MANY a time, when we sit in the company of righteous aged people who have had more life experiences than us, we see how they stress on the importance of keeping good company during youth. More than that, we also usually learn how some random persons whom they spent time with as a child, albeit little, inspired them so much that they underwent a positive transformation as a result – one that changed the direction of their lives and paved the way for righteousness as an adult.
This is true. When we are young, we lack the wisdom and experience of life that grants us sharp insight into the reality of things, and the discernment that enables us to successfully identify a sincere well-wisher versus a superficial friend.
As time goes by, events in life show us who is sincere to us and to our aakhirah (Day of Judgment), and who is just hanging out with us for the sake of social acceptance, fun, good company, or a commonly-shared objective.
At one point in the Qur’an, in Surah Al-Mu’min, Allah details the conversation between Pharaoh and Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) before the former’s courtiers, in which a man who had believed in Prophets Musa’s message, courageously speaks up to the audience and provides logical and intelligent arguments to invite them to believe in the Truth.
Pharaoh threatens to have Musa killed, slanders him with accusations (40:26) of intending to change the nation’s deen (religion), and of spreading corruption in their land. He then says to his people, “I but point out to you that which I see (myself). Nor do I guide you but to the right path.” (40:29) He claims to be guiding them to the right path just as he rejects the monotheistic message brought by Allah’s Prophet!
In short, he appears to be the nation’s well-wisher, warning them against believing in Musa’s message, and threatening them with the murder of their sons if they do otherwise. He also taunts Prophet Musa by asking Hamaan to bring a ladder with which he can climb to the skies and “see” Musa’s God! After that, he again claims to be sure that Prophet Musa is a liar.
The believing man, after whom this Surah is named, speaks up in protest against the killing of Prophet Musa. He warns the listening audience of Allah’s punishment, the likes of which came before upon erring nations to which previous Prophets had been sent, as well as the ultimate punishment of the aakhirah.
Then he says exactly the same words that Pharaoh said, “O my people! Follow me. I will lead you to the right path.” (40:38)
Here we are presented with a situation in which two people at opposing ends of a debate on deen are saying exactly the same words: words of apparent sincerity. Both claim to be calling their listeners to the “the right path”.
How can we, if we ever encounter such a situation, decipher which one is our well-wisher and which one is actually rejecting the truth sent by Allah and only pretending to be sincere?
Check to see the attitude shown by the person who claims to be guiding you toward the right path, toward those who follow Allah’s deen. Is it derogatory? Do they consider them less than themselves?
Pharaoh said about Prophet Musa (peace be upon him), “Am I not better than this (Moses), who is a contemptible wretch and can scarcely express himself clearly?” (43:52)
He pointed out a physical defect of the truthful Prophet before everyone viz his inability to speak clearly, and his lower socioeconomic status, in order to come out looking better than him.
Taunts, threats, and
mockery of the believers
If someone resorts to threats, insults, or taunts, he or she can never be inviting you to the right path, even if they claim to be. A sincere believer would never threaten the recipient of his Da’wah, or any other caller toward faith, in such a way. A sincere person uses logical arguments and proofs to convince skeptics, and never lets go of good conduct (akhlaq) whilst doing so. His words and demeanor are controlled and dignified, even if/when he is insulted.
People who are insincere to the cause of Allah tend to accuse believers of hidden agendas and imaginary evil motives, just the way Pharaoh accused Prophet Musa. This is just a ploy to distract listeners from the actual invitation toward monotheism. Pharaoh also expressed his conviction about Prophet Musa, whom Allah sent with the Truth, being a liar. This was, instead, a lie in and of itself.
In order to identify our sincere well-wishers, we must remember that they will never accuse even their ardent antagonists of any crime or misdeed. Rather, they will call toward the haqq (truth) in a personalized, simple, and firm manner, using reminders of the aakhirah, warnings of Allah’s wrath, and examples of His past punishments meted out to bygone, unrepentant nations to jolt us out of our complacence.
This is how the Noble Qur’an, via narrations of dialogues that took place centuries ago, teaches us how to discern and judge; how to identify people in our lives who are truly sincere to us – i.e. who want to improve our aakhirah. Many a time, you will come across numerous “posers” – those who will claim sincerity to you just as Pharoah did to his people, but whose other actions and words will belie their allegiance to the obligations of Islam, especially their derisive attitude toward pious believers.
At such times, do not fall for their tricks, and remember that the humble caller who maintains the loftier standard of moral decorum and polite language, is the one who is on the truth.
– Saudi Gazette