Ash-Shaykh Al-Allamah Muhammad bin Saalih Al-Uthaymeen said in his explanation under the section titled: “Inciting the rulers and other than them from the people of power, towards selecting good ministers and warning them against evil associates and accepting from them”:
Afterwards, it is binding that we know that Allah —the most glorified and exalted— tries the slave, He sometimes facilitates him by sincere lovers calling him to goodness; by commanding him with goodly deeds and prohibiting him from evil, and assisting him upon whatever overwhelms him. And at other times, He tries with people who are completely different from those mentioned, and concerning this, it was reported in a hadith:
المرء على دين خليله، فلينظر أحدكم من يخالل
“A person is upon the (like of the) religion of his bosom friend, let each of you be watchful of who he makes his intimate friend”
And he also said —Allah raise his rank and grant him peace— :
مثل الجليس الصالح كالحامل المسك إما أن تبتاع منه وإما أن يحذيك وإما أن تجد منه رائحة طيبة
“The similitude of a pious companion is like that of a perfume bearer, you either buys from it or he gifts you free, or you perceive from him nice scent”
But as for an evil companion —and Allah’s refuge is sought—, then he is:
“Like the bellow blower; (with him) you either have your cloth burnt (by whatever flies on you from sparks of the fire), or you perceive from him disgusting scent”
And from the hadith of Aa’isha which the author —Allah be merciful with him— has transmitted, the prophet —Allah raise his rank and grant him peace— said:
إذا أراد الله بأمير خيرا جعل له وزير صدق إن نسي ذكره وإن ذكر أعانه، وإذا أراد به غير ذلك جعل له وزير سوء، إن نسي لم يذكره وإن ذكر لم يعنه
“Whenever Allah intends good for a leader, He assigns to him sincere minister, (such that) if he forgets he reminds him and if remembers he assist him, and whenever He (Allah) intends for him other than this (good), he assigns to him evil minister, (such that) if he forgets he doesn’t remind him, and if he remembers he doesn’t assist him”
In the same vein the prophet —Allah raise his rank and grant him peace— has informed that Allah did not raise any prophet nor make any successor (khalifah) to succeed except that he had with him two kinds of advisors; the good advisor who commands him with goodness and encourages him upon it, and the evil advisor who directs him towards evil and commands him with it. He said:
والمعصوم من عصمه الله
“And the preserved is whoever is guarded by Allah”
And this is something apparent, there are some rulers who were themselves pious, desirous of good, however, Allah ordained for him evil associates —and Allah’s refuge is sought—, hindering him from attaining what he intended of goodness, adoring for him evil and making him loathful to the slaves of Allah.
And there are some rulers who are bad in themselves, however he have with him a good advisor guiding him to goodness and encouraging him upon it, and guiding him towards that which will necessitate love between him and his subjects until he becomes upright and his condition rectified, and the one preserved is whoever is guarded by Allah.
And if this is the situation with the rulers, then you should examine yourself as well. You yourself whenever you see from your companions (friends) those who guides you towards goodness and assists you upon it, reminds you when you become oblivious, and acquaint you whenever you are ignorant, then make sure you are tenacious in holding on to them, and bite and grip them (their companionship) with your molars.
And when you see from your companions (friends) someone who is derelict regarding your rights and unconcerned whether you perish or continue to exist, even more often seeks after your destruction, then be wary of him for he is indeed a deadly poison —and Allah’s refuge is sought—, do not go near such people rather stay far away from them, flee from them the same way you would a lion, and the fortunate person is the one who isn’t inert and daft like a stone, he is rather astute and witty like a glass, though rigid, but sees behind itself from it’s clarity and fineness, then he will have with him sheer attentiveness, with which he sees and knows —as if he sees what is concealed— what benefits him from what may cause him harm, so he covet what benefits him and stir clear off whatever may bring him harm. And we beseech Allah on behalf of ourselves and all Muslims that He make us fortunate.
Sharh Riyaadh As-Saaliheen – Vol:2/page:377-378 (Daar-ul-Mustafah print)
Translation: Abul Aamaal Misbaah Olagunju [06-20]