Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
One of the compelling reasons for studying Arabic language is the fact that the language itself is very eloquent and poetic. There could be several different words denoting one thing in different shades of meaning. One such word is ‘friend’. There are at least ten words in the Quran which mean different types of friends. You won’t realize that just reading English translation of the Quran. At UQ Academy you can start learning Arabic using the latest technologies. Start with Learn 50% of the Quran in 9 hours.
The fact that there are several different words meaning the same thing in a given language means that the thing itself has some special significance or value in that given culture or region. An example is that Eskimos have about 180 words for snow (although the research is subject to heated debate). The fact that ten different words for friend is used in the Quran should tell us something – that friendship is a very important subject in Islam. We should take into account not just what kind of friends we make, but also what kind of friends we are.
Let us look at these ten words and what each of them mean in the Quranic context. I have taken most of the leads from Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan’s lecture titled ‘Friendship’ available on youtube.
A wali is a protecting friend, a mentor, a friend who comes to your help and guides and protects you when you are in need. It also means a guardian. Allah says in the Quran:
اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۖ
Allah is the ally of those who believe. [2:257]
Allah also says,
لَّا يَتَّخِذِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْكَافِرِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِن دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَيْسَ مِنَ اللَّهِ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلَّا أَن تَتَّقُوا مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً ۗ وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ اللَّهُ نَفْسَهُ ۗ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ الْمَصِيرُ
Let not believers take disbelievers as allies rather than believers. And whoever [of you] does that has nothing with Allah , except when taking precaution against them in prudence. And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the [final] destination. [3:28]
Ahamma أَحَمَّ means ‘to heat’ or ‘to warm’.
وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ۚ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. [41:34]
A hameem is a ‘warm’ friend, a friend whose love and bonding makes you emotional. That is the kind of friend we are supposed to be even with those who are rude to us or harm us.
In the Hereafter the misguided (‘followers of Iblis’) will say:
وَمَا أَضَلَّنَا إِلَّا الْمُجْرِمُونَ o فَمَا لَنَا مِن شَافِعِينَ o وَلَا صَدِيقٍ حَمِيمٍ o
And no one misguided us except the criminals. So now we have no intercessors and not a devoted friend. [26:99-101]
Sadiq comes from the word sidq which means ‘truthfulness’. A sadiq is a true friend, someone who doesn’t befriend you for some ulterior motive, and who won’t leave you no matter what. They won’t leave us even if we become bankrupt, losing every worldly possession. They won’t forsake us even if we become misguided, but will always be there gently reminding us and calling us towards the Straight Path.
That is the kind of friend who will be a friend in this world and in the Hereafter. Everyone else who calls themselves our friends will forsake us when we are in real need.
A sahib could be a long-term or short-term friend. It could be applied to your neighbor, to a fellow passenger in a flight, or to a lifetime friend. But what distinguishes the sahib is his/her care and concern towards you. A sahib is someone who means well for you, who is concerned about your wellbeing. Allah calls the Prophet (saws) a sahib to the Qurayish, since he was truly concerned about them even after they insulted him and rejected him:
وَمَا صَاحِبُكُم بِمَجْنُونٍ
And your companion is not [at all] mad. [81:22]
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تُتْرَكُوا وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنكُمْ وَلَمْ يَتَّخِذُوا مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَلَا رَسُولِهِ وَلَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلِيجَةً ۚ وَاللَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
Do you think that you will be left [as you are] while Allah has not yet made evident those among you who strive [for His cause] and do not take other than Allah , His Messenger and the believers as intimates? And Allah is Acquainted with what you do. [9:16]
This term appears only once in the Quran, in the above verse. Its root verb is walaja, which means ‘to penetrate’. A walijah is a deep friend, someone who is intimately involved in all your affairs, someone whom you can trust with anything, even your bank account pin number. We are forbidden by Allah to have this kind of friendship with a disbeliever.
We will look at the next five kinds of friend in the next article in sha Allah.
[to be continued]