For various moral, psychological, and social reasons, people need good company and close
friendship. We often come into contact with people and find that we like their personality enough
to want to make friends with them. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes in a friend and their
However, the type of friends you have often indicate the type of person you are. The Messenger of
Allah (SAW) once advised, “A person moulds his way of life (his deen) according to his friends. So you should be careful about who you make your friend!” The Prophet (SAW) pointed to the value of good company when he said that it is better to be alone than in the company of the wicked, i.e. those who take you away from the real purpose of life as Muslim, and it is better to be in the company of the good than to be alone. (Musnad-e-Ahmed)
The True Friendship
Good company can be a great source of help and support to leading a righteous life, as principled
and morally conscious individuals, while bad company can lead to crime, immorality, irresponsible
behavior, and sin. Let us not admire someone because of their social status, sinful lifestyle, wealth,
their ‘coolness’, or ‘their fashionable clothes’, etc. Nor obey those whose heart Allah has permitted
to neglect His remembrance.
Prophet’s Advice: ‘He Who Helps You Remember’
The Prophet (SAW) has given similar advice in choosing companions and forming friendships. He
was asked, “What person can be the best friend?” “He who helps you remember God, and he who
reminds you when you forget Him,” he replied. Then the Prophet (SAW) was asked, “And which friend is
the worst?” “He who does not help you when you remember God and does not remind you of God
when you forget,” he replied. The Prophet (SAW) was further asked, “Who is the best among people?” He
replied, “He who when you look at him, you remember God” (because of his noble character, devo-
tion to God, and concern for others).
These are the principles that should guide our friendships. Is this the criteria we use in our friend-
ships today? Indeed, there is no blessing greater than a friend who helps us succeed in this life and
reminds us about the real purpose in this life, only if we realise before it’s too late! It can be very
difficult to live up to these principles when we have people of the same age urging us on to be “part
of the posse”, and to be involved in forbidden, illegal, immoral, or Haram fun for “the pomp and
glitter of this life”.
Difference Between ‘Friendship’ & ‘Acquaintance’
It should be pointed out that there is difference between a “friend” (someone with whom you can
share your values, secrets, and trust), and “acquaintence” (someone to whom you should be nice
and caring, but don’t neccesarily share your values and principles with). Therefore, Quranic verses
should not be used to urge people to isolate themselves from society and hate the people around
them who do not necessarily share the same beliefs and values they do.
In fact, we know from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that this was never the case. The
authentic biographies of the Prophet are replete with incidences and sayings encouraging Muslims to be kind, generous, and loving towards their neighbours and acquaintances, regardless of their ethnic, religious, or social background. Very often non-Muslim bedouins, neighbors, or travellers would benefit from the generosity and extraordinary concern of the Prophet towards them.