Just as hereditary disposition is hidden (1), “bad characteristics are [also] hidden;” (2) because character is transferable, and [first] impressions are major abductors of hearts, and people are like the flocks of birds, naturally disposed to imitating one another; so beware of associating with whosoever is to this liking; for it is indeed destruction, and “prevention is better than cure.”
Therefore, choose the best for companionship and friendship; someone who will help you in your quest, in drawing nearer to your Lord, and agrees with you in your noble objective and intention. Take [from me] the most precise gauge in categorizing friends: (3)
- A friend who befriends you [solely] for his welfare.
- A friend who befriends you [solely] for fun.
- A friend who befriends you for virtue.
As regards the first two [categories of friends], then their [relationship] with you is cut off when the necessitating reason [for which they befriended you] is fulfilled: the attainment of welfare in the first and fun in the second.
As for the third category, then this is the one we will concentrate on. He is the one who is driven into a friendship due to mutual benefit in the firm establishment of virtue in both people.
A companion of virtue today is “a hard currency” and very difficult to find. Amongst the beautiful sayings of Hishaam ibn ‘Abdul-Malik (died 125AH) is his saying: “Nothing remains of worldly pleasures except a brother [with] whom I raise the burden of taking precaution between me and him.” (4)
1. And on this a fabricated hadeeth, see al-‘Ilal al-Mutanaahiyah, (2/123, 127), and Sharh al-Ihyaa’, (5/348).
2. Sharh al-Ihyaa (1/74).
3. Muhaadaraat Islaamiyyah by Muhammad al-Khidr Husayn (p. 125-136).
4. Tabaqaat an-Nassaabeen, p.31
- Transcribed from: The Etiquettes of Seeking Knowledge | Shaykh Bakr Aboo Zayd