Those who have ugly and appalling characteristics have a negative influence on their friends and associates. They can even irreparably damage their friends.
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has said, “Friendship and kindness to people is half of intelligence.” An intelligent person has many differences from an ignorant person. However, these differences cannot be seen and do not become apparent all the time and in every place. Rather, there are specific occasions when the intellect of an intelligent person and the ignorance of an ignorant person become obvious, and it becomes known who is intelligent and who is ignorant.
One of these occasions is the method of conduct with people. An ignorant person does not know the value of friendship and kindness, and for this reason, he is not friendly with people and does not allow love of others to enter his heart.
However, an intelligent person knows the virtue of his intellect and value of friendship and love. He chooses many good friends for himself and is always kind and loving to them. One of the ways that we can determine whether a person is intelligent or ignorant is by seeing if he is friendly and loving to people or unkind, unloving, and unfriendly.
Because caring and being friendly with people are the signs of intelligence and brainpower, the Imam has said friendship and love of people is a sign that a person has half of his natural intellect.
However, we must be careful whom we befriend. Both the Prophet and Imam Ali have greatly stressed the matter of choosing friends wisely. For instance, Imam Ali states: “Refrain from befriending a fool, because he wants to benefit you, but due to his ignorance, he will harm you; refrain from befriending a miser, because he will leave you when you need him the most; refrain from befriending a liar, because he will make what is far seem close and what is close seem far.”
Those who have ugly and appalling characteristics have a negative influence on their friends and associates. They can even irreparably damage their friends. Based on this, while choosing friends, we must pay utmost attention and not choose those who are foolish, miserly, evildoers, and liars as our friends. First, a foolish person, even if he is kind and sincere, cannot determine benefiting and detrimental occasions, because he does not have sufficient intellect. Based on this reason, he wants to do something which will benefit his friend, but instead he will do something that harms him.
Second, a miserly or stingy person, because he loves worldly wealth more than anything else and is not willing to lose an atom’s weight of it, will continue his friendship with others until they are needless of him. However, as soon as one of his friends becomes in need of his help, and even if his entire life depends on a little help and assistance from his friend, he is unwilling to give up his worldly wealth and will leave his friend in dire need.
Third, an evildoer or one who commits debauchery, wickedness, and corruption in the world must also not be befriended. A corrupt person will give up his eternal success for the most invaluable thing. Therefore, it is clear that such a person will not hold any value for his friends either and will sell them out for the most insignificant thing.
Finally, the liar is also not suited for friendship because he is like a mirage, which shows sand, soil, and pavement as water, and is always trying to deceive others. A liar always displays good deeds as bad deeds and bad deeds as good deeds. As a result, one who befriends a liar will be deceived by his words and will find two major faults in his life. First, that he will be turned away from good deeds because he will imagine that they are bad, and second, he will turn towards bad deeds because he will imagine that they are good based on the words of his lying friend.
We are encouraged to make friends and keep our friendships intact. But at the same time, we must be careful of what type of friends we choose.