Friendships and the company we seek (part 2)
Let’s think about ourselves and the company we seek
The qualities we seek in a grounded and strong friendship is just as important in these formative years as much as getting to know ourselves. They are our goto when it comes to finding comfort, seeking advice, or having fun.
And yet again, in Islam we find the answers. Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) has left priceless gem as sprinkles of lights along the path of guidance to help us navigate through the darkest of places. Let’s look at what he, (peace be upon him) has said.
Surround yourself with people who leave a positive influence on you whether it is being closer to Allah, doing good, having a positive intention, good assumptions about people or a positive outlook towards life.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.” [Bukhari]
The jist of this wise narration reflects the importance of the environment in which we spend our time and energy and the company we keep. The musk seller is analogous to a person who possess good character and therefore they emit a beautiful fragrance that attracts everyone. They radiate positive vibes, pure energy and light. Imagine coming out of a floral shop that smells of roses and jasmine, leaving you with a feeling of happiness and peace.
Meanwhile, the example of the blacksmith is likened to bad company, around whom you find yourself miserable, unhappy and uneasy. The analogy of burning your clothes or your house is similar to coming out of a place where your clothes wreak of cigarette smoke or alcohol. The nasty smell of the smoke may affect you but may also affect those around you. Being around such company is similar to that. It can destroy your emotional well-being, your sense of right and wrong and even affect your relationships with your family and friends.
- The highest form of a friendship is where your hearts are connected to Allah Almighty.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was reportedly asked: ‘Which of our companions are best?’ He replied: ‘One whose presence reminds you of God, and whose speech increases you in knowledge, and whose actions remind you of the hereafter. [Abu Ya’la and Ibn ‘Adiy in a weak hadith]
The friendship where you will keep ascending in your spiritual journey and your success in this world is that which will keep your heart alive with the love, remembrance and pleasure of Allah. This is the highest form of friendship you can possibly imagine. Such a friend is to treasure and behold. It is almost as if they are someone from the most fragrant and beautiful place in Janna and as long as you remain in their company, you will keep growing in goodness and purity.
They are the friends who will always remind you of obedience to Allah and the Prophet (peace be upon him) through the beauty of their character. For instance, they may be one of the most honest and humble people you’ve met. Perhaps they’re always fair and upright when it comes to dealing with money, world issues and relationships. They are someone who is always willing to lend a hand or an ear. We hear about such people in stories in the news posthumously when their loved ones say that so and so person was the most patient, loving, kind person they ever knew. We might be around those people already.
Perhaps you may not be at that level in your own journey, nonetheless their influence can grow on you and you may learn so much from them just through their modelling more than anything else. If they are sincere, they will always serve as your good counsel, reminding you with a soft nudge or a gentle, loving reminder if you begin to fall of the tracks or when you have become lazy.
- We are likely to emulate those with whom we spend a majority of our time with. This is similar to the first hadith.
Seek friends with whom you share common values and belief as you are more likely to feel comfort and peace in their company and it’ll be much more beneficial and sustainable in the long run.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“A person is likely to follow the religion of his friend, look carefully whom you choose to befriend.” [Tirmidhi]
If you remember the goal of your life, that is to believe in Allah Almighty and do good deeds, and at the end of the goal is to be back with Allah Almighty, then you’ll realise that the short lived pleasures of this life are transient and not worth compromising the eternal life of happiness for.
We get influenced by our friends, that’s a fact. Befriending someone with whom we have common values, beliefs and practices is much more likely to take carry and benefit our friendship in the long run then to befriend someone for whom material happiness, talking about others, and seeking pleasures in this dunya is enough. Let’s say you are friends with a friend at school and on the weekends the two of you love to get together. As you get complete sixth form and start University, you may end up being in the same college together. Your friend decides she wants to stay out late but you’re not interested however, because she’s your close friend, soon you start to join her. As time goes by, you realise you’ve begun staying out late at night possibly at parties. You start hanging out with her new friends rather than defining your own circle. Has your friendship subtly taken you outside the boundaries of Islam? Is it time to take a step back and reassess?
- Trust is a sacred value and one of the biggest pillars of a loyal and lasting friendship.
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the people are safe, and the believer is the one from whom the people’s lives and wealth are safe.” [Nasai]
This wisdom reminds us of our behaviour towards other people first and foremost. Things which we share with our friends or even generally with each other are an Amanah (trust). Just as much as we want them to respect our conversation with them, equally we need to respect what they share with us. It could be something as small as an embarrassing incident which they share only with you, but you don’t want it to become part of public discussion. Similarly, when you borrow something, like homework notes or money, take care of it when it’s in your protection and return it as soon as you have completed using it. Equally, backbiting about our friends is a total no no. As girls, and young women, we love to chat and we may end of up saying things about our friends which we may later regret. Be mindful of your heart and your tongue. If you have a difference with your friend, or if there’s a misunderstanding, go up to her and clear the air as soon as possible, rather than getting offended and letting it fester in your heart. Be the first to acknowledge and apologise if you’ve hurt them and mend your relationship as soon as possible.
Take Home Points for today
When seeking or making friends, always remember to:
- Respect your beliefs and religious values
- Respect your family values
- Respect your principles
Values to seek in a friend and to aspire to have them in yourself as well:
- Reminds you of obedience to Allah
- Good character
- Trustworthy, sincere and loyal
- Supportive and encouraging
Connecting with Allah growing up
- Masjid al Aqsa – why it has a very special place in our hearts
- The last bastion of Islam will be Shaam
- Palestine: The Holy Land
- All oppression has an expiry date
- 70 acts of kindness
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