Peace be upon you!
I write this as something to enlighten me and you, and all those in need of light in this darkened age, this "advanced age", where there has been a never ending increase in anxieties.
I know its hard to be the only one who is the odd one in society. The pressures are hard to go to gatherings that aren't exactly halal, but we should understand our principles and that we should stick to them and be ambassadors of Islam. Do we want popularity in front of Allah Most High and His Angels (which fill the whole universe!), or popularity in front of the disobedient, who are neither able to benefit nor harm us? When our Lord asked us "Am I not your Lord", we all responded "Yea! We do testify!". So remember that, and don't be hypocritical, such that we say the Kalima by our tongue, yet our limbs say "O bank, you are my lord!"
Such gatherings of haram where alcohol is a major thing or people drink is a place that Allah detests. They are gatherings where darkness abounds and if our eyesight was opened up, we would see that and flee with terror. From each action, darkness emanates, and the soul is affected negatively and starts to darken. And there are other gatherings that we should visit, where Nur/light emanates, barakah/blessings and Angels are present and Allah looks upon favourable. The good deeds send out light that reaches to the heavens. And the believers' light increases and he becomes closer to Allah. And the closer one becomes to Allah Most High, the more the inner vision of the believer increases, and his du'as become more powerful. In blessed gatherings, the heart finds tremendous tranquility, whilst in cursed gatherings, the heart feels perturbed. If we were truly pious, we would see such things ourselves, see the light and the darkness emanating from people, as some people see! So we should set our priorities.
It is not compulsory to attend gatherings of the haram, but if one thinks that they have to, then they have re-evaluate their purpose in life.
Remember also that when it is just a few who stick to principles in front of the large pressures of society, the reward from Allah Most High is even greater! And the virtue of the believer increases. Do you not see, that the less the supply of gold, the higher is its value?
How many are the Muslims that succumb to the haram? And how priceless are those who stick to Allah's commands? Are our souls really worth so little that we'll give them away for the £1000s that such firms offer us? This is though such firms will lay it off whenever they want?
Who chose us to be in this job, out of all others that applied? Who gave this job to us, and all that we have? Of course none other than Allah. Then to whom do we have allegience first and foremost? Of course it is Allah.
Consider the example of a person who gives you £1 million and asks you to invest it in ethical investments and not to invest in alcoholic firms. Then you can keep the £1 million and all its returns. But then you go about investing the money in alcoholic firms and ignore the person's instructions, thinking that you can get a higher return in alcoholic firms. Do you think that that is a just use of the donor's money?
We should be grateful that Allah favoured us to work in the "number 1 investment bank", so we think that we've achieved the "peak". But far from it we are! We should also strive to be the best amongst all the people alive today, aim to be of the Friends/Awliya of Allah. Those about whom the Qur'an says "they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve". Ah, look at the stress and worries of today's society, especially in the "big firms"! How desirable is such a reward, that much of today's society would leave everything to achieve it!
And being amongst the Awliya leads to changing people's lives for the better, drawing them closer to Allah, not just performing miracles (though they often happen, even in today's times). What other thing can a person hope to achieve that is better for society? How many are the flawed experiments to "improve society", and how many are the ignorant that claim that "greed is ingrained in humans and cannot be removed"? They only say the latter because they have not recognised or seen the Awliya.
Thus we must ask, what is it that gave Sheikh Abdul Rahman ash-Shaghouri this personality:
"Twenty-two years ago... I watched for a moment as he stopped to buy some apples from a cart in front of the mosque. He took the plastic bag from the seller and filled it with the worst apples he could find nicked, bruised, and worm-holed which he chose as carefully as most people choose good ones, then paid for and with a smile shook hands with the man before we went up the hill to the sheikh s home...When I reflected on his strange shopping, I realized that it had been to save the apple man from having to throw any out. The incident summed up the sheikh s personality and life, which was based on futuwwa or putting others ahead of oneself" (http://shadhilitariqa.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2&Itemid=99999999&limit=1&limitstart=0)
What allowed them to behave like that is the company they kept with the Friends of Allah, as the Prophet (Sallalahu alaihi wa sallam) said “A person is upon the religion of his close friend, so beware whom you befriend.” In this day and age of confusion and bad manners, how badly we all are in need of good company, and don't think that the station of the Awliya is beyond us, since even the majorly sinful can become the Awliya if they repent and turn to Allah Most High sincerely. See the example of Habib al Ajami, or the robbers that repented at the hands of Sheikh Abdul Qadir al Jilani!
As Imam Ibn Ata Allah said:
"If someone's state does not lift you up,
and his words do not lead you to Allah
- then do not keep his company!
It may well be that you are in a bad state -
but to keep company with someone worse than you
would allow you to see good in yourself."
"Do not travel from phenomenal being to phenomenal being.
You will be like the donkey going around at the mill.
It travels to what it set out from.
Travel from phenomenal beings
to the Maker of Being.
"And the final end is to your Lord."
I really recommend the following talk, one of the best I've heard:
May Allah Most High allow me and you to implement what has been written here in the way of advices, and make our hearts reflect the Divine Lights, and open our hearts to the overflowing of Divine Grace!
Walaikum us salam
Aslan- the one in need of your du'as!