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Friend or Foe?

By: Madiyah Rana

Our friendships define us. We are the company that we keep and so we should keep a close eye on who our friends are and what that means about who we are.

Those who we sit with, those we converse with and share our personal thoughts with have a great impact on the way we think and perceive the world around us, and thus on who we are. In surah Furqan, Allah (swt) dedicates a few ayaat on this topic: the consequences of a bad friendship.

وَيَوْمَ يَعَضُّ الظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيْهِ يَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي اتَّخَذْتُ مَعَ الرَّسُولِ سَبِيلًا  يَا وَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا لَّقَدْ أَضَلَّنِي عَنِ الذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَنِي ۗ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِلْإِنسَانِ خَذُولًا

“And the Day the wrongdoer will bite on his hands [in regret] he will say, “Oh, I wish I had taken with the Messenger a way. ‘Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one as a friend (khaleel). He led me away from the remembrance after it had come to me. And ever is Satan, to man, a deserter.” [25:27-29]

In these ayaat Allah (swt) is talking about the wrongdoer who will appear on the day of Judgement full of regret and remorse. He will chew at his hands due to the grief he is feeling and he will curse himself and wish that he hadn’t taken “so and so” as a friend. Why? Because this ‘friend’ of his led him astray even after Islam was proclaimed to him!

Context of Revelation:

Allah (swt) revealed these ayaat as they relate to an incident that happened at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). There were two friends at that time, Uqbah ibn abi Mu’eet and Ummayyah Ibn Khalaf. Both of these men were enemies of Islam; however Ummayyah was a severe enemy and was very harsh in nature, his friend Uqbah on the contrary, was a generous, hospitable and personable man who had good habits. Whenever he went on his travels, on his return he would hold a feast to celebrate his safe return. He would gather a group of people together and serve them food.

There was one occasion when the Prophet Muhammad (saw) was amongst those that were invited. The meal began and everyone starting eating, besides the Prophet. Uqbah, being the generous man he was, insisted to the Prophet to eat. The Prophet refused and said he would not eat until Uqbah declared that “That there is none worthy of worship but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger”. Uqbah felt bad, how could he invite a guest and let them leave without eating? And so falsely, he accepted this statement.

Word got round and soon reached his best friend Ummayyah, who approached Uqbah and ignorantly said: “How could you leave the religion of your forefathers?!” Ummayyah in response told him there was no such thing and that he only accepted because he felt bad. But Ummayyah would not believe him, and told him to prove this and so he ordered him to spit in the face of the Prophet in public. And so this unfortunate man, Ummayyah went and did what he was told by this evil friend.

So Allah revealed an ayah regarding Uqbah! That he will stand on the Day of Judgement chewing harshly at his hands, wishing he never followed his friend! SubhanAllah! Islam was penetrating the heart of Uqbah! Islam was presented to him by the Prophet Muhammad (saw) himself, yet he refused and followed the way of his bad friend.

An interesting thing about this is that in ayah 28 Allah says that the man will say, “Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a Khalil (an intimate friend)! – Here Allah uses the word “Fulaan” meaning “so and so”. Allah uses this to give it a more broad application, suggesting that the ayahs are not referring only to Uqbah but to us as well.

We have all been in some situation where our friends have had some kind of influence on our ways, thoughts or actions, and some may be in a position now where they are slipping away from the deen due to their friends pulling them away and encouraging them to do wrong. If you are, just remember Islam is a complete way of life, a beacon of light, a treasure that should be protected and valued.

If you are around friends that are taking you away from this treasure then leave them, for their company is dangerous. Find people that will motivate you, help you, and work with you to be the best in everything.  Make friends with those who inspire you to become better. That remind you when you forget. Friends that bring you closer to Allah (swt) They are the friends that will hold your hand on this journey of life till you both reunite in Paradise, InshaAllah.

May Allah bestow upon us wisdom and join us with the righteous.


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