Human beings, in all phases of life, from childhood and during youth and old age, until their death, need friendship and association with others. Due to his social nature, man is encouraged to live in communion and with other people, and from this interaction comes society, culture, civilization. And most of our life depends on this interaction with others. Among these interactions is an especially important one, friendship.
Friendship in Islam is a really wonderful and beautiful gift. A friend is a very important person in our life. Those who have valuable friends are never alone since in joy and pain, their true friends help and support them. Naturally, a human being feels happy for the company of friends and is sad to be alone and distraught and for not having worthy companions.
Islam has attached great importance to the aspect of sociability and friendship. This sense of fellowship is very important in any relationship.
The man who is held in deep affection by his friends and who cherishes feelings of love for his friends is a very fortunate person. The person who avoids the company of other people and whom the people regard with feelings of disgust is a deprived man. The man who has no health is not really poor. In fact great poverty consists in being friendless. A friend makes life beautiful, acts as a supporter in the journey of life and is a gift of Allah. The holy prophet ﷺ has affirmed:
“The believer is an embodiment of love and affection. And the man who neither loves other nor is loved by others has no good or virtue in him.” (Mishkat, Bab al-Shafqat)
The Holy Quraan also states:
وَٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَٱلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَآءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ
“The believing men and the believing women are protecting friends of another….. (9:71)
We should therefore avoid adopting an attitude of annoyance with our friends or keeping aloof from them. When a man lives in a society of other men and has to participate in social, matters, it is inevitable that he should suffer different types of shocks. In other words, he has to face all kinds of trials and tribulations. But when he suffers these hardships, his heart is strengthened and he gains in wisdom and experience. He thus acquires the sublime virtues of patience, forbearance, selflessness, affection, sympathy, humanity, respect, loyalty, devotion and co-operation, kindness and favour to the highest degree and he becomes an instrument of goodness and blessing for the human society.
We have thus been commanded to form friendships with the pure and righteous people.
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ مَثَلُ الْجَلِيسِ الصَّالِحِ وَالْجَلِيسِ السَّوْءِ كَمَثَلِ صَاحِبِ الْمِسْكِ، وَكِيرِ الْحَدَّادِ، لاَ يَعْدَمُكَ مِنْ صَاحِبِ الْمِسْكِ إِمَّا تَشْتَرِيهِ، أَوْ تَجِدُ رِيحَهُ، وَكِيرُ الْحَدَّادِ يُحْرِقُ بَدَنَكَ أَوْ ثَوْبَكَ أَوْ تَجِدُ مِنْهُ رِيحًا خَبِيثَةً ”
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 2101]
We should love our friends for the sake of Allah. The favourites of Allah are those who join together on the basis of Allah’s religion and struggle shoulder to shoulder with perfect unity of mind and soul to discharge their obligation of establishing the religion of Allah.
The holy prophet [S.A.W] said:
سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ الْمُتَحَابُّونَ فِي جَلاَلِي لَهُمْ مَنَابِرُ مِنْ نُورٍ يَغْبِطُهُمُ النَّبِيُّونَ وَالشُّهَدَاءُ ”
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, said: ‘Those who love each other for the sake of My Majesty shall be upon podiums of light, and they will be admired by the Prophets and the martyrs.'” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2390]
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم “ إن الله تعالى يقول يوم القيامة أين المتحابون بجلالي؟ اليوم أظلهم في ظلي يوم لا ظل إلا ظلي”
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah, the Exalted, will say: ‘Where are those who have mutual love for the sake of My Glory? Today I shall shelter them in My Shade when there will be no shade except Mine”. [Muslim]
On the other hand having bad and evil friends can be the result of a person`s downfall and can even cause him to lose his faith.
وَيَوْمَ يَعَضُّ ٱلظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيْهِ يَقُولُ يَـٰلَيْتَنِى ٱتَّخَذْتُ مَعَ ٱلرَّسُولِ سَبِيلًا
يَـٰوَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِى لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا
لَّقَدْ أَضَلَّنِى عَنِ ٱلذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَآءَنِى ۗ وَكَانَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ لِلْإِنسَـٰنِ خَذُولًا
On that Day the wrongdoer will bite his hands saying: “Oh! Would that I had only taken the pathway alongside the Rasool! Oh! Would that I had never chosen so-and-so for my companion. He was the one who led me astray from the admonition even after it had reached me.” Shaytaan is ever treacherous to man. [25:27-29]
In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَحَدُكُمْ مَنْ يُخَالِلُ ”
“A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look at whom you befriend.” [Sunan Abi Dawud 4833]
So choose your friends wisely and be grateful for the true friend!