“Once you overcome your enemy
make your forgiveness of him/her
Imam Ali (the first Imam of Muslims), Nahjul Balaghah, Hikmat 110
Why we should be careful in choosing friends? The best answer is this tradition of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him and His Progeny): “A man follows the faith, ways and habits of his friend.” (Usul al-Kafi, v 72, p. 375) it means if your friend is a good person you will be a good man too and vice versa.
One of the most important criteria for judging others is whether they respect the rights of others or not. Islamic teaching is full of directives concerning the respecting the rights of others. For instance, Imam Ali (the first Imam of Muslims) says: “make yourself the judge between you and the others. Like for the others what you like for yourself and dislike for them what you dislike for yourself.” (Nahjul Balagha, the letter n.31)
Thus, we need someone as a friend who will respect the rights of others, because if someone does not respect the rights of others he/she will not respect our rights too. Imam Sajjad (the fourth Imam of Muslims) told His son: “Do not be friend with those who deprive their kin of their rights.” (Usul al-Kafi, v 72, p. 376)
As I said here and in previous posts and base on the tradition of Imam Sajad (Peace Be Upon Him), a liar, a sinner, a stingy and a stupid person are not deserve to be good friends, because “Such persons are shorn of Allah’s Blessings and are accursed people.” (Ibid)
Association and friendship with wise people has many benefits for humans. Such friends are the greatest gifts of God. They are the solace for our heart and the refuge for us. Due to the high understanding they are always to be useful for their friends. In proper time they encourage and exhort and also in right time they criticize and admonish. Such friends always think to growth in the final end of friendship. Of course such friends are very low. If you have such a friend you should thank God.
Another type is stupid friends. This kind of friends has good intention too but they are not able to recognize different conditions. Once they are going to be useful but bring a lot of harm to you and in another time, they want to prevent damage but, in fact, many benefits would be lost by them. And it is because of lack of high understanding.
Therefore, Imam Sajjad (the fourth Imam of Muslims) told His son: “Do not make a stupid person your friend, lest he bring harm to you with his stupidity. It is possible that with all good intentions, he might bring harm to you with his foolish actions.” (Usul al-Kafi, v 72, p. 376)
One of the most important benefits of a good friend is his/her helping during the life. As you know the world is full of hurdles and hardships and it is absolutely necessary for every individual to have a good friend.
But what kind of friends helps us in times of need?
I think it depends on his/her characteristics because some people do not like to help others inherently. For this reason, Imam Sajjad (the fourth Imam of Muslims) told his son: “Do not make a stingy person your friend who may not help you in times of need.” (Usul al-Kafi, v 72, p. 376)
Stinginess is the opposite of generosity and the sacred religion of Islam has warned His people strongly against it. A stingy person refrains from spending something which is needed for others even his/her friends. Such a person due to the excessive love for money and property refrains giving freely to someone else. So, a stingy person cannot be a good friend because he/she deprives his friends of his fortune and does not regard them.
By choosing such persons as friend we will not reach our goal because as Imam Sajjad (a.s) said, a stingy person will leave us alone he/she will not help in times of need.
To have a friend is a necessity of life and being friendless is like a shortage of human life. But this necessity is not a good reason for being careless in choosing friends. Because our friends and associates have a great influence on our affairs and this effect can be negative if we choose bad friends.
So, it is the main question: who should not we choose as a friend?
In this regard there are a lot of Islamic Traditions. Of course, there is no chance to mention all but one of them will mention here.
According Islamic teachings, it is forbidden to sit with wasteful rich, because they see everything as wealth and money. Such people are unaware of God and delved in the material life. In some tradition, wasteful rich is considered as a dead person and it was said that with sitting such people your heart will be perished. In other hand, when you sit with a rich person, you will compare yourself with him/her subconscious and at the end you will be Suspicious toward God. While this is a superficiality view and we are not aware about the reality.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad says: “Do not sit with the rich. For a servant sits with them and he is aware of the blessings God has bestowed on him/her, but he/she rises up thinking that God has bestowed no blessing on him/him.” (Bihar al-Anwar, v.74, p.194)
In brief, wasteful rich people are not considered as good friends and associates.
One of the greatest Gift of God to a man is a good friend and companion. Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful and the first Imam of Muslims, says: “The most fortunate are those who have connections with good people.” (Gharar al hukm, p. 189) Good friends are like safe refuges that are very helpful in all conditions, especially in harsh conditions.
As you know this world is full of hardships and it is absolutely necessary for every persons to have at least one true friend. A true friend can be solace for your heart and soul and you can commiserate with him/her when you are in need. There is an interesting tradition about these friends. Imam Ali (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “When one loses his own sincere friend whose friendship with him was for the sake of God, it is as if he has lost one of his body parts.” (ibid, p.414)
And it is because such friends are like your eyes that see danger and warns you. Or are like your hand and help you. The real value of a good friend would be understood by anyone who is deprived of it. This person is like one who does not have any friend and shelter and is away from home.
Let’s appreciate good friends.
The role of friend in human life is very important and undeniable. Friends affect our behavior and the many aspects of our lives. This effect can be either positive or negative.
On the one hand, having a good friend puts man on the path of happiness. A good friend makes man easier to move toward perfection. From the point of view of Islam, Lack of a good friend is considered as a defect. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him and His Progeny) has said: “It is a great tragedy for one not to have any good friends.” (Shafi, v.1, p.192)
And on the other hand, bad friends and associates have a very bad influence on man’s personality, worldly and religious affairs. The reason is that when you love someone, you will love his/ her actions and thoughts. Thoughts and deeds of a wicked man cannot be good. As a result, you will be interested in those actions and thoughts. This interest is enough to make you committed evil deeds and have bad thoughts.
Imam Ali (the first Imam of Muslim) has said: “Avoid making friendship with transgressors and sinning persons because evil creates evil.” (Bihar al-anwar, v 74, p. 199)
So, to have a friend is a necessity for life, but be careful who you choose as a friend.