As we seat ourselves down on the first day of class, our eyes wander about looking for seats that let us accommodate our friends with us. After an argument with parents, a friend’s shoulder is a comforting place to be. When accepting a proposal, our fingers jam away trying to text our ‘BFF’, where as her screams of excitement can probably be heard down the street. Let it be a classmate, a sibling or a spouse, a friend can be a significant aspect of our life. And with no surprise, Islam has given much importance to the value of companionship.
Our Holy Prophet (Pbuh) has narrated that “Whosoever Allah wishes wellbeing on – He gifts them a good friend. Such a friend who helps reminds him of things he’s forgotten, and one who aids him after the reminder”. In this narration we learn that friends are a form of blessings that Allah (swt) showers us with. A friend who not only helps shape our thoughts, but assists us with our actions as well. Someone who not only reminds us to study, but stays up all night with us. A good friend that not only reminds us to pray, but enjoys praying with us. By gifting us with a friend, Allah (swt) is providing us with that spiritual, social and psychological support.
On the contrary, the lack of this companionship is quite distressing as well. Usually, making the transmission into high school or university is quite worrisome, because our close friends may not be able to come with us. The thought of being alone scares us. This is a time where our eyes wander the lecture hall, looking for the next person ‘to borrow a pencil from’. But it is definitely hard to choose from the hundreds of people seated. Our first Imam (as) has helped us in this process of elimination. When speaking to his son, Imam Hasan (as), he stated that:
“My son, learn four things from me: 1) Do not make friendship with a fool because when he will try to do you good he will do you harm; 2) do not make a miser your friend because he will run away from you at the time of your dire need; 3) do not be friendly with a vicious and wicked person because he will sell you and your friendship at the cheapest price and 4) do not make friend of a liar because like a mirage he will make you visualize very near the things which lie at a great distance and will make you see at the great distance the things which are near to you.”
This narration teaches us the importance of being careful when building a friendship. I may or may not be interpreting the narration properly, but I want to share a few person experiences. The first part of the narration states not to befriend a fool, because he or she may unintentionally harm you. I recall, two years ago, I had met a new girl at school. As our friendship progressed, I noticed that during lectures she did not pay much attention and did not make many notes. During exam period, we decided to compile our notes and study together. After multiple study dates, I noticed that majority of the notes were mine, and that I was doing most of the work. She had not paid any attention all year, and in return that ended up hurting me. The second part of the narration suggests not befriending a miser, because he or she will not help you in your time of need. It could be that night that you’re cramming to finish an assignment, or the wedding you may miss because you don’t have an outfit, or that exam you can’t write because you forgot your pen – a good friend is defined by the number of times he helps you in dire times. The third lesson of the narration tells us not to befriend a vicious and wicked person. Growing up anywhere around the world, we have all become victim to the vicious disease of gossip. You trust your friend with your deepest darkest secrets. However, when they betray your trust and leak your secrets – life can become extremely difficult. However, why befriend such a cold hearted person in the first place? Why befriend someone who does not understand the value of trust or reputation. Paraphrasing a statement made by one of the Imams (as), it is mentioned that, someone who shares others secrets with you, will leak your secrets to others. The last part of the narration asks us to find an honest friend. This last part is apparently obviously, but nevertheless is also the most important which many overlook. How many times have we lied to our parents, teachers and siblings? Sometimes people mess up, and lay out a web of lies to cover their trails. However, who said that someone who is able to lie to his mother will not lie to you? Sooner or later, your friend may lie to you, which can cause you much harm.
This narration taught me another valuable lesson as well, and that is in regards to how to be a good friend myself. I need to be smart and wise, to be giving and charitable, to be warm hearted, and most importantly to be truthful. I need to work on myself in order to attain these attributes, before judging others. Only then will I be able to find that one valuable friend that follows the teachings of the first Imam’s (as) saying as well. Another way to be a good friend is follow the teaching that ‘cheerfulness is the key to friendship’. Regardless of what hardships or obstacles come, with the love of Allah in our hearts and cheerfulness on our faces, the friendship will remain strong.
The benefits of good friendship exist in this world and in the hereafter. By attaining a friend, who shares you love for Allah and fits all of the criteria above, you are more likely to deviate away from Satan and towards the teachings of the Ahlul Bayt (as). Furthermore, I read the narration of a Masoom (as), which stated “Whosoever formulates a relationship for the sake of Allah; it is as if he has made a house for himself in Paradise”. Just by constructing a healthy, religious friendship in this world, can build a house for us in the hereafter. I know I’d like to sign up for one of those!
On a closing note, I’d just like to finish with another saying which states “From good friendship, a good community, a good society and a good network comes into existence”. InshaAllah with the guidance of the Ahlul Bayt (as), we are able to form good friendships that will help us make a stronger community overall.
Fatema Zaidi is in her third year at York University, specializing in Biomedical Sciences.