By Alveena Salim
Have you ever actually sat down and thought about the people you hang around with (your bredrins!)?
Who are they? Are they alcoholics, drug dealers/addicts, wannabe G’s, playa’s? Do they regularly go clubbing? Are they involved in dodgy scams? Do they have lots of girls/boys on the line? Do they treat their parents like crap? Are they regularly involved in fights? Are they dodgy geezers?
You might be thinking “Who cares what they’re on or what they get up to- that don’t matter! We have a laugh when we get together”.
What your mates do isn’t minor at all- and it DOES matter! Friends have an enormous influence on your life. They can change your lifestyle and can make you do things that you probably haven’t ever considered doing before (and they can do all that without holding a gun to your head!)
There’s a well known saying that goes “If you want to know what kind of a person someone is, just check out his/her friends”.
And that makes sense, obviously a person would only befriend a like-minded individual, someone who understands them, and thinks the same way that they do, after all that’s the basic criteria of choosing a friend.
Why on earth would a person be mates with someone whom they had nothing in common with?
So if you want to know what kind of person you are, you should take a good hard look at your close mates because this should give you a rough idea. This is because its human nature to copy the actions of those who are around us.
So if you have a close friendship with people, who are shameless or evil, you will most definitely pick up their bad habits. This is a slow, subconscious process, in other words a person does not even realise that he/she is picking up bad habits!
If someone believes that they will be totally unaffected by bad company then they are only kidding themselves.
The Prophet said:
“A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look (carefully) at whom you choose as a friend.” [Ahmad]
This means that if your mates don’t pray, fast, are involved in dodgy stuff, are bad to their parents and can’t speak without swearing then sooner or later you’re going to start acting in the same way.
In the same way, if your friends are decent and are living their life according to the laws of the Qur’an and Sunnah then they could help you in becoming better Muslims.
“The day will come when the transgressor will bite his hands (in anguish) and say, “I wish I had followed the path with the messenger. Shame on me, I wish I did not take that person as a friend. He has led me away from the message after it came to me”. Indeed, the devil lets down his human victims.”[25:27-29]
Our friends can either be the rope that ties us to our faith in Allah, or the knife that cuts any connection we had with our Creator. They are blessings, they are tests. Ask yourself, who are your friends?
And more importantly, what kind of friend are you? We should also realise that if our aim in life was to become a model, then we would hang around models or at least those interested in fashion.
If our aim in life was to become an artist we would hang around those who are interested in art. In the same way if we wanted to pursue a career in teaching, medicine, or engineering we would for obvious reasons hang around with those who share the same goals as ourselves.
In the same way as Muslims our goal should be Paradise. So it only makes sense that we should try to arrange our life and activities around those who also share the same goal. We should hang around those people who support and encourage us into becoming better Muslims and increase our love for Allah (swt) and His Prophet (saw).
This does not mean that we should totally lock off from those who may be far from Islam, of course not, but a friend is someone who has a very important place in a person’s life, which is why it makes sense to choose our friends wisely.
If your friends don’t come under the “good friend” category, then trust me when they mess up in life and go down they’ll take you down with them. Totally cutting off with bad friends isn’t what you should do either, no one likes a snob who thinks he/she is “too good” to hang around with bad people.
Just have some space from your mates for a while and start hanging around good Muslim people who will most definitely change your ways for the better, and then when you’ve sorted yourself out, get back into contact with your not-so religious friends and start to influence them into living their lives as better Muslims.
So how do we know if someone fits the “good friend” category or not? Well, they’re easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for.
Once the Prophet was asked, “What person can be the best friend?”. He replied: “He who helps you remember Allah, and reminds you when you forget Him.” He was then asked, “And which friend is the worst?”. He replied: “He who does not help you remember God and does not remind you of God when you forget.”
The Prophet has made it very easy for us to spot good people a mile away. He has said that the first sign of a good person is that:
- When you see him/her they remind you of Allah (swt)-How’s that? By the way they look. If she’s a girl she would be modestly dressed according to the teachings of Islam and if he’s a boy, he would have a beard and dressed modestly
with the intention of following the sunnah and teachings of the Prophet (saw).
- The second sign of a good person is that when you look at the way they live their life, you’d notice that they are careful about living their life according to the teachings of Islam.
- The third sign of a good Muslim is that when you sit with them, you start to feel bad and guilty about all the dodgy stuff that you’re involved in, and make a promise that from now on you’ll live your life as a better person. They are a good influence on you.
So a good friend should not merely be judged on their appearance (i.e. scarf/beard). They should possess the other two signs as well….its a full package. Before making friends with anyone, we should ask ourselves if this friendship would benefit us in any way in the hereafter?
This is because Allah (swt) has promised seven types of people His shade on the Day of Judgement, as a mark of distinction and honour. Two people who befriend
and love each other for the sake of Allah (swt) are one of those people.
In other words, just by befriending someone who is living their life according to the laws of the Qur’an and Sunnah could become our shortcut to Paradise.
OK, so now you’re probably thinking that you need to hook up with some decent friends ASAP (I hope!), but where are they all?
Well, let me help you, you’re not exactly gonna find them parked up in street corners in a kitted up Subaru (checking out the gals/guys!), nor are you going to find them in clubs dancing to the latest bhangra beat, nor will you find them smoking sheesha in a dodgy run-down snooker centre... and you definitely won’t find them at the back of your school’s bike shed getting high on weed.
But you might find them in Islamic study circles, you’ll find them in the mosque and you’ll definitely find them in Islamic programmes. So regularly show your face in such places and you will be lucky enough to hook up with some decent friends.
We should realise that we will be raised up in the hereafter with the kind of people we hanged around with in this life, which is why it makes sense to associate ourselves with good people.
So choose your mates wisely, because good Islamic friends could most definitely become our shortcut to paradise.
So once again I will say to you that our friends can either be the rope that ties us to our faith in Allah, or the knife that cuts any connection we had with our Creator.
They are blessings, they are tests. Ask yourself, who are your friends? And more importantly, what kind of friend are you?