Let’s take a trip to a time long ago and extract wisdom from a wise man we all look up to and admire. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) told us his story, not as a bed-time comfort, but as a means for us to extract life-long lessons. Let’s not overlook his story; let’s dive in and live the parts of his story that we can, admire and learn from the parts that we can’t.
At that blessed time long ago, Allah subhanahu wa ta’la (exalted is He) spoke to this amazing creation, Musa `alayhi sallatu wa sallam (may God send His peace and blessings on him). Imagine. Allah (swt) spoke to Musa (as) Himself. Allah!
In this blessed conversation, Allah (swt) shows Musa what can happen when one has Allah (swt) on his side. He teaches him a valuable lesson about the power of Allah (swt) above creation. He takes a simple stick and produces an unimaginable miracle, then takes a simple hand and again produces an unimaginable miracle (see Surah Taha, Qur’an 20). He shows Musa that with Allah (swt) on his side, even when one thinks they have nothing, He can make them have everything.
After Allah (swt) shows him a glimpse of his Lord’s unimaginable power, Allah (swt) then gives him a heavy task. A task that many would shy away from, especially if they thought they would be in it alone. Musa on the other hand knew that he had Allah (swt) by His side, and that the results and effects would be from Allah (swt) alone.Allah (swt) says:
“Go to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed.”
[Moses] said, “My Lord, expand for me my breast [with assurance]
And ease for me my task
And untie the knot from my tongue
That they may understand my speech.”
Musa doesn’t abandon the task that his Lord has given him, rather he asks for His assistance, first and foremost. Then Musa does something profound, that we often times overlook:
Allah (swt) tells us that Musa says:
“And appoint for me a minister from my family—
Aaron, my brother.
Increase through him my strength
And let him share my task
That we may exalt You much
And remember You much.
Indeed, You are of us ever Seeing.”
[Allah] said, “You have been granted your request, O Moses.” (Qur’an, 20:24-36)
What does Musa do? He asks for a companion and then he tells us exactly what a true friend is. Often times we try to ride the waves of life alone, or we depend too much on our friends. But just like everything else in this religion, the middle ground is the smoothest for sailing. While asking His Lord for a companion, Musa laid out a rubric for us to live by when choosing our close companions.
Let’s take a look at the qualities that Musa (as) has recommended for a close companion:
“Increase, through him, my strength”
The first thing that we should look for in a friend is that they should make us stronger human beings. They should be someone that we trust will help us when we are at our low points and that we won’t feel self-conscious with when seeking help. But the key here to notice is that when we are strengthened by our friends, we should keep in mind that it is not really our friend that has made us strong, rather Allah (swt) has strengthened us through our friend.
“And let him share my task”
Next, Musa (as) asks that he be granted a companion so that he can “share in his task.” Often times we try to go through life alone and we try to do everything on our own. In another extreme, we may try to get our friends to take our own life decisions and lay our tasks fully on their shoulders. Through this description, we get the true essence of what we should do. Our friends should be people that are capable and willing to share in our tasks. They should be people we can trust to bounce ideas off of and to help us along the way. We shouldn’t try to wander through life and carry the entire burden ourselves, nor should we lay our tasks fully on other’s shoulders—the moderate path is the key.
“That we may exalt You much and remember you much. Indeed, You are of us ever Seeing.”
Musa (as) ends this rubric with the most important point—the purpose of companionship and friendship. He asks Allah (swt) to grant Him his brother as his companion so that they would exalt Him and remember Him. In essence, he is asking that his companion bring Him closer to God, encourages him to remember God, and that in this companionship they never forget that Allah (swt) is watching them. This is the most essential part of any friendship. The friendship should bring us closer to God, never farther. The companionship should encourage us to do more good for the sake of Allah (swt), never distract us from it. And throughout these friendships, in good and bad moments, we should never forget that Allah (swt) is always watching us and can see our every move.
May Allah bless us all with friends who surround us, who strengthen us (by the will of God), who share in our burden, and who remind us of God. Ameen.