What Are the Qualities of a Friend?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: According to Islam what is the purpose of a friend? How does one show gratitude to Allah for a friend?

Friends

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

One’s friends should be people who are helping one draw closer to one’s Lord.

Imam Ghazali (rah) in his Beginning of Guidance (Bidayat al-Hidaya) lists a number of qualities to look for in a friend noting the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “A person’s religious life is only as good as that of his friend, so let one of you consider well whom he befriends.” [Tirmidhi]

[1] Intellect

– As there is no good friendship with a foolish person;

– Specifically seek someone with practical intelligence who has the capacity to seek benefit, even if worldly;

[2] Good Character

– Ghazali states that someone of bad character is one who cannot restrain their [i] anger or [ii] desire;

– Somebody who truly cares for others. “The religion is sincere counsel.”

[3] Righteousness

“Do not obey someone whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who follows his inclinations, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.” [Qur’an, 18:28]

– As witnessing the transgression of a wrongdoer on a regular basis will remove from your heart all sense of the enormity of the crimes and make them seem insignificant.

[4] Lack of Greed

– Someone concerned with amassing “things” of this world

– Human nature is designed to imitate and follow (by example), so one person’s nature may take from another without even realizing it.

[5] Honesty

– As one will always face deception from the liar.

Imam Ghazali (rah) continues that after finding a decent friend, one should uphold, respect and fulfill the duties of being a friend.

Gratitude and Growing

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an, ‘If you are thankful, I will surely increase you’ [Qur’an, 14:7] The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Whoever does not thank people has not thanked Allah’. [Tirmidhi]

Be grateful for them, appreciate them, and grow in love for one another — the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, narrating from His Lord, “My love is incumbent for those who love one another for my sake; those who sit with one another for My sake; those who visit each other for My sake; and those who spend on each other for My sake.” [Musnad Ahmad]

And Allah knows best.

Wassalam,

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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Making 70 Excuses for Others in Islam – A Key Duty of Brotherhood

In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful

Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, said, “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.” [Imam Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 7.522]

Imam Ghazali (Allah have mercy upon him) also quotes this in the Ihya.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Overlook the slips of respected people.” [Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad; Abu Dawud; Nasa’i in al-Kubra; and others–rigorously authentic (sahih), from A’isha (Allah be pleased with her)]

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The General Basis for Making Excuses

Ibn Ajiba (Allah have mercy upon him) mentions that making excuses for others returns to the Prophet’s words (peace and blessings be upon him) that, “A believer is a mirror of the believer. [Abu Dawud, from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him); sound (hasan)] So what you see in your brethren is a reflection of what is within you–so beware.

The way of purity and sincerity is to look at everyone–friend and foe–with the eye of sincere concern (nasiha) and mercy. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said that, “Religion is sincere concern (ad-dinu’n nasiha).” [Muslim and Nasa’i, from Tamim ad-Dari] And, “It is only the merciful who are granted mercy by the All-Merciful. Be merciful to those on earth and the Lord of the Heavens will be merciful to you.” And, “None of you believes until they wish for others as they wish for themselves.” [Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi, from Abdullah ibn Amr (Allah be pleased with him); soundly authentic (hasan sahih) according to Tirmidhi]

This is why Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Munazil (Allah have mercy upon him), of the early Muslims, said, “The believer seeks excuses for their brethren, while the hypocrite seeks out the faults of their brethren.” [Sulami, Adab al-Suhba]

Why 70 Excuses?

This is because the default assumption about all humans and their actions is that they are sound and free of error. This is considered our operating certainty. After this, if we find something that makes us doubt about them, we are not permitted to leave this operating certainty that they did not err for mere doubts or misgivings.

Allah Most High commanded us: “Believers! Leave much doubt, for most doubt is sinful.” [Qur’an, 49.12]

The doubts and misgivings about others that are sinful are those that do not have a sound basis that would be sufficient to leave our operating assumption about others that they are upright and their actions free of error.

And Allah alone gives success.

-Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ayat ash-Shifa (Six Quranic Verses of Healing)

وَيَشْفِ صُدُورَ قَوْمٍ مُّؤْمِنِينَ

wa yashfi sudoora qawmin mumineena
And [God] shall heal the breast of the believers. (at-Tawba, 9:14)

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءتْكُم مَّوْعِظَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَشِفَاء لِّمَا فِي الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

Yaa ayyuha an-naasu qad ja’atkum maw`izhatun min rabbikum wa shifaun limaa fee as-sudoori wa hudan wa rahmatun lil-mumineen
Mankind there has come to you a guidance from your Lord and a healing for (the diseases) in your hearts, and for those who believe a guidance and a mercy. (Yunus, 10:57)

َيخْرُجُ مِن بُطُونِهَا شَرَابٌ مُّخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ فِيهِ شِفَاء لِلنَّاسِ

yakhruju min butooniha sharaabun mukhtalifun alwaanuhu feehi shifaun lin-naas 
There issues from within the bodies of the bee a drink of varying colors wherein is healing for mankind. (an-Nahl, 16:69)

وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاء وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

Wa nunazzilu mina al-qurani ma huwa shifaun wa rahmatun lil-mumineen
And We sent down in the Quran such things that have healing and mercy for the believers (an-Najm, 17:82)

وَإِذَا مَرِضْتُ فَهُوَ يَشْفِينِ

Wa idha maridtu fahuwa yashfeeni
And when I am ill, it is [God] who cures me.” (ash-Shu`ara, 26:80) (A supplication of Prophet Abraham [as])

قُلْ هُوَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا هُدًى وَشِفَاء

qul huwa lil-ladheena amanoo hudan wa shifaun
And declare (O Muhammad) that [the Quran] is a guidance and healing for the believers. (al-Fussilat, 41:44)

Prayers and Supplication

One day the Messenger of Allah  ﷺ  said: “If a Muslim asks for something from Allah, Allah Most High will definitely grant his wish or He will remove evil from him in proportion to what He would have given him, as long as he does not ask for anything sinful or does not cut his relations with his relatives”

One of his Companions said: “In that case we desire many things from Allah”.

The Messenger of Allah  ﷺ  responded as such: “Allah’s grace is greater than the things you ask from Him” (Tirmidhi, Deavat, 115/3573; Ahmad, II, 18).

Almighty Allah does not reject sincere prayers. However He does not accept certain demands made that do not comply with Absolute Destiny, even though they may be asked for in complete sincerity. However, the slave should never give up and should continue to pray. This is because in those cases the response to the prayer has been deferred to the afterlife. Almighty Allah has said: “Your Lord says, “Call on Me and I will answer you” ( Mu’min, 23:60)

The Prophet Muhammad  ﷺ  said: “The prayer of the slave will be answered as long as he does not ask for something that will lead to sin or to his relations with his relatives being severed and if he is not impatient about the result”

He was asked: “O Messenger of Allah! What does it mean for him to be impatient (about the result)?”

The Messenger of Allah  ﷺ  said: “The slave says: “I keep praying but my Lord does not answer my prayer”. He gives up when his prayer is not answered immediately and he stops praying. (This is how he becomes impatient). (Muslim, Zikir, 92).

Likewise the prophet Zaccharia (Alaihi Salaam) prayed ““My Lord, do not leave me on my own…. (Anbiya, 21:89)

In saying so he asked for a son with the purpose of strengthening the religion, yet his prayer was only answered 40 years later in the form of the prophet Yahya (Alaihi Salaam).

One time the Messenger of Allah  ﷺ  saw a man in ritual prayer, who did not send blessings on the Prophet before he started supplicating. Upon this he said:

“This man was impatient (in a hurry)”. Then he called that man to him and said as a caution to his entire community: “Whenever one of you prays, let him first praise Allah Most High and then send blessings upon me. Then let him ask for whatever he so wishes” (Tirmidhi, Deavat, 64/3477).

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Lack of care and neglect while performing ablution will negatively reflect on the worship that is to follow.

One time the Messenger of Allah ﷺ led the morning prayer. Some minor mistakes were made whilst the chapter Romans was being recited. After finishing the prayer the Prophet turned to the congregation and said:

“Some people are coming to the prayer without ablution and this is the cause for Satan interfering in our recitation. When you come for prayer, take your ablution as carefully as you can”.

Thus purification and the taking of ablution with care before prayer is crucial for the soundness of our worship. It is also a great virtue to be always in a state of ablution to the best of one’s ability. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ liked to carry out all of his tasks while he had ablution.

According to Abu Juhaym , the Messenger of Allah ﷺ once came across someone as he was coming from the Well of Jamal. The man greeted him, but the Prophet ﷺ  did not return the greeting. He ﷺ  immediately went to a wall and wiped his hands and face over it to perform the tayammum (dry ablution), and then he accepted the man’s greeting of peace. (Bukhari, tayammum, 3)

With this action, the Prophet of Allah ﷺ demonstrated how it is possible for one to always be in a state of ablution. This is also an indication of how virtuous it is to take ablution before carrying out a task, even though that task is not obligatory.

In another instance, Ibn-i Abbas (RadiAllahu Anhu) narrates:

“When the Prophet of Allah ﷺ finished relieving himself he would first pour water over his hands to wash them and then he would perform tayammum with dry earth. I once asked him:

“O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, there is water available. Why did you do that?” The Prophet replied:

“How can I be sure that my spirit will not be taken back from me before I reach water?” (Ahmad, I, 288, 303; Haysami, 263).

According to another narration whenever he needed to perform the major ablution, the Prophet ﷺ would wipe his hands over the walls and do tayammum in order not to be without ablution until he could perform his major ablution. (Haysami, I, 264).

This is the scope of the material and spiritual cleanliness that the Prophet demonstrated to his community…

Sultan Bayazid II and his brother Jem Sultan

The events that took place between Sultan Bayazid II and his brother Jem Sultan openly reflect the courage of faith of our forefathers and the beauty and virtue that Islam bestowed upon them:

Becoming a sultan in the year 1481, Bayazid II (who was even known as Bayazid the Saint due to his piety) spent the first 14 years of his sultanate dealing with the problems that arose as a result of his brother Jem Sultan’s claims to the Ottoman throne. This situation hindered Bayazid II from active participation in the Christian world. Jem Sultan proposed the following to Bayazid II:

“Let us divide our country into two. You rule over half and I will rule over the other half”

Bayazid II replied, rejecting his offer:

“My brother, this country is the property of the people. If we divide it, the government will lose power. We will become a series of weak principalities. This will have grave consequences. I would divide my body but the land of my people cannot be divided”.

A short time after that Jem Sultan was invited to Rhodes by the Knights of Rhodes. He was impressed by their polite words and heedlessly accepted their invitation. However the Knights broke the promises they had made and sold him to the Papacy like a slave. The Papacy were planning to use the prince in the next crusade against the Ottomans. However, realizing that he was not going to be successful in this, Pope Innocent suggested that Jem Sultan become Christian. This offer greatly offended Jem Sultan. Deeply saddened he said to the Pope:

“Even if you give me the whole world, and not just the Ottoman Sultanate, I would never change my religion”.

The supplication that Jem Sultan made to Almighty Allah when he realized that the Crusaders wanted to use him against Islam is sufficient to show the aspiration of his efforts for his religion:

“O my Sustainer! If it is the case that the unbelievers wish to use me as a tool to bring harm to the Muslim world, then do not let this slave of yours live any longer. Take my soul to your honorable abode as soon as possible…”

His prayers must have been answered for at the age of 36 he passed away in Naples. In his last days, his last testament he made to those near him was as follows:

“Make sure to announce the news of my death all over the land. Do this for certain so that the games that the unbelievers wish to play with the Muslims, using me as a tool, can be over. After that, go to my brother Sultan Bayazid. Request that, however difficult it may be, he transports my body back to our country.

I do not wish to be buried in the land of the unbelievers. Whatever has happened until now has happened. Make sure that he does not refuse this request of mine. Ask him to pay all of my debts. I do not want to go the Divine Presence in debt. Let him forgive
my family, my children and those who served me. Let him make them content according to their states”.

His brother Bayazid II carried out his final testament.

These are the qualities that Islam bestows upon the human being. The reciprocal relationship between these two brothers displays their devotion to their faith and their love of their country. It is also a demonstration of sacrifice for the sake of the peace of
their people, and an example of tolerance, the accounting of the conscience that results after realizing one’s mistake, refraining from violating another’s rights, forgiveness and compassion amongst many other virtues.

What Is the Best Way to Put the Ego in Check?

What is the best way to attain beneficial knowledge in such a way that puts the ego in check?

Answered by  Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Seeking Knowledge With Excellence

The best way to attain beneficial knowledge that puts the ego in check is: sincere focus, with humility, attentive listening, and concentration upon what is imparted to one, of the words of Allah or the words of the Chosen One (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him and his folk), assuming you find a teacher who is a “possessor of heart,” i.e. one who imparts this knowledge from his heart and soul.

Connecting to the Inheritors of Prophetic Guidance

This, along with connecting oneself to a chain of transmission that goes back to the Prophet and observing good manners, is the way we are familiar with from the Successors of the Companions (tabi’in), those who followed them, and those who followed them, until this day and age.

Knowledge is the Prayer of the Soul

For knowledge is not perfected with caprice or pride. Nor is the reality of knowledge acquired by studying, “so and so said”, or mastering legal scenarios. It is rather acquired through sincerity to the Most Great and Most High, and through approaching this endeavor with veneration, love, and longing to draw close to Allah (Mighty and Majestic) thereby, while also connecting one’s self to a chain of transmission to the Chosen One, Muhammad (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him and his folk). This is indeed the way to acquire beneficial knowledge that puts the ego in check and elevates it to high stations.

Translated by: Abdullah Alrajhy. (Link to the original answer)


Habib Umar bin Hafiz is a descendant of the Prophet (upon him be Allah’s peace and blessings). Born into a family of scholars, Habib Umar, pursued the sacred sciences from a young age, including Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, ‘Aqeedah, Arabic, and Spirituality. In 1994, he established Dar al-Mustafa, an educational institute in Tarim, Yemem.

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