Everyone has friends, but what if they are not good friends and are leading you astray? What if someone you refer to as a friend is really an enemy at the end of it all just like this Ayah describes? Insha’Allah, today we will discuss friendship, why we need it, how to distinguish between good and bad company and if it is better to be alone or with bad company.
“On the Day when heaven is split apart in clouds, and the angels are sent down rank upon rank. The Kingdom that Day will belong in truth to the All-Merciful. It will be a hard Day for the disbelievers. The Day when a wrongdoer will bite his hands and say, ‘Alas for me! If only I had gone the way of the Messenger! Alas for Me! If only I had not taken so and so for a friend! He led me astray from the Reminder after it came to me’.” [Surah al-Furqan; 25:25-29].
A question that may come to mind is why do humans even need socialization?
Socialization is a major part of what makes us human. We need human contact and interaction, but why? We can understand this simply by imagining being all alone in the world, having absolutely no people around us, doing everything alone without anyone to be by us or comfort us. Kind of bleak, right? Likewise, we can take the story of Adam (AS). He was the first man and therefore all alone. Allah created a companion for him, a female named Hawwa, so that he would have someone to talk to and spend time with. Thus, Allah has put this in our nature. We need the company of others to help us, support us, interact with us and above all keep us on the right path, the path to Allah SWA and His Jannah. The Arabic word for human is Insan. One of the meanings of Insan is: “pleasure or joy from one’s company”. Therefore, we can derive from this that humans, at their core, are social beings who have a need for one another. What if people didn’t have socialization? It is known that when people without faith go through long periods of isolation they can develop serious psychological issues including depression. From this we can understand that humans need to speak and socialize with other beings to have a healthy mental state of mind and body.
Now that we understand the whys, we must go further and understand the kind of company we should keep.
Let’s begin by discussing what a friend is. A friend is someone who you get along with on common personality traits, character or interests. According to Webster’s Dictionary the meaning of friend is “one attached to another by affection or esteem”. Our friends naturally have a big impact on our lives. There is a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), which states:
“A man is on the religion of his close friend, so each of you should look to whom you take as close friends.”
Thus, we have to analyze and conclude if the person we call “friend” is worthy of that title or not, because whoever they are and how they behave will directly influence who we are and how we behave.
To find out how to do this, we should look to the best example for all of Mankind, the truest friend that we ever had:
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW). He said, “The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell.” [Bukhari and Muslim].
This is a beautiful Hadith and it explains exactly what we should look for in a good friend and who we should avoid taking as close friends.
So, if we are going to see our friend, the perfume seller, he may give us some perfume for free or sell it to us for a good price, so we can always have some to wear and share. Yet, even if we don’t get any perfume during our visit, just by spending some time in his shop, we will smell sweet and the people will know we were in the company of the perfume seller. Why is this an analogy for a good friend? Good company is someone with great manners, character and overall Taqwa, meaning that they are aware of and fear Allah SWA in all they do, say and act. This good friend will either give us good advice or be a good example for us to carry and share with others, or at least he will positively influence our manners and character with his good behaviour and qualities. The people will know that we keep good company and that we are on a path to righteousness, Alhamdulillah.
As for visiting with the Blacksmith, who works by melting metal in fire and then shaping it by pounding it with a hammer, we could get burned by flying embers and sparks if we stand to close to him. Perhaps, we can say that we will not stand close enough to get burned, but even if we stand away from him within the same room, we will get dirty from all the ash and soot from his work. Now, if we say we will stand at the door, far away from the fire, soot and ash, the smell of his work will still settle in our clothes and the people will know that we have been in the company of the Blacksmith.
From this analogy, we can conclude, that bad company follows you. This is someone who is careless, shameless, has poor manners and does not care for or fear Allah SWA. By keeping this corrupt company, we can seriously damage ourselves and our Hereafter. Perhaps, we can justify our friendship by saying that we have family relations or that we have been friends for a long time, and that we will have to keep this friend, but not take him seriously or participate in his immoral activities. We have to keep in mind however that even being around this person is dangerous, as they could convince us to sin or test our loyalty by asking us to keep silent while they themselves sin. Even if we don’t fall into this corruption, just staying near someone like this, can unintentionally influence us and we can pick up bad habits. Just as being around good company can positively affect our manners, character and thoughts; we can also be affected negatively by merely maintaining bad company, Subhan’Allah.
With this, we must attempt to analyze our friendships and what they mean for us. We must see if the company we keep will benefit us and our environment or if it will cause problems for us and damage us in the long run. Will this person we call “friend” be a good impact on our lives or not?
We usually get along with the people who match our interests and mannerisms. We should seriously think about the people we keep company with, as they are a reflection of who we really are. So, are we keeping good company or bad company? Are we good company or bad company?
Is it better to just stay alone instead of having bad company?
Unfortunately, we find many youth trying to “fit in” and be around people who can lead them down a dark path. It’s very hard to find a genuine friend these days and we come to a point to where we try to make friends with anyone that will give us their time, even if that person may not behave well and have poor manners. Many people have dual personalities, which makes determining good company from bad very difficult. They may be nice while in your presence, but cruel behind your back. We have to be very careful, because if we keep company with such people then others may think that we are like them.
At times we may not want to accept the problems that our friends bear, but without facing the truth, how will we find the solution. We do not want to be connected to a person with bad behavior, do we? We may find that we have those around us who lie, make fun of people’s race, religion or disabilities, use foul language or bully others, before we decide not to be friends with them, we should try having a discussion with them. Perhaps this person is not aware of their behavior and how it affects others. We should be honest, respectful and brief. We shouldn’t point out the person’s faults, but try to explain to them what we dislike about their behavior. Taking the lead, we shouldn’t be rude and should have a calm conversation while letting the person speak freely without cutting them off, as this can agitate the situation. They may have a sound explanation as to why they behave how they do or that they are willing to change those habits. You can help them or find someone more qualified to help them get on the right path. This turning bad company into good company will not only be good for them and you, but society overall.
It says in Surah 60, Verse 7:
“Perhaps Allah will put, between you and those to whom you have been enemies among them, affection. And Allah is competent, and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”
In this ayah, Allah explains how someone could be against you, but Allah can put love and kindness in their hearts for you if He wants. But, if this person wants to continue with their harmful behavior, then we have to understand that it is better to protect ourselves and our faith, then to put ourselves in harm’s way on purpose. At the end of it all, at least you can say you tried, Insha’Allah.
We need to always remember that Allah is our best of Friends and the best of Planners. Choose the people that Allah and His Messenger (SAW) want you to befriend and leave the ones who do not fit the profile. Everything that Allah SWA asks us to do is for our own good, even when we may not understand it. Even if we are left all alone, because there aren’t any people who fit the “good company” criteria, then it is always better to be alone than to choose the alternative of “bad company”. This may mean that Allah wants to be alone with us and for us to come back to Him and remember Him, because at the end of the day Allah is the only one we truly have. Friends come and go, but no matter how close of a friend we may have, they will never be able to be there for us all the time, but Allah will always be there. He was always there for Ibrahim (AS), Musa (AS), the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and He will always be there for you too, Alhamdulillah. All praise is truly due to Him.
Good company can leave us happy, knowledgeable and closer to Allah SWA, while bad company can leave us unhappy, confused and far from Allah SWA and His path to Paradise. As human beings we need friends, but we should be careful about who we choose as companions and consider whether they are good or bad for us and our faith, if we lack options, then we are better off alone in the company of our Creator, Allah SAW.
In Surah 57, Ayah 4, Allah says about Himself: “He is with you wherever you are.”
Let us pray to Allah SWA to help us avoid company that will lead us astray and find those that will benefit us in this world and in the Hereafter, Ameen.
Special Note: Jazak’Allah Khair to Sister Aliza Javaid for providing the last two images in this article. May Allah SWA always bless her with the best company, guide her and make her the coolness of her parents eyes, Ameen.