At some point in the course of our lives, we connect with different people from various backgrounds and upbringings. Some of them stay with us through thick and thin, and others become acquaintances who we happen to meet in our lifetime. For most, there will come a time, maybe only once if we are lucky, that we may argue with our friends. But what makes friendships worthwhile is how we mend our relationship back together after a hurricane.
You may have heard the saying, “Friends come and go.” There are lots of people who will say that friends are not meant to stay in our lives for a long time. In Islam, friendship has its own rules, and how we define a true friend will bring us back to the ways of our Prophet (PBUH.)
Sincere friendships are hard to come by, and instead of keeping an eye on our friend’s sincerity, we should first think of how we can be the ideal friend according to the exquisite qualities of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) when he was in the presence of his Companions, and how his Companions treated the Prophet (PBUH) with loyalty and reverence.
Sayyidina Abu Bakr As-Siddiq’s Loyalty towards the Prophet (PBUH)
Remember the miraculous story of Isra’ wal Mi’raj? According to this wondrous and blessed occasion, some Muslims find it absolutely difficult to believe the authenticity of such a story and many have refused to believe the Prophet (PBUH.) Although some Muslims find it hard to believe it, there was also a faction who have grown in faith and never had an ounce of doubt towards the Prophet’s (PBUH) claims.
Sayyidina Abu Bakar as-Siddiq (RA,) one of the earliest converts to Islam, was one of them. He always believed what the Prophet (PBUH) said. This event strengthened his faith in God.
For him, it is no different from believing in a revelation that comes down from heaven or the Prophet’s (PBUH) ascent to heaven. If he believes the Prophet (PBUH) received revelation from heaven, why should he be surprised when the Prophet (PBUH) ascends to the heavens? When asked about the events of Isra’ and Mi’raj, he said: “I believe him more than that; I believe the news brought from heaven.”
This event demonstrates the loyalty of Sayyidina Abu Bakr as Siddiq (RA) towards the beloved Prophet (PBUH,) which is very rare to see nowadays, SubhanAllah.
The Prophet (PBUH) used to Console His Companions Who were in Pain
It was the habit of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), during difficult times and trials, to comfort and console his Companions. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to feel their pain, remind them that their tribulations are a way to receive gains, make them happy when they were sad, and give them hope when there was pain.
Qarah ibn Iyas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“Which made the man not attend the gathering as it made him remember his son and make him grieve over him. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) noticed that the man was not there, so he asked, ‘Why do I not see so-and-so!’ The Companions replied, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah (PBUH,) his son who you used to see [with him] died.’ Consequently, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) went to see him and ask about his son. The man told him that the boy had died, so the Messenger of Allah(PBUH) consoled him, saying, ‘Oh brother, which do you like more: To enjoy his company all your life, or to go to any door of the doors of paradise tomorrow and find that he had arrived there before you to open the door for you?’ The man said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah (PBUH,) of course I love for him to have arrived at the door of paradise to open it for me more.’ The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) told him, ‘This is what will happen to you.’ The Companions said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah (PBUH,) is this just for him, or for all of us?’ The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) replied, ‘No; it is for all of you’” [related by An-Nasa’i].
How to Be a Good Friend
1. Possess good character
Possessing good character is subjective. What is meant by good character can be summed into one word: Patience. You should not let anger get the best of you if your friend commits a wrong towards you, nor should you be too excited when you desire something from your friend.
‘Alqama al-’Utaridi (RA) said: “Be the companion of one who will support something good proceeding from you but will stop an evil being done by you.”
2. Be truthful no matter what
Just like many of the Companions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH,) they all possess a similar good trait, which is truthfulness or honesty. Mind you, honesty is not to be mistaken for being brutally honest.
Being brutally honest is telling a person the truth whilst inflicting emotional abuse and unwarranted harm. For instance, if your friend asks you whether he or she should marry someone whom you think isn’t good for them, there are two ways you can respond to this by telling the truth:
Honesty: “I understand you have feelings for this person considering the many good memories both of you have made together, but I honestly think he/she isn’t good for you and I know you deserve better.”
Brutally honest: “No, are you crazy? This person has been manipulating you for so long! Are you too blind to see through him?”
There’s always a way how you approach things. Go for the former instead of the latter.
3. Loyalty is key
Many of the Prophet’s Companions (may Allah Almighty have Mercy on them all) venerated the Prophet (PBUH) with such high regard.
Even when the people of Mecca despised the Prophet (PBUH,) his Companions were there for him in times of distress. They fought alongside the Prophet (PBUH) and sacrificed their blood, sweat, and tears under the banner of spreading Islam for the sake of Allah Almighty (SWT) and the Prophet (PBUH.)
“The true friend is only he who regards his friend in three situations: ordeal, absence, and death.” (Nahjul Balagha)
Here are some questions you should ask yourself about your relationship with your friends: How loyal are you to your friends? Have you backstabbed or betrayed your friends? Have you done anything that is frowned upon behind your friends’ backs?
Imagine this scenario: If you heard someone badmouth your friend, how would you respond to the situation? Your response will reflect how loyal you are to your friend.
4. Invite towards goodness
If this trait reminds you of your pious friends, keep them close because you never know if they are able to give you a hand of intercession or Shafa’ah in the Hereafter.
The marfoo’ hadith of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) in Sahih Muslim (269) stated: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, none of you can be more insistent in asking Allah to restore his rights against his opponent than the believers who will ask Allah, on the Day of Resurrection, (to grant them the power of intercession) for their brothers who are in the Fire. They will say, ‘Our Lord, they used to fast with us and pray and perform Hajj.’
It will be said to them, ‘Bring out those whom you recognize, so the Fire will be forbidden to burn them.’ So they will bring out many people… And Allah will say: ‘The angels have interceded, and the Prophets have interceded, and the believers have interceded. There is none left but the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.’ Then He will seize a handful of the Fire and bring forth from it people who never did anything good.”
Being a good and pious friend doesn’t only stop in this material world of temptations and distractions, but it extends to the next realm of reality – the Hereafter.
So, keep seeking sound knowledge, practice good values and traits as prescribed in the Qur’an and Prophetic traditions, and invite your friends towards goodness.
5. Do not be judgemental
The last thing anybody would want is to be judged for who they are or what they do. This usually happens when people think they’re “pious” enough to look down upon others. It’s worse when they trust us enough to come to us and share with us their deepest darkest secrets, only to be judged.
“If you wish to mention the faults of your friend, mention your own faults first.” (Bukhari)
Abdullah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:
“Whoever has a mustard seed’s weight of pride (arrogance) in his heart, shall not be admitted into Paradise. And whoever has a mustard seed’s weight of faith in his heart, shall not be admitted into the Fire.” [Jami’ At-Tirmidhi]
If someone confesses to you or if you find them doing something distasteful; instead of shaming them for what they’ve done, try and sit down with them and ask what’s going on.
6. Be a great listener
Referring to the last trait, you can only be an unbiased or a non-judgemental person if you’re a great listener.
Listening does not only mean understanding but putting yourself in their shoes – to sympathize and empathize. It’s also important that you ask questions to get to know further about the issue at hand.
The best way for you to get to know someone is by listening to what they have to say. If you’re the type to steal the spotlight and talk about yourself, it’s time to give others their spotlights!
7. Be happy for them
Envy or hasad is a dangerous thing. When one is envious to see other people’s success or happiness, there’s a tendency for evil eye.
Don’t be that person. As much as we want things that other people might get easily, we shouldn’t feel envious as it’s mentally and emotionally draining for us. Such a trait can only interfere with our true potential and sincere intentions to strive towards success.
If any of your friends are in a good spot and you’re just not getting there yet, have faith in Allah Almighty’s (SWT) Divine Plan as He is the best of planners. Never stop making du’a for your success, and pray for other people’s success. It’s a win-win situation!
8. Befriend many people
Most of us would prefer staying complacent. Being comfortable in our own circle of friends who we’ve met since childhood is easy. Some of us may not feel the need to broaden our circle and get to know more people just because we think we already have the best of friends with us.
However, Islam teaches us to constantly grow out of our comfort zone and befriend as many people as we possibly can. Not because of fame, recognition or any of that – but because Islam places an important emphasis on brotherhood or ukhuwah for us to grow in a community that helps one another.
“Try to have as many as possible true friends, for they are the supplies in joy and the shelters in misfortunes.” (Bihar-ul-Anwar)
9. Forbid Evil
I believe this is one of the most valuable traits in a friend – a friend that isn’t afraid to stand for what’s right; a friend that helps another see the reality of the truth by forbidding evil. This trait is definitely a gem, and if you have this kind of friend, keep him or her close to your heart.
Although forbidding evil is one of the most valuable traits in a friend, it is also crucial as to how you deliver the message. Should you sound insulting and offend your friend? Absolutely not!
You have to have the courtesy, the right, and ethical gestures to forbid such evil that your friend may have committed. You can pull them to the side and ask them what’s wrong and why they are doing such and such. You can lovingly tell them that this is a safe space for them to tell you what’s wrong and that you want to help fix the issue.
It doesn’t have to be a negative reaction to your friend’s doings. Sometimes, you don’t have to say anything at all and just be there for your friend when he or she needs you the most.
10. Sharing is Caring
Above all, a friend who cares for one another is one who shares. As the old saying goes, sharing is caring! Have you ever felt repulsed by the thought of sharing your food with your friend when you were younger? Did you know that Islam encourages us to share our provisions with one another, no matter how small?
Whether it’s food, money, or even something truly simple but sincere, Allah (SWT) always sees your effort and generous heart to share your rizq with others, InshaAllah. Don’t let your friends starve under your watch! Always be generous and share when you are met with the opportunity to do so, InshaAllah.
“Abu Musa reported The Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘Verily when the tribe of Al-Ash’ari run short of food during an expedition or among themselves in the city, they gather whatever they have in a single sheet and divide it equally between themselves. They are a part of me and I am a part of them.'” [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Do you have what it takes to be a great friend according to the examples laid out by our beloved Prophet (PBUH)? Love your friend for the sake of Allah (SWT) and His Beloved Messenger (PBUH,) and make du’a for your friends for their success in this dunya and akhirah!