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.
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.
Since man is a social being he/she would become happy if has a good associate or friend. In all ages and at all times man needs companions because he/she suffers from loneliness. Man would become happy when a friend or associate sits beside him/her and talk to him/her kindly, be their friendship short-lived or for a long time.
According the sacred religion of Islam whoever becomes our companion has certain rights incumbent upon us. In this regard, imam Sajjad (the fourth Imam of Muslims) has said: “And the right of your sitting companion is that you should treat him/her gently, warmly welcome him/her, be fair while talking with him/her, do not take your eyes off of him/her when you are looking at him/her, and pronounce your words clearly to help him/her understand what you say. And if you are the first one to go and sit with him/her, you can leave him/her when you wish. However, if he/she is the first one to come and sit with you, he/she can leave you when he/she wishes to. And you should not leave him/her without his/her permission. You should forget his/her slips and remember his/her good qualities, and you should tell nothing about him/her but good. And there is no power but in God.”(The Treatise on Rights, right n.31)
The intricacies of dealing with a friend, shows how important he/she is. These detailed guidelines help to creation a lasting friendship. And all of them indicate the prominent position of friendship in view of Islam.
Apart from bad men who their wicked traits block this mode of natural behavior in them, it is inherent in man to wish to recompense those who treat him kindly. Based on this principle of human the sacred religion of Islam, encourage its followers to compensate for the good deeds done for them and always wait for a chance to practically reward those who have somehow done them a favor. The Holy Quran says: “Is there any Reward for Good other than Good?”(55:60)
Thus, it is an important point to know how to behave with a person who treats us kindly. In this regard, there are valuable words from Imam Sajjad (the fourth Imam of Muslims). He said: “And the right of him who treats you kindly is that you should thank him and acknowledge his kindness; and spread the good word around about him, and sincerely pray for him between you and God the Praised One. Then if you do that, you have thanked him both in private and in public. Then if you are able to practically recompense him, do recompense him. Otherwise, you should be determined to do so later.”(The Treatise on Rights, right n.28)
One of the closest people to every man is his/her brother. Brother is a symbol of love and support. Two forms of brotherhood can be imagined. One is a blood and genetic relationship that is being born of the same parents. Another form of brotherhood that is mentioned in Islamic texts comes through common belief. In this form all the Muslims has related together and these intimate relationships has become the source of unity of all the Muslims in the world. In this regard The Holy Qur’an says:“The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear God, that ye may receive Mercy.” (49:10)
And this verse is considered one of the most important slogans of Islam.
Of course the position of brotherhood like other important positions follows some issues that need to be considered. In this regard Imam Sajjad (Peace Be Upon Him) said:
“And the right of your brother is that you should know that he is your hand that you extend, and your back to whom you seek refuge, and your power upon whom you rely, and your might with which you compete. Take him not as a weapon with which to disobey God, nor as a means with which to violate God’s rights. And do not neglect to help him against his own self and support him against his enemy, and intervene between him and his devils, and give him good counsel, and associate with him for God’s sake. Then if he obeys his Lord and is responsible towards Him properly it is fine. Else God should be more preferable and more honorable to you than he is.” (The Treatise on Rights, right n.25)