Friendship! Who are your real friends? It is very important for every Muslim to make sure that his choice of friends and the company he keeps is correct. It has been proven through experience that habits and behaviour of friends and associates slowly manifest in an individual. Without realizing, a person begins to adopt the style and behaviour of his friends. We are all witness to this fact. Sadly, I can recall many incidents where those who were pious, religious and of good character lost all their good qualities because they kept company and associated with an inappropriate circle of friends. I have also seen others who were drowning in sin and evil, who underwent a complete revolution in their lives after adopting the company of a pious person of huge moral standards. Rasullullah May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him has advised, “A person is on the way of his life friend. Therefore, he should think very carefully whom he is making a friend with.” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood) We need friends who are sincere, genuine and true and also true in their friendship. Those who care for our well-being from every aspect are true friends. Whereas on the other hand, worldly friends are not only a waste of time, but also on the day of Qiyamah, they will be a means of destruction. The Quran says: “All friends on the day of Qiyamah will be enemies of one another except the God fearing.” (Mutaqeen) (43:67) Here, the Quran is not saying that friends will not help or benefit each other on that day, it is saying something much stronger, that friends who were not God-fearing will be the enemies of each other on the day of Qiyamah. Friends in the hereafter will regret making irreligious people their friends. Allah Taa'la says in the Quran, “Ah, woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a Khaleel (intimate friend)! He indeed let me astray from the reminder (This Quran) after it and came to me. And Shaytaan is ever a deserter to man (in the hour of need).” (25; 28-29) This will be the cries of the people. Further, Allah says: “Our Lord! These misled us, so give them a double torment of the fire. He will say for each one is a double torment but you know not.” (7:38) My dear friends, today we feel proud of having an elder friend who follows the path of evil. We forget that this role model of ours who is teaching us to sell drugs, to take drugs, to bully and oppress people, disobey parents and to fall prey to evil desires, is in fact taking us to hell! Our true and only friend should be Allah but in order to attain such high stage, one needs to make good, pious people his friends. A great point I would like to raise is the amount we hurt the hearts of our parents? How much pain do they suffer because of us? In this day and age, friends have become more precious and valuable than our parents. For our friends, we are ready to sacrifice everything and everybody. However, one needs only to experience a tragedy to recognize a true friend. Go and sit in prison for a while and see how many friends come and visit. It is here that one appreciates the true love of parents. After being sentenced to jail, the convict holds tight to his parents and cries, and says that now I realize you are only my true friends and you will see many changes in my life after I come out. This is said after going to jail because it is only our families that care enough to visit. If friends come, then how many times do they return? They come once, twice, at the most three times, then you then find yourself sitting in jail alone, crying and you will come to understand that none is interested in coming to see you except your parents, brothers and sisters. The poor father who you used to swear at and give abuse to. That same father who you did not even want to see or talk with, visits you every week. He takes up the cost of the lawyer, worries about the cause, and your well being. Similarly the mother suffers sleepless nights. They do everything for you despite your torturing them in the past. My brothers, please, for Allah's sake, pay attention to these facts and realities I am trying to put forward to you. Beware! The prison sentence may be over in a few months, years, but the prison sentence of the hereafter may be eternal. In the Quran, it states: “That day shall man flee from his brother, from his mother and his father. And from his wife and his children. Every man that day will have enough to make him careless of others.” (80:34:37) Please give this little advice of mine space in your heart. I am saying these words for our benefit with heartfelt concern from the depth of my heart. May Allah save us all and give us the ability to act upon whatever we have just read. Ameen.