Friendships: A Potential and Unrecognised Threat to Your Place in the Hereafter
Friendship in General
Let us start by defining the word friendship:
‘The emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends.’
Friendship is a special bond developed between the closest of the closest. It is a relationship that brings us both good and bad times. Humans crave companionship and closeness - it’s in our nature. Friendships hold a key part in our lives which is why we value and treasure the good ones.
Friendships don’t necessarily mean you have something in common. They don’t always have something to do with likes and dislikes, age and religion. A good friendship consists of, not only love and care but respect and loyalty. As a friend, apart from being supportive of each other’s decisions, honesty is also essential. Honesty is the best policy. Sometimes, instead of fake lies, an honest opinion is needed more.
Friendships can also influence us (for better or for worse). A 2007 study found that if someone became obese, it was probable that their friends would pack on a few pounds too. The person’s friends were 57% more likely to become obese. We can see here, even from a scientific perspective, how our friends can shape us.
Friendships in Islam
Even in an Islamic view, friendships are important. In fact, for us, they are even more essential. As Muslims, we are a minority within society, therefore having respectable friends is of benefit to us. Good friends bring joy to our lives in this world but they also play a factor in whether we enter Jannah or not.
The admirable friendship of Muhammad SAW and Abu Bakr RA is a beautiful example. Abu Bakr RA was the dearest friend of our Prophet SAW. Even before converting to Islam, he was Muhammad SAW’s closest friend, due to his piety and trustworthiness. Because of his devotion to his religion and his righteousness, our Prophet SAW considered him more like a brother than a friend. He said, “If I had taken anyone as my closest friend I would’ve taken Abu Bakr, but he is my brother and companion.”
In Islam, we think of everyone as a brother or sister. As a Muslim community, we are inclusive of all. Islam places great importance on sociability and friendship. Even in the Quran, an eminent emphasis has been placed on maintaining good company since it plays a key role in shaping an individual’s life. Bad company, however, also affects who we become.
Negative Effects of Bad Friendships
First of all, what qualifies as a bad friendship? Muhammad SAW has advised us to avoid having friends with bad manners, such as lying, hypocrisy, deception and miserliness. Our Prophet SAW stated:
“A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith - the perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.”
What Muhammad SAW said roughly 1400 years ago is still true to this day. You will get influenced by your friends - there is no question about it. They play such a big part in our lives and they can change us - both negatively and positively. It relates to us even now, especially in this day and age.
In the Quran, Allah SWT says:
يَـٰوَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِى لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا
Woe to me! I wish I had never taken so and so as a friend. - 25:28
This ayah from Surah Al-Furqan shows us the importance of the type of friends we keep. Allah SWT calls this person ٱلظَّالِمُ - the wrongdoer. Allah himself tells us to pick our friends wisely. This is why we place such a great amount of importance on this subject. This person on Yawm Al-Qiyamah shows such deep regret for befriending the wrong person who led him astray. Despite the fact that you may be a practising, pious Muslim, you could easily - and unknowingly - be sent off course. At this moment in time, we have a world of technology right at our fingertips. Even if we aren’t physically with our friends, we can still reach them through calling, texting and other technological ways. As a result, humanity places more importance on friends these days compared to back then when we wouldn’t have been able to contact them as easily.
In addition, drugs, smoking and alcohol are more popular in this present time. Unintentionally, we may befriend a person who regularly drinks. By doing this, we open a door for Shaytan to enter our lives. We give Shaytan a hole, a gap, a chink in our Iman that permits him to contaminate our faith. Your friend will urge you to try it: ‘It’ll make you feel great!’ they’ll say. ‘It tastes good and it’ll get rid of your worries. For a while.’ This is Shaytan speaking. He’ll keep badgering you and there may be a day when you’ll give in. Do you want to take that chance? Do you want the day to come when you consume a haram liquid? One of the major things we all know is prohibited? By knowing which people to befriend and which to avoid, we can be the type of people Muhammad SAW mentioned in this hadith:
“Your best friend is the one who: seeing him reminds you of Allah, speaking to him increases your knowledge, and his actions remind you of the hereafter.”
We should all aspire to be this friend; the friend that is a reminder of Allah SWT; the friend that, when he or she speaks, gives you beneficial knowledge; the friend whose actions remind you that this life isn’t permanent, and everything that you do will add up to give you the outcome in the afterlife.