Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Choosing Friends Wisely

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*Note: This particular post is geared towards teenagers

Ah, I remember my teenage years...Okay it wasn't too long ago, but still. There were practically no responsibilities apart from aiming to get good grades. There was always me-time if I felt like doing something fun like taking up a hobby. And the friends! I've had some amazingly awesome times with friends when I was a teen, Alhumdulillah. Laughing away like crazy at small things. Passing notes in class trying to make my friends giggle while everyone else was silent (it obviously worked). I never played pranks on others but others did on me...and I miss those times too!

When I went home from school I'd still be thinking about my friends. Then there would be the talks on the phone, emailing, texting and chatting.

Teenagers can never really get enough of their friends, can they? And it's getting worse and worse now that the phone has internet (in my day that was unheard of!), because now kids are chatting with friends from around the world while on the dinner table, and late into the night in bed. Friends play a crucial role in teenagers' lives and it is highly important to choose them wisely!

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said in a hadith, “A man will follow the religion of his close friend, so let each of you look to who he takes a close friend." (Al Tirmidhi)

So let's take some points into consideration:

1) Religion. Now, I know this is a difficult concept to grasp in this day and age where globalization is so common. Classrooms are filled with kids from all parts of the world with different religions. I personally really enjoy hanging out with people of different backgrounds and learning about their cultures. We are not to ignore people of different religions. Rather, speak to them politely, have some discussions with them etc. But when it comes to choosing close friends, stick to the God-conscious.

Let me give you an example of what I went through in school and college. When I went to school, I had some non-Muslim friends. As teenagers, all they would discuss was boys. This is common amongst kids these days, and it's getting common at even younger ages, unfortunately. I always felt awkward because these are not topics that pertain to a Muslim. When I hung out with my Muslim friends, we had a lot more things to talk about which were childhood friendly and I had a lot more fun. In university the case was similar. I would go and chill out with my friends at malls (like once a month or even less than that, so don't overdo it!) and eat pizza. Have some Molten Lava Cake from time to time at Chilli's. Stuff like that. I had a non-Muslim friend who I wasn't too close to, but she was a part of our circle. There was one thing she kept on saying to me over and over for many months, "Seher, I'm going to take you clubbing one day! You haven't seen life. It's SO much fun. You are far too innocent. Live it up!" I told her I don't drink. She told me, "Oh that's ok. You can have Red Bull at the club!". This is how it all starts. Try this, try that. Until you're all out deep into sin. A friend with taqwa would not have had this conversation with me. I'm not saying non-Muslims are bad people. Their cultures are different and don't match with Islam's, and so if they become a close friend then it's difficult to continue staying in your own belief system. Especially as a teen.

As a side note, I wanted to add one more thing. Falling in "love" while being a teenager. Please don't waste your time in these petty things. With the media these days after everyone trying to define what love is, and some wrong "friends" encouraging you to develop relationships with opposite genders, it's hard to get away from it, I know. A guy smiles at you and maybe even opens the door for you and you think you're in love. A girl has long, silky hair which flows gently in the breeze and you think you're in love. Someone compliments you and you think they love you. This is not love, my friends! It is infatuation. Romeo and Juliet were not truly in love and they did not die for true love. They only knew each other for a few days! They were truly infatuated! It was less than a week between the time they met and the time they died. Remember that when you think you found your Romeo or Juliet in school. You know what true love is? It's marrying a person and living with them day and night for years, and finding out their flaws (because we all have them), and waking up to see their messy morning face, and dealing with a pet peeve you have that they do all the time, yet STILL you can't imagine living without them. So please don't think you've found "the one" until after you're married. After all, wouldn't you want "the one" to be the "only one" after you're married and spend the rest of your life with him/her? Right now is the time to enjoy your innocent youth and also focus on studies. Which brings me to the next point.

2) Studies. Find friends who are ambitious about their future and are studious when it comes to schoolwork. This alone will take you far in life, inshaAllah. Teenagers are very easily malleable by who they hang out with. Think about it, if you hang out with a group of people who get A's in class and also do extra-curricular activities, wouldn't you want to raise your own goals in school? Getting hardworking friends will only push you to do better and help you achieve to the best of your ability. On the other hand, there are kids who think school isn't important. They'd rather "chill" their life away by watching TV all the time, being online, or going out with friends. If you hang out with them, eventually, without you realizing, you too will feel that school is not important in the bigger picture, and will become more relaxed about your studies.

So think about the past few years. Think about the many friends you had, and how you were affected by them individually. To an extent, friends apparently become more important and more reliable sources of information than parents (which is not true, but that's how teens think!), so basically, choose them wisely because you are a reflection of your friends!

Note: If you can't find any friends who you think will make you into a better person then make sincere dua to Allah (SWT) for a righteous friend. InshaAllah He will guide you to one.

May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfiq to be with friends the pious and the ambitious, and may they become a means of us entering Jannah, Ameen.