Companionship and Friendship in Islam
There are friends who remain true and trustful under all circumstances and there are friends who remain with you only desiring the good. Islam urges to have cordial relations with others and to avoid corruption and the harmful effects of the company of the wicked and the mischievous, strictly forbidding every kind of contact and intimacy with them. The first kind of friend are very few, and their friendship is like a mirror to you. In deed, we must be fair to our friends, and must want for them that which we want for ourselves. Nabiy Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Waalihi Wa Salam) said,"A true believer is a mirror to his brother. He prevents him from any harm." Friends wish well for their friends, and feel a strong grief when they see them in any kind of distress or suffering. They work hard by all means, by their wealth and their hands to restore the rights of their friends, and give them all the help they need. They keep the secrets of their friends. This kind of friendship is the basic necessity of social life. Nabiy Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Waalihi Wa Salam) said,"A person follows the ways and conducts of his friends." On the other hand, one encounters fools, avaricious people, cowards, and liars. The fool wants to help others, but cause more harm to them despite good intentions. The avaricious one takes but does not give back to anyone. The coward flees at the smallest danger, abandoning everyone. And the liar does not benefit others, brings animosity and resentment, and causes serious damage to others. Also, the liar is not trusted even if he/she is telling the truth. It is reported,"As for a liar, life with him can never be pleasant for you. He carries tales from you to others and from others to you. If he gives you a true report, a false one follows it. His reputation is slurred. So much so that when he says something true, nobody believes him. Due to the enmity which he entertains in his heart for people, he estranges them from one another and creates malice in their hearts. Be careful and do your duty to Allah." These kinds of individuals might call themselves as your friends, but they do more ill-service to you as well as to the society and in the long run. It is adviced,"Avoid the company of the vicious, because your character would pick up their degenerate and deviant qualities without your knowing it." The Glorious Qur'an says,"O woe is me! Would that I had not taken
such a one as my friend." 25:28
There are many characteristics of true friends: their heart and face should be alike, they should be honest with their friends and show them both the good and the bad side: wealth and children should not change them; they should help whenever able to do so, and they should not leave their friends during difficulties.
To choose a friend, one must assess his real worth. One must bear in mind that temperaments and personalities are associated with one, relationships with others. Nabiy Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Waalihi Wa Salam) said,"Every Muslim should try to select the best companion for the life span. A companion could be a friend from the same gender. If the companion is to be from the other gender, then that companion should be a spouse to live together within the confines of rules and regulations." Our beloved Nabiy (Sallallahu Alayhi Waalihi Wasalam) encouraged us to select a good friend with whom to share our feelings. He said,"Don't take a companion unless he is a believer; and don't let your food be eaten except by a godly person." Also, one must take a friend for who he or she is as an individual, and not force them to conform with one's warp and ideas, so long as everything remains within the boundaries of Islam.
Muslims are advised by the Nabiy (Sallallahu Alayhi Waalihi Wasalam) to select a good friend to associate with, and to have him as a social companion in life. By selecting a good companion, to be a friend, a Muslim enriches his/her life. Nabiy (Sallallahu Alayhi Waalihi Wasalam) said,"The similitude of a good companion is like an owner of musk; if you don't get anything, you will get the smell of it. The similitude of a bad companion is like the blacksmith's bellows; if you are not affected by its black dirt, you will be touched by its smoke."
Islam approves associating with individuals who have violated moral and social laws for the purpose of helping them through beneficial guidance. Friends of the right path father and discuss what is beneficial, but not vain. Friends love the souls and smells of their friends. Friends sympathies with their friends and they comfort each other. Friends exert each other toward piety and righteous deeds. Nabiy Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Waalihi Wa Salam) said,"Fear Allah and help each other for the sake of Allah. Have mercy upon each other. Visit each other and remember our matter and keep it alive."
However, one who keeps company for the sake of helping a friend, would have fulfilled the rights of companionship in the worthiest manner. It is reported,"When someone observes a friend taking a wrong and sinful course and, while possessing the capacity to restrain him, does not do so out of indifference, he has actually betrayed his friend."
Today, in this world of ignorance and personal desires, there are few who keep their friendship. Hence, everyone should be careful in choosing friends, and study the character of those with whom they wish to develop terms of friendship.