بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.

يَا وَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا

Ya waylata laytanee lam attakhith fulanan khaleelan

Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one as a friend.

(Surah Al-Furqan 25:28)

Social Creatures

My dear brothers and sisters, when Allah (swt) created human beings, He created us to be with others, to be social, and to have relationships.

Even Adam (as) was given a wife. He was not meant to be on this earth by himself. He was not created to just be there by himself. Rather, Adam and Hawa were created together.

Both of them made that mistake and ate from the tree together.

Both of them sought Allah’s forgiveness from that mistake together.

And both of them went to earth together.

The Prophet (pbuh) was someone who spent time in isolation. We know the story of Revelation. When the Prophet (pbuh), received his first revelation, it was after a period of months where he would go out of the city and spend time in isolation. So isolation was part of his life, but at the same time, he is the one who said,

“The believer who is with the people is better than the believer that is by themselves.”

So we are created to be social. We are created to be with others.

One-Way vs. Two-Way Relationships

In the world that we live in today, people are more lonely. Because most or many of our relationships happen online, on our phones, on our devices, on our WhatsApp groups, where we forward images and pictures and we’re not able to go deeply into our relationships.

There’s actually even a phenomenon called a parasocial relationship – a relationship that someone forms with a media personality.

Growing up, my mother liked watching Oprah. Maybe many of you have watched Oprah. Maybe watched so much Oprah that it felt like, “Oprah is my best friend. I know everything about Oprah. I know what she’s gonna say before she says it.

Now today it’s to a degree where for every single interest, there’s a celebrity or an influencer for that interest. So we develop these one-way relationships. When in fact, Allah created us to form two-way relationships. Both sides are giving and receiving. It’s not one-way. It’s important for us to realize that the reality that we live in, and then to combat that reality by taking the time to have strong relationships with not only our family members, but with friends as well.

Khalil: The Closest Friend

That’s why it’s said you are the average of your five closest friends. As an adult or as a child, you are the average of your five closest friends.

That reminds me of what the Prophet (pbuh) told us hundreds of years ago: المرء عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ

He said that any person المرء is on the way دِينِ – Deen doesn’t just mean religion. It’s the way.

A person is on the way of their khalil, their closest intimate friend. A khalil is different from other kinds of friend. Khalil was the title given to Ibrahim (as). Ibrahim (as) wasn’t just the friend of Allah. He was the Khalil of Allah.

The relationship that Ibrahim (as) had with Allah (swt) – he was not just any friend of Allah. Rather, he was a close friend.

In English when we say friend, it could mean many different things. It could mean the person you met once. It could be the person who you haven’t met, but you added them as a Facebook friend, right?

There’s so many different kinds of friends. They actually categorize them into seven different levels. We don’t need to go into the levels, but you can imagine when someone says friend, they could mean any of those things.

But Khalil is the closest one. Khalil is the one who you are closest with, who you confide in your secrets. The things that you have personal questions about, your biggest doubts, your biggest challenges, your biggest difficulties, your biggest wins. You share it with that person who you trust. That is your Khalil.

The Greatest Regret

And there will be people on the Day of Judgment who will regret the khalil that they chose. As I recited earlier, there will be people on the Day of Judgment who will say:

يَا وَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا

Ya waylata laytanee lam attakhith fulanan khaleelan

Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one as a friend.

(Surah Al-Furqan 25:28)

“I wish I never took that person as my closest friend.

Their greatest regret is that they chose the wrong friend. Because that friend led them on a path, which was away from Allah (swt). All of us must look at who are the people who we call our close friend? Not just general friends, but who are the people who we call our close friends?

Rekindling Relationships

For many of us, maybe half of us have moved here in the last five years. Many of us left friends and we left family to come here for work or for other reasons. So those relationships that we had built, maybe we lost them over time. It’s important for us to have that relationship. It’s important for us. If we need to rekindle, then we should rekindle. Take the 30 minutes instead of going on Netflix or whatever, take those 30 minutes to call somebody. To call somebody and have that deeper discussion and rekindle that relationship because there should be those people in your life who are khalil.

The problem now isn’t, “Who do I choose to be my khalil?”

The problem is, “Do I even have a khalil? Do I even have a close friend? Do I even have that person in my life who I can trust with everything? Someone besides my spouse. Someone besides a family member.”

Maybe one of them is a family member, fine, but someone beyond that as well.

So it’s important for us to build those relationships, especially at a time when people are more lonely than ever. To make that time. My teacher used to tell me there should be those people in your life who, when they call you, you make sure you pick up. Whatever it is you’re doing, you pick up. You need that person in your life. Who is that person? Who are those two or three people in your life?

The Man with Two Gardens

Even research shows that the importance is not the quantity. “Oh. MashaAllah. He has 5,000 Facebook friends. He has so many Facebook friends.” He can’t even actually have more than that. He’s reached the max limit of Facebook friends. But the importance is not the quantity.

In the story of Surah Al-Kahf, there is one person who is arrogant over the other. The story of the man with two gardens. He says, “Not only do I have this wealth, هُ أَنَا أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالًا وَأَعَزُّ نَفَرًا – I have more people than you. نَفَرًا – is just people. “I have people.” Not even close friends. I just have people. And that was a point of arrogance for him. And he loses his wealth and he loses everything. And where are those people? Just as they came, they went. They left.

So what you need is that Khalil. You need that quality in relationship, not just quantity.

So let’s take that time to appreciate who is our closest friend and let’s reconnect with that person if we need to.

Spiritual Reminders

Let’s find people who not only better us professionally or personally, but they better us spiritually. Not just because they’re an imam or a preacher or something like that. “Oh, that’s the spiritual person.”

It can be any average person. Any normal, everyday person who reminds you of Allah, in ways that you could not imagine. Who brings you closer to Allah, based just on their conversation. Based on maybe the priority that they give to their salah. That it’s time to pray, and they’re immediately up and they pray. And that is what makes them a great close friend.

Maybe they don’t know the latest scores in football or the latest this and that, but they have this one thing about them. I have to keep this person close because they’re a good influence on you.

Modeling Positive Relationships

And your children are watching the friends that you keep. The greatest indicator of what their friends will be and the types of relationships that they will have, is the types of relationships that you have and the friendships that you have in your connection with them.

If you have a good, positive connection with your children, then they’re more likely to model your behavior. They’re more likely to do what you do, if you have a positive relationship. Nothing is guaranteed. But if you look at the life of the Prophet (pbuh), and the way he treated people around him, he would not default towards punishment, towards threats. He would go toward a good character and positive relationship and giving attention when it is needed, where it is deserved.

So if you want our children to have those good friendships (and I’ll talk about that in my second khutbah to our youth– the importance of friendships in youth. That’ll be the second khutbah.)

But first and foremost, it has to start with us. What are the friendships that we prioritize? What are the things which we prioritize? Because inevitably that trickles into the rest of our family.

Under the Shade of Allah’s Throne

So I ask that He helps us to find those close friends who bring us closer to Allah (swt). Who can be those people that on the Day of Judgment, they will bear witness for us and we will bear witness for them. That they will testify for us and we will testify for them. That may we be with those people under the shade of Allah’s throne.

For one of the groups of people, among those people who suffered great difficulty and great challenge, one group of people will be those who loved each other for the sake of Allah, who came together for the sake of Allah. They will receive the shade, just for that reason. They came together for the sake of Allah. They received Allah’s shade. May Allah grant us such a friend and help us to maintain such a friendship in our lives.

Ameen. Ya rabbul alameen.

أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

I say what you have heard and I seek forgiveness from Allah for me and you from every sin.

Influences on Youth

In the second part of my khutbah, I would like to talk about the friendships of the young people, and how we, as parents or adults, can facilitate that. Maybe we’re not a parent. Maybe you are an older brother. Maybe you are an older sister. Maybe you are a cousin. Maybe you are a friend of the family. How can you help to facilitate friendships amongst the next generation of Muslims? It’s important to do that.

What are the influences on American children today? And we can’t say, “well, we have Muslim children.” No, no, no. You have Muslim American children. So they looked at the child’s influences and they said that until the age of five, the main influence in the child’s life are parents. After that, once they start school more regularly, the teacher takes a big chunk of that influence because the teacher is spending how many more hours in the day than maybe you spend. So of course it would change.

Then the child goes through elementary school until around age 10, pre-adolescent. That is when slowly each year, of course, not all at once, but each year there’s a new chunk of influence that expands and grows. Not the parent, not the teacher, but the friends.

The Advice of Ali (ra)

When I read that study, it reminded me of what Ali (ra) had said:

For the first seven years, play with your child. For the next seven years teach your child and for the time after they’re 14, be a companion for your kid.

We go back to that because now, that time of lecturing over every small thing has wrapped up. Now it’s more of a companion.

The Prophet (pbuh) had companions, sahabah. The same word is used. Be their companion. That is the influence.

It’s important that we cannot tell our child, “Be friends with this person.” You can’t even try. What’s more important is how do you facilitate? How do you make it happen? How do you influence in a positive way to make sure that your children has the khalil, close friend that brings them closer to Islam?

That is something which is part of your responsibility. Not just to fulfill the basic requirement of raising them Muslim, but to make sure that you set them up for success in their religion.

Sunday School Stories

I’ll be honest about my own masjid education. We used to go to the masjid every single Sunday at least. We also used to go to Quran classes throughout the week. But at the very minimum, we used to go on Sundays and my mom would not let us leave for any reason. Didn’t matter matter who invited us, who was having biryani, who was having maqluba, whatever it was. You have to go to Sunday school. Even if we were crying, even if we didn’t feel like it, even if there was other things. There was just this rule, you have to go to Sunday school.

How many things do I actually remember from my Sunday school? Not too much. That’s the honest truth. But the relationships I built in that masjid, the friends that I made in that masjid, they influenced the rest of my life. I learned not just from them, but I learned from their parents. I learned from going to their homes. How different Muslim families were. I felt comfortable in my own skin.

When Everyone Wants to Fit In

There was a funny situation. I was debating whether I should share this with everyone, but I think it’s an interesting situation. I moved schools in the seventh grade. And when you’re in seventh grade, it’s a time of low self-esteem. It’s a time you don’t know who you are. You just want to do what everyone else is doing. You really want to fit in. You want to be like everyone else, right? Everyone has the same haircut in seventh grade. Everyone has the same haircut. “Why are you getting that haircut? “Oh, well my friend has that haircut,” right? There’s a time everyone wants to fit in. And I was new.

So I had left all my previous friends at my school where there was no Muslims and moved to this new school where there were a few more Muslims. Alhamdulillah, I had one friend from before because I had grown up with that friend in that masjid. So, I had spent so much time with that friend in the masjid and going to masjid activities and doing things like that. So one of our first projects in our health class was we had to choose our best friend and make a presentation about our best friend.

So I made my presentation about him. Another person who had gone to school who was not Muslim, also made a presentation about the same friend. Now, this friend has two people giving presentations about him, and he has to choose. Who does he choose, me or the other guy? I’m the new kid and he made the presentation about me.

Lasting Relationships

I’ll never forget that because the reason was Islam. The reason was that we were friends based on Islam, and 15 years later we made a company together. SubhanAllah. Right? It was about teaching people Arabic. We did that together because of that friendship that we had made in the masjid. And we supported each other through middle school and high school, through the challenges that come.

Everyone needs someone in their life like that where the parents are not there. Where the parents cannot see what’s going on. You need someone who keeps you to Islam. Who serves as a reminder when there are challenges and there are difficulties.

So how did that happen? It didn’t just happen, but it happened because our parents made sure that the masjid was a priority. Of all the other things that could be happening, the masjid was the priority. And yes, maybe we weren’t always paying attention in class. But the relationships that we built lasted us till this day, even if we’re thousands of miles away. We’re in communication all the time.

Facilitating Friendships

So it’s important for us, my brothers and sisters, to facilitate these friendships amongst the youth.

So, what are some ways in which we can do that?

After Jummah…

I’m not saying this to judge anyone, but it’s important to be said. If you have some time after jummah, don’t be the person who is just checking the box of jummah. Jummah means ‘to gather.’ I understand if you have work, you have responsibilities, you have to go, that’s fine. For example, when the announcements are going on and you’re rushing to leave every single week, right? Your kids see that. They say, “Okay, we’re here to fulfill the requirement. The announcements and all that, that’s alright. That’s not a big deal. We’re here to fulfill the requirement.”

I’m not judging you if you leave. If you have to leave, you have to go. It’s fine. I’m not judging you for that.

But I’m saying, are there those times where you say, “My kids are with me. Today is the day off. Let’s stay. Let’s see if we can meet some Muslim friends of ours. Let’s take 10 more minutes. Five more minutes.”

Just to say, “Salam.” Listen to some of the announcements to show that “the community is important. We’re not just here to check the box. We’re here to gather together. We’re here to build community.”

Especially in a situation where you don’t live in a Muslim country. You don’t live in a Muslim community where everyone is Muslim. Many of your kids, they’re the only Muslim at school. They complain to me about that. “I’m the only Muslim in school. I can’t do jummah with my friends because I’m the only Muslim in school.” So how can you take the time? You’re already at the Masjid. Stay a little more.

Youth Programs

Number two. If you’re able, bring your kids to the youth program at 3:45pm. That’s for the youth. I know it’s an awkward time before five, but if you are able, you must make that happen. One parent came to me and said he’s ready to start a shuttle that could take kids from the schools to the masjid for jummah after finishing school. We just need more parents to make sure that we can make that happen.

Get Involved

Another thing, get involved with the community. See what the activities are. Go on the newsletter. Go on the website. Talk to us. What are the activities you can do and try to get involved?

Going Beyond

There was a beautiful story at our Sunday school. The class was full and the waitlist had 10 kids last year. One of the parents said, “I will teach the class. I know you don’t have teachers. Because I want make sure my child has this activity.” Another parent said, “I will recruit the number of people you need to get to your minimum limit so that you can have a class.”

So, how can you go beyond just a minimum to try and make sure that you’re facilitating good relationships for your kids?

So, we ask Allah (swt) that He helps us to do that. We ask Allah (swt) that He helps us to facilitate good friendships, good close Muslim friends for our kids.

So that they can save their imaan at a time when their imaan is under pressure. At a time when their imaan is challenged. At a time when they see how they are represented and they feel down. When they meet other Muslims, it raises their imaan. It’s important. So we must take time. Even if we have to drive a little further. Even if we have to drive at an inconvenient time.

I know a lot of people do online Quran classes. They’re great, convenient. But what are the relationships that are being built with someone thousands of miles away? Just think about that. Because the Quran is not just for the Quran. It’s for the environment. It’s for your local masjid. It’s for that connection. You have to do what’s best for you and your family, but just consider every single aspect of it. Don’t just consider that one result.

So it’s important that we do that inshaAllah.

Facilitating as a Community

So in order to facilitate this as a community, there’s a few things that we’re doing:

Praying Together

Number one. We’re delaying our Sunday school time so that we can all pray dhuhr together. Because we used to end before dhuhr and some people would pray, some people would not. We like to pray together and then people get to linger. People get to talk, discuss.

Parenting Program

Another thing we’re doing is we’re doing a parenting program during Sunday school. So many of you whose kids go to the Sunday school, we’re gonna do a parenting program. The goal is we can bring some food, we can eat together, and we can learn about parenting together, raising Muslim children in this environment together.

Community Family Night

Thirdly, we are doing a family night. A MAPS family night where we’ll have food and we’ll also have a reminder from one of our imams. So we will have a reminder as well as the potluck insha’Allah starting tonight.

So please take that opportunity to come and to be involved and to create those friendships that you need in order to maintain your Islam.

We ask Allah (swt) that He protects us. We ask Allah (swt) that He fulfills our needs. We ask Allah (swt) that He helps our brothers and sisters all over the world. Those that may be suffering or oppressed, may Allah (swt) alleviate their suffering and oppression, and especially our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, where 30 million people are displaced. May Allah (swt) uplift them. May Allah (swt) raise their ranks in Jannah. Those that have passed away, may Allah (swt) have mercy on them. May Allah (swt) help us to come to their aid as well.

Ameen Ya Rabbul Alameen.

عِبَادَ اللّهِ  إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ  يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

Servants of Allah. Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.

اُذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ الْعَظِيمَ يَذْكُرْكُمْ واشْكُرُوهُ يَزِدْكُمْ واسْتَغْفِرُوهُ يَغْفِرْ لكُمْ واتّقُوهُ يَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَمْرِكُمْ مَخْرَجًا

 وَأَقِمِ الصّلَاة

Remember Allah, the Great – He will remember you. Thank Him for His favors – He will increase you therein.  And seek forgiveness from Him – He will forgive you. And be conscious of Him – He will provide you a way out of difficult matters.

And, establish the prayer.

Who is your Khalil? Share your reflections below!