Rights of Friends
By: Sayyid Mahdi as-Sadr
P. 292- 299
1. Material Care
It is incumbent to help the friend who suffers an economical crisis. This is in fact one of the obligatory rights of friendship and one of the proofs of loyalty. God, in the holy Quran, praises some peoples who showed altruism:
“They give preference to them over themselves – even concerning the things that they themselves urgently need. (59:9).”
Imam al-Kadhim (a), once, asked one of his close companions: “How do you behave concerning your mutual association and relief?” The man answered: “We are in the best manner in this regard.”
The Imam (a) asked: “Are you pleased when one of your needy associates come to your shop or house to take that which they need?” The man answered: “No, we are not.”
The Imam (a) commented: “Now, you are not behaving as I want you to do in this regard.” ( 11 )
• Abu Ismaeel narrated that he told Imam al-Baqir (a) that numbers of the Shia were great. The Imam (a) said: “Do the rich ones among them act with kindness toward the poor, the good-doers overlook the evildoers, and they help each other?” I answered: “N o, they do not.” The Imam (a) commented: “They are not Shia. The true Shia are only those who do these acts.” ( 12 )
Al-Waqidi related the following story:
The Eid day was about to come while I had no
single dirham in possession. My wife, noticing this manner, asked me to do something since our children would be very depressed if they saw the other children with new clothes. Hence, I had to send a letter to my Hashemite friend asking him for help. He therefore sent me a bag of one thousand dirhams. As soon as I received them, another friend of mine sent me a letter complaining about neediness. I had to send him that very bag. Because I was embarrassed to s ee my wife, I spent that night in the mosque. The next morning, I went home and told her of the story. She did not blame me for so. In fact, she praised me for such a doing.
After a while, my Hashemite friend came to me bearing the very bag of one thousand dirhams. He asked me to tell him the truth; therefore, I told the whole story. He said: “When I received your letter, I had nothing at all but that bag. Nevertheless, I se nt it to you. I, then, wrote a letter to our friend asking for help, and he sent me the very bag. Hence, we may distribute that sum among us.”
This story was told before al-Ma’mun –the Abbasid caliph- who summoned me and gave seven thousand dirhams. The share of each of us was two thousand, and my wife was given one thousand.
2. Moral Care
Mental crises and misfortunes may befall some people who, in such cases, become in urgent need for aid and relief. The loyal friends are the first people who must hurry in providing such help by means of words and authorities. This is in fact the true st andard of love and the distinctive mark between genuine and false friends.
Amir ul-Mu’minin (a) said: “The true friend is only he who regards his friend in three situations: ordeal, absence, and death.” ( 13 )
Like all people, friends, even if they enjoy the highest ranks of mannerism, are subjects to erring. Therefore, one must overlook and excuse so long as one trust their love and loyalty. Such overlooking will perpetuate the relation of friendship since ex cessive criticism leads to reluctance.
Amir ul-Mu’minin said: “Bear yourself towards your brother in such a way that if he disregards kinship, you keep to it; when he turns away, be kind to him and draw near to him; when he withholds spend for him; when he goes away approach him; when he is h arsh be lenient; when he commits wrong think of (his) excuse for it, so much as though you are a slave of him and he is the benevolent master over you. But take care that this should not be done inappropriately, and that you should not behave so with an undeserving person. Do not take the enemy of your friend as a friend because you will thus antagonize your friend. Never use trickery. It is the manner of the evil ones. Give true advice to your brother, be it good or bitter. Help your brother in any cas e, and go with him wherever he goes, and never retaliate him even if he throws dust in your mouth. Prevail your enemy by doing favor to him. This is more successful. You will save yourself from people by good manners and swallowing the anger. I did not f ind a sweeter thing than swallowing one’s anger in the end, and nothing more pleasant in consequence. Never suspect in your brother and never leave him without blaming. Be lenient to him who is harsh to you for it is likely that he will shortly become le nient to you. Rupture of relations is very ugly. What an ugly thing is the alienation after brotherhood, enmity after affection, betraying those who trust you, disappointing those who expect your good, and cheating those who confide in you!
If you intend to cut yourself off from a friend, leave some scope for him from your side by which he may resume friendship if it so occurs to him some day. If anyone has a good idea about you prove it to be true. Do not disregard the interests of your brother depending upon your terms with him, for he is not your brother if you disregard his interests. Your family should not become the most miserable people because of you. Do not lean towards him who turns away from you. Do not turn away from him who leans towards you when he deserves association. Your brother should not be firmer in his disregard of kinship than you in paying regard to it. You should exceed in doing good to him than is evil to you, giving to him than is withholding, and favoring him t han is ceasing. Do not feel too much the oppression of a person who oppresses you, because he is only busy in harming himself and benefiting you. The reward of him who pleases you is not that you displease him. Livelihood is of two kinds -a livelihood th at you seek and a livelihood that seeks you, which is such that if you do not reach it, it will come to you.” ( 14 )
Imam al-Hasan (a) said to one of his sons: “O son, do not befriend anyone before you know his means and sources. When you try him and please to associate with him, you should then befriend him on bases of pardoning his faults and consoling him in misfortunes.” ( 15 )
It is recommended to neglect the friend’s offense so as to show trust in him. This will certainly cause the offensive friend to admire his friend and try to keep good relations with him.
It is also required to accept the friend’s apologies without strictness or obstinacy so as to achieve the high moral standard.
Gentle reproof is recommended in this regard, because negligence of reproof may make the friend feel his friend’s negligence or hidden rage. Unless it is characterized by gentleness and sensation, reproof is useless and unappealing. Excessive reproof may lead to the friend’s alienation and dissatisfaction.
“Only through the Divine Mercy have you (Muhammad) been able to deal with your followers so gently. If you had been stern and hardhearted, they would all have deserted you a long time ago. Forgive them and ask Allah to forgive (their sins) and consult wi th them in certain matters. But, when you reach a decision, trust Allah. Allah loves those who trust Him. (3:159)”
“And not alike are the good and the evil. Repel (evil) with what is best, when lo! He between whom and you was enmity would be as if he were a warm friend. And none are made to receive it but those who are patient, and none are made to receive it but tho se who have a mighty good fortune. (41:34-5)”
The Prophet (s) said: “In the same way as He has ordered me of performing the religious duties, my Lord has ordered me to treat people courteously.” ( 16 )
“The most intelligent are the most courteous with people.” ( 17 )
It is worth mentioning that within the strong factors of prosperity of friendly relations is that each party should avoid giving credence to the backbiters and talebearers who, according to the description of the Prophet (s), are the evilest of people.
Moderation with Friends
It is wise to choose moderation in dealing with friends. Excessive love and confidence in friends are unacceptable since it happens that a friend may change into an enemy and use the secrets that he had shown as weapons.
Imam Ali (a) said: “When you cherish someone you should cherish him moderately for he may be your enemy someday, and when you hate someone you should hate him moderately for he may be your friend someday.” ( 18 )
Imam as-Sadiq (a): “The secrets that you must show before your friends are only those through which your enemies cannot harm you, for a friend may change into an enemy.”
11. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; Kitab ul-Ashara; 46 (as quoted from Qadhaa ul-Huqouq).
12. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; Kitab ul-Ashara 56 as quoted from al-Kafi.
13. Quoted from Nahj ul-Balagha.
14. Quoted from Nahj ul-Balagha: Imam Ali’s commandment for Imam al-Hasan.
15. Quoted from Tuhaf ul-Uqoul.
16. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 86 (as quoted from al-Kafi).
17. Quoted from Sheikh as-Saduq’s Meaani al-Akhbar.
18. Quoted from Nahj ul-Balagha.
Syed Mohamad Masoom Abidi