Islam and friendship (Companions)
Humans are social creatures by nature; they’re always in need of friends and companions. Most of our lives depend on interaction with others. Strong individuals are the core of a strong community, something that Muslims should always strive for.
We all know that Allah the Most High has brought us to life in order to test us. Thus we are here for a relatively short period of time and that we shall meet Allah one Day, so we need to use our present life for what is best for us in the hereafter. Once we know our purpose and our goal in life, we should seek ways to achieve them so as to benefit our own selves.
The Prophet (saas) said: (A person follows the Deen (way of life) of his close friend; therefore let each of you look carefully at whom he chooses for friends).
This is because friends have a strong influence on people and that their environment will affect the strength of their relationship with Allah (swt).
Rasul Allah (saas) who has the most noble character and dealings with fellow humans gave us a very clear and simple message and advice in regard to friendship.
How should we choose our friends?
We should choose the friend that believes and abide by our religion (Islam) and gives great respect to what Allah and Rasul Allah (saas) has ordered us. And we should stay away from that who is not well mannered and gives no attention to what Islam is about or what pleases or displeases Allah, for he’ll surely affect us negatively. There is no good in the companion drowns us in sins and displeasing Allah.
It has also been narrated that our friends in the Dunya (world) will be our friends in the Akhira (afterlife). It is therefore vital for a Muslim to choose good friends.
The bases for the actions of those who follow the evil ways are corrupt; their actions are built upon misguidance and deviation. Their deeds are worthless to them as Allah said: (And We will proceed to what they have done of deeds, so We shall render them to scattered floating dust).
Their actions, even if we see them as righteous and noble are of no value to them, so how can they be useful to us?
Good friends are those who share their companions both happiness and sadness. If we share our feelings with the wrong-doers whose actions are worthless and based on corruption, then we are following the same ways and standards as they are, and we’ll end up being as corrupted as they are, and then we’re in a big trouble, how can we face Allah’s dissatisfaction and displeasure?!
Instead of making friends with the misguided ones we should befriend the righteous, yet treat the rest in a gracious and just manner. Staying at sufficient distance is necessary; yet treating everybody in a noble and kind manner is required.
In another Hadith, Rasul Allah (saas) said: (The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him).
When choosing our friends we should ask ourselves first:
Are they going to help us achieve the purpose for which we were brought to life? Or will they take us away from it?
Will they desire for us Allah’s pleasure or is that completely irrelevant to them and not their concern at all?
Are they leading us to Paradise or to the Hell?
Allah says in the Qur’an: (O you who believe! Take care of your own selves. If you follow the right guidance and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong no hurt can come to you from those who are in error. The return of you all is to Allah, then He will inform you about (all) that which you used to do).
Friendship has rules in Islam unlike in the West; to visit them especially when they are ill, to inquire about their family, feeding them when they are hungry, attending to their needs, keeping their private affairs to yourself and sharing your wealth with them without hesitation. It is related that Ibn Umar (raa) was looking about from right to left in the presence of the Prophet (saas), who asked the reason for doing so. Ibn Umar replied, “There is someone dear to me and I am searching for him, but do not see him”. The Prophet (saas) then explained to him that if you love someone you should ask his name, his father’s name and where he lives as well as visit him when he is sick and help him if he was busy.
Umar bin Al-Khattab (raa) said, “Encountering your brothers lifts all grief. If Gods blesses you with good relations with another Muslim, then, hold fast to it”.
Abu Bakr’s companionship with the Prophet
It has to be mentioned right from the beginning that both Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr Assiddeeq had similar temperaments. Both were kind, lenient, merciful truthful and honest. Both found comfort in solitude and abstained from drinking alcohol, even before Islam was established. Abu Bakr’s complexion was fair, and he was rather slim. He was tender, wise and solemn and seldom joined in the polytheistic celebrations of his countrymen.
After the Prophet had married Khadeejah, the wealthy, 40-year-old landlady from Mecca, his lodging was very close to that of Abu Bakr. According to `Aishah, Abu Bakr’s daughter and the prophet’s wife after the death of Khadeejah, her father was frequently visited by the Prophet, with whom he developed a strong friendship.
When God’s message was revealed to Muhammad, the first man to believe in him was Abu Bakr. In fact, Abu Bakr had always doubted the validity of idolatry and had very little enthusiasm for worshipping idols. So when he accepted Islam he did his best to attract other people to it. Soon `Othman bin Affan, Abdul-Rahman bin Awf, Talhah bin Obaydillah, Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, Al-Zubayr bin Al-‘Awwam and Abu Obaydah bin AI-Jarrah all flocked to join Muhammad (saas). The Prophet once said: ”`Abu Bakr was the only person who accepted Islam immediately, without suspicion.
Abu Bakr’s occupation was drapery. Adraper, in order to be successful in his trade should not go against his customers’ wishes. Nevertheless, he preached the new religion ardently without considering how it might affect his business. When the infidels started torturing their poor Muslim slaves, Abu Bakr intervened. As he was unable to release them by force, he paid their masters money and set them free. Bilal bin Rabah was one of those who were tortured in the sun, by being brutally whipped and covered with heavy rocks while lying on the burning sand in the summer heat. When Islam started, Abu Bakr had 40,000 dirhems but by the time he emigrated to Madina he had only 5,000 left.
When the Prophet spoke with contempt of the disbelievers’ gods, the infidels got very irritated and attacked him violently when he was on his way to the Ka’ba. Had it not been for Abu Bakr’s intervention, something bad might have happened to him.
As the Qurayshites rejected the Prophet’s message, he started to look for another tribe, which would give him refuge .He was accompanied on this search by Abu Bakr. The only shelter which they could find was in Yathreb, or Madina, which was then inhabited by two warring tribes, the Aws and Khazraj. Later, through the Prophet’s good offices, the two tribes became united and were given the name of “Ansar” or “Helpers”.
Abu Bakr was known as “Assiddeeq’ after the incident on the Prophet’s midnight journey to Jerusalem. The Qurayshites, being experienced merchants knew that such a journey, if it ever happened, would take two months by camel. When Muhammad told them he had accomplished his round trip to Jerusalem in one night, they scoffed at him and began to doubt his sanity. As for Abu Bakr, when he first heard of it he thought that they were telling a tale; he then said, “I have always believed his words about heavenly revelation how can I disbelieve him about such a secondary wordly matter?”
Because of the ruthless torturing of the Prophet’s followers, many of them emigrated to Abyssinia. Yet Abu Bakr would not leave. He preferred to stay with the Prophet to support him in his time of need and help the new converts. When many Muslims emigrated to Madina, Abu Bakr asked the Prophet’s permission to follow suit. He was told to wait because the Prophet himself might leave with him. So he got two camels ready and waited anxiously A few days later, while the Prophet’s house was besieged by a group of swordsmen from all the tribes of Mecca, who had plotted together to kill him, he left his cousin, `Ali bin Abi Talib, in his bed, slipped unnoticed from the house, and departed with Abu Bakr in the early hours of the morning. Their journey from Mecca to Madina was full of romance and adventure. As soon as the besieging swordsmen discovered that they were tricked, they went in search of the two men. A public prize of a hundred camels was offered to anyone who might find them. However, it happened that when they hid in a cave named Thawr, a spider spun its web at the opening of the cave, and a pigeon built its nest there. The swordsmen followed their tracks until they reached their hiding place, but, seeing the web and the early hours of the morning. Their journey from Mecca to Madina was full of romance and adventure. As soon as the besieging nest, they went home, telling everyone that further pursuit was fruitless.
Later when the battle of Badr took place between Muslims and non-Muslims, and the latter out numbered the former by three to one, some sort of canopy was erected for the Prophet at the battle lines. Abu Bakr alone was entrusted with his safety. This shows the very close relationship between the two; and when the Prophet’s mantle fell from his shoulders during his earnest prayer to God, his intimate companion put it courteously back.
In the battle of Ohod, which took place the following year after Badr, the disbelievers won the battle because the archers left their places on the top of the mountain. Only a dozen people stayed with the Prophet on this occasion, one of whom was the staunch71 believer Abu Bakr.
This loyalty was evident in all the campaigns which the Prophet led, especially those waged against the Jews of Banu Nadier and Banu Qaynoqa’, and against the Jews of Fadak, Tayma’ and Khaybar, not to mention the heroic battle of the Trench. In fact, from the very start of the Islamic era he was playing the role of vizier advising and supporting the Prophet.
In the year 6 A.H. the Muslims attempted to take Mecca itself, the stronghold of polytheism. When they reached the Hodaybiya Valley, Quraysh sent negotiators to persuade them not to attack the city and agreed to let them in for pilgrimage the following year. The Prophet agreed, but some of his followers refused. They were determined to conquer Mecca immediately. Abu Bakr stood firmly by the side of the Prophet; but it was only when a full Qur’anic chapter entitled “Fath“ or “Conquest” was revealed that they were finally convinced.
When Mecca was at last subdued, all the tribes of Arabia were convinced that Muhammad was a true apostle sent to them by God. They stopped resisting and sent delegates to Madina proclaiming their allegiance to him. While he was busy receiving delegates, he let Abu Bakr preside over the 300 pilgrims. This incident proved of vital importance later when a caliph was chosen after the death of the Prophet.
The 10th year A.H. was called “the valediction year”, because the Prophet, with 100,000 followers, including Abu Bakr and all the Prophet’s household, performed his last pilgrimage and from the top of `Arafat mountain gave his everlasting speech in which he summarized the numerous commandments of Islam.
After his return to Madina the Prophet became ill and could not lead the prayers in the Grand Mosque. He gave instructions to ‘Aishah’ to tell her father to lead the prayers. She pointed out that Abu Bakr’s voice was rather low and the worshippers might not hear his recitation of the Qur’an. She also said that he often wept while praying, and suggested Omar bin al-Khattab as being fitter for the task. The Prophet became extremely angry, and gave emphatic orders that Abu Bakr should lead the prayers. This was taken by the Muslims as another sign to choose Abu Bakr to be their caliph after the Prophet’s death.
Islamic Sayings on Friendship
(1) (The believer is like a mirror to other believers (in truthfulness)). Like a mirror, your friend gives you an honest image. He forgives your mistakes, but does not hide or exaggerate your strengths and weaknesses.
(2) (What person can be the best friend? He who helps you remember Allah (SWT), and reminds you when you forget Him).
(3) (Who is the best among people? He who, when you look at him, you remember Allah).
(4) (The poor is one who does not have any friend).
(5) (Live amongst people in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you are alive they crave for your company ‘friendship’).
(6) (Friendship transfers a stranger in to a relative).
(7) (Do not choose as your friend the enemy of your friend).
(8) (Verily, there are three (types of) friends for a Muslim,
- The friend who says: I am with you whether you are alive or dead’, and this is his deed.
- The friend who says: I am with you unto the threshold of your grave and then I will leave you’, and this is his children.
- The friend who says: I will be with you until when you die’, and this is his wealth which will belong to the inheritors when he dies).
The Bear and the Two Friends :
Two friends were traveling together, when a Bear suddenly met them on their path. One of them climbed up quickly into a tree and concealed himself in the branches. The other, seeing that he must be attacked, fell flat on the ground, and when the Bear came up and felt him with his snout, and smelt him all over, he held his breath, and feigned the appearance of death as much as he could. The Bear soon left him, for it is said he will not touch a dead body. When the Bear was quite gone, the other friend descended from the tree, and jokingly inquired of his friend what it was the Bear had whispered in his ear. “He gave me this advice,” his companion replied. “Never travel with a friend who deserts you at the approach of danger.”
 Qur’an (25:23)
 Qur’an (5:105)