How to deal with Peer Pressure?

peersHijab leads to an Abaya!  A 19-nineteen year old was surprised to see herself,and soon, the whole college was talking about her. Fatima was scared to face her friends.

Peer pressure is not a recent phenomenon; it is as old as history itself. All the prophets and their descendants faced all kinds of peer pressure. Hence, if you are facing such a thing in your life, you should be bold enough to carry it rightly and be on your straight path.

One should adopt the following rules to handle peer pressure.

1. Keep your vision upright and feed your faith

People love to talk aimlessly, and especially, when it comes to religion, they have their own golden rules and principles of understanding. Usually, they interpret rules which benefit them. Regarding Hijab, they’ll say it’s not necessary to cover your body and that one should be modest at heart.

Hijab- Gone by the wind

People totally alter the concept of basic modesty in Islam.  Thus, keep feeding your faith by:

  • Working on your relationship with Allah (swt).
  • Plug-in yourself with Quran and Sunnah

2.  Uplift your identity

The major cause of peer pressure is that we do not have a secure Muslim identity, which results in lack of knowledge about the rules in Deen. Therefore, learn about Seerah and lives of our predecessors for better acknowledgement of Deen.

3. Take lessons from those who are steadfast on Deen

Be in the company of those who practice Deen with great zeal and enthusiasm. As it is said: “The best of you are those who repent.”
So, try to be with those who can help you in moral uplifting.

4. Friends with ever-lasting benefits

Friends are the real asset. Try to be friends with those who can help you become a better Muslim.

If your friends make you feel out dated with respect to your vision about Deen, and give you grief for your beliefs- so that is their problem. All you have to do is:

  • to bail out
  • avoid their gatherings

5. Seek Allah’s (swt) help

You cannot attain anything in this life against Allah’s (swt) Will; hence, keep asking for His help and mercy, so that you can find your way easily.

  • Make Dua for complete Hidayah
  • Get down in prostration and pray for Istaqamah

6. No complains

You cannot get Jannah easily. Hurdles are always there; all you need is to act firm on your beliefs and work to gain Allah’s (swt) love. Therefore, be positive and build up your nerves to stay courageous in all circumstances.

7.  Ignore criticism and mockery

Follow the Sunnah of forgiveness, and you will be straight on your path; ignore insulting actions of ignorant people and make Dua for them.

8. Keep yourself cool

To keeping oneself cool is one of the most difficult tasks- especially, when the other half of the world is busy in making you lose control. But being a good Muslim, it’s our duty to stay calm. Allah (swt) and Prophet Muhammad (sa) love those who remain quiet at hard times.

Try to be positive and optimistic in every aspect of life; and never lose your focus just because of what others will think of you.There will be no one who will save you from the fire of Hell, except Allah (swt).

Birds of a feather flock together- Fly with the best!

birds-of-a-featherI had entered a new institution; and to move into a place where you only have unpleasant memories to hold up your image, is not a fun feeling. I had been here before for quite some time, and that had not been a good time period.

As a fellow student, I had been popular due to my language and confidence. But, just as I was getting used to it, life started taking a different turn for me.
A girl in my batch, I believed, had made a resolution to keep me as unhappy as she could, for a reason I could never decipher. Planting things in my bag and framing me for whatever went wrong; she was so good at proving me guilty, and I always happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The worst part was, I had no one to believe me; and I got called into the principal’s office more times than you could count. The principal herself thought I was guilty. I wasn’t exactly what you could call an ideal student, but in this case, I was innocent. When my mother got sick of being called to the school repeatedly, she suggested that I switch to another school. I eagerly jumped at the opportunity.

I was ecstatic. Finally, I got a chance to reinvent myself, a chance to start over. I turned over a new leaf- changed my priorities and my grades improved. I could focus at school and had great friends. I started praying regularly; and thanked Allah (swt) for the brilliant opportunity, whenever I could remember. There I found a person who inspired me to bring out the best in me. Her name was Maryam Raza.  Every action of hers left me in awe. To me, she was a perfect role model. She stayed calm in situations that got people hysterical, and also had perfect grades.

The teachers there loved me. I wasn’t the best at studies, but my frank and playful attitude, along with my innocent tricks made me fairly popular in the staff room gossips. My English teacher Ms. Shireen, simply adored me, and I loved her too. My paternal grandmother died before I was even born, so I placed Ms. Shireen as close to me as a grandmother. Spending time with her wasn’t formal; I hung on to every wise word she told me, every advice she gave me.

I found my ease. And Allah (swt) has not said that after hardship comes ease, He said it comes with.

But like they say, all good things must come to an end. Due to some maintenance issues, the school had to shut down. However, after a protest by some devoted students, the management negotiated and only my year had to be dissolved. That was the hardest part. Letting go of a place that holds priceless memories is hard on even the strongest of people. To make matters worse, the time for admissions was up, and the only open option for me was my old school. Hence then, not only I had to leave a place that I held so close to my heart, but I had to go back to the place that held the worst memories of my life. I complained so much to Allah (swt), demanding as to why I was being shown such cruelty. Yet, every time I went to a Quran class, or attended a lecture, it felt like Allah (swt) was there, talking to me through the words of the Quran- telling me that it  was a test, and I had to be patient.

The first day was the worst. Every glance was hostile, every look held judgement. The new students knew about my past, the old were waiting for me to strike again. Every time someone went, ‘Where’s my pencil?’ or ‘Where’s my book?’- several heads turned in my direction. I had no friends, and I could hear people whispering about me behind my back. It felt like no one was ready to give me a second chance. Then, one of my ex-classmates joined, and things started working up. After almost a year, people started letting me in, recognizing me as one of their own. I started seeing the good in them, something I thought was non-existent.

Finally, in my last year, I made plenty of amazing friends. My best-friend was a shy girl called Humnah. The bond of friendship between us was very strong; it overthrew every obstacle in our way. She helped me through my last year and never once betrayed my trust, like many had before her. I was finally happy.

The gist is, like Allah (swt) said in the Quran, “So verily, with the hardship, there is relief.” (Ash-Sharh 94:5)

I found my ease. And Allah (swt) has not said that after hardship comes ease, He said it comes with. Every time I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, I cried in prayers, and my heart found peace. A big help was the company of friends I had.

Like Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan repeatedly tells us, we have to select friends wisely, who would help us be better Muslims. Alhumdulillah, Humnah kept track of my daily prayers and gave me an earful if I missed one.

I learnt to move on and face the challenges life threw at me with bravery; and thanks to the many beautiful people who truly cared about me, and helped me be a better version of myself. And of course with Allah’s (swt) Mercy, I became a better Muslim.

Take a Muslim’s attitude- Express gratitude

StarsSome people seem absolutely beautiful. They appear in the form of stars during pitch dark nights, scattered all over the sky, emitting light and illuminating the surroundings. They enter your life like a sailing ship-sailing smoothly through, silent and calm, making its way to the shore. They touch your life as easily as it can be because they bring peace, tranquillity and meaning to it. They, in the midst of despair, bring you hope. They, during the times of turmoil, bring you ease. They, in different moments of your life, throw colours on your canvas; thus painting your picture a little brighter and more beautiful. Some people are beautiful, just like the stars- shining bright and making you see things which you had never seen before- because it was dark; because it was hard, without them.

Unlike the tremendously significant ties of your family, these people appear in different stages of your life. Some of them will leave as you proceed, while others will stay. They have different names, but they are there. In one way or the other, your life will remain flavoured with their presence.

We humans are social beings, and are obliged to stay connected with people around us. We need communication in order to progress. Our personal, as well as, societal development depends on our ability to interact with other humans. The more we intermingle, more people we relate ourselves to. In the course of this networking, we sometimes meet people who appear more like us, who behave similar to our behaviour and even accept us the way we are. Our frequencies resonate with each other. We feel love, affection and fondness for them. We call them friends!

Look around-

Do you feel compassion in their eyes?

Do you see unconditional love in their actions?

 

Get closer-

Do you feel them?

A helping hand,

a lending shoulder,

a warm hug

or an encouraging nod?

Do you see them?

A friend in need, is a friend indeed!

Every man since the beginning of time till today, including the Prophets, who had support of Allah (swt), the Supreme, has had companions. The Beloved Prophet of Allah (swt), Muhammad (sa) was in close friendship with many Sahabah (ra) including Abu Bakr (ra). They were close and supported each other in the hardest of times; until our Prophet (sa) took his final breath. Their brotherly love was cherished equally to such an extent that the Messenger of Allah (swt) said:

“If I were to choose from my Ummah anyone as my bosom friend, I would have chosen Abu Bakr.” (Muslim)

How beautiful is this bond where you can associate yourself with someone who will embrace you with every detail you hold! You will be loved by your friend irrespective of your appearance or failures. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, if you are surrounded by faithful friends, your life will be treasured. Your happiness will be multiplied, while your sorrows will get a little less painful. They will see pain in your eyes even when you have had the loudest laughs. Your success will be celebrated.  Your failures will be shared.

No matter how strong you have been all your life, you would always need someone like this. Even if you have touched highest of the milestones in your life, you would always cherish that hand helping you get up; that shoulder lending you a support; and that hug making it all worth it, in the end.

But it doesn’t end here- We Humans do not function according to a manual which is why our relationships are difficult in all their glory. We posses friends who are critically important in our lives, yet they do not get the appreciation they deserve. They are not told enough that they matter. In the rough stages of life where everything gets in our way, yet they help us get through the most complicated phases of our life; we forget to acknowledge how helpful they had been. It’s ironical how less we appreciate their presence, but how immensely dependent we are on them.

If you have a sincere friend, you have struck gold!

If you have one friend who you can count on, even at the darkest hour of your life, consider yourself the luckiest person on this planet. Without him, the upsetting realities of this life would tire your soul. Not sharing your worries or the happy moments will drain your energies out.  Let’s face it, without your sincere friends; your life will be less colourful and more difficult.

Just remember that your strength in your life isn’t flawed when you appreciate them. Your austerity doesn’t change when you cherish them; and your milestones will still be yours, if you credit them for who they have made you in tiny bits of their support or love.

In his book, How to win friends and influence people, Dale Carnegie says;

“Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.”

It doesn’t have to be a day, an event or a fancy occasion to tag a card along. It can be today, it can be right now. If you haven’t told them, let them know now. Tell them, they matter! Appreciate their efforts in bringing you up. Acknowledge their support in all those gloomy days. Be grateful for their applause, their hugs, their kisses and their love. Whatever it takes to say, “Thank you.” do it today.

“Anyone who doesn’t thank people has not thanked Allah (swt).” (Abu-Dawud,Tirmidhi)

Beware Of Your Friend

compnayDo you know if you have bad qualities, most probably you got it from your peers- those you intermingled with? Sometimes, they might even be your family members, sometimes your parents. So if you have a bad quality, you probably got it from somewhere. But, you didn’t get it from Allah (swt), you got it from the devil!

The devil came to you in the form of, most probably your friend and your peers. And sometimes, this devil comes in the form of your best friend. May Allah (swt) protect us. Ameen. Sometimes the devil comes using the mouth of someone who’s very close to you. Satan is very sharp. He’s very intelligent.

Sometimes the upbringing in the home is very good, but the school you send your children to, they learn an accent which is totally unacceptable. They begin to speak slang. They begin to swear, they begin to steal and cheat- all that is learnt from the school. We need to be careful which schools we send our children to. We need to be careful of what type of friends our children mix up with, more importantly- what type of people we mix up with.

So, Allah (swt) says in Surah Furqan, regarding the one who did not keep good company, “He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al Furqan 29)

Sometimes the devil comes using the mouth of someone who’s very close to you. Satan is very sharp.

Definitely, on the Day of Qiyamah, they will regret keeping bad company.

Now let me inform you, when a person is smoking, nine times out of ten, they’ve learnt it from the people they’ve mixed up with! When a person is on drugs, nine times out of ten, it is from people they were associated with. When a person is an adulterer, nine times out of ten, they’ve learnt it from the company they kept. When a person does not come for Salah, nine times out of ten it is because that is the trend of the people they mix up with. When a person is an alcoholic, nine times out of ten, it is because of those whom he or she is with, are also like that. When a person has a bad mouth, it’s also the same and that is why rehabilitation is a waste of time if you, yourself, do not want to help yourself. I can promise you- a person who is on drugs, a person who is an alcoholic, a person who has any bad habit, it is up to him to change! The whole world can want to rehabilitate him forever and ever; but if that quality of changing for better is in your heart, it is a waste of time and money for everyone worried about you! May Allah (swt) protect us.

And this is why Allah (swt) says that if you want to save yourself, the first thing you need to do is change your company, totally. Totally…every one of them! Change them!

If you are a bad person on drugs, cut out your whole friendship. And parents of those who are on drugs, let me inform you that you might want to change the suburb and the city you are living in, in order to protect your son or your daughter. You might want to go into a remote town so that your children can abstain from those they’re associated with! It will do you a ton of good- even though your income might decrease, you will save your children.

if that quality of changing for better is in your heart, it is a waste of time and money for everyone worried about you!

That’s the importance of the locality you live in, the importance of it- and how serious it is. Your suburb, the area you live in- be careful, make sure you choose it properly. You’d rather live in a slum where the people around you all go to the Masjid, than to live in a palace where nobody talks about the house of Allah (swt). Hence, we ask Allah (swt) to protect us from evil company.

That is one of the biggest plans of Satan is that he comes to you through your company. And this is why we are taught, when you want to know someone, don’t look at them- just look at the people they mix up with and close the file. That’s it. We say this normally regarding marriage, you want to know a boy; you want to know a girl? More important than asking them about themselves, look at those they mix up with. That’s it. Close the file thereafter.

If they are drunkards, they can turn green in the face telling you, ‘I’ve never drunk!’ They are lying. What are they doing with those…?

When you see fish in the ocean, you will notice that the whale moves with all other whales. You will notice the little bream moves with other breams, the snook moves with the snook, the hake moves with hake, and so on. I am using names of fish we eat actually, Subhan’Allah! But you will never find one small fish, one big fish, one other fish, one snook, one hake, and so on. You won’t find that!

You’d rather live in a slum where the people around you all go to the Masjid, than to live in a palace where nobody talks about the house of Allah (swt)

The reason is, that is foolish. They have to have something in common to be moving together. The same applies to human beings. Someone who is pious, and someone who is a drunkard, they can’t move together! Really! It’s like a sardine moving with a whale! Allahu’Akbar! It can’t happen. One will devour the other. Allahu’Akbar!

So, this is why let them not fool you when they tell you, ‘Look, I am not on drugs, but the ten guys who I mix up with they’re all on drugs!’ Tell him, ‘You are the boss! You are the main one. Don’t lie!’ May Allah (swt) protect our offspring.

Remember, those who are tested with drugs, it is up to you, really- you change yourself! No one else will. You need to develop the will power! You need to develop the willpower and you need to make a Dua to Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) protect our offspring from drugs, and may He protect our offspring from all these bad habits.

Wallahi (By Allah (swt)), there are good people who lose their children, just because of their company, Allahu’Akbar.

Transcribed for Hiba by Asma Imran.

Dealing with False Company: Control, Alter or Delete!

ctrlaltdeleteAnother depressing day, and I didn’t know why I was sad. I really thought about my life, and I realized that I was doing things I wasn’t supposed to do. I had started listening to music, and I prayed twice a day, which was soon to abandon. It was 4 p.m. and I could hear footsteps coming towards my room. It was probably my mom coming in to force me to go to my Quran class, and yes, that was exactly what happened. I dragged my feet to the car, and grabbed my scarf in exasperation. People already regarded me as a weirdo, and hardly anyone would talk to me.

I was ten minutes late for the class, and I had already planned that I would just go to sleep, because the lecture was always boring. My teacher knew that something was wrong with me, but she didn’t say anything. The topic that day was about the influence of friends/social circle. I was least interested, as my problems seemed bigger to me than a boring lecture.

Mrs. Hamid said that wherever you are, choose your friends wisely. This was her favourite sentence. “The social circle in which you are can change your lifestyle; so choose your friends wisely.” It was not until the next day, when I started pondering over these words. I realized that my problems were due to my friends, with whom I would hangout most of the time.

“If someone in your life is a bad influence, get away from that person as soon as possible and surround yourself with people, who will support you.” These words echoed in my ears. I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t due to my friends, as we had been together for the past eight years; besides, they were really good people.

It was winter break, and I had decided to observe my life without those friends of mine. Also, I tried to pray regularly and stopped listening to music. I deactivated my accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat; moreover, I didn’t talk to them on Whatsapp.

“Wake up Manahil! You have to pray.” I had asked my mom to wake me up for Fajr that I used to regret every morning. My warm, cozy comforter hugged me; and my bed was as soft as wool. I’d never felt this comfortable in thirteen and a half years! I tried to get up, but the cold morning air was another obstacle I had to face. Oh! I totally forgot about the freezing water, and within five minutes, I was fast asleep.

“Hey, listen, come to my house tomorrow. Okay? See you tomorrow! Bye.” One of my friends called and invited me to her house. All of us gathered the next day, and they decided to listen to music. “Hey, listen guys, let’s do something else. Can we not listen to music?” I asked my friends.
“We can talk while the song is playing…” replied Amna.

“Can’t we pray first?” I asked, trying to avoid music.

when there is a ‘knock knock’ in your heart, and you realize that you were on the wrong path, ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness and start doing the right thing.

“Oh my God, Manahil! What has happened to you?! Don’t be too Islamic.”

“Yeah, we are here to enjoy, so, please!”

“Okay fine…” I couldn’t say anything else. I don’t know why, but I started feeling very uncomfortable with them. I sent a message to my mom to pick me up in five minutes. “Mrs. Hamid was right…” I told myself. Winter break was way better than school days, because I was far from my so-called ‘best friends’.

“Yes, Mrs. Hamid, I don’t know why, but I wasn’t comfortable. I always had a lot of fun, when I used to hang out with them but…” I narrated the whole incident to her.

“I’m glad you realized. Always remember – when there is a ‘knock knock’ in your heart, and you realize that you were on the wrong path, ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness and start doing the right thing. It’s a golden opportunity for you. Let me tell you one thing – most of the people today are listening to music; how beloved you will be to Allah (swt), if you don’t listen to it! Try to leave those friends – you can only be betrayed by the people you trust. Choose your friends wisely. The company you keep defines you and your level of faith. Also, you don’t become what you want; instead, you become like the ones you hang out with. The Holy Prophet (sa) described the good and bad companions when he said: ‘The example of a good companion is that of the bearer of musk, and the worker on the bellows. The bearer of musk would give you some of the perfume- you either buy it, or smell its fragrance. The worker on the bellows, on the other hand- either burns your body or your clothes, or you smell a bad odour from him.’ So choose your friends wisely.”

Diversity is the Beauty of Nature – A Short Story

diversityHina hurried to pick up the phone as the bell rung. She was delighted to see the number on the telephone screen. It was Saba on the other side; her only daughter had married two weeks ago and flown to the UK. Hina was impatiently waiting to hear from her daughter, but as she was travelling, she hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to her. She had only received an update about her safe journey with her husband. As it was going to be their first proper conversation after the wedding, Hina was keen to talk to her daughter and find out how married life was treating her.

Hina asked: “How are you? How is Adnan?” Saba replied: “Mama! It is so dull here! Nobody to talk to! I am all alone the whole day! No helper here; I have to do all the work myself.” She was crying and saying, “Mama! I can’t live here anymore!” Hina was thinking worriedly, “She is a victim of home sickness and climate change!”

Hina got very concerned after the call. When her husband, Rashid, came home, she told him about her chat with their daughter.

“Come on, she is no more a teenaged girl! She is 27 now! She should be tackling her problems on her own! Rashid was realisitic, even though Saba was his beloved daughter.

After a year…

Saba had not been able to adjust. Brought up in a family that did not socialize too much, her social skills were almost non-existent. She had no contact with any neighbours or the community. She would only chat over Skype with her mother.

One day, however, she called her mom and said joyfully: “Mama! Maham is coming here.”

Maham was Saba’s first cousin, three years younger than her. Unlike Saba, she was an extrovert. Inspite of the difference in nature and habits, both of them were good friends.

“Aha! That’s good!” Hina exclaimed. She did caution her daughter not to dwell too much on her problems in front of her cousin, and stay composed and contented.

Finally, Maham arrived, with stars in her eyes. A confident and an enthusiastic soul, Maham was engaged to marry a Malaysian doctor, known to her family for six years.

Saba was puzzled at Maham’s decision to stay with an Egyptian family, instead of staying with her. “Are they dearer to you than me?” Saba asked.“Certainly not!” Maham answered, hugging her. “This Egyptian family was very near to my paternal grandfather! Now his daughters are my friends and that’s the only reason I want to stay with them while I am visiting England!”

Maham and Saba talked all day long. “ How do you spend time with the people belonging to different statuses and speaking different languages?” Saba asked.

“Oh dear! How can we find similarity in this world? All humans are equal.” This philosophy was hard for Saba to digest.

The next day, Maha took her to a convention. It was a strange world for Saba. Muslim ladies of different age groups, belonging to different countries, were mingling with each other. They were hugging, kissing, making introductions and exchanging smiles. Saba was highly fascinated. Maham was totally at home there and Saba felt proud of being her cousin.

“Diversity is the beauty of nature! Tolerance and patience is the key to relish diversity. You know I am fond of continental foods. I have never tasted Malaysian food but now I am learning to cook them for my husband-to-be, in order to assimilate into their culture,” said Maham laughing while leaving Saba in a deep thought.

After one week

Maham left the UK! But the desperate Saba gained so much from her friend!

A few days later, Hina asked her over Skype: “Where have you been? I was waiting.” Saba told her, “Oh! I was out to visit my Bengali friend; she has been living here since three years. She helps me with grocery and other domestic problems. I go to a park where I get to meet many interesting ladies. Mama! I plan to continue my studies as well.”

The new enthusiastic Saba left Hina happily astonished.

Ask The Savvy Parent: Overcoming Shyness

handholdingMy son aged 5 years is very fussy with eating. Secondly, he is very, very shy and reluctant at school. Kindly suggest some ideas that can be helpful in resolving these issues peacefully.

First off, you are not alone in this. There are many parents who face similar challenges. We have covered fussy eating last week; you can check it out here: Mealtimes are Wartimes.

Here is the answer to the second part of your question. Shyness is a personality trait/temperament. There is nothing wrong with being shy. First, recognize that you are blessed with a sensitive, deeply caring, reserved child, who is slow to warm up to strangers, approaches social relationships cautiously, but generally seems to be a happy person. It is very common for parents to respond very apologetically to excuse their child by saying, “He’s shy,” especially in front of your child. This is the first thing one should stop doing; in many ways this makes you an enabler vs. empowering your child. Here are some tips:

  1. The more you push the more he will retreat: It is natural for a child to feel socially awkward when meeting adults and especially new people/children. It is a very common practice amongst parents to try to coerce a positive response from the child but in doing so, it is more likely he will retreat and clam up. It is best to help create a comfortable environment that lets his social personality develop. For example, if you are going to visit a friend and you want your child to make a good impression, avoid the standard: “Don’t be shy; say Salam to aunty.” This is guaranteed to make him even more recluse. The child is already self-conscious and this will make him even shyer. Talk to him beforehand about what is expected of him and keep your expectations reasonable, for example, a simple ‘Salam’. Another option would be to have him bring along a toy or activity. This can act as a communication bridge with aunty. It essentially distracts the focus and attention off him, allowing him to ease into the situation and get comfortable on his own.
  2. Avoid putting him on the spot: Your relatives are visiting and you are excited to show them that your son has memorized a short Surah, for example. Rather than putting him on the spot when they arrive, prep him beforehand. Talk to him in a gentle tone saying, “You recite the Surah so well. Can you please recite it for grandma when she visits today?” Some children are natural born performers; others are cautious and need time to become comfortable. Think about, for example, if you were put on the spot to recite Surah Yasin you just memorized in front of a group, with all eyes on you, how would you feel? Even for a social person like myself, it would not be easy; so cut your child some slack.
  3. Create smaller social settings: As a teacher, I have discovered that it helps for parents to have one-on-one play dates with fellow classmates. Are there any children that your child seems to gravitate towards or you feel would be a good companion for your child? Ask the teacher for suggestions. This allows your child to form bonds with other children in a more intimate setting and will help him come out of his shell at school.

How do I know if it’s just shyness or something more?

Mostly, shyness or quietness is not a serious problem. However, in some rare case, it may indicate that your child needs professional attention. Ask yourself the following questions. Does your child cry or throw a tantrum on a regular basis before or at school? Is he significantly withdrawn most of the time, making little eye contact? Does he act violently in school, hitting other kids or teachers? If the answer to these are no, you have nothing to worry about.

Insha’Allah, I hope this helps. Happy Parenting!

The Savvy Parent

Catch more tips by Farah Najam in her article: Working with Shy Students.

Do you have questions for The Savvy Parent? Click here to submit them.

An Influential Friend

2 frndsRising up at 4:30 a.m everyday was a normal routine. The senior boys stormed our dormitory waking up Muslims to prepare for Fajr. This was one of the most difficult tasks we had to cope with as junior students in my early days at high school. I seldom attended Fajr prayer in the Masjid, thus as soon as the seniors arrived; I jumped out of my bed space pretending to have left for Salat. While the duvet would be over my body to begin a third round of sleep. This was constant on a daily basis. The cold in Kaduna was like that of the Hazzle-Glend and the distance to the Masjid was similar to crossing the Niger Bridge on foot. Sometimes, I hurriedly observed the prayer before others returned and in a few instances, even missed Salat. I recall having bad experiences on the days I missed Fajr . Either seniors sent me on difficult errands, extorted me of my belongings or I would misplace something precious – however, all these never taught me a lesson.

It was not as if observing Salat was a major chore because I grew up in a family where Salat was an  essential start to the day. However, the sways of my bunk mate and friends influenced me negatively in the boarding house. We were a clique of four: two Muslims and others non-Muslim.  Our non-Muslim friends were not the conscious Christian types who attended morning devotion and evening fellowship. We collectively –went on fruit-picking voyages of mangoes and guavas while other students attended the chapel or mosque for weekly convention. We attended social gatherings where we mimed and thrilled with the vibes until midnight. This was how I lived my life in the Machiavellian jungle of FGC Kaduna.

In the eighth grade, I was appointed the class captain to my class. This was after my predecessor was removed owing to his bullying attitude towards his classmates. At this point, I had access to teachers and made more friends – especially among the female folk. This easily paved way for the Fitnah of intermingling with the opposite gender. We played, chatted and enjoyed the company of each other. I saw no harm in listening to music, shaking hands and even hugging the other gender; all in the name of socialization. I was accepted and adored by many, owing to my sense of humour, oratory skills and brilliance. But to what avails were these traits if championed in the wrong course. My journey to self recognition, better orientation and personal reformation began when I met a friend –Muhammad Mukhtar. He emerged as the best student in my class after the second term result computation. It was the first time a Muslim student victoriously led my class: a class of over 70 students. It was awkward to many because they believed ‘Malo-boys’ were not fit to compete on academic grounds. It became apparent when our Business Studies teacher pronounced it in class during one of the lessons. This incident left a mark of rejection and intimidation as well as motivation for us to strive better in our academic ordeal.

My new friend and I had a chat regarding this during a long walk soon after. On our way, he made me realize the natural gifts Allah bestowed upon me. My oratory skills channelled towards comedy can be reserved for Dawah activities. He made me see reasons why we need a new breed of Muslims who will understand the rudiments of the Deen and remain focused individuals who aspire to make a change positively. His words were soft and sank through my nerves like the blood flowing through my veins. And for the first time, I was inspired by this young lad who was barely 13 years of age.

Without delay, I packed my baggage from the cubical and moved to the long corridor section of the hostel –this was where he resided. Then we became roommates, slept on the same bed and dined from the same plate. We walked together to the class, class to Masjid, Masjid to dining hall and dining hall to prep. We apparently spent more time together to love and care, share and learn, forgive and overlook. He helped me overcome my addiction to music by replacing songs with Nasheeds and through him I knew Yusuf Islam – Cats Stevens. We started reading Islamic books and sharing summarized reviews with each other.

I admired his poetry such that it enhanced my writing skill and my weekly article was consistent on the mosque notice board. One of the greatest challenges he gave me was when he said: ‘next week Insha’Allah we shall deliver a lecture at the Muslim students gathering so be prepared Abdulkabeer’. I said to myself, this guy must be kidding me. I did not see myself as a knowledgeable person and I feared the fact that I will be mocked and called an Ustadh by many who knew my background and may assume this as an act of derision. However, I prepared myself and delivered the speech with shaking hands in front of a dazzling crowd.

Mukhtar was of a humble personality, simple character, neat attire, easy going and never trouble making. He was a lover of peace and preacher of perseverance. He taught me patience through difficult times, act of seeking to understand before being understood and the love of your brother over yourself. I was gradually doing away with my bad habits viz negligence of Salat, shaking hands with girls, doing musicals and attending informal parties. There and then I understood the adage ‘show me your friend and I tell you who you are’.

I was gradually doing away with my bad habits viz negligence of Salat, shaking hands with girls, doing musicals and attending informal parties. There and then I understood the adage ‘show me your friend and I tell you who you are’.

My quest for knowledge continued while striving to attain academic excellence along with spiritual strength. I memorized more verses of the Qur’an and learnt several Ahadeeth in order to broaden my scope ahead for public presentations; for verily students must ask questions. I was gradually improving academically, spiritually, morally, intellectually and even physically. We became active members and volunteers for the Muslim Students’ Society through the pen and mouth. Our Dawah activities intensified, creating a platform –Islamic Youth Awareness Forum [IYAF] – through which young Muslim students were tutored and tailored towards a sound creed, intellectualism and Islamic propagation.

The good side of this story is that the legacy still lives in that school ten years after we have left. I recently met an old student who finished in 2011 and narrated to me the success stories and meaningful impacts IYAF has made in the life of young Muslims in Northern Nigeria. This was with the help of Allah who guided Mukhtar – and some of his friends – to start that meaningful project in the year 2001.

Alhamdulillah! Today, I am a better me who aspires for tomorrow to be the best when I meet my Lord; I hope He is pleased with me and I am forgiven. I have had it rough and tough, however my understanding of the Deen has always been a light in the dark, a guide when I am lost and a torch-bearer leading me to felicity.

A True Friend (Part 2)

(You can read the first part of the story here.)

hijab

At home I told my mum about Mawada and she agreed to take me to the hospital. When I went to the hospital, I saw Mawada’s father sitting outside the room with his eyes red and puffy; I could see that he had been crying. I asked him if I could go in and he nodded. I opened the door and there was Mawada on the bed, she still had a sweet smile on her face. I sat beside her. She told me that she was really happy to see me. I couldn’t say a word. Then she said that it was her dream, her wish that she’d bring all her friends towards Islam, and she told me how she used to go to Quranic classes and Islamic workshops to gain information and to follow the Prophet’s (sa) mission. She said that sometimes people listen and sometimes they don’t, but we should never lose hope and keep moving on. My eyes were filled with tears. She told me that I was the only friend she had at school, and that she enjoyed spending time with me. I couldn’t stand what she was saying. I told her that she was not going anywhere and was going to get better very soon. She looked at me, smiled and then said: “May Allah (swt) make us neighbours in Jannah’ (Ameen).” At this, hot tears rolled down my cheeks. I couldn’t handle it, I hugged her so tight – I didn’t want to leave her. I told her that it was she who changed me, even if it was a little change. Mawada smiled, my mum came in and said that it was time to go home. I hugged Mawada again and wiped my tears. I smiled and said: “Get well soon.”

At school, I couldn’t concentrate. I kept looking at Mawada’s empty chair. As I walked home, I remembered the times we spent together. Today is 26th April, Ms. Fatima came into our class, looking really weird, as if there was something missing. I realized that she had no make-up on and looked pale. At first, she didn’t say anything, then she cleared her throat and told us that Mawada had passed away, and that she had been suffering from leukemia. Tears began to trickle down my cheeks, and I started to cry.

After school I went home and told my mum about Mawada. She also was sad. I ran upstairs and closed my bedroom door. I started tearing down the posters I had on my walls, I pushed the CD rack and it broke, all the CD’s were on the floor. I threw them in the rubbish bin one by one and dived on the bed and started crying. I looked up and saw that I had a Quran on the upper bookshelf. I took it from the shelf and started reading. There was a verse which said: “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah (swt) do hearts find rest.” I prayed to Allah (swt) and asked Him to forgive me. It was time for Asr prayer – I got up and went to pray immediately. I asked for forgiveness and prayed for Mawada.

After Mawada passed away, I always had an empty feeling inside of me – something always felt wrong. I started doing what Mawada told me to do: wear the Hijab, listen to my parents, read the Quran and so much more. It was hard to believe at first but reading the Quran was actually very soothing and relaxing. I felt really connected to Allah (swt) and began to fear nothing but Him. Wearing the Hijab was very risky, considering the fact that I would become Hijabi girl part 2. I did it anyway. People did make fun of me, and my so-called friends like Farasha stopped talking to me. I realized, who my true friends were. I also realized that people are not that willing to change, if it doesn’t suit them. They are bluntly ignorant of the truth – I found out through my own experience.

Slowly, encouraged by my example, my family also changed. My mum and sister started wearing Hijab, my dad started going to the Masjid at least thrice a day – it was a start. Some of my close friends also changed a little. Not enough to wear a Hijab but enough to stop listening to music.

Mawada was like a light (Noor) in my life, guiding me back onto Allah’s (swt) path. I now learned that we all need to be lights in the lives of other peoples; touching the heart of even one person is the ultimate reward. Insha’Allah, by helping others, there will be ‘Noor’ in our lives, too.

On the Faith of my Friend (Part 2)

faith of friend

The Third Story: Back to the Noor of Iman

How many of you know that Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan is an ex-atheist? Here is his story:

I went through an internal struggle, when I was in junior high school. Basically, it was a loss of religion. When I came to the USA in the ninth grade, it was a cultural shock. A lot of the values that I was raised with were all being questioned at the same time. There was nobody that I could talk to or verify my own beliefs with. Eventually, what happens is that you make friends based on proximity and common interest, so most of my friends were polytheists and a good number of smart people were actually atheists. Falling into that crowd and not being around any Muslims, I ended up with a good bunch of very messed up friends.

I hid my confusions from my family, because I knew how taboo they could be – you can’t really share these kinds of confusions at home, so I learnt to live with them. I began to have almost a hatred for the concept of God. Religion became something that I associated more with my friends, rather than my family. No matter how in touch you are with your religion, it’s just a matter of having messed up friends.

However, Subhanallah, with the Mercy of Allah, Allah (swt) opened many doors for me, one after another, that I couldn’t have opened myself – those doors led me back to Iman. Allah (swt) opened a door for me that led me to make friends with a person, who I would probably not have imagined associating with. I ran into him by chance. As I was sitting in the hallway, I saw this guy come up and post a flyer on the college billboard, which read “Muslim Student Association”. I thought: “Wow, these people will probably invite all the Muslims to jam together.” So I went over to him and started talking to him about it, and he said: “Yeah, it’s a lot of fun! You have to come!”

I skipped out on all the other clubs that I was part of and I went to this supposedly great party club. When I reached there, there was no one in the room, except the guy who had put up the flyers with a box of pizza, waiting for the others to show up. When I walked in, I felt sort of awkward, so I tried to leave. He, however, reeled me in – we started talking and became friends.  He’d give me a ride home every day. And we’d hang out every other day. No Islam, no religion – he was just a friend.

One time, when we got stuck in traffic, he said: “It’s getting late. Would you mind, if I stopped here and offered my Maghrib prayer?” I readily agreed. At that time, it must have been six years since I had last prayed. Inexplicably, I felt the urge to pray with him. So I went, performed my Wudhu and prayed with him. And I felt something that I had not felt in a very long time. A sort of peace. I tried to bury it inside me. Thanks to the Mercy of Allah (swt), he gave me that consistent company and through him I got to meet a lot of wonderful people – young Muslims, who were really active in their community, doing things that mattered, trying to make the world a better place.

It made me think, wow, these people have such a sense of purpose – where are they getting it from? Because till then I had no sense of purpose. One of the other things he did for me was that he connected me to this programme, which was going on in the Muslim centre in Flushing. It was in Ramadan, and the programme included a Taraweeh prayer coupled with the explanation of the Quran. Then, for the first time in my life I realized that the Quran was actually a dialogue – Allah (swt) was talking to me. The Lord of the Worlds was directly engaged in conversation with me. I was mystified. I listened for the entire month. In the end, I went up to the presenter and told him: “I want to do what you do.”

Masha’Allah, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan went on to establish the “Bayyinah Institute”, an institute of Islamic learning that has transformed many lives since. All due to the Mercy of Allah (swt), Who connected him to that one friend, who led Nouman Ali Khan to the Nur of Iman once again.

The Fourth Story: The Miracle of Kabah

The following story is one of the most riveting tales I have ever heard in my life:

During his school days, a boy by the name of Aslam had a close friend, who eventually grew up to be one of the greatest scholars of this generation. They graduated from school and went ahead in their lives. Aslam was blessed with a wonderful education and career, a highly paid job and very meritorious position, lavish lifestyle and belongings. Life for him was, in a nutshell, perfect. And this perfection is what planted the seed of arrogance in his heart. “I have everything I want in this world,” he thought. “I’m dependent on nobody. There is no Allah (swt). I am the master of my own life.”

One day, he mentioned this to his friends at a gathering, in which his old school friend, now a Sheikh, was also present. When his friends heard directly from Aslam’s mouth that he had adopted atheism, there was no end to the mockery and remonstrance he was subjected to. Only the Sheikh maintained absolute silence. None of what his friends said, however, had any effect on him. He was resolute – there is no God. Allah (swt) continued to shower His infinite blessings upon Aslam, who, as time went on, became more and more complacent. On reaching the pinnacle of his power and wealth, he boldly stood up in a gathering and proclaimed: “There is no Allah! I am an atheist!”

It was at this assertion that Allah’s (swt) anger descended upon the smug man. Aslam contracted a strange disease that confounded doctors. He intermittently suffered from severe fits and profuse sweating. No doctor had ever come across this disease, nor had they ever heard of it – naturally, they had no idea of how to treat it. As a result, Aslam’s health steadily deteriorated. He lost weight and became weaker by the day. The fits rendered him unable to work and he was fired from his job. His wife and friends, assuming the disease was contagious, deserted him. He was left all alone. And that’s when he remembered his childhood friend, who had not mocked him, when he had announced his atheism. “He must be my true friend,” Aslam thought and rang up the Sheikh.

The Sheikh was a wise man. On hearing the plight of his friend, he replied: “I may be able to help you. I know of two other people, who were afflicted with the same disease. A doctor in the USA was able to cure them.”

Oh, were any other words sweeter than these? “Please help me contact that doctor!” Aslam pleaded.

“Of course, I will, my friend,” replied the Sheikh, “but only on one condition.”

“Anything,” Aslam breathed.

“You must promise me that on your way back from USA to Pakistan, you must stop at Makkah to perform Umrah.”

Aslam was caught unawares. “But I’m an atheist! Why would I go to Makkah?”

“This is my condition. If you want to get yourself treated by the right person, you have to promise.”

Defeated, Aslam agreed. The Sheikh gave him the doctor’s contact number and wished him a safe journey. Aslam arrived in the USA and visited the recommended physician. The physician examined his situation and remarked: “The disease you are suffering from is one of the rarest diseases in the world. Only three people have contracted it so far, but I have been able to cure them.” Aslam’s treatment began. But Allah’s (swt) will was such that instead of alleviating Aslam’s situation, the treatment made it worse. No medicine worked.

Realising that there was nothing to be gained in the USA, a distraught Aslam boarded the aircraft bound for home, barely well enough to travel. He was mere skin and bones, and the seizures overtook him more frequently than ever. As promised, he had arranged for a transit in Makkah. The thin, emaciated form disembarked in Makkah and the sunken eyes beheld the Kabah for the first time. The black box is indeed a miracle in itself. Allah’s (swt) glory manifested itself in the self-proclaimed atheist’s eyes, who cried out in pain and agony, clutching at the last straw, “Ya Allah, agar tu hai, tou mujhe theek karday!” (O Allah, if you are present, cure me!) The moment he uttered these words, his body relaxed. He felt calmer. And when the seizures came, they weren’t as intense as before. As days passed, they became less frequent, came with greater gaps and the intensity steadily decreased till the fits vanished altogether. Overwhelmed, Aslam saw the divine light. He returned home and took Shahada at the hands of his true friend, the Sheikh. The darkness of atheism would never hit him again.

Editorial – The Prophet’s Concept of Companionship

10The thought of friends instantly warms up the soul. As Mark Twain sketched it, “it brings cheer in the face, song in the heart and sunshine in every step.”

No wonder childhood and youth are always brimming with life: we have surprises set upon us, with fun and laughter as a constant companion among the buddies. As life progresses, numerous responsibilities descend and slacken our ability to stay connected with friends. Those of us, who manage to keep in touch, would agree that it is no longer in the same carefree manner, and the frolic does eventually dilute.

However, what we all remember are the things we did for our friends and the sacrifices they made for us. Whether they were right or wrong is not the point, as friends seldom judge each other. They would let us copy their assignments at the eleventh hour; they would not tell on us when we puffed cigarettes; they would keep our secrets about our clandestine love affairs; they would lie for us to our parents or teachers when cornered, etc. And years later, they would laugh off the pranks and the deceptions.

However, companionship is dangerous, too. It has the power to change the course of our life, especially if we are not very certain of our own values and the direction we wish to take. Sincere friends, who tell us when we have been wrong and help us do right, are a blessing of Allah (swt). Consider the case of former pop star, Junaid Jamshaid, who was led to Allah (swt) by a friend. However, if we find camaraderie with someone who is misguided or a hypocrite, we can end up ruining our own lives as well as our precious relationships with others.

For the believers, Allah (swt) is One Friend, Who never forsakes them, whether in times of prosperity or adversity. Through Islam, Allah (swt) has set cordial and humane relations between nations: “There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you.” (Al-Anam 6:38)

Similarly, in the early days of prophethood, we see the unparalleled example of a friendship between Muhammad (sa) and Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (rtam) that lasted until the Prophet (sa) passed away. They rest in peace today besides each other in Masjid-e-Nabwi, too. The beloved Prophet (sa) inspired the Ansar of Madinah and the Muhajiroon of Makkah to set up similar relationships among themselves. He instilled the belief of loving people for the sake of Allah (swt). This idea gave birth to an unthinkable force within. It germinated the strength to break away from all negative and satanic emotions and notions. Thus, it became possible to exhibit patience, think selflessly, act proactively, and become an endeared comrade, because this would earn Allah’s (swt) love and pleasure.

Today, we have a very narrow vision of friendship. Plus, it is generally assumed that it is only for kids and young adults. It is also perceived that friendship can only be formed with the same age group. Often, it is only to fulfil our own insecurities or to exploit others for short-term gains. However, Islam talks about all sorts of friendships: a companionship between spouses to nurture principles and peace in the family, a supporting network between Mumin men and women in the way of Allah (swt) for the rise of Islam, a relationship of admiration and awe between teachers and students, and a bond of unconditional love and guidance between parents and offspring. These are all diverse pictures of relations based on friendships between the weak and the strong. Our Deen does not appreciate unjust relations between the oppressed and the oppressor or between the controlled and the controller.

The Sunnah teaches us how everyone – old and small – revered the Prophet (sa) because of his just nature. He was mild with those who deserved Allah’s (swt) mercy, hence, casting lasting impressions and befriending people. However, he punished those who were Allah’s (swt) enemies and did not consider them to be worthy of his friendship, no matter how lucrative a gain was in sight. This is something we, as believers, should be mindful of.

This then is the formula we need to follow in judging whom to befriend and to what extent we should support and love our friends. The question to ask is not what we think of our friends but what Allah (swt) might think of them. If the Prophet (sa) was alive today, would we be able to introduce them to him without any shame or hesitation? Do our friends help us improve our family relations or are they a reason we are drifting further away? Do they help us reach our potential and cherish our triumphs or do they constantly condemn us and compete with us instead?

We can assess our own role as a friend with others in the same light. While the Sahabahs were alive, their undying loyalty and love for the Prophet (sa) were exemplary. What greater lesson can we learn about friendship? And our dear Prophet (sa) never let an opportunity pass to guide them, compliment them, enjoy with them, console them, care for them, worry about them, and at times, even discipline them for their benefit.

When they passed away, he would pray the Salat al-Janazah for the sincere Najashi; he would carry Julaybib (rta) in his arms for burial; he would remember young and handsome Musab for his valour, etc. Such was the friendship of the Prophet (sa), who prayed for all to meet be in his company not only in this world but in the eternal bliss of Jannah, too. He loved all for the sake of Allah (swt). Friendships endure trials only if they have been formed for the sake of Allah (swt).

Rana Rais Khan

Editor

Cultivating Friendship with your Spouse

27

Any princess, who was swept up to the altar in the arms of her prince charming, can tell you that, a few months later, she’d gladly trade in the glittery clothes and tinkling laughter for a comfortable pair of pants and a good chuckle over a cup of coffee with her prince. Marriage is for the long haul, and like any journey, it is more fun when your travelling companion is a good friend.

Friendship in marriage must be developed and nurtured. Unfortunately, once the ethereal feeling of the honeymoon period ends, most couples take living together for granted. The following are top five “tried and tested” reminders of how to cultivate your relationship with your best friend – your spouse.

Companions on the Sirat-ul-Mustaqeem

We have been instructed: “O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…” (At-Tahrim 66:6) Regrettably, many couples interpret this as fault finding and preaching to one another. A true friend desires to aid his companion grow as a person; husbands may arrange to oversee the children so that their wives could study the Quran or attend a class; similarly, a wife may ungrudgingly arrange the family schedule so that her spouse can spend time with beneficial brothers.

Buy mustard and Achar

Expect to have differences in opinion, tastes and even sleeping habits. Our Prophet Muhammad (sa) stated: “A believer must not hate (his wife) believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” (Muslim) Accept each other’s diversity and respect it. To put it simply: if he prefers mustard above your Achar, just serve both with dinner. To each their own.

Your spouse is not your extension

Best friends need not do everything together or account for every moment spent without each other; allow your spouse to chill with her friends or dedicate time to a project she values. Does his office work or other family obligations limit time spent with you? Focus upon the time you have together instead of the time you feel you are being cheated out of. Value the quality time that you spend with each other; don’t fret upon its quantity.

Surprise!

Giving a gift is just as much fun as receiving one, for Prophet Muhammad (sa) asserted: “Give gifts to one another, and you will love one another.” (Bukhari) So why wait for a ‘special’ occasion? Whether it is something wrapped up, a dinner for two, setting off with him to his favourite electronic store to get that gizmo he’s been raving about or taking the toddler outdoors so his exhausted mommy can get some sleep, a gift can be anything that is valued by your friend. Remember – rewards must be earned, but giving a gift is rewarding.

Love is saying you are sorry and meaning it

The term ‘sorry’ is much abused by couples: some don’t feel the need to say it, while others say it as a muscular reflex. The term ought to be valued and used to mean: “I apologize for my actions, which hurt you, and will try my utmost not to repeat them.” Use the term with sincerity and it will strengthen your relationship immensely, Insha’Allah.

Are you a happily-married couple? What tried-and-tested reminders would you like to share about cultivating friendship with spouse? Email us your suggestions at editor@hibamagazine.com.

Is my Spouse my Best Friend Forever (BFF)?

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Life after marriage can be either a constant tug of war or your spouse can become your best friend forever. Achieving the latter is the key to a healthy, happy and hearty family. Here’s how you can unlock the door to eternal bliss.

Khawar is fifteen years older than his wife Fouzia. He is diabetic, hypertensive, has had a kidney transplant and now cannot work or earn a living to support his family – the entire responsibility is on Fouzia’s shoulders.  Then why does she stay with him and take care of him with a smiling face and a happy heart?

My dad is seventy and has had a bypass surgery. When my mom went on a short trip to another city, my dad called her thrice every day. Heeding to our advice, he did not call her one day, so that she may enjoy unhindered; however, she could not bear not to hear his voice and called him to ask if he was fine, and if not, should she take an earlier flight? Was it simply her responsibility that fuelled her concern?

In the above-mentioned relationships, it was the strengthened bond of love, care and communication that compelled the spouses to be concerned for each other. Apart from being a couple, they had always been each others’ best buddies. How can a couple become BFF? The answer lies in the three verses that are recited as part of the Nikah ceremony:

“O You who believe! Fear Allah (by doing All that He has ordered and by abstaining from All that He has forbidden) as He should be feared…” (Al-Imran 3:102)

“…fear Allah through whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship)…” (An-Nisa 4:1)

“O You who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth…” (Al-Ahzab 33:70)

According to these verses, the basis of any relationship is God-consciousness, which compels one to avoid anything that displeases Allah (swt) and work towards creating a feeling of mutual respect, trust and honest communication among the spouses – the building blocks to lifelong friendship. To achieve this, it is imperative for both spouses to:

  • Develop frank communication.
  • Not be judgmental – listen and offer sincere advice. Sometimes, just listen.
  • Respect and support the decisions of your spouse and their consequences.
  • Define roles and give each other time and space.
  • Rearing children should be a joint endeavour.
  • Grow together in faith.
  • Remember that fights are normal but forgive and forget quickly.
  • Be loyal as true friends – always stand up for each other, against all odds.
  • Intimacy is an essential part of any marriage. Dress up for each other and do something out of the ordinary once in a while to surprise your best friend.
  • Finally, accept each other as BFF and make nurturing this relationship a priority through all odds.

I have been happily married to my BFF for seventeen years, and our secret is laughing at ourselves, making up quickly after a fight, and working towards paradise together. Alhumdulillah.

Really, Another Friendship Article?

children2By 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.

Friends Forever

Noorjehan Arif observes: “Making good friends is also a craft, partly learnable and partly a gift of Allah.”

While life takes us through the ups and downs, friends and family provide us with some sanity and stability to move forward. Relationship with friends is very unique. Peer influences can either direct us in the positive direction or damage lives brutally. The Prophet (sa) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” (Abu Dawood)

Choosing good friends is an arduous task but by no means an impossible one. One thing to bear in mind is that the person should be virtuous. Sometimes, we prefer hanging out with people, who are fun and cool! In due course, even if this means displeasing Allah, we simply do it. Allah warns clearly that these same friends will lead us to the Hellfire. Quran states: “Friends on that Day will be foes one to another except the Righteous.” (Az-Zukhruf 43:67)

The Day that the wrongdoer will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a (straight) path with the Apostle! Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken such a one for a friend! He did lead me astray from the Message (of Allah), after it had come to me! Ah! The Evil One is but a traitor to man.” (Al-Furqan 25: 27-29)

But, in order to find a good Muslim friend, it is imperative to be a good Muslim yourself. The Prophet (sa) said: “The best friend in the sight of Allah is he who is the well-wisher of his companions…” (At-Tirmidhi)

Conversely, Hassan Haidi states: “Some argue that our society has become too transient, and it is hard to invest our time in people who are only in our lives for short a while. Others will tell you that they got burnt once, and they are not going to let someone get close again. Many will say they just do not know, how to make friends, and some say they are just too busy.”

In reality, friendship is soul-based, as is proved by the Hadeeth: “Souls are like conscripted soldiers: if they recognize one another, they will become friends, and if they dislike one another, they will go their separate ways.” (Muslim)

TV, the Internet, or magazines can never replace a loving and believing friend. An accessible friend serves as a protection, especially for late adolescents and young adults against various risk factors, such as substance abuse and criminality (Fraser 1997).

Obviously, success will be the order for such people, as Allah states: “As to those who turn (for friendship) to Allah, His Apostle, and the (fellowship of) believers, it is the fellowship of Allah that must certainly triumph.” (Al-Maidah 5:56)

May Allah guide us to right companions, who can steer us towards success now and in the Hereafter.