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Seeking good friends and companions

Publishing Date : 04 July, 2018

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM



Friendship and companionship plays a very important role in a person’s life. The influence that friends / companions have upon one’s character, conduct and speech is tremendous and we may not realise this until a period of time has lapsed.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) often raised the issue about the value of good friendship and companionship.  He emphasised the need to surround ourselves with good people.  It is worthy to note that people, who hold the same values and beliefs that we do, will indeed make the best friends and companions.  Differences of opinion, different lifestyles and interests may make our friendships interesting and sometimes challenging but if the core value system is not the same, the friendship itself probably has no solid foundation and can have a disastrous effect upon a person in the long run.


There may come a time when we regret the bad influences of our friends and companions. “And on the Day (of Judgement) the wrong-doer will bite on his hand (in regret), he will say: ‘Oh!  Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger.  Woe to me!  Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend!  He indeed led me astray from the truth (reality) after it had come to me.’” (Quran 25:  27)


Initially it may not be a priority for us but it is important to choose your friends carefully.  Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) warned the Believers about this too.  He said that a person would be influenced by his friends, and he warned that everyone should look carefully at those they consider to be their friends.


Once we have found good friends it is important to keep and maintain their friendship.  A person must be prepared to overlook some of the faults of his/her friend and must be prepared to give them excuses for any incorrect or bad behaviour they see in them. This, however, does not mean you should turn a blind eye to wrongful behaviour and sin.  Not at all, rather it means that you must maintain the ties of friendship while seeking to understand their situation and helping as best possible to get them to rectify their bad ways, etc.


Believers must never embarrass or publicly harass one another nor indulge in exposing each other’s faults.  Kindness and mercy must be part of our lives. Furthermore, Believers should never be jealous of one another, they should always be happy when the blessings of God Almighty fall upon their friends and companions. Believers are connected by their love of God Almighty and this surely entails certain responsibilities.


We may not realise it but common and ethical values lay the solid foundation and a good friend is one who is truly tolerant of your mistakes or shortcomings and is forgiving, but at the same time guides and supports you in a respectful and sincere manner.  A good friend is one who accommodates your faults but corrects them where possible.  A good friend is one who will love and forgive you for the sake of God Almighty. A good friend is one who does not hold or harbour anger, envy, hatred or malice against you and is always kind, loyal, generous, and regularly pray for you whilst wishing you good at all times.


From a very young age of our early childhood years, through to the days of our schooling, through varsity and even to today we had and have friends. It is part of human nature to have friends and the basic need for friends is to have company. But as time moves on and we move on we lose some friends along the way and make new ones.


Sometimes we lose contact with them when they have moved on in life or settled elsewhere or have even passed on.  Some of us may be fortunate that our childhood friends still remain our friends to this day. I recently had the good fortune to go to London, where I met with met with and shared dinner with six of my old school buddies. Without giving my age away – we had last seen each other some 50 years ago!   


Today in our twilight years we still remembered with affection and recalled the times we shared with our buddies / friends of yesteryear. We remembered and recalled the good times, the naughty times and the bad times of our childhood years. I don’t know about now, but in the past I am sure all of us remember when our parents would disapprove of our friendships with certain of our friends. We would be warned not to associate with them and they even tried to break our friendship with them. Why? The reason was and is simple our parents were worried about the negative / bad influence in leading us astray that those friends would have on us.


This is so true because as we are older and have our own children, we come back the full circle. Now we also face the same challenge of ensuring that our children associate and have the ‘right’ friends that will have a positive influence on our own children. As the saying goes you are known by the friends you keep. We have to accept that it is easy to be influenced by the people around us. 


It is easy to take on their manners and qualities without even being aware of it.  If these are good qualities then it is a good thing but what if the people you consider friends have pushed you onto the wrong path and away from the remembrance of God?  This could be a disaster to our lives as we will have diverted from the path of goodness and onto the path that leads us astray.


Allah Almighty declares in the Holy Quran : “Content yourself with (remain in the company of) those  who pray to their Lord morning and evening, seeking His approval, and do not turn your sight away from them out of desire for the attractions of this worldly life. And do not yield to those whose hearts We have made heedless of Our remembrance, those who follow their own low desires, those whose ways are unbridled (and transgressive).” (Quran 18 : 28)


Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) gave an example of the issue of the influence that friends may have upon a person, when he gave the following example of a good companion (friend) in comparison with a bad one to be like that of the perfume dealer and the ironmonger (blacksmith). By remaining in the company of the perfume dealer, you may buy some perfume; he may give you some as a gift or you will at least get a good fragrant smell at all times.


Whereas by remaining in the company of the ironmonger, you may get your clothes burnt with the flying sparks; you may feel the intensity of the heat whilst he is smelting/welding, etc. or at least you will get the bad smell of the heated fumes at all times. It is not always easy to find sincere and true friends overnight; but once we find them they will become a part of our lives.

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