“I am amazed at the people who turn on the light to see what they eat when they want to dine in the dark, but do not care about food for their mind. They do not care to illuminate their intellect with the light of knowledge to be safe from making mistakes out of ignorance and wrong beliefs.” (Safinah al-Bihar, v.2, p.84)
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)
Due to much of our lives is spent in interaction with others especially our friends, so they have a great influence on our personality affairs. This effect can be either positive or negative. It is a fact of life that you become like those with whom you closely associate. This point should convince us that the character and conduct of the friends should be observed before we pick a friend.
For this reason, Imam Sajjad (the fourth Imam of Muslims) advises his son to observe some points for choosing a friend. One of them is this: “Don’t make a transgressor and sinner your friend because he/she might sell you for as low a price.”(Usul al-Kafi, v 72, p. 376)
Transgressor and sinner persons are addicted to sin and go beyond the limits prescribed by God and justify the forbidden. Such people do not respect God’s commands let alone the rights of friends.
In another tradition, Imam Ali (the first Imam of Muslims) has said: “Avoid making friendship with transgressors and sinning persons because evil creates evil.”(Bihar al-anwar, v 74, p. 199)
As a result, transgressors and sinning persons are not considered as good friends because they encourage you to do what is pleasing to Satan, that which misleads you and leads you to the fire of Hell.
Everybody is not worthy of friendship. I mean some criteria should be considered for choosing a good friend. One of the most important criteria is the subject of this post. Imam Sajjad (the fourth Imam of Muslims) told his son: “Don’t be friends with a liar. He/she will be like a mirage. He/she will trick you. When a thing is far, he/she will say it is near; and when it is at hand, he/she will say that it is very far.”(Usul al-Kafi, v 72, p. 376) According Islamic teachings, lying is a sin which is classified among the Greater sins. Imam Hasan al-Askari (the eleventh Imam of Muslims) has said: “All the evils have been locked in a room and its key is lying.”(Bihar al anwar, v.78, p.377) so, if we associate with a liar, in fact, we associate with the source of all evil! They are not reliable at all. The liar does not deserve friendship.
Imam Ali (the first Imam of Muslims) says: “Every Muslim is supposed to avoid friendship and brotherhood with a compulsive liar, because one who befriends a liar is himself considered a liar. Even if he speaks the truth, he is not trusted.”(Wasa’il ul-Shia, v.12, p. 280) So, a liar must be avoided and we must not be friends with him/her.