This depends on what one means
by the word ‘friend’. Usually, this word is indicative of intimate, close and
frank relations. If this is the case, then my answer would be in the negative.
You see Islam has based its social structure on the institution of family. To
safeguard this structure, it discourages temporary unions and male-female
friendships for these often lead to excesses and tend to stimulate base
emotions. Also, such relationships tend to damage the repute and honour of a
lady, which are so very essential for her.
On the other hand coming into some
meaningful contact with one another like for example exchanging views is a
different matter. Nevertheless, developing frankness is not desirable since this
affects the inner purity -- something which is the very objective of Islam.
Islam wants that a person should always be mindful of inner purification in his
activities and dealings. It declares that only people who have purified their
souls shall enter Paradise. Therefore, every person must try as much as he can
to guard his soul and to preserve the modesty within him.