By Shaikh Ali Hasan
These three aspects show the importance of having good companions, companions who are Saalih (righteous). Such a companion will help you to do what is good and remind you of Allah, he will enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. They also show the importance of avoiding keeping bad companions. Such companions who have a bad effect upon you, they help you to do those deeds which are displeasing to Allah and which lead to the Hell-Fire - and we seek Allah's refuge from that.
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) explained the matter of good companionship, so that no room is left for doubt or confusion, when he (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said,
"A person is upon the Deen of his khaleel (close friend), so look to whom you befriend." [Abu Dawud & Tirmidhee]
This means that a person is upon the same minhajj (methodology) as his friend, the same tareeq (path) as his friend, the same nature, manner and behaviour as his friend. So we must be careful about whom we befriend.
There is an Arabic expression - 'Your companion is what
pulls you to something'. So if your companion is good, he
will pull to towards that which is good. But if your companion
is bad, he will only pull you towards that which is evil. We
must choose our friends and companions carefully so that we take
friends who are sincere, and who will order us with what is good
and forbid us from what is evil. If he observes us committing
sins he would warn us, if he becomes aware of our shortcomings
he would advise us, and if he finds a fault in us he would cover
it. About this the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said,
"A Muslim is the brother of another
Muslim. He neither betrays him nor tells him a lie, nor humiliates
him." [At-Tirmidhee] So should you see a fault in
your brother, you should wish to remove that fault from him and
not expose it to the people. This is what is required by brotherhood
and again stresses the importance of choosing friends who are
upon the correct way, who are loyal, and who hide your faults
whilst ordering you with good and forbidding you from evil, who
stand beside you and support you, and co-operate with you upon
all that is good.
"Do not keep company except with a believer, and do not feed except a person who has taqwaa (fear of Allah)." [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhee]
This principle is important from the standpoint of how the Deen is to be established, and from the standpoint of what brotherhood is and what it does. Indeed, the reason that one takes a companion is to help him establish his Islaam, and to help him worship Allah. We find a good example in the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam)- the one who Allah chose and who He spoke to - Musa (as). When Allah sent him to Fir'awn, he said, "And appoint for me a helper from my family, Haaroon - my brother; increase my strength with him, and let him share my task (of conveying Allah's Message and Prophet hood), that we may glorify You much and remember You much." [20:29-34]
Musa wanted his brother to support him and help him, protect him and accompany him. And this is what the believers do for one another. For the thing that binds the believers together and makes them brothers is eemaan (Islamic belief). The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said,
"There are three characteristics; whoever has them will find the sweetness of eemaan: That Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to him than all else, that he loves a person and does not love him except for Allah, and that he would hat to revert to unbelief just as he would hate to be thrown into the Fire." [Bukhari & Muslim]
Thus the connection between the believers is based upon eemaan and sincere brotherhood.
Be warned against taking any companion if such companionship is based upon other than this, for if you were to do that you would then bite your hands in grief. Just as the unjust ones will bite their hands in grief on the Last Day. Saying, "Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (the Qur'aan) after it had come to me." [25:27]
Allah says, "And whosoever turns away from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent (Allah), We appoint for him Shaytaan to be a Qareen (intimate companion) to him." [43:36]
So all of the physical togetherness that you see around you, which is based upon other than eemaan, will be wiped away on that Day, and will be a source of misery and torture for them. Allah says that those who love one another for other than the sake of Allah will be "...foes one to another..." on the Last Day. [43:67]
It is only the brotherhood which is based upon eemaan and taqwaa that is the true and lasting brotherhood. All of those who come together for materialistic reasons; because of complexion, because of nationality, or for whatever other reason, will be enemies one to another "...except al-Muttaqoon." Those who have taqwaa, and love a brother only because he is upon the Path of Allah and has the same eemaan that they have; he has taken the path of the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and the Salafus-Saalih (righteous predecessors). So be careful, before you slip and find yourself exposed to a fitnah, which you never imagined, all because you were not careful about whom you took as a companion.
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "The case of the good companion and the bad companion is like that of the seller of musk and the blower of the bellows (iron-smith). As for the seller of musk, he will either give you some of the musk, or you will purchase some from him, or at least you will come away having experienced its good smell. Whereas the blower of the bellows will either burn your clothing, or at least you will come away having experienced its repugnant smell." [Bukhari & Muslim]
The good companion has been given this similitude because he is righteous and will help you to remember Allah. If he sees you make a mistake he will advise you and support you, whereas the bad companion would forsake you; leaving you at the time when you are most in need of him. "And remember the Day when the Zaalim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist etc.) will bite at his hands, he will say, 'Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur'aan) after it had come to me. And Shaytaan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need'." [25:27-29]
The bad companion is the Shaytaan from amongst mankind, and the Shayaateen are both men and jinns. Sometimes the harm, which comes from the Shayaateen amongst men, is greater than the harm, which comes from the Shayaateen of the jinn. As a matter of fact the Shayaateen amongst mankind could probably teach the Shayaateen from the jinn a few things they didn't know!
So in this hadeeth, where the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said that the good companion is like the seller of musk - which is a particular type of perfume, one of the best - it is said that either you will take some from him or you will get some of its fragrance on you. It can be seen that from the good companion you will either pick up good actions and statements from his example - obeying Allah because he does so and because he supports you in that, ordering what is good and forbidding what is evil, acquiring good characteristics and qualities and beneficial knowledge - or if he sees you becoming weak in your eemaan he will advise you and help you.
A good example of this can be found in the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), who was ma'soom (free from making sins). When he was making the hijrah (migration) from Makkah to Madinah he would not leave until he had chosen a companion to accompany him on his way. Abu Bakr offered to go with him and make the hijrah also, but the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) ordered him to wait until Allah allowed him to do so. This implies that the fact that Abu Bakr was to be the Prophet's companion on this hijrah was a choice from Allah, and so great a choice and such a blessing that Allah mentioned it in the Qur'aan:
"Allah did indeed help him (Muhammad [sallallahu alaihi wa sallam]) when the disbelievers drove him out. The second of the two, when they (Muhammad [sallallahu alaihi wa sallam] and Abu Bakr) were in the cave, and he (s) said to his companion, 'Be not sad (or afraid), surely Allah is with us'." [9:40]
He (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, 'surely Allah is with us', not 'with me', since Abu Bakr had supported the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) in the establishing of the Deen of Allah, he had thus earned the right to be supported by Allah also.
Abu Bakr - a good friend and companion, one who was willing
to sacrifice everything for the sake of Allah and to the service
of His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam); his blood, his
wealth, his sweat, his tears and everything that he owned he
gave for Allah's sake. Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq, radhi Allahu anhu,
the first Khalifah after the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam)
and his great companion, the best of this Ummah after the Prophet
(sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), sets for us this great example
of the good companion who is like the perfume merchant.