وَٱصۡبِرۡ نَفۡسَكَ مَعَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدۡعُونَ رَبَّہُم بِٱلۡغَدَوٰةِ وَٱلۡعَشِىِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجۡهَهُ ۥۖ وَلَا تَعۡدُ عَيۡنَاكَ عَنۡہُمۡ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَاۖ وَلَا تُطِعۡ مَنۡ أَغۡفَلۡنَا قَلۡبَهُ ۥ عَن ذِكۡرِنَا وَٱتَّبَعَ هَوَٮٰهُ وَكَانَ أَمۡرُهُ ۥ فُرُطً۬ا
“And keep yourself content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Countenance, and let not your eyes pass beyond them to those who seek the pomp and glitter of this life; nor obey any whose heart we have permitted to neglect Our Remembrance, who follows his own desires, and whose affair has been lost.” (Surah al-Kahf 18: 28)
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 own preferences.
However, the type of friends you have often indicate the type of person you are. Rasulullah (SAW) advised: “A person molds his way of life (his deen) according to his friends. So you should be careful about who you make your friend!” (Ahmad)
Rasulullah (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.
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. This is exactly the implication of above quoted verse, where Allah is reminding us to be with those: “who remember Allah morning and evening, seeking His Countenance (pleasure),” and 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.
Rasulullah (SAW)’s Advice: “He Who Helps You Remember”
Rasulullah (SAW) has given similar advice in choosing companions and forming friendships. Rasulullah (SAW) was asked: “What person can be the best friend?”
Rasulullah (SAW) replied: “He who helps you remembers Allah, and he who reminds you when you forget Him.”
Then Rasulullah (SAW) was asked: “And which friend is the worst?” Rasulullah (SAW replied: ““He who does not help you when you remember Allah and does not remind you of Allah when you forget.” Rasulullah (SAW) was further asked: “Who is the best among people?” Rasulullah (SAW) replied: “He who when you look at him, you remember Allah.” (Because of his noble character, devotion to Allah, and concern for others).
These are the principles that should guide our friendships. Is this the criteria we use in our friendships 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 realized before its 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 “acquaintance” (someone to whom you should be nice and caring, but don’t necessarily share your values and principles with). Therefore, such Quraanic 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 Rasulullah (SAW) that this was never the case. The authentic biographies of Rasulullah (SAW) are replete with incidences and sayings encouraging Muslims to be kind, generous, and loving towards their neighbors and acquaintances, regardless of their ethnic, religious, or social background. Very often non-Muslim Bedouins, neighbors, or travelers would benefit from the generosity and extraordinary concern of Rasulullah (SAW) towards them.
“Do not fail to respect the rights of your friend on the ground of your being close friends; for he ceases to be your friend, the moment you trample on his rights.” Ali (RA)