surgery. At this point, I was very much in pain and breathing was difficult. Just a few days earlier, I was fine and now could hardly walk or move.

As you can imagine, this was all very overwhelming and emotional for my family and myself especially because no one (not even family) was allowed to visit due to Covid-19 fears. It was scary because I didn’t know what to expect or how much worst/better is this going to get. You cannot help but think about your demise and thoughts of ‘is this how it ends for me’ come across your mind. In that weak state, I realized something. The only things that truly matter are God, family, and good friends. Everything else is just noise and distraction. This is all you need to be happy. Nothing else really mattered to me in that moment. I didn’t think about anything else except these three things. All other issues/debates/concerns just went away.

I began to think what this would mean if this truly is the end for me. I felt sad for my wife, who may have to raise our daughter alone without me being there to help her through all the challenges of raising a child. I felt sad thinking about my daughter and how she may grow up without a father. I felt sad thinking about my parents and other family members who would be greatly effected by my loss. I thought about my friends, who would miss my presence. Most importantly, I thought about how I would be received in the afterlife. Have I done enough to even mean anything? All the religious stuff that I have done, have I done it to boost my own ego or for God? I thought about all my shortcomings and how I wish to have more time to correct them. In that moment, no sophisticated intra-theological debates mattered or held any importance, all I wanted was a copy of a Quran holding it tightly against my chest to show Him that I may not be living up to its standard, but I love it so much and believe in every word of it with all my heart and how I wish I could live by it with every strand of my heart, and hoping this would suffice as a means of Him engulfing me in His infinite mercy after my departure from this world.

After much du’a from everyone, the surgery was successfuly completed and they said things looked good and now I just needed to heal and recover. I spent about a week at the hospital and returned home on the first day of Ramadan. Unfortunately, I am unable to fast due to medication needed for post surgery and weakness. I am hoping that I can be healthy enough the last week of Ramadan to catch at least some of the last 10 days. I have a follow up after 2 weeks to assure everything is ok so insha’Allah I am optimistic the results will be good.

This experience has given me new perspective on life and a renewed vision of how I want to spend my life:

  • Spending more time with and around family and friends. Life is too short. Don’t waste it away from them
  • Indulging in more good deeds in preparation for the meeting with my Lord. I want to leave traces of small good deeds behind as much as possible so that they become a channel through which sadaqat al-jariyah (continuous charity) is earned that is constantly beneficial to me even after death. The only currency that matters after death is faith and good deeds. The most important aspect of this is how to integrate a strong faith into my daughter (and any future kids) so that they become a major avenue for continuous charity after death. This is something the Prophet (pbuh) emphasized
  • Decrease distractions so they don’t take up so much of my life. We are surrounded by so many distractions which waste our lives. This is spiritually and mentally unhealthy. I plan to spend far less time (ideally no time) debating people trying to convince them of things. I have better things to do with my life. I rather spend more time learning and doing things that will bring benefit to me in this life and the afterlife. I would specifically like to spend more time understanding the Book of Allah, His last message to us. I also plan to lower my presence on social media. It’s a huge distraction full of meaningless entertainment, discussions, and debates most of the time
  • Don’t take basic blessings for granted. The amount of favors Allah has on us are so immense that we often only realize their worth once they’re taken away. I am so grateful now for the mere blessing of breathing without difficulty. When Allah mentions that He has innumerable favors over us, He is NOT kidding
  • Those who are sick, then reach out to them directly either via person, text or call. It makes a huge difference! It fills the person with joy and appreciation. Don’t just support them via a “congregational ameen” in a group chat, that’s just lazy

This pretty much wraps up my thoughts on this experience.

I’d like to thank everyone who reached out to me, made du’a, and our numerous family and friends who sent so much food to our house (and continue to do so) that we don’t need to cook for a month! May Allah reward to all of you!