Questions of Faith

Friendships based on sincerity

I have a friend whose friendship means the world to me. When I think of the possibility of us parting I feel devastated. Immediately I must point out that our friendship is based on all that is good and pure. When I do not hear from my friend for more than a day I feel a sense of anxiety.

Is it acceptable to care for a friend to such an extent without the relationship being based on any deep demands as is often witnessed in other parts of the world?

I have so often seen friendships decline into lowly relationships or former friends becoming arch-enemies. I fail to understand how people who have are party to sincere relationships can lose it all.

Name withheld, Jeddah

It is encouraging to hear of frienships(sic) that are based on clean morality and sincere care. Islam expects of us to form bonds of friendships that are based on precepts of morality, sincerity and mutual respect. There is an old proverb which says, "Show me your friends and I will tell you what you are".

The Prophet (pbuh) said that it is better to be alone than in the company of the wicked, and that it is better to be in the company of the good than to be alone. Good friendships can be a tremendous source of strength and support in leading a virtuous life.

Again the Prophet gave the following advice in choosing and forming friendships: "He was asked: "Who is the person that can be the best friend?" He replied, "He who helps you when you remember God, and he who reminds you when you forget Him".

It can be very difficult in these tempting times to live up to these principles these days of material glitter.

But, conversely, when your friends influence you in the remembrance of Allah in trying times when things don't seem to go right, you should say a prayer of thanks for the quality of your friendship. Such friendships are rare indeed and should be cherished.

Friendships can be the wings of a bird that carry you to enlightenment, or it can be a millstone around your neck. From what you related to me, I get the clear impression your friend is indeed a unique person who is one of those the Prophet encouraged us to acquire.

My advice is do not fear for that which is neither a reality nor a necessity. Your friend seems to be a genuine one who will not desert you for no reason. You should not accommodate such fears. When this do(sic) happen, ask Allah Almighty to purify your mind from such anxieties.

The best way to always retain a friendship is to act with sensitive care towards your friends. True friendships will survive rough times.

A friend weeps for his friend

WHEN Zayd ibn Haarithah, the servant of the Prophet, was killed in the battle of Mu'tah, the Prophet said, "Zayd strove in the path of God sincerely as he should. Today he has met his Lord and he is sirene".

Thereafter Zayd's daughter found the Prophet weeping over the corpse of her father and she said, "What do I see?"

The Prophet, with tears in his eyes, said, "A friend weeping for his friend."

Through such very human emotions the Prophet (pbuh) showed us his gentleness and superior quality of friendship.

(text of May 1, 1992 Saudi Gazette column)