Etiquette five : To forgive the faults and errors of the friend.
It is necessary that one forgives the lapses of one’s friend and also turns a blind eye to them. One should not only ignore the mistakes of one’s friend but at the same time conjure up excuses in one’s heart as to the possible reasons why the friend behaved in a any particular manner. This is because to err is human and it is impossible for a human to be fault-free save for the Prophets. A friend’s fault and error could relate to either:-
(a) transgression and sin against the command of Allah
(b) non-fulfilment of one’s right.
If the lapse is of category (a) that is pertaining to sin upon which the friend persists then one should advise him in privacy to not break the command of Allah. Hazrat Ali Radiyallaahu Anhu has said that advising in public is in reality ‘frightening’ the other. However, one should ensure that one is not harsh. If one is unable to rectify the situation and one’s friend persists upon this sin then one has the option of either breaking ties or continuing with the friendship.
Hazrat Abu Zarr Radiyallaahu Anhu is of the opinion that ties of friendship should be severed from such an individual. He states that if the condition of the friend does not remain as it was due to which friendship had been established and maintained then now due to the evil of the sin it is necessary to break the relationship and have malice for that sin within one’s heart. Hazrat Abu Darda Radiyallaahu Anhu, on the other hand, was of the opinion that if the friend’s condition is not as it was when one had developed friendship then one should not sever ties since man sometimes adopts the straight path and sometimes walks a crooked road.
If the fault pertains to category (b) that is non-fulfilment of the friend’s rights then one should exercise tolerance and adopt the policy of forgiveness and, as far as possible i.e. (wherever it is possible), to create excuses and reasons to justify the behaviour of the friend.
Do not divulge nor advertise the faults of one’s friend
It is necessary to conceal the friend’s faults and disclose his virtues in the presence of others. One should reflect upon the fact that Allah has created man such that the face wherein there is beauty Allah has exposed but that portion of the body from which is excreted filth Allah has kept concealed. From this we learn that the good in the friend should be exposed and the blemishes concealed.
Once Hazrat Essa Alayhi Salaam asked his companions that if they notice their friend sleeping while his wife, having adorned herself with cosmetics and perfume, roaming the streets what will they do? They said that they would stop her. He said that rather they should expose her to her owner and her master. They exclaimed “Glory be to Allah” that they do such an act. Hazrat Essa Alayhi Salaam said that when they see or hear any fault of their brother then in trying to conceal that fault they tend to expose other faults rather in his presence exaggerate his fault so that he is cured of all spiritual maladies.
Unfortunately in our societies, nowadays, we tend to praise one in his presence but in his absence we criticize, belittle and expose all his errors. A true friend is he who secretly advises his friend of his errors and, let alone belittling the friend in the presence of others, does not even tolerate listening to the criticism of one’s friend. Such behavior seals the bonds of friendship. Many people claim to be friends but they advertise even minor lapses extensively. Such a person is not worthy to befriend as he in reality, is an enemy cloaked as a friend. Or such a person is an idiot and idiots should not be adopted as friends. Hazrat Sheik Sadee Rahmatullah Alayhi has mentioned in a Persian couplet that an arch enemy who is intelligent is better than that friend who is an ignoramus.
SOME TIPS TO INCREASE FRIENDSHIP
(1) Not to disclose to others the faults of one’s friend either in his presence or absence,
(2) One should, as far as possible, turn a blind eye to the errors and lapses of one’s friend,
(3) Not to interrupt when one’s friend is speaking.