Intelligent Companionship

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the eighteenth in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

Some company arises out of rights that others have over you. You do not choose your parents, siblings, or immediate family, but they have rights over you. You cultivate that in the good. 

Other companionship arises out of needs. If you are in a particular profession, you need to maintain relations with those in that profession. Then there is the companionship one keeps out of choice.

The Qualities to Look For

These are some of the qualities to look for in friends and in relationships one establishes. These qualities include a person of knowledge. It does not necessarily mean a scholar, but someone who knows their religion and tries to act on their religion. They choose based on religious guidance. 

If you are thinking of going on a vacation with a circle of friends, you choose a vacation resort that is suitable for a believer to go to. 

The second is the forbearant. The forbearant is not quickly moved to anger or is not quickly moved to a negative response. They respond with common consideration. 

The mindful. Meaning the people of Taqwa. Similar to the learned in that they act and respond in manners that are not displeasing to Allah. 

The pure. They strive to avoid the questionable. They do not harbor ill feelings. 

Signs of Intelligence

These are some of the qualities the early Muslims considered to be qualities of the intelligent. Intelligence is to uphold the good. 

Dhul-Nun al-Misri, one of the great early Muslims, said, “Allah does not adorn any of His servants by any adornment more beautiful than intelligence.”

Intelligence here means true intelligence or religious intelligence. Intelligence with the capacity to pursue and uphold true benefit. He continued, “And they are decorated with nothing more beautiful than knowledge and they are beautified by nothing more beautiful than forbearance and the perfection of all of this is mindfulness of Allah.”

One should be seeking out friends. Seek out the company of scholars and righteous exemplars. Seek their friendship. It starts with classes and gatherings of remembrance. Cultivate it from there by asking to visit them or invite them over. 

It is a sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) not to reject an invitation. If you were to invite someone learned to your home for a meal, they are not going to say no.

Stay in Touch

Stay in touch with them. Cultivate the relationship but maintain respect. You may ask them for their cell number. Be careful to not waste their time, however. 

Be avid for what benefits you. Many communities have scholars and the learned, but people do not benefit from their company. What you benefit from a scholar’s company and counsel should be many times what you benefit from their teaching. 

This company can be found in three key places. The circles of knowledge,  remembrance, and in the mosque. These places are like nests for the righteous servants of God as Imam Ghazali comments. 

Notice the good about somebody. You are not evaluating them negatively. For other people, you keep a wide circle of acquaintances unless there is clear harm.

You should be purposeful concerning who are your closest friends. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made that clear, “Don’t keep the close company of other than a person of true faith and let your eating companions be those mindful of Allah.”


Musahaba is active companionship. You have a circle of people you keep actively in touch with. They should be people who uplift you in your religion and your relationship with Allah. 

Keep company for the sake of Allah. 

You have to be careful. Sometimes, if you only keep the company of those struggling, it is not only that you may rescue them, but you may slip with them too. You have to keep a broad range of company. 

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) accepted the invitation of anybody who invited him. But, who are his closest companions? The very best of his companions were the closest of his companions. Looking from the outside, every companion thought that he was the most special person to the beloved (Allah bless him and give him peace). 

If you are in a place where you do not find such company, travel for such company. Whether weekly or every other week.