“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.
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.
People use different methods for choosing things. For example, to buy a pair of shoes they go to different stores. Or to buy a car they spend a lot of time and consult with several people. Surely things like shoes and cars are not more important than a good friend. Therefore it is necessary to try to find good friends.
According to the above, the question is this: What is your method for choosing a good friend? Is it true to choose a friend without properly testing? Imam Ali (the first Imam of Muslims) said: “Whoever chooses a friend after properly testing, will have a lasting friendship with him/her.”(Ghurar wa Durar, p.695) such friends will be good friends for us.
But if we choose friends without testing, we will be like children! Because to become friends with kids just a smile is enough while the kids do not know what’s the reality behind that smile? There were many friendships that began with a smile but it ended with the cry! Why? For the lack of properly testing! “Whoever makes friends without proper considerations will have to put up with wicked friends.” Imam Ali (Peace Be Upon Him) said.
So, for choosing good friends and having a lasting friendship we must do our best. As it is said, a good friend is more important than things like shoe, car and etc.
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.