Reflections on Friendship


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Photo: Theo Wright

Coming out of Ramadan, our souls are more raw and perceptive. That cuss word or the gossip that we freed our tongue and hearing of during Ramadan feels like ice on sensitive teeth. There is pain and irritation. And leaving Ramadan to the humdrum of daily life brings with it the very things we tried to avoid. Like a broken chair we never get around to fixing, we become accustomed to those things that are damaging to the soul. And sometimes this comes from those closest to us—without any deliberate ill-feelings—and it dots our hearts with the black spots that the Prophet ﷺ(peace be upon him) warned us against. In this regard, the Prophet Musa `alayhi assalatu wassalam (peace and blessings be upon him) made a powerful du`a’ (supplication):

“And make for me a counselor of my family,
Aaron, my brother.
Increase through him my strength
And let him share my task
That we may exalt You much
And remember You much.
Indeed, You are of us ever Seeing.” [Qur’an, 20:29-35]

Musa (as) asks for strength from Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) given through one of the closest people to him—his brother. But he does not only ask for moral and physical support. There is a purpose behind it: to remember Allah and to glorify Him.

As social beings, we need people. We need strong relationships. Whether an introvert who is more comfortable with intimate one-on-one conversations or an extrovert who loves to be around a lot of people, that connection with other people is something that we crave. And so we are instructed in Surat al-Kahf, which we are encouraged to recite once a week for its reminders, to:

“Keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.” [Qur’an, 18:28]

We are human and we need reminders. True friendship is one that brings light in both the dunya (this life) and the akhira (the Hereafter). If you have just one person be to you like Harun (as) was to Musa (as), or better yet a group of people like the youth of the cave, you will constantly be moving forward in your relationship with Allah (swt) because your relationship with His creation is based on goodness. And Allah is Good and only accepts the Good.

And if you feel sad for yourself because you don’t have anyone, put your trust in Allah (swt). He brings people into our lives—gems—and we can facilitate that by working on our relationship with Him. Good always recognizes good and indeed attracts it, as the Prophet  ﷺ tells us:

“Souls are like conscripted soldiers; those whom they recognize, they get along with, and those whom they do not recognize, they will not get along with.’” (Bukhari)

So cultivate light within yourself, and light in your relationships. And hold on to those gems that you do have, because truly, anyone who reminds us of Him can only be a gift from Him—and what does a gift represent except love from the Gift-Giver?

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11 Comments

  1. Shereef says:

    i like this…:) can u suggest more topics on friendship through the base of islam?

  2. Shamaila says:

    Really enjoyed reading this article, it’s truly spot on.

    “True friendship is one that brings light in both the dunya (this life) and the akhira (the Hereafter)”.

    Cannot stress how strongly I agree! Someone who cares for you wants only good for you, would only steer you towards halal and advise you on what is best for you. Keep all those you care about (and those you do not care for too lol) in your prayers for the best gift we can give each other is indeed dua :-)
    If we are blessed enough to have people in our lives to remind us of our maker, we should appreciate them. We become more and more like those we spend time with, so we ought to become more mindful of keeping good company. Too often we do not realise the value of a relationship until there are no bonds left to strengthen.
    May Allah swt bless us with good company and may we learn how to benefit others :-)

  3. Maris says:

    Alhamdulillah for this article.

    I am struggling too with friendship. I feel I am growing and yet I have (had?) a wide circle of friends, but I don’t feel they are helping me grow spiritually. My circles are concerned with what and how people’s careers are developing, places to eat, places to visit, but not immensely interested in talking about more ‘serious’ issues, like religion, world affairs, how to act as responsible people in a civil society.

    I feel naturally disinclined to meet these friends as a result and now feel I’ve alienated myself. I feel so alone outside of my immediate family. I feel also this has had a negative effect on my worldly life (networking, etc.) I am a bit saddedned and frustrated.

    I know rasulullah (saw) taught us to be part of the world and be part of society, but I find it so tiresome to be in these gatherings where the interactions feel so, mundane(?), for lack of a better word.

    Any advice on how one should frame friendship when we feel we’re growing but not those around us?

    Jazakakallah.

    • Jinan Bastaki says:

      JazakiAllah khair for your question :) The key in these circumstances is to try to have some kind of balance. One of the companions went running to the Prophet (pbuh) because he felt like a hypocrite. When he was with the Prophet (pbuh) he would be spiritually uplifted and in remembrance of Allah and what is important. Yet when he went back to his family, the conversations would mostly be about the ‘mundane’. The Prophet (pbuh) smiled and said that “there is a time for this and a time for that.” If you have close friends (not the networking ones) who you are comfortable with, even if they are not interested in what you see as the important things, try and introduce those important things into the relationship. Finally, join circles and/or forums where there are like-minded people. Hope this helps.

      Jinan

  4. Yuli says:

    Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh?

    Jazakillah khair sister Jinan. I dont know you but through your beautiful articles, to me you have became like what Prophet Harun AS was to Prophet Musa AS :)

  5. Alkanawy says:

    An informative piece. I really don’t have close friends … But I’ve people whom I meet with almost weekly in a forum or symposium where we share our knowledge and thoughts. So these are my friends.

  6. Sister says:

    MashaAllah! Really nice!

  7. Anees says:

    Ma’sha’allah, lovely piece Sr. Jinan – I passed this on to one of my close friends to remind them that they are one of the gems in my life :)

    As always, Jazak’Allahu Khairan for discussing the topic in such an elegant manner, as you never fail to do.

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