Friendship in the Quran explores the concept of choosing friends wisely as on the Day of Judgment we might regret and be harmed by some of the friendships we had in this world. Some of the verses on this topic will be discussed below.
This article covers the following topics:
The Pious and Friendship in the Quran
الْأَخِلَّاءُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقِينَ ﴿67﴾
On that day, friends will be one another’s enemies, except for the Godwary. 1
The word akhillāʾ (أخلاء) is plural of khalīl (خلیل) which means friend. The reason why this Arabic word has been used is because a person expresses his khallah (خَلّة), i.e., his need to his friend who fulfills his need.
Akhillāʾ can refer to all those who harbor love for one another, whether they are the pious whose friendship for one another is for Allah’s sake and not material benefits, or those whose friendship is simply for material and worldly benefits. 2
Why Are All Friends Except the Pious Enemies in the Hereafter?
The reason why except between the pious, all other friendships will turn to enmity on Qiyamah is that a two-way friendship requires that one side helps the other in his/her provisions. When this help is based on something other than God’s pleasure, it is in fact, helping towards the misfortune, wretchedness, and eternal punishment of the other.
However, the friendships of the pious progress in God’s way and will be to their benefit on the Day of Judgment. 3
Unfruitful Friendship in the Quran
There are some friendships, according to the Quran, that will be unfruitful for a person on the Day of Judgment.
The state of those who based their friendships on things other than piety and virtue are as follows 4 :
Feeling Regret and Friendship in the Quran
يَا وَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا ﴿28﴾
Woe to me! I wish I had not taken so and so as a friend! 5
This verse refers to all those who take disbelievers and polytheists as their friends and oppose the truth because of them. 6
Not Helping One Another
وَلَا يَسْأَلُ حَمِيمٌ حَمِيمًا ﴿10﴾
And no friend will inquire about [the welfare of his] friend. 7
On the Day of Judgment everyone will be so busy in the accounting of their own deeds and thinking of themselves and their deliverance that even though they would recognize their friends they would not ask about or think of them. 8
Friendship in the Quran and Fleeing From One Another
يَوْمَ يَفِرُّ الْمَرْءُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ ﴿34﴾
وَأُمِّهِ وَأَبِيهِ ﴿35﴾
وَصَاحِبَتِهِ وَبَنِيهِ ﴿36﴾
لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ شَأْنٌ يُغْنِيهِ ﴿37﴾
The day when a man will evade his brother, his mother and his father, his spouse and his sons— each of them will have a task to keep him preoccupied on that day. 9
The Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) was asked: Will a person remember their close friend on the Day of Judgment? He replied: There are three stations where no one will remember another person:
- At the place where one’s actions will be weighed to see if the scale is heavy or light
- At the bridge (الصراط) where he will see whether he will be able to cross it or not
- At the time when his record of deeds will be handed to people and they will be waiting to see if they are given in their right or left hands
These are the three stations where no one will think of anyone else; not a close friend, or a kind companion, or those who are close to a person, sincere friends, sons, parents. And this is what God means when He says: each of them will have a task to keep him preoccupied on that day. 10
Disowning One Another
وَمَن يَعْشُ عَن ذِكْرِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ نُقَيِّضْ لَهُ شَيْطَانًا فَهُوَ لَهُ قَرِينٌ ﴿36﴾
وَإِنَّهُمْ لَيَصُدُّونَهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ وَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ ﴿37﴾
حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَنَا قَالَ يَا لَيْتَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكَ بُعْدَ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ فَبِئْسَ الْقَرِينُ ﴿38﴾
We assign a devil to be the companion of him who turns a blind eye to the remembrance of the All-beneficent. Indeed they bar them from the way [of Allah], while they suppose that they are [rightly] guided. When he comes to Us, he will say, ‘I wish there had been between me and you the distance between the east and the west! What an evil companion [you are]!’ 11
The companion satan regarding those who turn away from God’s remembrance could be a disreputable friend or corrupt spouses, children, or companions. It is for this reason that the word shayṭān (شیطان), i.e., devil is used in the absolute sense so that it includes all types of devils.
On the Day of Judgment the guilty will wish that they could be distanced from the devils at least in Hell. However, these companions are partners in punishment and will not be separated from one another. 12
Misguidance and Friendship in the Quran
قَالَ قَائِلٌ مِّنْهُمْ إِنِّي كَانَ لِي قَرِينٌ ﴿51﴾
One of them will say, ‘Indeed I had a companion. 13
Some companions and friends can misguide a person if given the chance to do so. This verse and the verses that come after it are talking about one of the inmates of Heaven relating to others there that he had a friend in the world.
The friend he is talking about was someone who did not believe in Resurrection and the Hereafter. He asks the inhabitants of Heaven if they can see into Hell and find his friend and see what state he is in.
He himself gains the ability to see into Hell and find his friend. He tells his friend that he was close to destroying him too as he had been destroyed and falling to where he is now. However, it was God’s grace, guidance, and help that saved him from a similar fate. 14
Therefore, we should be very careful of the types of friends we choose and that they should not mislead us.
Friendship in the Quran with the Disbelievers
لَّا يَتَّخِذِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْكَافِرِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِن دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَيْسَ مِنَ اللَّـهِ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلَّا أَن تَتَّقُوا مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً ۗ وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ اللَّـهُ نَفْسَهُ ۗ وَإِلَى اللَّـهِ الْمَصِيرُ ﴿28﴾
The faithful should not take the faithless for allies instead of the faithful, and Allah will have nothing to do with those who do that, except when you are wary of them, out of caution. Allah warns you to beware of [disobeying] Him, and toward Allah is the return. 15
Wilāyah (ولایة) refers to the ownership or authority of managing another’s affairs. For example, the walī (ولیّ) of a child or a crazy person is someone who has the authority to manage their affairs and wealth even though the child or the crazy person is the owner of his/her own wealth. 16
Another Meaning of Wilayah
However, this term is also used regarding love and this is because wilāyah necessitates a friend to dispose of his friend’s affairs. A walī disposes the affairs of a person who is under him so that he can reply to the love the person has for him. And the other person gives him this permission so that he can become closer to him because he is affected by his spiritual states.
The Outcome of Taking Disbelievers as Friends
If we take the disbelievers as our friends, like it or not, we will find ourselves uniting with them spiritually and, as a result, we would be influenced by them in our morals and other states. They can then affect our behavior.
The next part of the verse states that we shouldn’t take disbelievers as our friends instead of the faithful. From this we understand that the verse is explaining that if we consider ourselves to be social Muslims we should at least love the believers and disbelievers to the same extent.
However, if we love the disbelievers and entrust the affairs of the society and social life to them while not having relationship with or affection for the believers, this shows that we are congruent with the disbelievers and cut off from the believers and this is not right. 18
Friendship in Hadith
The following are some enlightening narrations regarding friendship:
Realities of Friendship
- Man follows the same creed as his friend, so consider carefully who it is you befriend.
- One’s friend is the closest of one’s relations.
- Souls resemble other souls, and those that resemble each other are in harmony, that is why people are attracted towards those they resemble.
Who to Choose as a Friend
- The one who invites you to the everlasting abode and helps you work towards it is a compassionate friend indeed.
- The most goodness and righteousness is to be found in the company of people of reason and understanding.
- One who aids you in your obedience [to Allah] is the best of companions
Who Not to Befriend
- He who, in his friendship with you, is of no aid to you against your base self, his friendship is a curse on you, if only you knew.
- Beware of befriending corrupt people, immoral people, and those who openly commit acts of disobedience to Allah. 19
The topic of friendship in the Quran shows us that it is important to base our friendships on piety and for them to be for God’s sake. Anything other than this will be to our detriment on the Day of Judgment and there are many friendships we might regret on that day due to the consequences such a friendship would have on our Hereafter.
- [43: 67]. Qarai
- Translation of Tafsir al-Mizan [20 vols.]. Vol. 18, p. 181
- The following titles and verses are from: Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah al-Zukhruf. Verses 66-67
- [25: 28]. Qarai
- Qarashi, A. A. Tafsir Ahsan al-Hadith. Bethat Foundation. Vol. 7, p. 288
- [70: 10]. Qarai
- Tafsir Namuna. Vol. 25, pp. 21 & 22
- [80: 34-37]. Qarai
- Tafsir Namuna. Vol. 26, p. 159-60
- [43: 36-38]. Qarai
- Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah al-Zukhruf. Verses 36-37 & 38-39
- [37: 51]. Qarai
- Translation of Tafsir al-Mizan [20 vols.]. Vol. 17, pp. 208 & 209
- [3: 28]. Qarai
- Translation of Tafsir al-Mizan [20 vols.]. Vol. 3, p. 236
- Ibid. pp. 236-7
- The narrations are all from the English translation of Mizan al-Hikmah [the Scale of Wisdom]. Under the title, the Friend (الصدیق)