Story No. 343 – Imam Zainul Abiddin (as) and the Criteria for Choosing a Friend
Have you ever experienced the situation in which the difficulties of life become so intense that you wish to open your heart to someone? Have you ever had a close friend warmed the cockles of your heart and was a good audience to your words? Or have you ever had a friend who made you desperate, hopeless, and distressed? Have you ever thought how to choose a decent friend and what are the criteria for choosing such a friend?
The importance of having a friend in life in so great that according to scholars and intellectuals, every person could be identified through his/her friends. Moreover, a true and good friend can be a good supporter and assistant in all stages of life, and guide us towards a proper destination. In contrast, an inappropriate friend, who is not chosen based on suitable criteria, could prevent one from progress or even cause us to decline.
Therefore, the decision as to whom we choose as a friend and whom we avoid is of great importance. Numerous discussions have been presented in this respect and the importance of choosing a good friend. The Infallible Imams (as) have paid special attention towards this issue also. In this regards, a beautiful statement has been quoted from the beauty of the worshippers, our 4th Imam, Imam Zainul Abiddin (as), which clarifies a portion of the criteria for choosing a friend.
It is narrated in the book of Usul al-Kafi that Imam Zainul Abiddin (as) said to his honorable son, Imam Baqir (as):
Do not become the companion, interlocutor, or friend of five people. I said, “O Father! Who are they?” Imam Zainul Abiddin (as) replied,
- Avoid the companionship of a liar, because he is like a mirage, which deceives you by showing the far, close to you and taking the close far from you.
- Avoid the companionship of a transgressor, because he would betray you for a morsel or even less than that.
- Avoid the companionship of a stingy person, because he would deprive you of his wealth when you are in extreme need of him.
- Avoid the companionship of a stupid person, because he would harm you (of his stupidity) even though he wants to benefit you.
- Avoid the companionship of a person who has cut off his ties of kinship, because I have found him distant from the mercy of Allah (SWT) in three places in the Noble Qur’an.
Allah (SWT) has said: “But if you held command, you were sure to make mischief in the land and cut off the ties of kinship! Those it is whom Allah has cursed so He has made them deaf and blinded their eyes.” (47:22-23)
He has also said: “And those who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder that which Allah has ordered to be joined and make mischief in the land; (as for) those, upon them shall be curse and they shall have the evil (issue) of the abode.” (13:25)
He continued and said: “Who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder what Allah has ordered to be joined, and make mischief in the land; these it is that are the losers.” (2:27) (Selection taken from,” Forty Hadiths, Vol. 3, by Sayyid Hashim Rasouli Mahallati)