What it means to be a friend

Friendship


Humans are social creatures by nature; they are always in need of friends and companions. Throughout most of our lives, we depend on interaction with others. Strong individuals are the core of a strong community, something that Muslims should always strive for. Thus, a true friend is someone who is with you during the good times and bad times; a good friend is always by your side.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.”

The development and maintenance of a strong friendship relies on the efforts of both parties. It is a two-way process. Both members of a friendship share the responsibility of ensuring that the relationship is healthy. To develop a strong friendship, you should treat your friend as you expect him/her to treat you and focus on what he/she needs out of the relationship. Your friend is also responsible for extending the same level of care towards you.

In a real friendship, one has responsibilities and duties towards that friend.

Support

A real friend is a source of support during difficult times. A friend helps his/her friend with problem solving and respects his/her decisions. Good friends always offer reasonable advice when needed. These features make friends feel comfortable, cared for, and appreciated.

Honesty and Trust

A real friend is always honest and trustworthy. These two traits help your friend confide in you and feel comfortable when talking to you. The mutual honesty and trust between friends help build a solid relationship, and of course integrity and directness are always encouraged.

Listen

Listening to a friend is so important and should not be underestimated. Listening to a friend is one of the main responsibilities in a friendship. Sometimes all your friend needs is to express her emotions so she can think clearly and reach her own solutions to her problem. A friend sometimes just wants to talk so that she can work out what she is going to do.

Keep in touch

Keeping in touch regularly, even if you are not nearby, shows your friends that you are there for them. Call your friend up regularly; check up on him/her, especially when they are going through important events in their lives.

Caring

Misfortune befalls everyone, at one time or another we are in need of someone to help us find relief. The loyal friends are the first people who rush to help. This is in fact the distinctive mark between genuine and false friends.

Give your friend an excuse

Like all people, friends, even if they have the best of character, are subject to err. Therefore, one must overlook and give their friend an excuse. Such overlooking will strengthen the friendship, because constant criticism and judging will create tension and resentment.

Help your friend financially if there is a need

It is incumbent to help our friends if they suffer an economic crisis. This is in fact one of the rights of friendship, if we are financially capable of helping out.

In the Holy Qur’an, the following verse praises those who give and who exhibit altruism and selflessness. The people of Madinah, whole heartedly welcomed the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who migrated from Makkah. The people of Madinah, the Ansar, opened their hearts and homes to the emigrants, and shared with them their wealth, food, and possessions.

{And [also for] those who were settled in al-Madinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful.} (Chapter 59, verse 9)

The relations among people should be based on good manners, aid, and support. A friend should be lenient if his/her friend is harsh for it is likely that this friend will shortly become lenient too.

{So by mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]}. (Chapter 3, verse 159)

It is also required to accept your friend’s apologies without being obstinate.

An excellent example of how best friends should be is Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his best friend, Abu Bakr As-Sideeq (may Allah be pleased with him). The story of their escape together from Makkah to Madinah was told in the Holy Qur’an in the 40th verse of Surah At-Tawbah.

{If you do not aid the Prophet – Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion [Abu Bakr], ‘Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us.’}

Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq (may Allah be pleased with him), the most trusted friend and companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), sacrificed everything for the sake of Allah and to the service of the Prophet.

How to overcome bad friendship

Very often, we make friendships that are actually harmful to us. If this is a friendship made from a young age or a new friendship, it is difficult to tell early on what kind of individual the friend is, unless one is vigilant. With time and experience we can determine if the friend is a good or bad influence in our lives.

Leaving a friendship can sometimes be heartbreaking, especially if that person has been present for a long time, but it is important to acknowledge the fact that not all friendships last forever.

Sometimes distancing oneself is the only option. Explaining the situation to the friend will allow you to part on good terms. Maintaining communication and politeness is important.


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