Allah has created some animals, especially mammals, in a certain way such that they need to interact with others so that they may survive. Human beings are also without any doubt social animals. Social interaction is vital to human beings mentally, physically and spiritually. On a certain scale, we can call this social interaction of people ‘friendship’. Human beings are mostly influenced by their surroundings (environment) hence the friends play a very important role in one’s character and behavior. Thus a wise man once said “Tell me about your friends then I will tell you who you are”.
In Islam we are advised not to take disbelievers as intimate friends. Allah says:
“Let not the believers take the disbelievers as friends instead of the believers, And whoever does that, will never be helped by Allah in any way, unless you indeed fear a danger from them, And Allah warns you against Himself. And to Allah is the final return.” Quran 3:28 and He also
says “O you who believe! Take not for friends disbelievers instead of believers. Do you wish to offer Allah a manifest proof against yourselves!” (Quran 4:144)
Ibn Katheer added that Allah forbids “…being intimate with them and exposing the secrets of the believers to them.” The above verses do not mean that we should start insulting non Muslims, killing them unnecessarily, exercising total dissociation from them, acting unjustly towards them or something like that, NO.
In the Quran chapter 5 verse 8 we are informed “ O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.”
The whole point of a believer to not associate with non-Muslims is to preserve his/her faith and the bond within Muslims. And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “A man will follow the religion of his close friend, so let each of you look to who he takes a close friend.”
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2378; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1937 Mixing with followers of any way other than that of the Guidance results in a change in one’s behavior, morals and conduct. If we accompany such friends, then we inherit their habits, behavior
and perhaps even their religion.
A true believer should also be careful even when choosing Muslim friends. It’s highly recommended for a believer to choose good Muslims among Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows (respectively). So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy
some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.” [Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5534; Muslim, 2628, from Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari, (may Allaah be pleased with him)] Imam an-Nawawi said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) compared a good companion to a seller of musk and spoke of the virtue of having companions who are good, who have noble manners, piety, knowledge and good culture. Such are those who grant us from their virtue. And he (peace be upon him) forbade us to sit with those who do evil, commit a lot of sins and other bad deeds, as well as with innovators, backbiters, and so forth.
For Muslims to be successful in this world and the hereafter we need to be very careful of whom we befriend. Let us not be among those who will say “Woe to me! If only I had not taken so- and-so as a friend! He has led me astray from this Reminder (the Qur’an) after it had come to me.” [Quran 25:28-29].
May Allah put us among those who are (will be) successful in this world and the hereafter
Allah knows best.