What Does Islam Say about Friendship?

Human beings by nature are social creatures, in need of companions and friends. Most of our lives depend on interactions with others, and man is therefore compelled to live in society and with other individuals. Friendship in Islam is considered one of the Divine blessings through which one overcomes loneliness and solitude.

 

 

Islam has placed tremendous importance on sociability and friendship. In the Quran [i], great emphasis has been placed on the concept of friendship because maintaining good company plays a pivotal role in shaping the life of the individual and it influences the path that will be chosen in life. Likewise, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his Ahl al-Bayt (AS) on different occasions had clearly stated its importance, criteria for choosing a friend, characteristics of a good friend and the rights of a friend [1].

 

 

friendship in Islam

Friendship in Islam

 

Friends are an integral and important part of our social life as they contribute greatly to the development of one’s personality and they affect many aspects of our lives. Islam, in complete harmony with man’s nature, deals extensively both in the Quran and the narrations (Hadiths) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with the issue of friendship in Islam.

 

In the Quran, Allah says:

“On that day, friends will be one another’s enemies, except for the Godwary.” (43:67)

 

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) while explaining the impact of friends says:

 

“Man is influenced by the faith of his friends. Therefore, be careful of whom you befriend.”[2]

 

Similarly, the commander of the faithful; Imam Ali (AS) says:

 

“Try to have as many as possible true friends, for they are the supplies in joy and the shelters in misfortunes” [3]

 

Choosing a Friend

 

Islam attaches great emphasis on the choice of a friend to be selected in life. For this purpose, it is expected that one should employ his/her judgment in a manner free from emotion and try to set aside the criterion for assessing his/her real worth. “One must know his/her inadequacies and weak points, his/her ideas, feelings, dislikes and infirmities. Ultimately, one must discover the human merits and desirable qualities that he/she carries in the depth of his/her spirit so that one may benefit from his/her outstanding virtues.”[4]

 

 

Therefore, for the great good or bad influences friends can have on the characters and personality of each other, it is important for every man of reason to choose friends that are characterized by good mannerism and behavior.

 

 

Meanwhile, in accordance with the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) and his Ahl al-Bayt (AS), a Muslim must avoid certain sets of people as friends: transgressor, hypocrites, foolish, liar, sinful, stingy, and disregardful to his/her relatives. Similarly, non-Muslims should not be taken as intimate friends or allies [5].

 

 

However, there is no hindrance for a boy having a girl as a friend or vice versa, so far as the Islamic regulations (such as the Islamic Hijab, avoidance of indiscriminate touching, etc.) are observed and they avoid any sinful act.

 

friendship in Islam, Salam Islam

Characteristics of a Good Friend

 

In Islam, the followings are some of the characteristics to be looked forward to in a friend:

 

  • Intelligence
  • Faith
  • Honesty
  • Uprightness and well mannerism

 

Rights of a Friend

 

Following some narrations (Hadiths) [6], friendship entails certain trusts and duties. The one who observes them is a true friend while one who breach them is unworthy of friendship in Islam. Here are some of the rights of friends:

 

  • Respecting them and their personality [7]
  • Rendering material supports in the time of need [8]
  • Advising them when they need your advice [9]
  • Forgiving their shortcomings [10]
  • Concealing their lapses and faults from others [11]
  • Visiting them when they are sick [12]
  • Participating in their funeral when they die[13]

 

Conclusion

 

Concisely, friends are integral parts of our social life, and it is important to be selective in the choice of companions and friends. The righteous ones who lead one to righteousness in this world and prosperity in the Hereafter should be considered as friends. 

 

 

In contrast, hypocrites and ill-mannered individuals who are sources of plights in this world and in the Hereafter should not be taken as friends. Similarly, Islam teaches the Muslims to observe certain matters in friendly relations. This is because immoderation in this regard may lead to deplorable consequences and bring regret and pain.

 

 

Notes:

[i] (9: 71), (25: 27-29), etc.

 

References:

[1] Al-Amidi, Ghurar al-Hikam, P. 177; Mustadrak Wasa’il, Vol. 5, chapter 42

[2] Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 74, P. 192.

[3] Mahdi as-Sadr, The Ahlul-Bayt; Ethical role models, P. 290.

[4] Mujtaba Musavi Lari, Ethics and Spiritual growth, P. 211.

[5] (3: 28); (4: 144); (5: 51); (9: 23) etc.

[6] Imam Ali Zayn al-Abideen, Treatise on Rights, Right 33 (The right of the companion)

[7] Ibid

[8] Kulayni, Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 198, Hadith No: 8.

[9] Al-Amidi, Ghurar al-Hikam, P. 775

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid, P. 707

[12] Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 16, P. 233, Hadith 35

[13] Kulayni, Al-Kafi, Vol. 3, P. 173.