The importance of a good companion

(Notes from a lesson by Hadi Hammad, may Allaah reward him)

Verily the man is in need of company. This is most certainly a need. The better the person is, the more he mixes with people and the more he is patient with the harm that comes from them.
As the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

“Indeed when the Muslim mixes with the people and he is patient with their harm, he is better than the Muslim who does not mix with the people and is not patient with their harm” [Jam’i at-Tirmidhi. Sahih]

We all know that the effect of being alone is bad on the soul. The lone person’s mentality, health and well-being become corrupted and distorted. We see in our time, that the people are far from the religion; there is no more akhlaaq (morality and manners), adab (etiquettes), or tahaarah (purity) of the body and heart. We see in our surroundings that people lack deen (religion), gheerah (protectiveness and jealousy), respect etc. From the reasons of such corruptions is having bad company. Ibn al-Jawzi (رحمه الله) said:

“The nature of character is like a thief, if a person leaves his nature with the people of his time, his nature will steal from theirs and he will become like them…” [Talbis Iblees]

It is also said that ‘the friend pulls’ and we see many people that pull others into destruction. This testifies to the hadeeth of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم):

“The man follows his friend’s religion, so you should be careful who you take for a friend” [At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud. Sahih]

We have been cautioned so we need to see who our friends are; are they pulling us to good or to evil? As the old proverb goes:

“Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are”

So do not ask about the man, rather ask about his friend, because every man follows his friend. A poet said:
‘If you are among people, then accompany the best of them and do not accompany the worst of them lest you become like them’

There is no doubt that the Qur’aan and the Sunnah tell us about the good companionship and bad companionship. Allaahسبحانه و تعالى says:

“Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other, except for the righteous” [Surah Az-Zukhruf: 67]

This ayah encourages us to choose good friends and warns us from having bad friends, since bad friends will end up being a source of harm to each other. This is because anything that is based on falsehood and corruption ends up being harmful to the person, except those whom Allah has mercy on. Undoubtedly whatever is for Allaah endures and gets connected and that which is for other than Allaah gets disconnected and separated. Bad companionship is fickle and though people may be friends in this life, this friendship will not carry on into the afterlife. Good companionship however lasts and will get even better in the aakhirah since Allaah said:

“And We shall remove from their breasts any (mutual) hatred or sense of injury (which they had, if at all, in the life of this world); rivers flowing under them, and they will say: ‘All the praises and thanks be to Allaah, Who has guided us to this, never could we have found guidance, were it not that Allaah had guided us! Indeed the Messengers of our Lord did come with the truth.’ And it will be cried out to them: ‘This is the Paradise which you have inherited for what you used to do.’” [Surah Al-A’raf: 43]

There is nothing but regret for the one who does not choose righteous friends:

“And the Day the wrongdoer will bite on his hands [in regret] he will say ‘Oh, I wish I had taken with the Messenger a way.
Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one as a friend.
He led me away from the remembrance after it had come to me. And ever is Satan, to man, a deserter.’ [Surah Al-Furqaan: 27-29]

These aayaat show such regret and this regret is from two aspects; wishing he had taken a good friend and hating that he had taken a bad friend. Like the ayah in Surah Zukhruf, there is encouragement and warning. The path of success is the path of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and the bad companion misguides the person from this path. He leads the person away from ‘the remembrance’ which is Qur’aan, Sunnah and everything in the Deen.

In the Sunnah the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

“The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. So as for the seller of musk then wither he will grant you some or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.” [Al Bukhari]

What you get from a good companion is always good and you benefit from him. The salaf used to say:

‘Do not accompany except two; a man that you teach the religion to so he benefits or a man that you benefit from, as for the third type then run away from him’

So the person that will divert us from the path, and will attract us to the dunya is not the companion that we need. Abu ad-Darda (رضي الله عنه) used to visit the graves often and when he was asked why, he replied:

‘I sit with people who remind me of my destination and if I leave them they don’t back-bite me’.

Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says:

“And keep yourself patient (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم) with those who call on their Lord morning and afternoon, seeking His Face, and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of the life of the world; and obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance, own who follows his own lusts and whose affair (deeds) has been lost.” [Surah Al-Kahf: 28]

Yahya bin kathir said:

‘The best of the brothers is the one who says let us fast before we die, and the most evil is the one who says let us eat and drink before we die.’

Allaah spoke about the good and bad companionship, as did His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم), as did the salaf as-saalih. One of the salaf even wrote a book called ‘The virtue of dogs over many of those who are clothed’. The scholars say to ‘run from an evil friend the way you run from a lion’. Even in the past good friends were hard to find, and we see this in the poem line:

“We heard about the ‘friend’, but we do not see it in the reality of people, and I think the word is only symbolic”

So good friends are rare, and for the person who has a good friend there are two things needed to be maintained; ikhlaas (sincerity) and being patient. Ikhlaas, by loving for the sake of Allaah, and being patient because we are human and we make mistakes and Shaytaan will try to bring animosity between two good friends.

The scholars have mentioned things that plague a friendship:

-Excessive love between friends where they overstep boundaries and care more for their friends than their family. As the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said on the authority of Ali (رضي الله عنه): “Love the one you love in moderation, because the one you love may one day be the one you hate. Hate the one you hate in moderation, because the one you hate may one day become the one you love.” [Al Bukhari- Adab al Mufrad. Hasan]

-Sitting too much together for enjoyment will destroy a relationship. This does not mean that it should not be done at all, but just in moderation. The gatherings should be for the sake of Allaah. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whenever a group of people sit in a gathering in which they do not remember Allaah, the Exalted, nor supplicate to elevate the rank of the Prophet, such a gathering will be a cause of grief to them. If Allaah wills, He will punish them, and if He wills, He will forgive them” [At-Tirmidhi. Sahih]

-When staying with friends he is happy and when he is alone with Allaah he is sad.

-When one speaks to his companion about his private life.

-Having lots of friends. This is a point of difference among the scholars, some saying it is good and some saying it is bad.

We must remember his (صلى الله عليه و سلم) saying:

‘Do not accompany except a believer and let none eat your food except who is pious’ [At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud. Sahih]

This shows we do not accompany the kaafir or the faasiq, unless it is for the purposes of da’wah.

One of salaf was asked why he stays alone in the house with his books, he said ‘How can I be lonely when I have around me the companions of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم)? ‘

May Allaah give us good friends and allow us to avoid the things that destroy the friendship.


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