Is Staying With The Group A Form Of Brainwashing?  

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

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We are advised to keep company with good Muslims so that we can be resistant against Satanic attacks. The impression I get is that this is so that we are reminded of why we are here, etc.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

It is possible that the right advice (“keep company with good Muslims”) might be given in a school-marmish sort of way that leaves the questioner unsatisfied as to the wisdom behind such advice. Why? Because those that reply may have never thought of it themselves so they quickly answer what seems like a “canned reply” in what seems like a superficial manner.

Answers might be found in spiritual and psychological explanations of the wisdom behind such advice and you will be happy to discover that it is no brainwashing but rather a very enlightened and practical approach to build up a strong individual after the model of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace.

The first step to this approach is to realize that you are, in fact, never alone. As Allah Most High indicated in the Majestic Qur’an, every person has unseen companions assigned to him or her. These unseen companions are of two sorts: good and evil. The psychological and spiritual battle over the heart of that human being is what life and the spiritual struggle (jihad al-nafs) are all about. Outward company is actually an open book of what is going on inside! However, outward company is also either part of the solution or part of the problem that is going on inside.

This struggle was examined in detail by Imam Ghazali in his masterpiece, The Revivication Of The Religious Sciences (Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din), specifically in the part titled “Book of the training of the ego and the disciplining of manners and the healing of the heart’s diseases” where he says that the great early Imam Hasan al-Basri said:

Two thoughts roam over the soul, one from Allah, one from the enemy (Shaytan). Allah shows mercy on a servant who settles at the thought that comes from Him. He embraces the thought that comes from Allah, while he fights against the one from his enemy. To illustrate the heart’s mutual attraction between these two powers, the Prophet said (upon him blessings and peace): “The heart of a believer lies between two fingers of the Merciful” … The fingers stand for upheaval and hesitation in the heart… If man follows the dictates of anger and appetite, the dominion of Shaytan appears in him through idle passions (hawa) and his heart becomes the nesting-place and container of Shaytan, who feeds on idle passions. If he does battle with his passions and does not let them dominate his nafs, imitating in this the character of the angels, at that time his heart becomes the resting-place of angels and they alight upon it.

It is only to help us through that lifelong struggle that we are advised in the Qur’an and in so many hadiths of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, to keep good company with the Truthful, with people of Religion, with fragrant Believers, with people of spiritual and religious learning, etc. so that we may come out of the strife of this life safe and sound from the snares of our four enemies: the ego (nafs), idle lust (hawa), the lower world (dunya), and Shaytan. All success comes from Allah Most High.

Hajj Gibril


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