By Sikandar Azam

Friendship is a social need. It leaves an undeniable impact on and often contributes to the shaping of one’s life. As human beings we have to interact and rely on each other, in every sphere of life. Friends are known with various names. In a family, they are known as members of the family and called with the names of particular relations. In educational institutions, they are classmates; in office setups colleagues; in politics comrades and alliance partners, etc. Sometimes friendship continues to be a lifelong affair and may transcend to the life hereafter. But when crass selfishness is allowed to work, friendship stands broken. We can see this friendship break-up in the separation of Shiv Sena from BJP. On January 23, marking the birth anniversary of Shiv Sena founder late Bal Thackeray, the Sena chief and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray rued that “25 years of the party were wasted in an alliance (with the BJP).” The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leader added that “we were betrayed and attempts were made to destroy (us) in our home.”

To ensure that such break up does not occur, Islam lays the foundation of friendship on faith and God-consciousness. It lays emphasis on the selection of right friends. The Qur’ān (25:27-29) says: “And (remember) the day when the unjust one shall bite his hands saying: O! Would that I had taken a way with the Messenger! O woe is me! Would that I had not taken such a one for a friend! Certainly he led me astray from the reminder after it had come to me. Ah! The Evil One is but a traitor to man!”

This ayah acknowledges friendship as an important factor in human life. It also makes it clear that the kind of friend one has in the life on earth plays its role in the life hereafter. The believers who will get Paradise will definitely have their friends in the hereafter as well as they followed the path of righteousness and worked with each other, doing what is good and eschewing from what is bad in their earthly life. On the other hand, those who will get Hell as a reward of their bad deeds will complain about their friends and rue the fact that it is the blind following of their unrighteous friends that has resulted in the punishment of the Hell.

The Qur’ān (43:67) reiterates this fact, adding that unrighteous friends on earth will turn enemies in the hereafter: “Friends on the Day will be enemies one to another, except al-Muttaqun (i.e. those who have piety).” In the life to come, there won’t be any friends save and except those who are pious and have led their earthly life in accordance with the commandments of God.

Therefore, it is clear that selection of friends on earth has a bearing on the life hereafter as well. It teaches that only friends who are pious don’t just remain friends in this world only, rather they remain friends in the world hereafter as well and help each other out.

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