Wednesday 6 October 2021

Parenting Reminders

It so happened that I was home last Sunday morning when usually I am out. At 10.30am, I realised there was a class on Zoom by Ustazah HJ which I had never attended before. I didn’t even know what it was about and it was already half an hour into the class. But I was free and the kids were not home so I logged in.

Upon hearing what Ustazah H was talking about, I knew I was meant to hear this. Behind the sweet smiles and gentle demeanour was a powerful message that she had for mothers. She was going through the lessons from the life of Sayyidatina Khadijah and the lesson was for mothers. I quickly paid attention to every word. These are mostly paraphrased since I hardly took down notes that morning.

She said that although it’s always said how successful a businesswoman Sayyidatina Khadijah was, and how supportive she was of her husband, Prophet Muhammad ‎ﷺ, it’s seldom said that she had many workers who did the job for her while she looked after her own children. She did not pass on the job of raising her children to someone else. 

But Ustazah H said that what is different now is that we do not have a trusted community like what they used to have. She said that in the past, children could play outside and parents knew they were in good company and it would be safe, but we don’t have that anymore. In fact, her teachers said that what is out there, both physically and virtually, is now dangerous for children. She did not elaborate on this but we know this is true. And I got proof of it the very next day, which I may talk about another time. 

So without the support of the community, the burden is heavier on mothers now to look after her children on her own without much help from others. She said that being pushed into this heavy responsibility is a blessing that Allah ﷻ has prepared for mothers to elevate her ranks, reward her abundantly and cause her to rely only in Him. She narrated what her teachers had said that because of this demanding responsibility, it has caused some mothers to be elevated to the ranks of the awliya. SubhanAllah.

Ustazah H said that everyone is wondering what it would be like to do something else. A single woman might be wishing she is married and is a mother, a stay-home mother might be wishing she has a career, a career woman might be wishing she could stay home to look after her children, and so on. What is important is that we focus and excel in the path that Allah ﷻ has laid for us. If we are a mother, be like Sayyidatina Khadijah. If we are a businesswoman, be like Sayyidatina Khadijah too. 

And we have to realise that the child is the fruit of love from Allah ﷻ. Every child is a manifestation of Allah’s different blessings. One child may test our patience all the time, and it could be that Allah ﷻ wants to raise us in the station of sabr. And another child could be sickly, and it could be that Allah ﷻ wants to raise us in the station of tawakkul. Ustazah said many don’t realise this so after one week of HBL, she has read a lot of rantings on social media from tired mothers who call their children monsters or who can’t wait to get rid of their children (ie. send them back to school).

Our children shouldn’t be made to feel indebted to us. She said that if we know that we owe a huge debt to someone, would we be happy and excited to meet that person? She said that she knows of mothers amongst the pious who would thank their children openly by saying, “Jazakumullahu khair. Because of you, I have become a mother and can get closer to Allah.” And the child will say to the mother, “Jazakumullahu khair, ummi. Because of you, I can serve you as a child and get closer to Allah.” And that is how they acknowledge the huge blessings that Allah ﷻ has bestowed upon them.

There is much more to write but I shall stop here for now. May Allah ﷻ allow us to see the huge blessings He has bestowed upon us and to always be in a state of shukr. Aameen 💖

Monday 11 May 2020

The Most Powerful Night

In a blink of an eye, we are almost into the last ten nights of Ramadan which starts on Wednesday night inshaa Allah. Don’t leave too quickly, Ramadan 😢

During our last lesson on Al Ghazali Mysteries of Fasting for Children, I asked the children if they knew the significance of Nuzul Al Quran and Laylatul Qadr. I found out that not everyone knew the significance of these great nights or they got them mixed up. 

So I read this book to them, The Most Powerful Night, which is the latest addition to our Ramadan books. It is a story of a girl named Layla who learns about the most powerful night of Ramadan, the Laylatul Qadr, from her mother. Along with it, she learns about the significance of the night, why she should strive for it, and what she could do on the last ten nights of Ramadan. I hope it would increase the children’s zeal, and mine too, to look for the Night of Qadr and be in worship inshaa Allah.

And we reached the third and last chapter of the Mysteries of Fasting which is on the inner practices of fasting. Previously, they had learnt the outer obligatory and sunnah aspects of fasting. In the last chapter, the children learnt that there are 3 levels of fasting:

1) By most people - giving up food, drinks and lower desires
2) By the special people - giving up food and drinks while protecting every part of their body from doing bad deeds
3) By the elect of the elect - giving up food and drinks and protecting from bad deeds while fasting from all thoughts, concerns and worries about their daily lives in this world 

How do we increase our fasting from level 1 to level 2? That’s what the children will learn in the next and last lesson inshaa Allah and I’m just as excited to read up and learn it too. I realised that we should have started on the Mysteries of Fasting much earlier so that we could enter Ramadan equipped with the knowledge. Oh well, better late than never. This is definitely a book to revisit every year before Ramadan inshaa Allah.

May this Ramadan be the most special one where we, and our loved ones, receive Allah’s Gaze, Mercy and Forgiveness, and be blessed with a place in Jannah and be freed from the Fire. Aameen!

Sunday 3 May 2020

Love in Ramadan

Before we ended the class on Zoom last Friday, I asked the children if they wanted me to read a storybook and they said “Yes!” So I quickly looked through our Ramadan books and grabbed this - Love in Ramadan. It’s been so long since I last read it that I couldn’t remember what the story was about. I opened it and saw that the author had signed the book and remembered that it was a gift from my dear friend a few Ramadan ago.

The story is about a boy and what his family members love to do during Ramadan, such as hearing the adhan at fajr, giving gifts to others, and seeing the smiles on the faces of orphans. I had to prevent the melancholy from creeping into my voice as I read the parts about walking to the masjid for terawih and going out to nature to observe Allah’s Greatness in His creations. 

Then I asked the children what they loved doing during Ramadan. They told me that they loved to pray terawih with their family, wake up for suhoor, fast during the day, break their fast together, and read the Quran. MasyaAllah I was astounded. I don’t know if I would have given any of those answers when I was at that age. May these children grow up loving Ramadan and all the acts of worship connected to it. 

It made me think of what I love doing during Ramadan. What is for sure, I can’t revisit some of the things that I love about the blessed month for now. It feels more like I’m rewriting my love story for Ramadan. A third of the month has passed and it has definitely been melancholic. Memories of past Ramadans keep flooding my mind, together with the faces and places that I love. 

It’s a great reminder that those memories we have are part of the great blessings that Allah has bestowed upon us. And the One who gave them have all the right to take them back. Does it mean that we worship Him less now without all the faces and places that we love? Not at all. It is truly a test of our sincerity and total reliance on Him.

May we find true sweetness this Ramadan in our spiritual retreats without all the attachments that we used to have. As Ibn Ata’illah said in his Book of Aphorism, “Deprivation hurts you only because of your incomprehension of God in it.”

Sunday 26 April 2020

Ramadan Joy

Ramadan Joy is such an apt title because it sums up my feeling when the blessed month arrives. MasyaAllah.

In our 3rd class today for Al Ghazali Mysteries of Fasting for Children, after reading the book Ramadan Joy, the children learnt the outer obligatory parts of fasting. Although there are 6 parts, 2 of them have to do with grown-ups, or those after puberty, and so I only taught the 4 that are in the Al Ghazali Book for Children. 

These are the outer obligatory parts of fasting:
1) To watch the night sky to spot the new crescent moon which signals the start of Ramadhan (or accept the word of an official person)
2) To make an intention to fast every night during Ramadhan (according to the Shafi’i madzhab)
3) To not allow anything to enter the openings of the body during the fast such as food, drink, or medicine (unless it is not intentional and by accident)
4) Vomitting and swallowing some of what you have vomitted would nullify the fast (and that includes phlegm and mucus that we cough out or comes up from the throat to the mouth)

And what makes it really joyful is that later in the day at 5.30pm inshaa Allah, Ustazah Farhana will teach the Mysteries of Fasting from the Ihya Ulumudeen of Imam Al Ghazali. La hawla wala quwwata illa billah. We had not planned it to be that way but it’s all by Allah’s Will. We plan and Allah plans and His Plan is always the most perfect and beautiful for us. SubhanAllah.

Below you can find materials to start teaching your own children too. The free PDF though do not include the activity sheets and teachers’ manual that are included in the paid book or PDF (which is bundled with The Mysteries of Charity)

Listen to the audiobook of Al Ghazali Mysteries of Fasting for Children.

Download Ramadan Treasure Fun with Imam Al Ghazali.

You can listen to the first three recordings of the Mysteries of Fasting, taught by Ustazah Farhana, here (for ladies only):
3) Episode 3

May you have a blessed and joyful Ramadan!

Thursday 2 April 2020

Sirah and Islamic Manners for Kids

I wasn’t a fan of online learning for my children. But we are in a unique situation now which requires a paradigm shift. So many Teachers are now teaching children online and someone who has converted me is Shaykh Mohamed Aslam. 

A few weeks back, he started his series for children called Sirah and Islamic Manners. It’s targetted at children aged 5-10 years old but I know my 4-year-old loves it and so do I! My husband doesn’t gush like I do but I know he likes listening in too with the kids.

Shaykh Aslam is funny, engaging and dramatic and breaks into a joke once in a while. But what I love most is that he always encourages the children to recite the short Surahs with him and always makes du’a for the children. I’m sure the series comes with a lot of noble intentions by him and it’s evident how much the children are benefitting from him. Friends I know whose children have been watching him only have good things to say about Shaykh Aslam and the series. MasyaAllah.

I can’t find the 3rd and 10th lessons but here are the other lessons so far. He goes live on YouTube from Monday to Friday at about 5-5.10pm SGT and he will upload the link before that at his Facebook page:

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 4:

Lesson 5:

Lesson 6:

Lesson 7:

Lesson 8:

Lesson 9:

Lesson 11:

Lesson 12:

Lesson 13:

Lesson 14:

Lesson 15:

Happy watching and may it benefit you and the kids 😘

ps: That’s not my foot. It’s a borrowed picture of my friend’s young son.

Tuesday 31 March 2020

Count Your Blessings

I was sitting at the beach with my parents last weekend. There were people by the beach who had set up their fishing rods and waiting for a catch. The tide was high but none of them caught anything. Even the fish were doing social distancing.

As we sat there, my father told us of his childhood moments, of catching fish, squids and crabs with his friends. I had heard a lot of his stories but I had not heard of his fishing adventures. Or maybe I had forgotten. He told us the different ways of catching different sea creatures, and where you would find them and when. MasyaAllah. I would need to do a lot of research to compile all that information but he got them all at his fingertips because he had lived them. 

When my father walked away and was taking with the fishing guy and my mother was accompanying the girls who were collecting seashells, I let my tears fall. My father had told us his stories as he was probably reminiscing his childhood and the freedom and experiences he used to have. It is a stark contrast to the fear and isolation that our children are made to go through now.

For the school-going kids, they still get to meet friends in school. But for the homeschoolers, it has been a hard blow. We socialise when we meet friends at playdates, co-ops, classes and outings but most have been put on hold, cancelled or moved online. So when people likened home-based learning to homeschooling and said it’s too hard and the kids get bored, please don’t. They are as vastly different as night and day. Homeschooling involves trips to the museum, and to the park and to the zoo, and involves gatherings, and parties and playdates. Homeschooling does not equate to online learning and staying home. Alhamdulillah for technology but we do it for now because we have to. Please do not confuse the two.

And if we all survive this and live long, healthy lives inshaa Allah, I wonder what my children would tell their grandchildren 60-70 years from now. I hope whatever memories they keep of this episode in their lives would only be happy ones - of times playing board games at home, helping mummy to cook and vacuum, pretending to sleep in a camp at the balcony, watching papa work from home and trying not to disturb him, and finally getting screen time at home.

As for me, I’m grateful that we have a roof over our heads, warm meals to eat, and the company of much loved ones. We have our religion, our Prophet ‎ﷺ and our faith. And that after 14 years of wishing, my husband will finally get to work from home inshaa Allah. When we strip away the frivolities of life, there is nothing much that we need to get by. So many others are in much more dire need than us. This dunya is an illusion and the trials in life will expose it for what it is.

Ya Allah ya Rabbi, You have taken away many blessings from our lives in such a short time, yet You have replaced them with many more. Ya Allah, allow us to see these blessings and be grateful for them. Because the only reason we can say Alhamdulillah is because you have allowed us to. So allow us to say it in abundance.

Alhamdulillah Alhamdulillah Alhamdulillah 💚💙

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Seed of Faith

Of late, I’ve been receiving a lot of lessons from the Quran which are related to plants. MasyaAllah and I love it! Because we’ve been studying plants for quite a while and all these lessons from the Quran remind me that I need to connect everything that I teach my children to the Quran, to Rasulullah ‎ﷺ, to the Deen, and ultimately to Allah ﷻ. 

It started with a tafseer class with Ustazah Farhana which is currently on Surah Abasa. We covered these ayats:

Then let mankind look at his food. How We poured down water in torrents. Then We broke open the earth, splitting [it with sprouts]. And caused to grow within it grain. And grapes and herbs. And olives and [date] palm trees. And gardens of dense shrubbery. And fruits and fodder. [As] enjoyment for you and your grazing livestock. [80: 24-32]

As I sat there listening to Ustazah, my mind wandered to the time-lapse videos we had watched earlier in the week of seeds sprouting and breaking through the earth, plants growing taller with roots spreading deeper and further into the soil, and flowers blooming beautifully and dying gracefully. I had wanted to show them to the kids out of the blue. But I realised it wasn’t random, it was inspired, so that as I listen to these lessons, I can have visual images in my head that I could connect to. And I hope it would be the same for my kids inshaa Allah when I tell the lessons to them.

And what are these ayats from Surah Abasa actually referring to? The Quran is full of parables and this is one of them. The scholars said that the water is the blessings and goodness sent down from Allah to nourish the seeds of faith (iman) in our hearts. And as our faith sprouts and flourishes, it begins to nourish and sustain our souls. And as it blooms further, it becomes a cure for the diseases in our hearts. And as it grows more rooted and dense, its shade starts to benefit those around him. And even after the passing of a righteous person, his iman could benefit those generations after. And what we are enjoying now could very well be the fruits of labour of our past generations. Allahu’alam. 

SubhanAllah. I thought that was so beautiful. And I also thought of this time-lapse video of a dying plant that  was resurrected by water. It reminds me of a dying heart that is resurrected by the light of the Quran or the light of Rasulullah ‎ﷺ.

I remember when the pictures below were taken - more than a month ago. I was feeling a little sad because the mothers in the Science co-op had decided to stop our classes due to the outbreak. We didn’t want to risk the mothers and children who had to take long rides in public transport for the classes. 

As I walking and lamenting to myself at East Coast, I suddenly saw these beautiful flowers which I had not noticed before, although we are always at East Coast. And I remember thinking to myself then “Allah will not take something from me without replacing it with something better.” Because I realised then that Science is not just in classrooms and co-ops, but it’s everywhere around us and Allah ﷻ has provided all of nature as our classroom. Allah is indeed Al Kareem!

Ixora, periwinkle and hibiscus spotted at East Coast

I finally come to realise why we’ve been dwelling so long on the topic. It is because there are lessons still waiting for me. And the reminders from the Quran continue to come from teachers like Shaykh Mohamed Aslam and Habib Ali Zainal Abidin. May the seed of faith continue to flourish and take roots in our hearts so that we may nourish and shelter our children under our care, especially during these tumultuous times. Aameen.

Friday 13 March 2020

Rejab Sunrise

I think no beauty and grandeur in the natural world today could parallel that of the rising and setting of the sun. SubhanAllah. Alhamdulillah we had the opportunity to catch the sunrise for a week. Some days it was cloudy and we couldn’t even see where the sun was on the horizon. Some days it was clear and we were awed and humbled at the beauty and grandeur that we were witnessing. Subhanak ya Khaaliq! How perfect are You, O Creator!

Sunrise of 13th Rejab 1441H

Kids’ painting of the sunrise 

Just like the rising sun in the sky, the Truth may not always be clear to us. It may be more apparent to us on some days, and not so on other days. But it does not mean that the Truth has diminished. Because the only ones who are veiled are us. And that is why our Teachers will always ask us to recite this prayer. 

اَللّٰهُمَّ اَرِنَا الْحَقَّ حَقًّا وَّ ارْزُقْنَا اتِّبَاعَهٗ وَ اَرِنَا الْبَاطِلَ بَاطِلًا وَّ ارْزُقْنَا اجْتِنَابَهٗ

O Allah! Enable us to see the Truth as Truth and give us the ability to follow it. And show us the falsehood as false and give us the ability to refrain from it.

And the following beautiful morning invocation is part of the Wird Al Lateef. Reading it while watching the sun rise was an indescribable and moving experience for me. MasyaAllah. I copied the translation from the book The Gifts of Imam Al Haddad which you can get from Wardah Books. The book does not only give the Arabic text and its English translation but also quotes the hadith and ayat of the Quran for every line of the Wird Al Lateef. MasyaAllah. If you love to read the Wird Al Lateef and the Ratib Al Haddad and you wish to know more about them, it is a book that I highly recommend.

“We are present this morning facing the nature of Islam, with the true speech, and upon the religion of our Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family, and grant them peace. And upon our forefather Ibrahim, who was true in faith and bowed his will to Allah (which is Islam) and he joined not gods with Allah.

O Lord, we are with You this morning, with You in the morning, with You when we live, with You when we die, only to You do we return, this morning we are present in the Kingdom of Allah, praise to Allah, Lord of the Universe.

O Lord, I seek from You blessing of good tidings in the beginning of this day its convenience, its shining light, its blessing and guidance.

O Lord, I seek from Your blessing of the good tidings that this day may offer and I seek Your protection from the negative events that is awaiting in this day that may befall upon me.

O Lord, the blessing that I received this morning from You or those received from all Your creations from You, can only be from the One and only You, and no partners have You, and praise and thanks to You and we are grateful to You.”

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Hold On Tight

One of the treasures we found at the beach was this group of clams that were clinging to the rusty blade of an old knife. I tried to imagine where the knife was from and how it landed in the sea, why the clams decided to make it their home and where the group of them might have been before the tide brought them to the beach. MasyaAllah it was too mind boggling but there they were for us to look up close and take a time-lapse video. 

Before we left, we discussed what we should do with the knife. Should we throw it away so that others wouldn’t accidentally step on it and get hurt? The Messenger of Allah ‎ﷺ said, “Every small bone of everyone has upon it a charitable act for every day upon which the sun rises. Bringing about justice between two is an act of charity. Helping a man get on his mount, lifting him onto it or helping him put his belongings onto it, is a charitable act. A good word is a charitable act. Every step you take toward the prayer is a charitable act. And removing a harmful thing from the path is a charitable act.”

In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah ‎ﷺ said, “ Faith is seventy or sixty-some odd branches. The most virtuous of them is the statement, ‘There is none worthy of worship but Allah.’ And the lowest of them is removing something harmful from the path. And modesty (hayaa) is part of faith.” 

But then the clams would die if they were out of the sea. So after considering, we decided to throw the knife back into the sea. But what do you know, the tide brought it back to the shore! We threw it back one more time and watched as the waves beat the knife this way and that way. But the clams stuck tight to the knife before the group of them finally disappeared under the water with the knife.

I thought to myself Subhanallah. We should be like the clams. No matter how the waves crash on us, no matter where the tide brings us to, hold on tight. Hold on tight to the Deen. Hold on tight to the Quran. Hold on tight to the Sunnah of Rasulullah ‎ﷺ. Hold on tight to Allah ﷻ. Till we finally reach our Destination inshaa Allah. And may it be a beautiful Destination 🌹

And the book below made a perfect accompaniment to our close encounters with the creatures at the beach.

Saturday 22 February 2020

The Etiquette of Friendship

Recently, one of our friends’ father-in-law passed away. Our teacher advised us to attend the jenazah prayer and said that it’s a good time to teach our children on the rights of friends. Just like how our parents, spouse, children, teachers and neighbours have rights over us, so too do our friends. And so I thought it’s a good time to look up my book, The Beginning of Guidance, by Imam Al Ghazali. 

In the last part of the book, on The Etiquette of Companionship with The Creator and with Creation, there’s a section on the etiquette with friends and brothers and the etiquette of friendship. And below I summarised the section:


Before entering into such a relationship, you must do two things:

The First Duty

To check for the presence of the requisite qualities of companionship and friendship; for you should not take as a brother one who is not fit for brotherhood.

The Messenger of Allah ‎ﷺ said, “A person’s religious life is only as good as that of his friend, so let each one of you consider well whom he befriends.”

If you seek a companion to be your partner in learning and your friend in the matters of your religious life and your worldly life, look for five qualities in him:

1. Intellect
There is no good in friendship with a foolish person, for such friendship will only end in estrangement and breaking off relations. This person may even harm you while intending to bring you benefit. 

2. Good character
Do not be friends with a person of bad character - that is, someone who cannot restrain his anger or control his desire.

3. Uprightness
Do not befriend a wrongdoer who persists in committing a major transgression, because someone who fears Allah ﷻ would not persist in committing major transgressions.

4. Absence of greed
Do not befriend a person who is greedy for this temporal world. Friendship with someone who is greedy for this world is a lethal poison, for human nature is designed to imitate and follow.

5. Honesty
Do not befriend a liar, for you will always face deception from him.

[Please refer to the book for more on the five qualities]

You may not find all these five qualities existing together in a person so you have one of two choices: either opt for isolation and solitude, in which you will find peace and safety, or keep your interaction with your friends proportionate to the level of these qualities within them. 

This is accomplished by realising that brethren are of three types:
• A brother for the sake of your Hereafter
• A brother for the sake of your worldly life
• A brother who is simply agreeable company 

There are three kinds of people:
• The first is like nourishment: one cannot exist without it
• The second is like medicine: one needs it from time to time
• The third is like an illness: it is never needed at all, yet the servant may be afflicted by it. Such people provide neither benefit nor agreeable company

The Second Duty

To respect and fulfill the rights of companionship. Once friendship is established between you and your companion, you are responsible for fulfilling the duties demanded by that bond of friendship. 

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The likeness of two brothers is that of two hands: one washes the other.” He once entered a thick grove of trees and picked up two toothsticks, one bent and the other straight. The Prophet ﷺ gave the straight twig to his companion and kept the bent one for himself. The companion said, “O Messenger of Allah, you are more deserving of the straight stick than I!” So he ﷺ said, “No one spends time in the company of a friend, even for a short time in the day, without being questioned [later] about his companionship - regarding whether he has fulfilled the right of Allah Most High in it, or neglected to do so.”

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ also said, “No two friends share each other’s company, except that the kinder and more caring of the two toward the other is more beloved to Allah, Mighty and Majestic.”

The etiquette of friendship are:
• to give your friend preference in your wealth, or, if you cannot do this, to give freely out of your surplus wealth when he is in need
• to provide swift assistance when he is in need, in person and without his having to request it
• to keep his secrets
• to conceal his faults 
• not to pass on other people’s criticism of him that would upset him
• to pass on people’s praise of him that would please him
• to pay full attention when he speaks
• not to pick apart his words in argumentation 
• to call him by names he likes most
• to praise him for what you know of his praiseworthy traits
• to thank him for the favours he does for you 
• to defend him in his absence from all infringements upon his honour as you would defend yourself 
• to give him advice with gentleness and by subtle hints if he needs it
• to pardon his slips and errors, and not to censure him
• to pray for him in the ritual prayer, during his life and after his death
• to remain loyal to his family and relatives after his death
• to choose to make things easy for him by not burdening him with any of your own needs, so as to keep his heart free from your concerns
• to express joy at all the happy occasions in his life and sadness at all calamities that afflict him
• to be in your innermost heart just as you appear outwardly, so that you are truly sincere in your love for him
• to be the one who initiated the greeting of peace when you meet him
• to make room for him to sit in a gathering
• to come out of the house to welcome him
• to see him off when he leaves
• to keep quiet while he is talking until he finished, and to refrain from interrupting him

In short you should treat your friend exactly as you would like to be treated. For truly, the brotherhood of a person who does not love for his brother what he loves for himself is mere hypocrisy and will have evil consequences for him both in this world and the Hereafter.


MasyaAllah. Have I given my friends their due rights? And we have not even gone on to the rights of our teachers, parents, spouse and so on. May Allah ﷻ help us and grant us taufeeq! And if I’ve not given you your rights as my friend, please forgive me 😢

After this long section, Imam Al Ghazali went on to an equally long section on acquaintances, which I guess describes most of our friends and followers on social media. And what he wrote in that section was rather chilling and it made me further decide that I should stay away more and divulge less of my personal life on social media. Below, I’ll include a short introduction to the section on acquaintances.


The third category is that of acquaintances. Be cautious of them, because you will not encounter antagonism except from people you are acquainted with. A true friend will help you, and someone you do not know at all will not trouble you. All the animosity you encounter, then, will come from your acquaintances, who express their friendship only with their tongues. You should therefore limit your acquaintances as much as possible.