After seeing Boris-Dominic’s decades-old friendship turning to a battlefield, it’s made me examine my friends. You’re asking for trouble when you choose the wrong friend, ‘If you want to fly with eagles, you can’t run around with turkeys.’ Eventually, you become like the people you spend time with; so, choose friends wisely. The blessed Messenger (peace be upon him) taught: “A person follows his friends’ religion, so choose him/her carefully.”
I have three kinds of friends:
- The loyal, according to a saying, ‘A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.’ I appreciate such friends and enjoy their company, they’re a Godly gift.
- The critic, they’re the first to point an accusing finger and the last to extend a helping hand.
- The cautious, when you’re in trouble they’ll distance you lest they become stained by your problems. These people are not bad, they’re just self-serving. Don’t put your trust in them.
The Quran instructs: “Messenger, keep yourself with people who remember their Lord morning and evening seeking His Divine countenance. Don’t turn your eyes away from them to seek the delights of worldly life. Neither follow him whose mind is forgetful of our remembrance nor follow his whims, his case is beyond limits” (Kahf: 28).
We have many friends, but only a few are going to sticks by us, care for us and worry about us. The Majestic Quran also speaks about the friends on the Day of Judgement: “Even best friends on that Day will be each other’s enemies – but not the pious” (Zukhruf: 67). The fact you have friends is proof that you are a friendly person. You have invested time and energy in building these important relationships. I have 1100 plus contacts on my phone, can I claim all are my friends? Some people say I have 1000 friends on Facebook and many followers on Twitter, so are they your real friend? Here we may be mistaking gadget to gadget encounter with a real-time, real person, face to face encounter. Authentic friendship requires time to develop, even money. Are we willing to do that? According to research, the optimum number of friends we can reasonably serve and be close to is about 15. So, it isn’t the friends you can count that matter but friends who you can count on.
My loyal friends will:
- Support me when I’m anxious and worried. They will take off the pressure and will give the best advice. Where the family fails a good friend can be helpful since family is attached and will not be objective. The wise friend will have the courage and my interest in mind to speak the truth.
- Make me laugh and take away the seriousness of the situation, make me smile and bring me down to earth.
- Hold me responsible and answerable. A friend’s spanking can wake us up sometimes otherwise, we slumber in our mistake forever.
Therefore, ask who is my friend? Do they strengthen my heart and walk alongside me?
What stops people from making friendship?
The main culprit is prejudice and pre-judging. It makes you see those who don’t endorse what you believe as enemies. You praise those with who you spend time with but feel negative about those outside your circle. That’s not what Beloved Mustafa (peace be upon him) did. He (peace be upon him) befriended all without compromising who He was or endorsing their lifestyle. So, if you tend to jump ‘to conclusions…before all the evidence is in’ here’s what you must do:
- Reject your prejudice. List all the people you don’t count as friends, people you go out of your way not to have a relationship with and start speaking to them.
- Look inside your heart and ask yourself what it is about the other person that bothers you. Are there similarities between you? Are they expressing something you’re hiding from?
- Get to know the other person. Try to find common ground with everyone.
My five golden rules for winning friends:
Now those 1100 contacts on my phone, how will I win them?
- I will use kind words, praise people and won’t criticise.
- Listen to what they say and pay attention.
- Think about their feelings and show empathy.
- I will control my temper, won’t get angry and I will stay calm.
- Be polite, courteous, civilised and well-groomed.
Have I won you over?