As Muslims residing in the West this element of companionship needs to be given a lot of thought especially in a society where immorality is rife and the ill practices of society are widely accepted as the norm. In these strange times it is necessary for all Muslims to assess those that might have a huge influence in relation to our belief from amongst our companions. The question one needs to ask is, "Am I permitted to use my time socializing with a person who does not worship, follow or obey Allah?" And also, "What kind of influences are they likely to have over me?"
Befriending someone who is disobedient to Allah (SWT) will only bring humiliation and disgrace in this life and the next.
Allah says in the Qur'an, "And (remember) the Day when the wrong-doer will bite his hands and say: Woe to me! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Woe to me! If only I had not taken so- and-so as a friend! He has led me astray from this Reminder (the Qur'an) after it had come to me. And Satan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need." [EMQ 25:27-29]
Also let us take heed from the warning where Allah (SWT) says,
"Friends on that Day will behave as enemies to one another, except Al Mutaqoon (Those who attain piety) [EMQ 43:67]
As for the cautious Muslim who refers to al-Islaam in every matter, he will befriend a Muslim who is upright in worshipping Allah and who will correct the other if he/she was occasionally stagnant in fulfilling their responsibilities.
The Messenger Muhammad (saw) said, "A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look at whom you befriend."
Also the Messenger Muhammad said again in another narration:
"The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith's bellows. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith's bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him."
My dear Muslims let us look to our friends and analyse them in their speech and actions.
Do they carry spurious ideas which contradict Islaam like calling for the participation of democratic elections, interfaith, secularism, integration and the many other slogans and practices which are liable for one to exit the fold of al-Islaam? Or are they friends who do not bow down to the pressure of society? Are they friends who call for the truth to prevail, by maintaining Al Walaa wal Baraa, and speaking out against the aggression of the oppressors, and calling the masses to Islaam? Do they enjoin the good and forbid the evil?
Indeed, it is the latter that we should associate ourselves with. Furthermore, if it is prohibited for us to associate ourselves with the faasiqeen by greater analogy it is prohibited for any Muslim who believes in Allah and the Last Day to befriend anyone outside the fold of Islaam e.g. the Jews and the Christians, as this is a manifestation of our Imaan.
The Messenger Muhammad (saw) said as recorded in Bukhari and Muslim: "The strongest knot of Imaan is to love for the sake of Allah and hate for the sake of Allah and ally for the sake of Allah and disassociate for the sake of Allah."
In conclusion dear Muslims if you see a man/woman who is upright in the Islamic character holding fast to the rope of Allah whilst pleased with Islaam as his/her Deen and striving to make the creed of Allah supreme over all other ways of life then it is beneficent for you to befriend a person of such calibre.