Like anything else, there are criteria for evaluation of friendship. And based on this, friends are classified at different levels. And again according to the same standard, some people are not considered as a friend! If you want to know a sincere friend, read the following Islamic tradition.
Imam Sadiq (the sixth Imam of Muslims) says: “There are certain criteria for sincere friendship. Do not attribute perfection in sincere friendship to one who does not possess these criteria. Do not attribute any (degree of) sincere friendship to one who has none of these criteria. Firstly, his inner and outer self should be the same for you. Secondly, he should consider your honor to be his honor and your dishonor to be his dishonor. Thirdly, worldly wealth and position should not change him. Fourthly, he should not refuse you anything he has the capacity to attain. And fifthly, he should not desert you in times of affliction.”(Al Amali by Saduq, p.397)
In the world full of hardships, we surely need a friend as a refuge and as a solace for our heart and soul. And these five characteristics listed, will be a great help to find a good and sincere friend.
Others act toward us is not out of two states. It is either good or bad. In response to those who do some good to us it is natural that we should do Good too. “Is there any Reward for Good other than Good?”(The Holy Qur’an, 55:60) There is an interesting tradition in explaining this verse. Imam Sadiq (the sixth Imam of Muslims) said: “There is a verse in God’s Book [The Holy Quran] that is unrestricted.” He was asked: “Which verse?” Imam Sadiq (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “It is the Almighty God’s words: “Is there any Reward for Good other than Good?” (55:60) this holds true for believers, pagans, good-doers and evildoers. You must reward good for good. Whoever is done some good should respond with good. The proper compensation is not to respond with as much good as he did but with more, since if you respond equally he is ahead of you because he initiated the good deed.” (Tafsir Nur al-Thaqalayn, v.5, p.199)
But what should we do with those who do us some evil? There is an interesting answer in Holy Quran: “Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy intimate friend!”(The Holy Qur’an, 41:34)
Of course, if someone abuses this behavior he/she does not deserve it. But in general, this will have a great effect. Because everyone who do us some evil, he/she expects evil. And when we treat him/her with kindness this will have a great effect and it will attract them to us.
Islam always tries to strengthen the inner tendency of compensate for the good deeds done for people. Valuable educations that come from Islamic teachings teach us that how should we behave with those who treat us kindly. In a very interesting tradition, Imam Sadiq (the sixth Imam of Muslims) has said: “One third of the intellect is to be friendly with the people.”(Usul al-Kafi, v.2, pp.642-643) It proves the lack of one third of intellect in those who do not act this way and do not wish to recompense those who treat them kindly.
Of course, expressing kindness to each other may be occurred in different forms. For example, greeting each other in any form is one of the basic way for expressing kindness. It includes shaking hands till the high level of respects. In this regard there is a verse in the Holy Quran that teaches us how should behave toward the greeting of others. “When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. God takes careful account of all things.”(4:86) In Ali ibn Ibrahim’s commentary we read the following tradition quoted on the authority of Imam Baqir (MGB) and Imam Sadiq (MGB): “What is meant by a greeting is verbal expression of greetings and any other practical forms of expressing kindness.” (Tafsir-i-Namunah, v.4, p.42)
It indicates that should not be careless toward good, indeed we should do our best to compensate for the kindness of others.
Islam tries that Muslims feel to be brothers to each other even though some are from the West, and others are from the East. But here is a question. What the criterion for brotherhood in Islam? This is an important matter. Because the empty claim is not enough but religious orders must be done. In this regard I express some traditions.
Imam Sadiq (the sixth Imam of Muslims) said:“A believer is the brother of other believers. He acts as their eyes and as their guide. He/she will never cheat or oppress them. He will never deceive them or act against his/her promises to them.”(Usul al-Kafi, v.3, p.166) According this tradition if someone cheat or oppress others, or acts against his/her promise, he/she cannot be considered as a brother indeed he/she cannot be considered as a believer!
In another tradition, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him and His Progeny) said:“Two believing brothers are like two hands each washing the other.”(Al-Mahajjah al-Bayda, v.3, p.332)
If you look carefully, this tradition has very deep meanings. One of them is that believers must cover each other’s imperfections. So, if someone tries to detect the defects of others, he/she cannot be placed in the circle of brotherhood.
As you see the claim of brotherhood must be followed with some criteria to demonstrate goodwill about others.
Among the various forms of friendship, that form that is through common belief is worth more in Islam. Such a form of friendship is considered in the rank of brotherhood and has very special effects. For example there are many traditions in Islamic texts pointing out the reward of visiting the believing brothers. In this regard Imam Baqir (the fifth Imam of Muslims) has said:“When the Muslim leaves his house to visit his brother for the sake of God alone, seeking God’s pleasure and hoping for his reward, God the Exalted the High will appoint seventy thousand angels who will keep calling out behind him until he returns home: Blessed you are, and may Heaven be pleasant for you.”(Usul al-Kafi, v.3, p.177)
Or in another tradition, Imam Sadiq (the sixth Imam of Muslims) said:“God the Exalted the High will say to whoever visits his brother for the sake of God: O My servant! It was Me that You visited, and your reward is incumbent on Me. I will not be pleased with a reward of anything less than Heaven for you.”(Ibid)
You acknowledge that with such beautiful instructions Islam has prepared a lovely life for the believers and has guaranteed the unity of Muslims.
In Islam, brothers are not only those who are being born of the same parents, rather those who have common belief, are brothers too. The goal of Islam is to put a strong bond among the Muslims. According to point of view of Islam, all Muslims belong to one family and they must behave like it. Imam Sadiq (the sixth Imam of Shia) said:“A believer is the brother of other believers. They are all parts of the same body. If one part hurts, other parts will feel the pain. Their souls are also derived from One Spirit. A believer’s soul is so strongly attached to God’s Spirit that it is like the attachment of the sun’s rays to the sun.”(Usul al-Kafi, v.3, p.166)
Basically Islam does not tolerate violence and hatred in society and do its best to bring peace and love. For example two large tribes of Oas and Khazraj that had deep animosities with each other became brother by Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him and His Progeny). Later these two tribes forgot their brotherhood and fought again. To solve this problem, the Prophet offered a basic solution. He instructed the Muslims to express their love and friendship to each other. He said:“When one of you likes another one he should let him know about it.”(Al-Mahajjah al-Bayda, v.3, p.331)
Yes dears, the best way to establish peace in the world is that we love each other and express it to each other.
As the thirsty person in a hot dessert understands the true value of water, similarly the oppressed person will understand the true value of the justice. Basically every man instinctively loves justice because by justice people do not wish bad for others, does not violate their rights, does not treat the people with prejudice, and treats everyone fairly, and also“Justice puts everything in its right place.”( Imam Ali, Nahjul Balaghah, wise saying no.429)
When everything is in its right place there will be no poor in the world. Because the equitable distribution of wealth is that everyone can benefit from it based on merit. Not that most of the world’s wealth is in the hands of a few people, and most of the people are poor and some of them die because of hunger!
In such a situation, the value of justice is more specific. And because of this high value, Imam Sadiq (the sixth Imam of Muslims) has said:“Justice is sweeter than honey, softer than butter, and more fragrant than musk.”(Usul al-Kafi, v.2, p.147)
Human rights can be achieved only with justice and we can say that human justice implies respecting human rights, and honoring everybody’s rights. I hope that one day all people feel the sweet scent of justice and there is no injustice in the world anymore.