Do not keep the company of an evil person, for surely your character will take on something of his character without you even realizing it. (Hazrat Ali, RA). Solomon or Hazrat Suleiman (AS) is mentioned in all versions of the Bible to have said: One who walks with the wise becomes wise, and one who lives in the company of fools, his life is ultimately ruined. There is another wise-saying that if one lives in the company of five wise people, sixth one also becomes wise and if one lives in the company of five fools, sixth one also becomes fool.
There is a well-known story of Mengiz or Mencius and his mother which was shared few months back by one of my friends (Mr. Ishaq Bhat) with me. The disciple of Confucius and obedient born genius, Mengiz or Mencius was a child when that revolutionary change for his nest took place in his life. The story of Mengiz or Mencius and his mother to illustrate said point goes like this: It is said that the mother of Mencius was quite wise as generally all mothers are. She moved her residence thrice for the sake of her son. At first, they lived near a graveyard. One day she discovered that her son pretends to be a mourner. The kid would imitate the behaviour of mourners and later behave accordingly. So, the mother decided to move out of the locality. Next the mother moved to an area with markets and bazaars. The child behaved like a shopkeeper. The mother was upset she decided to move again. Finally, she moved to a nearby school. With the passage of time she found Mencius imitating scholars. And this way he became one of the best and noted Chinese scholars. Our lives are precious but very precise. So, we should try to be in company of one who is spiritually realized. Alhamdulillah I am in company of my father, Ashraf Baba, who is enlightening me morally and spiritually”. Truly, blessed are the boys & girls who respect their elders, teachers & all others & acknowledge the debt they owe them for guiding them to proper way of life in different shades of life. It is true that child is imbued with the values and virtues that he /she finds himself /herself around. Mencius’s mother noticed that her child was imitating the people, gravediggers & merchants, she changed the location. She wanted her child to study & work on higher levels of learning. It may be noted that in those very ancient times merchants or shopkeepers was not looked a great thing for moral upbringing. It was thought that they simply buy & sell goods of others and nothing more. This is the story of a child’s moral upbringing that can be achieved by his /her parent/s from early days of life. But when horrendous habits and practices are ingrained in personality of a fully grown up person, it becomes very tough for changing them at much a later stage of life, though nothing is impossible before a person who is given to a conscious & honest determination for change. Some of my friends told me that a child is like a tender bough which can be moulded any side without breaking it. Truly, a child, a sapling, innocent & beautiful, but not a fully grown up tree like a Boiun with thickest bark & dullest branches can be moulded to a well-mannered-conduct.
Now, I would like to share a short fable of the man & the parrot that was written by me on 15th December 2020 to show how the company influences behaviours. There was a man, happiest on the earth, with a garden of beautiful flowers living in countryside. He found a parrot often hovering over his garden & making charming sounds. The parrot was coming from some unknown place. It was drinking from the drains & striking its beak on the garbage dumped in his vicinity. He thought the parrot was thirsty & hungry and wanted drink pure water & feed on a neat & clean food of its choice & name-of- beautiful-bird which it wasn’t getting from the drains & garbage. Just that man’s thought it was! The man was moved by the bird’s fluttering for the water & food. The man placed a golden bowl & a silver bowl in his garden. In golden bowl he placed kernel of almonds, chestnuts & raisins, while he kept pure drinking water in silver bowl daily for the bird to feed & drink. The bird was daily eating the food & drinking the water from the two beautiful pots. But, every time, the bird after eating & drinking from the feeders would soil them, the bowls in the garden, with droppings & overturn them, before flying off. It troubled the man to clean the bowls every time & keep them in order again & again. The man was surprised why such a good bird was doing such bad acts. What was the cause? He was upset. He was disturbed by the bird’s actions. Then, one night, he met an octogenarian sage in a dream. The sage asked him why was he sad? He told the story of the parrot to the sage. The sage advised him to find where-from the parrot was coming, which place it belonged? When he woke up in the morning, he kept watching the bird in his garden. After he fed the bird with food & water, he followed the bird & found that it had nestled in a large tree that had notoriety far & wide for housing nasty birds. The dangerous species of crows, owls, eagles & vultures lived on the same tree. The nasty birds would carry dead meat of animals in their claws & eat in the tree. After their flying away from the tree, the parrot would eat on the leftover of the dirty food & puff up its feathers & flutter wings under the shade of the hellish abode otherwise for gentle birds. The man returned home with a heavy heart & teary eyes. Then, again he saw the old sage in his dream who told him that the parrot was living in the company of nasty birds and that its bad habits of soiling and dropping the bowls it eat in owed their origin to that bad company and dirty living condition of the big tree.
Undoubtedly, the company fashions people & their behaviours to a very considerable extent and even beyond imagination. Michel Faraday did not have formal schooling, not to talk of college or university, but his close company with Sir Humphry Davy transformed him completely to present him before the globe an eminent scientist who provided Friday’s laws of electromagnetic induction-basis for production of electricity.