Choosing Friends

Human beings are by nature social beings who interact, are interdependent, and thus, in need of friends and companions. Much of our lives are spent in such social associations, and friendship is indeed an essential component in human relationships. Since early childhood, friends help us through changes we may face as we go through the different stages in life. Through friends we share our ultimate fears, sorrows, happiness, and goals. Such friends can help heal certain wounds and memories of the past and help us meet the challenges of the future.

For Muslims in all conditions; and specifically when living in a society where we are clearly a minority, the issue of choosing good friends is essential for preserving our beliefs and life-style.

Influence of Friends

Prophet Muhammad advised that a person is influenced by the lifestyle of friends; so, be cautious whom you befriend. If one is negatively influenced by those we associate, with then the consequence could be disastrous. [Qur’an 43:67] Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk compared to the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. As for the seller of musk; either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from his perfumes. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows; either your clothes could burn or you will get an offensive smell from the smoke of his fire.”

Friends & Friendship

Friends are people, who spontaneously seek the company of one another; who like and wish to do well for the other, believing that the other party reciprocates these feelings with good intentions.

Friendship is a voluntary, informal, reciprocal and interpersonal relationship that is mutually productive and characterized by mutual positive regard. Friendship is intended to facilitate social-emotional goals of the participants, and may involve varying types and degrees of companionship, closeness, affection, and mutual assistance. Friendship is manifested through honesty, sincerity; trust; openness; loyalty; reliability and the durability of the relationship over time.

In Islamic literature, the root meaning of the terms used for friend indicate some of the essential qualities necessary for friendship … Siddiq (truthful/honest), Khalil (associate/link), Wali (protector/overseer), Rafiq (kind/caring).
“A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.” [Author, Douglas Pagels]

Who do You Choose as Friends & Why?

Researchers conclude that an individual’s opportunity to make and maintain friends over their life course is influenced by various factors such as age, gender, physical status, ability/disability level, living environment, cultural/religious background, socio-economic status and psychological characteristics [Johnson and Troll, 1994].

When you choose your friends, which qualities are most important …

  • Social status / Popularity
  • Income level / Wealth
  • Looks / Appearance
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Faith and/or Character
  • Political Affiliation
  • Intelligence / Education
  • Interest / Hobbies / Skills
  • Compassion / Care
  • Loyalty / Reliability

Different Kinds of Friendship :

  1. for pleasure {could be positive or negative}
  2. for usefulness/utility {could be positive or negative}
  3. for virtue = friendship of character. {must be positive}
  4. natural friendships = between father/son, siblings … {ought to be positive}

Sayedna ‘Ali advised:
“Befriend the righteous, flee from the transgressors, avoid the hypocrites and do not associate with deceivers.”
To form a healthy and long-lasting friendship, people must be productive in that relationship, and they cannot be causing harm to themselves or the other person involved. “Once destructiveness enters into a relationship, it can no longer be characterized as a friendship.” [Joseph A. Devito: The Interpersonal Communication Book.] This is not only true in friendship relationships but also in marriage relationships and parent-to-child relationships.

Best of Friends

Wise ones have said …

  • “The best friend; according to the estimation of Allah, is the one best to his/her friend.” [Prophet Muhammad]
  • Best friends aren’t born, they’re made, one great memory at a time
  • “Complete friendship is the friendship of good people similar in virtue; for they wish good in the same way to each other in so far as they are good, and they are good themselves. Such friendships last as long as they are good; and virtue is enduring.” [Aristotle]
  • Many people will walk in and out of your life; but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.

Are you the kind of person that meets the standards of a good friend?

By: Br. Sadullah Khan


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