In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful
All praises be to Allah who is the Lord of all worlds. We praise Him and seek His help. Whomsoever Allah guides none can misguide and whomsoever Allah guides none can guide.
We send our heartfelt salutations on the prophet of Allah (Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam).
Assalaamualykum wa rehmatullahi wa baraktuhu.
May this article find you in the best of your health, wealth and iman.
At the outset it must be said that it’s very hard to write just a single article on a topic that requires a lot of nuance. This is because anytime we deal with human interactions (mu’amalaat), context is essential to having a balanced understanding. Major values are universally applicable but the specifics of how they are expressed can be vastly different, taking into account different times, places, and circumstances.
To begin with, we must always remember being Muslims that our purpose in life is to worship Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, so whatever we do in our life we must intend that it should be for the sake of Allah.
We, human beings, are known as social animals and as we all know that this is because we always want someone to be there for us and with us in all the situations of our life. Therefore, as we want someone to be with us throughout our whole life, it is very crucial that this “someone” whoever that may be, is “beneficial for us”.
We usually want that “someone” to be our friend or any close companion and while selecting that “someone” we must keep in mind that we are doing it for the sake of Allah. This intention alone ensures Allah’s barakah(blessing) in our friendship which will ultimately lead to our friend or companion to be successfully with us in this dunya and akhira.
Thus, for the purpose that our friend or the close companion whom we want to always stick with us, to be beneficial for us, our beloved prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, gave us a beautiful parable to take advice from:
Abu Musa reported: the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The parable of a good friend and a bad friend is that of a carrier of musk and a blacksmith. The carrier of musk will give you some, or you will buy some, or you will notice a good smell; but as for the blacksmith, he will burn your clothes or you will notice a bad smell.”
Source: Sahih Muslim 2628
In addition to this, there are several other Hadith from which we must take benefit from in order to have the right successful kind of friendship and companionship with which we can benefit from in this dunya and akhira in sha Allah. Some of the Hadith are as follows:
“A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidi
“Mix with the noble people, you become one of them; and keep away from evil people to protect you from their evils.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“Anyone who criticizes you cares about your friendship. Anyone who makes light of your faults cares nothing about you. ” Abu Dawud, Hasan Hadith
Moreover when we look at the Quran to seek Allah’s guidance for our friendship and companionship to be successful we see that Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala says about the day of judgment:
A Day when the wrong-doer will bite his hands, saying: “Would that I had stood by the Messenger! Woe to me! Would that I had not taken so and so for a friend! He led me astray from the Admonition that had come to me. Satan proved to be a great betrayer of man. (25:27-29)
Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala also says about the day of judgment that:
Friends on that day will be enemies to each other, except those who kept their duty (to Allah).(Surah Zukhraf 43:67)
We must take the example of how best friends should be from the example of our beloved Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam and his best friend, Abu Bakr Siddeeq Radi Allahu anhu (From whom Allah is pleased) from the Quran which shows:
“Allah did indeed help him (Muhammad) when the disbelievers drove him out. The second of the two, when they (Muhammad and Abu Bakr) were in the cave, and he (saws) said to his companion, ‘Be not sad (or afraid), surely Allah is with us’.” (Al-Qur’an 9:40)
Abu Bakr Radi Allahu anhu(From whom Allah is pleased), the most trusted friend and companion of Prophet Muhammad Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam(peace be upon him), sacrificed everything for the sake of Allah and to the service of the Prophet. He was given the title As-Siddiq or trustworthy.
So, now this question comes to our mind that who after all is a “good friend” whom we should choose as a trustworthy and beneficial for our dunya and akhira in sha Allah. The following are the qualities which we must always keep in mind for having a beneficial friendship:
•leave each other’s company with a higher level of faith (in Allah).
•always meet each other or start talk with the Islamic greeting ‘Assalamu Alaykum’ with reciprocal response.
•exchange useful and mature ideas and thoughts.
•do not shun in reforming each other’s mistakes or bad habits, but do this with politeness and humility.
•do not waste each other’s time in vain talk or useless activities.
•never encourage each other to do wrong and invite to a place or gathering of sin.
•stand firm on each other’s side when needed – ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed.’
So, now we know who is a “good friend” and we must befriend only this type of people. Now, to see what we must avoid while choosing a friend let’s look at the characteristics of a “bad friend”:
•backbites and makes fun of people; laugh at others or call each other with demeaning names for fun; they laugh at each other’s cruel jokes about someone else.
• gets involved in activities that delay or do away with compulsory prayer.
• entices other friends in fulfilling desires and ends up spending money on things you do not really need.
• raises and discusses unimportant or vain things, such as a films or latest gadgets.
• shuns from pointing out each other’s mistakes or weaknesses, even if they are serious.
•is a ‘fair weather friend.’
May Allah save us all from making “bad friends” as “our friends” Aameen.
So, to save ourselves from bad friendship, let’s look at the know-how to prevent ourselves from that:
“To save ourselves from bad friendship we must always be careful of our friend’s habits and we must keep checking where they fall: in the type of “good friends” or “bad friends” as mentioned above. If we have a friend since a long time that was “good” initially but later on deviated from the path of Allah and Islam and fell into the category of “bad friends”, we must firstly advise our friend in the best manners that whatever they are doing is “wrong” and remind to fear Allah. But, even after this, if our friend persists in wrongdoing we must distance ourselves from that person for the sake of Allah and for our own good”
Now, let’s have an insight about brotherhood and sisterhood in Islam gender wise and then let’s discuss that how can a united brotherhood and sisterhood exist within the prescribed interactions of both the genders within the Islamic guidelines:
In Islam, for every action of ours to be successful for our life in this dunya and akhira, we must do everything for the sake of Allah .i.e. for gaining Allah’s pleasure.
So, to gain Allah’s pleasure by our actions we must do all our actions as they are prescribed by Allah. With this in mind, all our human interactions should obviously be for the sake of Allah (swt) as well as everything else we do. Accordingly, we must understand and implement this in all our relationships in this life, that the most important friendship and relationship in our life is between us and Allah(swt) and all our other relationships and friendships followed come under our connection with Allah(swt) in the manner, He commanded for us. In Islam, the relationship between a Muslim and other fellow Muslims is based on Ta’akhi (brotherhood/sisterhood) which is for Allah’s sake. There are several hadiths which tell us the importance of this relationship. Some of them are as follows:
“You will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another.” (Sahih Muslim).
“Allah (swt) will say on the day of Judgment: Where are those who loved each other for my sake? I will shade them today, when there is no shade but mine!” (Sahih Muslim).
“There are three things that if one has them, he will find the sweetness of faith. That Allah and His messenger be more beloved to him than anything else, that he love a person for no reason other than for the sake of Allah, and to hate to go back to disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown into fire.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
“Whoever relieves a calamity that has struck a believer in this world, Allah will relieve for him one of the calamities of the day of Judgement, and whoever makes things easy for a person in trouble, Allah will make his matters easy in this life and in the hereafter, and whoever shields the faults of a Muslim, Allah will shield his faults in this world and the hereafter, and Allah will help and support his servant as long as he is helping and supporting his brother” (Sahih Muslim)
“The most beloved people to Allah (swt) are those who help and benefit others the most, and the most beloved actions to Allah (swt), is pleasure and happiness that you cause to enter the heart of a Muslim, or to solve one of his problems, or to pay off his debt, or to prevent him from being hungry, and working to help my Muslim brother is more beloved to me than making I’tikaf in this masjid for a month, and whoever controls his anger, Allah will conceal his faults, and whoever controls his ill feelings, Allah (swt) will fill his heart with contentment on the day of Judgment, and whoever strives to help fulfill a need for his Muslim brother, Allah will make his feet steadfast on the day of Judgment, and bad manners ruin good deeds just like vinegar ruins honey.” (Sheikh Al-Albani said it is a sound hadith)
In addition to all of the above Ahadith on brotherhood/sisterhood, let’s look at what Allah (swt) says to us in the Quran:
Allah (swt) also tells us in the Quran how important this brotherhood between the believers is:
“And adhere to the Bond of Allah, together, and do not be divided. And remember the Favor of Allah that was bestowed upon you: how you were enemies, and how He united your hearts, so that by His Favor you became brothers. And how He saved you from the Pit of Fire when you were on the brink of it. And so Allah makes plain to you His verses, in order that you will be guided.” (Al-Imran, 103).
Allah (swt) also says in the Quran: “The believers, both men and women, are awlia (helpers, supporters, allies) to each other.” (Al-Tawbah, 71)
Allah (swt) warns us against disunity, and how being divided and having disputes with each other will result in failure and loss: “Obey Allah and His Messenger and do not dispute with one another, otherwise you will fail and lose your strength. Have patience – Allah is with those who are patient.” (Al-Anfal, 46)
As we have seen the above Ahadith and Quranic ayahs (verses) gave us the importance of brotherhood. But, in all of them when the term “brotherhood” is used, the same is meant for “sisterhood” and likewise the terms “brother/brothers” is also referred for “sister/sisters”.
Now let us look at the concept of co-ed united brotherhood and sisterhood for Allah’s sake. Many of us think that “is co-ed love even possible provided all the Islamic rulings of male and female interactions are strictly observed?”.
This Quranic verse must be taken by all of us, Muslims, when we think about co-ed love for Allah’s sake:
Allah(swt) says: “The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah [charity] and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those — Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Qur’an 9:71)
The word that is used is awliyaa’, which is also translated as helpers, supporters, friends, and protectors. This is how Allah (swt) Himself describes how the believing men and women should regard one another. It is the spirit of who we seek to be towards the other gender. Yet, this spirit does not mean interaction between genders is a complete free for all, as the word ‘friend’ tends to imply especially in a western context. Rather, this spirit of love for the sake of Allah (swt) is *only* achieved when it is governed by the letter of the law. The basic guidelines for this interaction include:
- Your intention of dealing with the other gender is sincere.
- Your interaction is purposeful.
- Your ‘awra (nakedness) is covered.
- You lower your gaze at the appropriate times.
- You are not totally secluded with someone of the opposite gender.
- Your reputation is protected.
- You do not physically touch one another.
- You respect each-other’s personal space and comfort levels.
- You speak in a decent manner.
- Your circumstances are safe.
- You must not speak unnecessarily.
So, by following all of the above rules, co-ed love for the sake of Allah is possible. There are many examples which we can find in Islamic history where men spoke to women and vice-versa wherein they loved each other for the sake of Allah. It is natural for us to love those who have the same mission as us and this love is unlike lust or any sensual physical attraction or desire which leads to zina (illegal sexual intercourse).This is a pure love and actually this is the kind of love which we have with the great people from the opposite gender of our Islamic history.
May Allah make all of us; Muslims have good friendships and united strong brotherhood and sisterhood bonds for His sake which are extremely beneficial for our life in this dunya and our akhirah. Aameen.
Whatever was pure in this article is from Allah and any mistakes whatsoever is from the writer and Shaitan.
If the reader likes this article, then it is humbly requested that dua is made for the writer.
And Allah always knows best and all praises are for Him.