Friends are an essential part of life, regardless of age. The people we choose to be our friends will define us in some way or another. We need friends that can help us grow and help us learn about ourselves. Friends are the ones that support you during the tough times and celebrate with you during the good.
There are many Arab proverbs on friendship. One proverb, in particular, highlights the importance and wisdom of choosing our friends wisely in this journey of life.
الصَّدِيقُ قَبْلَ الطَّرِيقِ
(Choose) the friend before (choosing) the road.
Our Friends will Influence Our Lives
The proverb, “Choose the friend before choosing the road”, means that a person should choose their companion or friend before walking his road in life. This is because humans are social beings by nature and we are highly influenced by those in our social circle.
The companion or friend we choose will either make our path easy and simple to trek or make it harsh and rough. A similar proverb to this is, “Choose the neighbour before the home”.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ had also said:
“عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: “الرَّجُلُ عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَحَدُكُمْ مَنْ يُخَالِلُ
Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: A man follows the religion of his friend. So, each one should consider whom he makes his friend.
Who is the Best Kind of Friend?
The question now is: who is the best kind of friend?
The best kind of friend is the one you spend time with to please Allah. They are just, truthful, and trustworthy. You are pleased with them, and vice versa; both having natural, mutual love for each other without pretence.
There is no good for the one who betrays a friend by divulging their secrets to others. The person who betrays a friend will meet trials in their worldly affairs and in the Hereafter.
The effects of the friends we choose to have in our company are explained by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in this hadith:
،قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “مَثَلُ الْجَلِيسِ الصَّالِحِ وَالْجَلِيسِ السَّوْءِ كَمَثَلِ صَاحِبِ الْمِسْكِ
وَكِيرِ الْحَدَّادِ، لاَ يَعْدَمُكَ مِنْ صَاحِبِ الْمِسْكِ إِمَّا تَشْتَرِيهِ، أَوْ تَجِدُ رِيحَهُ
وَكِيرُ الْحَدَّادِ يُحْرِقُ بَدَنَكَ أَوْ ثَوْبَكَ أَوْ تَجِدُ مِنْهُ رِيحًا خَبِيثَةً”.
Narrated Abu Musa: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first (friend) you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.”
Seek Refuge in Allah from Evil Companions
Now that we know the value of a good friend, we can also see the danger of a bad friend.
The Prophet ﷺ sought refuge in Allah from evil companions who had no good plans or intentions. This was conveyed in the hadith reported by At Tabarani and graded as Sahih by Shaykh Albani, may Allah have mercy on him.
اللَّهُمَّ إنِّي أّعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ جَارِ السُّوءِ، وَمِنْ زَوْجٍ تُشَيِّبُنِي قَبْلَ المَشِيبِ، وَمِنْ وَلَدٍ يَكُونُ عَليَّ رَبّاً، وَمِنْ مَالٍ يَكُونُ عَلَيَّ عَذَابَاً، وَمِنْ خَلِيْلٍ مَاكِرٍ عَيْنُهُ تَرَانِي، وَقَلْبُهُ يَرْعَانِي؛ إِنْ رَأَى حَسَنَةً دَفَنَهَا، وَإِذَا رَأَى سَيِّئَةً أَذَاعَهَا.
Oh Allah, I seek refuge in you from a bad neighbour and from a spouse that makes me old before old age, and from a child that becomes a lord and from wealth that becomes a punishment and from an evil companion, when he sees good (from me) he hides it and when he sees evil, he spreads it.
May Allah guide us to choose the friends that bring us closer to the deen and protect us from evil friends who have no good intentions for us.
Friend, Companion, Inside
Road, Route, Way
Before, Earlier, Prior to