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It brings about different emotions and meanings for different people.

Friendship is something we seek from a very young age, it’s a wonderful and essential part of one’s life.

My view and definition of friendships have changed a lot as I have learned and grown over the years. I’ve come to realize that friendship means different things to different people. Many are more familiar with a particular concept of friendship that involves insulting jokes, humiliation, gossip & other toxic behaviors. These things seem trivial to some but they certainly have a negative impact.

Many people don’t realize the heavy influence our friends have on us and don’t take friendships seriously and as a result, we may find ourselves disturbed and heartbroken over the hurtful actions of someone we thought was our friend.

The Prophet also stated, “A true believer is a mirror to his brother. He prevents him from any harm.” [Abu Daawood]

In order to have and make good friends, we must first learn to be a good friend ourselves, because how can we expect sincere friendship from someone when we can’t offer it ourselves.

Let’s take a moment to reflect upon some characteristics that show us the true meaning of friendship.

Honesty:

It is important for us to be honest with our friends, whether it’s giving our opinions on something small or telling them when we think they’re making decisions that may harm them. It can seem easier to mind your own business and just let the person make a mistake and learn a lesson on their own but by doing so we show great insincerity and selfishness. Ask yourself, was there ever a time you found yourself in a difficult situation and wished that someone had warned you earlier? They may not always like or listen to what we have to say but sincerity shows the other person that we care. Honesty increases the respect and trust between friends but having said that we should also take care & speak with them gently and in a manner that doesn’t hurt them.

“O you who believe!  Fear God, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds).” (Quran 9:119)

Being Present:

Life’s seems busier than ever now, as you grow older you find yourself with more responsibilities and less time for friends, we get lost in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, presuming that the people we love are doing well too & don’t need us. But that’s not always true, it’s important for us to make time for those we love, even a small message asking them how they’re doing, or sending them an encouraging note to brighten their day can make all the difference.

Being present also means giving them your full attention when you spend time with them, with the ever-growing obsession of social media, we tend to neglect our actual social lives by constantly checking our phones for updates even when we’re out with friends, this can make the other person feel left out and uncared for.

Showing Empathy:

It’s easy to make mock your friends when they don’t hold the same opinions as us; making fun of their weaknesses seems like harmless fun.

“Oh they know we’re joking, they won’t mind” “It’s only a joke, who cares?”

But words can be as sharp as thorns and we may have hurt a friend deeply & not realized it. Enjoying the moment and having a good laugh with each other is one of the things that make friendship so wonderful, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of someone’s feelings. It’s always best to avoid jokes that can insult someone else.

Similarly, when a friend angers you, forgive them. Try to put yourself in their position to understand the reason behind their actions. Give them the benefit of the doubt if you have to & let go of small things, you will find yourself feeling much more at ease.

Being Supportive:

Through the good & the bad, have their back.  Cheer them on during their good times and offer comfort and empathy during not so good times; be someone they can rely on. Don’t judge them harshly when they make bad decisions, instead offer them a hand & help them get where they need to be. Don’t abandon friends when they’re at a weak point. If a friend is straying from the right path and doing things that displease Allah, advise them in the best of manners and help them find their way back.

Staying Away From Gossip & Slandering:

This is easier said than done; gossiping is something most of us indulge in, taking very lightly when in reality its consequences can be truly devastating. We don’t always intend to backbite but it happens without us even realizing it. It’s important to take a look at ourselves first and avoid talking about others when they’re not around. If we find the conversation steering towards that direction, we must divert our attention to something more beneficial.

If you find your friends or acquaintances speaking ill of someone, stop them or remind them of the good qualities of the person being spoken about and then change the topic, if that doesn’t seem possible then it is best to leave the company of such people.

Friends have the power to make or break us. It is important for us to keep good company for a good friend, even just one, can make life more beautiful, we must first learn how to be one because when you develop qualities of a good friend, you attract people with similar ones.

I pray that Allah SWT helps us in becoming the best kind of friend & blesses all of us with friends that help us get closer to Him, friends who understand and truly care for us and friends that we can reunite within Jannah & that He SWT keeps us away from friendships that bring us harm and misery. Aameen.

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