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10 Important Arabic Proverbs on Friendship

Friendship

Welcome to another valuable blog dear Arabic learners! 

Today, we will focus on a very important area of the Arabic language and culture, which is proverbs. 

Arabic proverbs reflect the wisdom of the culture of native speakers of Arabic. They sum up lessons and experiences learned in life and offer a general outlook on different aspects of life that were passed down many generations. 

The proverbs we will learn today are about friendship. We will look at 10 common proverbs in Arabic that seem to set out the guidelines for this valuable relation that no single individual can live without. 

Are you ready?

Here are eight heartfelt Arabic phrases that you can use to make your mother feel cherished on this special day.

Proverb 1: الرَّفِيقُ قَبْلَ الطَّرِيق

A good companion shortens the longest road

Alrrafīqu qabla alṭṭarīq

Friendship

Our first proverb “الرَّفِيقُ قَبْلَ الطَّرِيق” highlights the importance of having a friend and a companion when travelling. 

The literal meaning of this proverb is “A companion comes before the road.” It means having a companion should be a priority before setting off on a trip or journey. 

The proverb also stresses the benefit of companionship a friend offers in a tiresome and challenging experience like traveling. Trips old time ago used to be long and risky, which meant having a companion was essential not only for safety but also for keeping the traveler company.

Proverb 2: الصَّديقُ وَقْتُ الضِّيق

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Alṣṣadyqu waqtu alḍḍīq

This proverb talks about true friendship and what defines a true friend, and its literal translation is “A friend is [known] in the time of hardship.” 

In other words, true friendship is tested during challenging times. Only those who stand by you in your hour of need – offering support, comfort, or assistance – prove themselves to be true friends.

Proverb 3: الوِحْدَةُ خَيْرٌ مِنْ جَلِيسِ السُّوء

Better alone than in bad company

Alwiḥdatu khayrun min jalīsi alssūʼ

Our third proverb emphasizes the importance of surrounding oneself with positive, supportive, and good-natured individuals. The English equivalent of this proverb comes close to its literal meaning: “Loneliness is better than a bad companion.” 

In other words, being in bad company, where people might have harmful habits, negative attitudes, or unethical behaviors, can adversely impact one’s own character and life choices.

Proverb 4: لُمْ صَدِيقَكَ سِرًا وامْدَحْهُ أَمَامَ الآخَرِيْن

Praise your friend publicly, criticize him privately

Lum ṣadīqaka siran wāmdaḥhu amāma alʼākharīn

This proverb translates literally to “Blame your friend in private and compliment him in front of others.” It provides guidance on how to maintain and nurture respectful and considerate relationships, especially in terms of giving feedback or addressing issues. Its wisdom lies in the understanding of social dynamics and personal dignity. 

Praising someone in public boosts their confidence and enhances their reputation in the eyes of others. Also, privately offering criticism, rather than doing so publicly, shows that you respect their self-esteem and are interested in their personal growth. 

Proverb 5: مَنْ يَبْحَثْ عَنْ صَدِيقٍ بلِا عَيْبٍ، يَبْقَ بِلا صَدِيق

If you seek a perfect friend, you’ll r emain friendless

Man yabḥath ʻan ṣadīqin bliā ʻaybin, yabqa bilā ṣadīq

This proverb emphasizes the idea that seeking perfection in human relationships is unrealistic and can lead to isolation. It highlights the truth that no one is perfect. Every individual has their own set of flaws and weaknesses. Expecting a friend to be without any flaws is an unrealistic standard that no one can meet. By setting such high expectations, one risks never forming meaningful relationships.

 It also speaks to the importance of tolerance and understanding in friendships. Strong relationships are often built on the ability to accept and appreciate others despite their imperfections. This proverb encourages embracing friends for who they are, including their faults.

Proverb 6: الصَّاحِبُ سَاحِب

You’re only as good as those you associate yourself with

Alṣṣāḥibu sāḥib

Our sixth proverb offers valuable wisdom about the influence of social circles on personal character and reputation. Its core message is that the people you choose to spend time with have a significant impact on your behavior, attitudes, and even how others perceive you. 

It suggests that if you surround yourself with positive, ambitious, and morally sound individuals, their traits are likely to influence you positively. Conversely, if you associate with people who have harmful habits, these may rub off on you as well. The Arabic proverb translates literally to “Your companion is the one who pulls you (to good or bad)”.

Proverb 7: اِحْذَرْ عَدُوَّكَ مَرَّةً وصَدِيقَكَ أَلْفَ مَرَّة

Be wary around your enemy once, and your friend a thousand times

Iḥdhar ʻadūwaka marratan wṣadīqaka alfa marrah

This proverb conveys a deep and somewhat complex insight into the nature of trust and caution in human relations. The first part of the proverb, advising to be wary of an enemy once, acknowledges the natural caution one exercises around known adversaries. 

But the more intriguing and profound aspect of this proverb is the advice to be even more cautious around friends, a thousand times more. This doesn’t necessarily imply that friends are untrustworthy; rather, it suggests a deeper awareness of the complexities of close relationships.

 

Proverb 8: صُحْبَةُ السُّوءِ مَفْسَدَةٌ لِلْأَخْلَاق

Bad company, corrupts good manners

Ṣuḥbatu alssūʼi mafsadatun lilʼakhlāq

The proverb “صُحْبَةُ السُّوءِ مَفْسَدَةٌ لِلْأَخْلَاق” conveys a timeless warning about the influence of one’s social environment on personal behavior and ethics. The core message of this proverb is that the people we surround ourselves with have a significant impact on our behavior and moral compass.

 It suggests that associating with individuals who exhibit negative or harmful behaviors can lead to the deterioration of one’s own good manners and ethical standards.

Proverb 9: عَنِ المَرْءِ لا تَسْأَلْ وَاسْأَلْ عَنْ قَرِيْنِه

A man is known by the company he keeps 

ʻAni almarʼi lā tasʼal wāsʼal ʻan qarīnih

This proverb emphasizes the idea that an individual’s character can be discerned by looking at the people they choose to associate with. It suggests that to understand a person’s true nature, one should look at the kind of friends and associates they have. 

The idea is that people usually form close relationships with others who share similar values, beliefs, and behaviors. The literal translation of this proverb is “Don’t ask about an individual; rather ask about his friend.”

Proverb 10: اِبْذِلْ لِصَدِيقِكَ دَمَكَ وَمَالَك

Give your friends your money and your blood 

ʻIbdhil liṣadīqika damaka wamālak

Our last proverb speaks to the depth of commitment and sacrifice that true friendship ideally entails. It emphasizes the importance of selflessness and generosity in maintaining strong, meaningful relationships. It underscores the extent of sacrifice and generosity that one should be willing to extend to a true friend. 

Final word

Finally, we hope you found these 10 Arabic proverbs interesting and that now you can use them easily in your everyday conversations to add depth to them and to sound more native. Make sure you practice using these proverbs in different situations to demonstrate your understanding of the richness of the Arabic culture.

To help you practice these proverbs, we have created this quiz. You can take it as many times as you like and check your answers after you finish it.

Don’t forget to check out our planner, which offers a 30-page worksheet along with more than 200 exercises and activities. This comprehensive planner will help you consolidate what you’ve learned and boost your learning journey with the necessary practice.

To learn Arabic the right way, download our app to start learning with the help of our carefully-designed exercises.

Dania Ghraoui
Dania has worked as a language instructor and translator for almost 10 years. She has a special interest in the Arabic language and learning methods.
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