Reviewing this whole idea now that it’s written, I realize it could be summarized as: “Read Qurʿān!” So instead of staying here, go read some Qurʿān with and think on it deeply — that’d be better for both you and me. Bye-bye 👋.
The Importance of Stories
One of the foremost ways to improve one’s self is to be with righteous people. People who inspire you by their actions, uphold their duty to you by way of advice, and who try their foremost to stay away from all that is bad.
“Your best friend is the one who: seeing him reminds you of God, speaking to him increases your knowledge, and his actions remind you of the hereafter.” (Al-Muḥāsibī)
But we may not be blessed with such company — that is a provision under His control, like all else. Withholding it from you may be a test to see what you do: it could be saving you from harmful peers, or more likely, them from you; it might be separating you from creation so you can draw closer to the One.
Regardless, the human has a need to socialize and be with people and we will socialize and be with whatever company we can find. Either good or bad traits will seep in based on the nature of our companions, to the extent of our time with them. It is for this reason bad company must be avoided, and good company sought out — for it is an essential avenue towards our development, strengthening and safeguarding of ourselves.
“A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.” (Sunan Abū Dāwūd)
But when we cannot find good company, how should we fulfill our need for it?
God - His glory be glorified! - has given the human being an immense capacity for empathy. Its power stretches so far that it’s acceptable to cry at the death of a fictional character in a story. But logically, crying for that made up scenario is just foolish. But we accept it as normal because no matter the facts, such an event feels real to us people, and so we understand the need to express that. Human beings experience stories as if they are in them, like the characters are our close friends.
Thus, to read stories is almost like having righteous company.
Stories are actually the better, safer company because only the dead are safe to follow — the living have yet to succeed, and may even fail. And we accompany the dead by hearing their stories. Moreover, teaching using stories of our predecessors is one of the methods used by the greatest Teacher in His Scriptures, to teach the worst of all students: the forgetful mankind. Thus there is no more fitting a substitute for righteous company than stories of the righteous.
Read stories of the righteous, for that has a profound effect on the heart. (Shaykh Yahyā Rhodus, paraphrased)
So if we are unable to witness actions that speak a thousand words, let us at least seek out a few words that can convey to us those actions.
- As we struggle regarding marriage, stress about the process and fear how feasible it is to ‘keep it halal’, this is the story of a young man who married someone he didn’t want to marry because he feared God Almighty. He chose to rely upon Him and tried to please Him — making his story a striking reminder that if you trust Him, you will never be disappointed.
- As we are to meek to live our faith - if we know what we should be doing in the first place - in this age, this is the story of someone who knew his position and sincerely wanted to try to please God, regardless of how he appeared to other people — making this a reminder of where our priorities must lie, what our perspective needs to be.
How They Were Made
This initiative aims to share great stories heard or read online — and a few experience in this day and age. In this process, the stories will be:
- re-written and edited to make them more readable, cleaning up punctuation and grammar while also editing them to maximize their power;
- transcribed from talks and lectures to make them easier to find, analyze and share;
- reflected on, deriving lessons from it and around it, and also referring to related sources; and
- sourced as much as feasible, archiving those original citations for future reference — God willing.
Of course, if you remember a memorable story and want me to cover it, let me know! Or, write it up yourself and send it here! Whatever you feel could allow you to please our Merciful Creator, do it. And then contact me from the link at the bottom so I can be a part of it too, in any way I can ❤.