Friendship and Relativism
When approaching the notion of friendship, our first problem is that in one setting we may describe someone as a friend, in another the label may seem less appropriate, Showing our thin knowledge of friendship. What is the basic fact behind the mystery of finding a friend, whom we can really adore ?. Friendship is an important part of anyone’s life. Kids who don’t have friends in the initial stages of there life, usually don’t have a memorable childhood. Such kids lack a fruitful adolescence and are very low on confidence. I found this intriguing that what is the exact ingredient required for friendship..!!!
Many people have a very good and healthy social circle, they have many friends with whom they spend quality time while at the same time there are few people who are totally unable to make friends and hence lead a depressing and lonely life.
So what is friendship, Is it something perfect or Absolute, or it is just a relative thing. Is there something eternal and pure about friendship or it is just a matter of give and take. If it is Pure ,than how it can be achieved and if its just a “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours” thing, then what the hell….why people are making so much hype about it and trying to prove it to be, a must have.
Two classical views of friendship
Aristotle provides us with one of the great discussions of friendship. He distinguishes between what he believes to be genuine friendships and two other forms:
These two forms only last for as long as there is utility and pleasure involved, whereas genuine friendship does not dissolve. Aristotle says, ‘And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality’ (Aristotle 1976: 263).
Friendship based on utility. Utility is not permanent at all, it changes according to circumstances. So with the fading of the ground for friendship, the friendship also breaks up, because that was what kept it alive. Friendships of this kind seem to occur most frequently between the elderly (because at their age what they want is not pleasure but utility) and those in middle or early life who are pursuing their own advantage. Such persons do not spend much time together, because the truth is that , sometimes they do not even like each another, and therefore feel no need of such a relationship unless they are mutually useful. For they take pleasure in each other’s company only if they have hopes of advantage from it.
Friendship based on pleasure. Friendship between the young is thought to be based on pleasure, because the lives of the young are regulated by their feelings, and their main interest is in their own pleasure and the opportunity of the moment. As the time pass, however, their tastes change too, so that they are quick to make and to break friendships; because their affection changes just as the things that please them do and this sort of pleasure changes rapidly. That is why they fall in and out of friendship quickly. But the young do like to spend the day and live together, because that is how they realize the object of their friendship.
Perfect friendship is based on goodness..… Only the friendship of those who are good, and similar in their goodness, is perfect. For these people each alike wish good for the other, and they are good in themselves. Each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality. Accordingly the friendship of such men lasts so long as they remain good; and goodness is an enduring quality. Now we have to decide here that what is meant by goodness, is it absolute goodness or is it relative goodness. If the goodness is relative then why are we not calling it simply “give and take”. and if it is absolute then from where the standards come, where is the scale from which we can relate absoluteness of this friendship. Actually the fact is that we know that Absolute friendship exist, because many times in our live we have done things without an exchange. But such Absolutism is found in good men, who contain both love and friendship in the highest form. Another fact is that such friendships are rare is nature, because men of this kind are few.
So to find the best of the friends, first we have to find the best of the men. Now the question comes to the mind WHO CAN BE THE BEST OF THE MEN….!!!!!!
There should be a criterion to define the best of the people, so we will be taking some points to analyze the same :-
Caring and Loving
There are few examples what I heard during my lifetime, regarding the best form of friendship.
Bravery: Notice the love of the companions to our Prophet (peace be upon him), for, in the grand conquest of Badr, the day the Prophet told the companions about Quraysh’s attack, Saad bin Muadh stood up and addressed his most beloved leader, speaking to the Prophet, listen to what these great words that he said, he said: “O Messenger of Allah, we believed in you completely, and we testify that everything you conveyed was the truth, and we gave you our trust in following you, so go ahead and take us where you wish, yes for, if he asked us to go through an ocean of thorns we would go, he is the beloved to Allah, he speaks through the revelations.
Caring and Loving: al-Hafidh ibnul-Jawziy narrated from the route of ‘Anas may Allah have mercy upon them, he says “In ‘Uhud, people claimed that the Prophet died to the extent that women were screaming in al-Madinah, he said a woman from al-‘Ansar came and they brought to her, her brother, father, husband and two of her children, they were brought to her as martyrs, they had died in the battle, she asked what’s this? She was told that’s your husband and your sons and father, and so she asked what about the Prophet of Allah? She’s checking if the Prophet is in good condition, she was not concerned in seeing her family killed as she was concerned on checking on the Prophet, because of her extreme love and admiration to the Prophet, she asked how is the messenger of Allah? They told her He’s fine and in good health, she said let me see him, she went to him and held the side of his garment and said: “Ya Rasulallah, all the calamites after your safety are easy, even if my family was killed, my husband, and child, and even if my father and brother were killed, what’s important is that you stay safe o messenger of Allah”. This was their love to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam).
Loyal: Khubayb bin Adiy may Allah have mercy upon him did, he was taken as a hostage in Makkah, and was taken far to be beheaded, to be killed, listen to what he said to them, he said “give me time to pray two rakah”, so he prayed two rakah quickly and said to the blasphemers “if it wasn’t for the fact that you would wrongly think that I’m scared of death, I would have prolonged my prayer, but just so that you don’t think I’m scared from death”. They brought to behead him, they tortured him, and raised him on a stick to behead him, they told him “Do you prefer that you are with your family and Muhammad is in your place”? He said: “I swear by Allah I don’t love to be with my family while Prophet Muhammad is touched with even a thorn in his foot”, he means even if I and my family were killed, I don’t wish for the Prophet to be in my place at all, rather not even be hurt with a thorn in his foot!
Eternal Love: Bilal al-Habashiy the mu’adhin of the messenger of Allah said when dying. As he was dying his wife says “How sad..” and he says to her “rather say what a joy, tomorrow we shall meet the loved ones, Muhammad and his companions” . He said “What a joy tomorrow we’ll meet the Prophet and his companions”, yes, dear beloved ones, that was their love towards the messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam)
Selflessness: About 200 polytheists with swords in their hands gathered in front of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) home when one third of the night had passed. Among them were their savage ringleaders like Abu Jahl, Abu Lahab, and Umayya bin Khalaf. The murderers were awaiting for the the night to pass, for the daylight to encompass the surroundings, and for the Muhammad (PBUH) to come out of his home. According to their traditions, killing a man in his home signified the most heinous degree of cowardice. Hazrat Ali (RA) slept in the bed of the Prophet when the Quraish planned to murder Muhammad(SAW) and risked his(Hazrat Ali) life without a fear .
Righteous: Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was known as a truthful person even in the time of jahiliyya. All the Makkans, including the unbelievers, called him the Trustworthy One, or the Truthful. His truthfulness was so well known that even after he proclaimed his Prophethood, his enemies would still not accuse him of lying
Obviously I have given these examples because I am a muslim, from my very childhood I have heard the great stories of the Companions of the Prophet (SAW),but still I am no where biased in writing these. The fact is that I never heard great stories like these , when it comes to loyalty, selflessness, love care and friendship. The idea behind writing this was to ponder and to make you ponder that the people around us whom we call our friends, are they really our friends…??? Do they really love us in this manner…??? Do they really stop us from evil, and take us to the right path. Do they really have such qualities. And if not then why…???
As Aristotle rightly said that “Absolutism is found in good men, who contain both love and friendship in the highest form”
The companions of Prophet were never born with such excellent qualities, they were able to developed these traits, because they had an Absolute scale, and that scale was QURAN..If they would have gone by there logic and put relative values for Prophet (SAW), They could never have stood at those harsh times. They always stood by the Verbatim word of Allah, the Quran. This is what made them united and strong and the best of the Companions.
May Allah grant us Hidayat