Answer to the question: "Do new Muslims have to abandon their former pleasures and activities?"
Allah wants His servants to lead the most beautiful life. In the Qur'an, Allah gives the news that believers will lead a beautiful life, for:
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and
will recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl, 97)
In the Qur'an believers are encouraged to use lawful and clean things:
O you who believe. Do not make unlawful the good things that Allah has made lawful for you, and do not overstep the limits. Allah does not love people who overstep the limits. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 87)
As long as people observe the limits set by Allah, the Qur'an does not prohibit them from socializing, enjoying the art and aesthetics, being lively and extrovert. The things considered to be unlawful by the Qur'an
are obvious, as are the Prophet's (pbuh) exemplary life and advice. Apart from these, the Qur'an condemns the laying down of new judgments, as the following verses indicate:
Do not say about what your lying tongues describe: "This is lawful and this is unlawful," inventing lies against Allah. Those who invent lies against Allah are not successful. (Surat an-Nahl,
Wear fine clothing in every mosque and eat and drink, but do not be profligate. He does not love the profligate. Say: "Who has forbidden the fine clothing that Allah has produced for His servants and the good kinds of provision?" Say: "On the Day of Resurrection, such things will be exclusively for those who had faith during their life in the world." In this way, We make the Signs clear for people
who know. (Surat al-A'raf, 31-32)
Those who lack true faith in Allah benefit from Allah's blessings as well as the believers. This is the point where the differences between believers and unbelievers emerge. Unbelievers feel a strong attachment to favors bestowed upon them (e.g., money or property), forget to remember Allah, and feel ungrateful for His blessings. On the other hand, believers, who are aware that they are from Allah, use these blessings for Allah's cause in the best way and draw nearer to Him. The Qur'an sets the following criterion for this issue:
Seek the abode of the Hereafter with what Allah has given you, without forgetting your portion of the world. And do good, as Allah has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the
land, for Allah does not love corrupters. (Surat al-Qasas, 77)
Briefly, a believer who embraces the Quranic morality and the sunnah of our Prophet (pbuh), is always very clean, noble, good humored, joyful, pleasant, well mannered, extrovert, moderate and
appreciates art and aesthetics. These characteristics were obvious in our Prophet's (pbuh) and his companions' lives.
However, apart from all of these, remember that as people adopt the Qur'an's values and make them an integral part of their lives and assume more of the believers' attributes, they will acknowledge the
existence of very different tastes and pleasures. For members of a society that does not live by the religion, for instance, the greatest pleasure in life is to enjoy themselves. Believers however, have more noble and
permanent pleasures, such as striving to earn Allah's good pleasure, conveying Allah's message to people, communicating the beauties of the Qur'an's morality to people, and carrying out an intellectual struggle
against unbelievers.
As people experience more strongly the morality of a believer described in the Qur'an, they see that the real pleasures attained through sincere faith are incomparably superior to those enjoyed by unbelievers.
Answer to those who ask "Once people embrace faith, can they still befriend the people with whom they used to associate?"
A person cannot hold two opposing views simultaneously. Given that faith and unbelief are two distinct concepts, it is unlikely that a person can share the views, thoughts, and feelings of both believers and
The basic element underlying relations between people, such as friendship and fellowship, is love. The believers' most important attribute is their strong love for Allah, which the Qur'an relates in the following
Some people set up equals to Allah, loving them as they should love Allah. But those who believe have greater love for Allah. If only you could see those who do wrong at the time when they see the punishment, and that truly all strength belongs to Allah, and that Allah is severe in punishment. (Surat al-Baqara:165)
Believers direct the love they feel for Allah to His servants, who seek to earn His good pleasure. For this reason, those who have faith in Allah and the Qur'an and have grasped Islam's essence cannot possibly feel any attachment to those who have no love for Allah. If someone does not acknowledge or appreciate Allah—Whom believers love more than their own selves; for Whose cause they spend whatever they have; Who shows them the right path, gives them abundant blessings and the good news of Paradise, as well as infinite rewards in the afterlife; and in Whom they have profound faith—a bond of love cannot form between that person and a believer. As a result, there can be no true friendship between them. One verse states that:
You will not find people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having love for anyone who opposes Allah and His Messenger, though they be their fathers, their sons, their brothers, or their
kindred. (Surat al-Mujadala, 22)
Despite this, however, some people, especially those who are in the process of learning the Qur'an's values, may still feel close to their former friends or their acquaintances before they embraced Islam. Thus it is not inconvenient to treat them in a good way with compassion and understanding. But as the Qur'an makes clear, a believer's sole friends are Allah and other believers:
Your friend is only Allah, His Messenger, and those who believe: those who establish prayers, pay alms, and bow. As for those who make Allah their friend, and His Messenger and those who believe: it is the party of Allah who is victorious! (Surat al-Ma'ida, 55-56)
In these verses, Allah indicates that making friends only with believers is also the key to the success of the good deeds performed only to gain Allah's good pleasure. Likewise, many verses relate that associating
with true believers and supporting one another is essential for success. To the contrary, however, the Qur'an
also expounds that non-compliance with Allah's commands and recommendations will result in difficulty and hardship for believers, for:
Those who are unbelievers are the friends and protectors of one another. If you do not act in this way [protect each other], there will be turmoil in the land and great corruption. (Surat al-Anfal,
Obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel among yourselves, lest you lose heart and your momentum disappears. And be steadfast. Allah is with the steadfast. (Surat al-Anfal, 46)
Despite all of this clear evidence and information, the hypocrisy of those who try to be on good terms with both sides and approach the faithful to draw personal benefits will be disclosed:
Or did you suppose that you would be left without Allah knowing those of you who have
struggled and who have not taken anyone as their intimate friends besides Allah and His Messenger and the believers? Allah is aware of what you do. (Surat at-Tawba, 16)
This also has to be mentioned that as long as the limits established by Allah are observed, it is normal for Muslims to maintain their social, economic, and cultural relations with other people. The Qur'an sets the
following criterion about this issue:
Allah does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion, or driven you from your homes, or from being just toward them. Allah loves those who are just. (Surat al-
Mumtahana, 8)