Home Quranet Chapter 4 What can we say to a boy who joins a gang of miscreants?
What can we say to a boy who joins a gang of miscreants?
Chapter 4

خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاهِلِينَ (سورۃ الاعراف, آية 199)

Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant. (Surah 7, Verse 199)

One day the father of Yusef, an eighth-grader, contacted the counselor and said he must talk to her urgently about his son. He told her how worried he was about him. Although Yusef was a good student, he said, he had recently joined up with a group of boys who did not study, hung around in the village and looked for ways of doing damage. "The whole village asks me why he is going about with that gang because it is not fitting for him. I've tried to talk to him, to guide him in the proper path but recently he won't listen. He says he has a good time with those friends and he doesn't think they are bad boys. What irritates me is that we have a neighbor, a classmate of Yusef, who is an outstanding student. He has been trying to make friends with Yusef for some time but Yusef doesn't want his company because he comes from a poor family."

The counselor called Yusef to her office and told him about his father's complaint. Then she opened the Quran at Surah 7, Verse 199 and read out: "Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant".

"What did you understand from that?" she asked. Yusef said that the Quran commanded him to keep his distance from his bad friends. "But the Quran commands you something else that you have forgotten," she said. "To act mercifully towards your neighbor, who is trying to be your friend and not to hold aloof from him because he comes from a poor family."

Explanation: The Quran preaches mercy and forgiveness. The command to forgive and have mercy on the other is reiterated again and again. But it also advises Yusef to turn away from his bad friends. These two pieces of advice can pave Yusef's way in life. This verse can help many parents whose sons or daughters make undesirable friends. They can show their children how, on the one hand , they have not turned away from the "ignorant" and, on the other, do not forgive good friends. Forgiveness is one of the most noble emotions in collective Arab society and enables the individual almost to enter into the skin of the other and to feel what he feels. In modern Western society, people are not so willing to forgive. They are ready to understand the other (to empathize but not to identify as is customary in traditional societies.