Selecting a Mentor

Allah swt opens His doors of friendship to all of us and our acts of misdeed are the only obsticle in attaining this friendship. Once a person becomes His friend He takes care of the rest. All his worries are resloved and the greatest worry that bothers most of us, how to make ends meet, is guaranteed!

وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ

[Sura Talaq]

It is not a guarantee by the insurance companies that often file for bankruptcies nor by other helpless and dependent creatures of the world or secured by governments that are often in need of financial bail out packages. Rather this guarantee is from the One who is the possessor of everything, the owner of all the treasures, happiness and sorrow, fame and disgrace, and every other condition.

So I was mentioning that mentor is a spiritual guide who’s company, advices and supplications helps a person overcome the obsticles in friendship with Allah swt. These obstacles might be due to lethargy in performing acts of worship such as offering prayers with jamaat, fasting, hajj zakat etc., or related to any particular condition such as greed and lust, pride, envy, anger and wrath, casting evil glances, illicit relationships, impurity of intentions, back-biting, etc.

The Sahaba had RasoolAllah ﷺ as their mentor, whom they used to ask every abnormal feeling that they happen to encounter. Hanzala Radhiyallah Anhu, a companion of RasoolAllah ﷺ, once started racing towards RasoolAllah ﷺ murmuring the words ” Hanzala has become a hypocrite,.. Hanzala has become a hypocrite” Just because he thought the condition of his heart varies drastically while he is in the company of the RasoolAllah ﷺ and compared to when he is with his family. The prophet comforted him. Another companion of RasoolAllah ﷺ requested adultery to be allowed to him. At this RasoolAllah ﷺ addressed his condition and asked what would be his feeling if someone performs the same act with his mother, wife, sister, and other women in his family. The person realized his mistake and RasoolAllah ﷺ puffed him with some verses and raised hands and prayed for his companion’s purification of heart.

A disciple of Hazrat Thanvi RA found that he was becoming lazy in attending prayers at the mosque. He discussed this condition with his mentor Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi RA who shared his suspicion that “it seems you have distanced yourself from gathering of your pious friends. Try mingling with them again.”The person started acting on the advice and witnessed that he started prayers at the mosque soon.

At such important crossroads it is the mentor who guides and steers a person towards the right path. Without a mentor one may have a lot of knowledge but still unable to practice upon them. That power to practice upon our already acquired knowledge is attained from the company of pious mentors.

For the same reason the companionship of the pious souls is advised in the same verse where refraining from sins is made obligatory. Which means there is a direct correlation between the two.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ (119)

In a Hadith, it is reported that a person who came to a group of pious people even for his wordly tasks was pardoned with the glad tidings that
ھﻢ اﻟﺠﻠﺴﺎء ﻻ ﯾﺸﻘﻰ ﺑﮭﻢ ﺟﻠﯿﺴﮭﻢ these are such a blessed companions that a person who sits with them becomes fortunate himself.

However, while choosing the mentor it is important to look for certain traits so that you are sure that the chosen mentor is the right choice for your spiritual needs. Remember that there are a number of self-proclaimed mentors available out there and differentiating between true and fake mentors has to be done in the first place.

Following is a list of litmus tests which could help a person identifying jewel among stones:

1. if the person is himself a practicing Muslim and has been authorized to provide spiritual guidance by his shaikh.
2. If most of his followers are practicing or learning to practice Islam.
3. He is not among creeds and sects that are astray.
4. If we see that due to his closeness and fellowship we are gradually leaving behind our sinful life and performing acts of worship is becoming easier. This is known as compatibility or suitability.

Selecting a mentor only based on his fame without considering our psychological compatibility with him may lead to sub optimal results. It is better to attend few of his gatherings, lectures, writings and don’t lose him when you find the compatibility.

آنکھ سے آنکھ ملی دل سے مگر دل نہ ملا
عمر بھر ناو میں بیٹھے مگر ساحل نہ ملا

May Allah SWT guide us to His true path and help us find a mentor whose company and teachings help us find the friendship of Allah SWT. Ameen

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