Prophet Muhammad: Qualities For Good Friendship
We mentioned that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was loved by all his companions. Every one of them felt that he could do no better than being close to the Prophet, because he was a most caring friend. When he met someone, he would inquire about his affairs and his family. He would attend to their business and give whatever help was available to him. If someone sat with him for a while, then stood up to leave, the Prophet would stand up with him. The Prophet would not turn away from his visitor in order to attend to anything that needed his attention until his visitor has turned away to leave. In this way, he made his visitor feel that he was welcome until the last minute of his visit.
When he met anyone and shook hands with him, the Prophet would not be the first to withdraw his hand. He would wait until the other person has withdrawn his hand. Likewise, when he bade goodbye to anyone, he would hold his hand. He would keep it until the other person has moved away. It is authentically reported that any young girl would come to him, take him by the hand, taking him wherever she wanted. He would go with her and do for her whatever she needed to be done.
These may be small gestures, but they are indicative of highly refined manners, with the Prophet keen to make everyone feel that he was close to him. He was always ready to do for his friends and companions whatever they needed to be done. At the same time, the Prophet was very shy. His shyness is described as greater than that of a maiden girl who is unused to social occasions.
One aspect of good friendship is respecting other people’s privacy. He would not divulge any private matter even to those who were very close to him. Everyone was certain that if he told the Prophet anything of private nature, no one else would know about it from him. He instilled in his companions the virtue of respecting other people’s privacy. This means that we must not try to know anyone’s private affairs. He says: “Whoever pries into someone else’s private matters without his knowledge actually pries into the fire of hell.”
Coupled with all this was his keen sense of cleanliness. He was always keen that his body and his clothes were clean and having a good smell. He said that one of the two things he loved of worldly comfort was perfume. If he woke up at night, he would give his teeth a quick brush. Every time he performed ablution for his five daily prayers he would brush his teeth. Although he was aware that he had a very pleasant body smell, he always made certain that his mouth and clothes gave no bad smell.
The task assigned to him by God was to give guidance. He fulfilled his duty in the way that no one would feel that following Islamic teachings would be burdensome. He waited for the right moment to give advice. If he saw something unbecoming, he would not embarrass the person concerned by pointing it out on the spot. He would wait until a proper chance offered itself. Then he would give the advice in general terms so that it would not be taken as directed at any particular person. If something wrong was reported to him, and he needed to make a public announcement regarding it, he would not mention anyone concerned by name. He would say: “Some people may think, say, or do this or that.” He would then point out the right thing to do.
All this made him an exemplary friend with whom people were very comfortable. Hence, they loved him and cherished the fact that they were his friends and companions.