By Zainab Husain
When I was asked to write a piece about friendship, I thought really, another friendship article? Haven’t we had enough of those? Reluctantly pulling out my laptop I gazed blankly at the screen until the distant beep of my phone interrupted my inner monologue. Eager for a distraction I pounced on my phone and began sifting through the never ending mountain of text messages, bbms and emails. In between learning about my xyz’s brilliant SAT result and looking at abc’s birthday pictures, realization dawned upon me. I understood why an article on friendship was so important.
Humans are social beings by nature. We crave the company of not only those who think and act like us but also of those who are in all aspects our opposites. This could be in order to spice up our lives so we may live vicariously through our friends or to simply add some diversity to our way of thinking.
In today’s day and age, with everyone constantly attached to the electronic leash of their phones and computers, one is constantly aware of their friend’s activities, whether it’s through Facebook, text messaging or bbm. You read status updates, view pictures and videos of your friends and acquaintances on a regular basis. Due to the almost ridiculous amount of exposure to our friends, their influence over us increases proportionately. Therefore they are subconsciously put in a position of great power.
Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated: “The Prophet (sa) said: A man is on the Deen (religion) of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend.” (Abu Dawood)
Choosing friends seems like a simple enough procedure. We simply befriend people we study or work with, those who we cross paths with regularly and whose company we enjoy. One does not realize how drastically your friends influence your way of thinking, your perception of the world as well as your spirituality and moral make-up. The piety of your friends can have a great effect on your well-being. This is because the wrong types of people not only affect one’s life in this world, but would also be a staggering disadvantage on the Day of Judgement.
“Believers are to one another like a building whose parts support one another.” (Bukhari)
Our friends are crucial ingredients in our lives; they can either make us or break us. They are a valuable commodity who may inspire confidence in us, support us and make us braver and kinder. Or they could do the opposite and make us nastier and more aggressive than we would normally be. It is up to us to distinguish between those who bring us down and those who build us up.
“O you who believe! Do not take intimate friends from outside yourselves, who will spare no pains to ruin you, and who love what harms you.” (Al-Imran 3:118)
The risk of befriending people whose moral values and ethics differ from yours is great, especially if one’s faith is already a little shaky. As I reflected on this article I remembered a line from a book my mother read to me as a child,
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
I didn’t appreciate at the time, the underlying wisdom in his words. I didn’t realize he was stressing upon the importance of choosing your friends wisely. As Dr. Seuss states, a friend is someone you can be yourself around. For a practicing Muslim that means someone you feel comfortable praying with, talking about Allah with and someone with the same morals as you.
If you feel ashamed praying in front of your friends, or mentioning Allah then you are not being a practicing Muslim and therefore, not being yourself. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made.
“And (remember) the day when the unjust one shall bite his hands saying: O! Would that I had taken a way with the Messenger! O woe is me! Would that I had not taken such a one for a friend! Certainly he led me astray from the reminder after it had come to me;” (Al-Furqan 25:27-29)
We rely greatly on our friends to help us in this life so why shouldn’t we rely on them to help us for the hereafter? It would be extremely unfortunate if someone was struggling to be a practicing Muslim but was denied Paradise after being led astray by their friends. Prophet Muhammad (sa) surrounded himself with companions who supported him tirelessly. They would were a source of strength for one another and encouraged each other to be better Muslims.
Do I really want to log onto Facebook and see pictures of the latest party my friends went to? Or check my phone to learn the latest gossip? Or would I rather have friends who remind me of Allah (swt)?
After pondering over this, I came to the conclusion that a few hours of sinful and fleeting fun with your so called friends isn’t worth an eternity of payment.