By Amina Salau
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “A man follows the religion of his friend; so you should consider whom you befriend.” (Abu Dawud; reliable)
Like other human relationships, friendships are important. Friends are our companions, the non-relatives we share our lives with. If these relationships are important in our lives, we need to not only choose our friends carefully but also ensure that we give our best to the people who have befriended us. The Holy Prophet Muhammad built the first generation of Muslims on solid brotherhood by making them aware of the importance and benefits of loving each other for the sake of Allah.
So how do we become good friends with people as per the Sunnah guidelines? Here are some handy tips:
- Invite your friends to all that is good. If you love someone, it is normal to wish for them what you wish for yourself. As a good friend, we should endeavor to make our friends accompany us in all the good that we do. Volunteering at your local mosque? Invite a friend to come along and share the experience and reward. Remind a friend when it is time for salah (prayer) or encourage them to give sadaqah (charity). Ibn Masood narrated that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “He who guides (others) to an act of goodness will have a reward similar to that of its doer.” (Muslim)
- If you see a friend slipping into the forbidden, stop him immediately but gently.
- Always say good things about friends in their absence. In the Qur’an, Allah expressly forbids speaking ill of people behind their backs. (Qur’an 49:12)
- In cases of conflicts, sit down with your friend and have a candid conversation. Don’t be two-faced: pleasant on the face and slandering behind the back. The Prophet (sa) said: “The worst person is someone who is two-faced. He is the person who comes to one group of people with one face and another group of people with another face.” (Al-Adab Al Mufrad; sound)
- Remember your friends in prayers even when they are no more. Abu Ad-Darda’ said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (sa) say: “When a Muslim supplicates for his absent brother, the angels say: Ameen, and may you receive the like.” (Sunan Abi Dawud; sound)
- Be supportive of your friends’ goals, ambitions, aspirations, and decisions (as long as they are in accordance with the Sharia). Be their personal cheerleader.
- Respect your friends, and do not embarrass them or talk down to them.
- Lend a listening ear. Strive to keep confident everything that you are told and do not go about sharing other people’s secrets.
- Always speak the truth. Your friends can benefit from you telling them the truth. Abu Hurayrah (ra) said: “A believer is the mirror of his brother. When he sees a fault in it, he should correct it.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad; reliable)
- Make your friends smile as much as you can. The Prophet (sa) was known for always smiling at everyone he met and he even said: “Every good is charity. Indeed among the good is to meet your brother with a smiling face…” (at-Tirmidhi; sound)
- Offer your help to a friend who needs it.
- Provide positive peer pressure. Your friends can get motivated from your own positive influence.
- Encourage your friends towards good on social media. No trolling, bullying, name calling or engaging in forbidden activities, remembering that a believer does not utter obscene words. (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad; sound)
- Exercise caution with regard to gadgets and cell phones. Refrain from chatting all day with friends and preventing yourselves from doing more beneficial things with your time.
Amina Salau is a freelance writer passionate about women’s issues in Islam
© IIPH 2015