Tuesday, January 27

Friendship for Allah's Sake

Man is liable to imitate and copy those whom he befriends.
If one's friends engage in virtuous deeds,
this would prompt him to imitate their good qualities.
Whereas, if one's friends indulge in bad practices,
then it is very likely for him to get accustomed with their bad characteristics
and eventually incorporate them in his behavior, knowingly or unknowingly!

Such is also true concerning one's religion and beliefs
as Allah's Messenger * is reported to have said,
'Man is on the religion of his companions,
so let one of you choose whom he befriends.'
[Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Tirmidhee]

We are commanded to be very careful when choosing associates. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) cited an extraordinary comparison between righteous company and evil association. He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) mentioned, 'Verily, the example of a good companion in comparison to an evil one is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith's bellow. From the first you would either get a gift of his musk's scent, buy some from him, or enjoy its good smell, while the bellow will either burn your clothes, or give you a bad, nasty smell thereof.' [Agreed upon]

We, thus, find our pious predecessors so concerned and careful about their friends that they would invoke Allah to grant them righteous associates. It is
related in Saheeh al-Bukharee that Alqamah said, I went to ash-Shaam and offered two Rak'ahs prayer and then I said, 'O Allah, bless me with a good pious companion.' Then I went to some people and sat with them. An old man came and sat beside me. I asked, 'Who is he?' They replied, 'Abu ad-Darda.' I said to him, 'I prayed to Allah to bless me with a pious companion and He sent you to me. He asked me, 'From where are you?' I replied, 'From the people of al-Koofa.' [Saheeh al-Bukharee (5/86)]

Along these lines, a Muslim should be very much concerned to understand the Islamic perspective of friendship and characteristics of a good companion, in order to choose the right person to associate with. Following are some guidelines deduced from the teachings of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, which designate the characteristics of a Muslim's friends.

Friendship for Allah's Sake
A Muslim's primary concern before choosing friends should be to seek the Pleasure of Allah in the friendship. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, 'Whoever loves for Allah, and hates for Allah, gives for Allah and withholds for Allah, has completed his faith.' [Abu Dawood]

Friendship that is based upon the sincere purpose of seeking Allah's Pleasure brings about the love of Allah for the slave. Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) narrated that Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, 'A man
went to visit a brother of his in another village. Allah sent an Angel to wait for him on the road. When the man came, the Angel asked him, 'Where do you intend to go?' He said, 'I am going to visit a brother of mine who lives in this village.' The Angel asked, 'Have you done him any favor (for which you are now seeking repayment)?' He said, 'No, I just love him for the sake of Allah.' The Angel told him, 'I am a messenger to you from Allah, sent to tell you that He (Allah) Loves you as you love your brother for His sake.' [Saheeh Muslim]

From the benefits of such a virtuous friendship is that on the Day of Judgment, when, '…the sky will be like the boiling filth of oil (or molten lead, etc.) and the mountains will be like flakes
of wool. And no friend will ask of a friend.' [(70): 8-10] 'That day shall a man flee from his brother. And from his mother and his father, and from his wife and children.' [(81): 34-37] 'Allah, the Exalted, will declare on the Day of Resurrection, 'Where are those who loved each other for the sake of My Grace? This Day, I shall shade them under My Shade, when there is only My Shade.' [Saheeh Muslim]

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