By Basheerah Jones
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend (Sunan Abi Dawud 4833).
Have you ever wondered what type of friend you are?
Being a Muslim revert woman can bring about many changes in one’s life. One of the biggest changes is finding a new community of friends. As a Muslim revert woman, navigating the new social landscape and building friendships with people from different backgrounds and cultures can be daunting. However, with some effort and patience, it is possible to become a friend whom we are encouraged to be like. In this blog, I will share some tips on becoming the kind of friend that you are also seeking.
Building friendships takes time. It is not something that can be rushed or forced. You may feel lonely at first, but remember that Allah has a plan for everyone, and good things come to those who wait. Take the time to get to know the people around you and find common interests. Joining a local mosque or Islamic center can be a great way to meet new people who share your faith.
I recall when I first accepted Islam, I had close-knit friends, you may call it a ‘clique’. We were five friends who were actually very involved with the Church at the time (I accepted Islam in Secondary School- mind you my mum was from a Muslim home). My Christian friends remained my closest friends until I left Secondary school, and I didn’t really try to find other close friends – They were morally upright so I never felt the need until I went to the university and knew that I needed to have friends who could have a positive impact on my deen.
Choose Allah first.
In deciding who you would choose to be your friend, make sure Allah is at the centre of it. Your friendship has to be Lillah ( For the Sake of Allah)! Make that your goal and intention – it is good practice to ask yourself before starting a friendship what the goal truly is.
Ahmad (22002) narrated from ‘Ubaadah ibn as-Saamit that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:
“[Allah says:] ‘My love is due for those who love one another for My sake; My love is due for those who visit one another for My sake; My love is due for those who help one another for My sake; My love is due for those whose hearts are free of grudges and who uphold ties with one another for My sake.’”
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami‘ (4321)
A sister told me once that, “She doesn’t have friends – what she has are sisters in Islam.” She told me using this mindset has helped her a lot. She said that even when someone hurt her, reminding herself that this woman was her sister in Islam, usually made it easy for her to overlook the sister’s shortcomings.
Make excuses for others.
Think about times when you were misunderstood, how did it make you feel? This is crucial in being a true friend and a Muslim generally. I recall when I was in the university, there was a situation where a certain person had told different people that he would greet me with ‘Salaams’ and I would never respond. Even though it sounded unbelievable, the truth was I had never seen this brother! Eventually, it was all cleared up. The wife and I eventually got along and they knew I wasn’t just being rude or arrogant – many times I am just focused on other things, and being a very shy person, I like to be invisible and often think I am!
When you remember you also have your own excesses it makes it easier to overlook the shortcomings of others. As a revert, you may find yourself slipping into the behaviours you may have carried on before accepting Islam. You wouldn’t want others to gloat over that. At almost 40, having accepted Islam as a 12-year-old, I sometimes remember some rhymes I learnt in church. know that making allowances for others allows them to feel comfortable with you.
Give good and honest advice.
In order to be a true friend, be sure to tell the truth even if it is against your own soul. I recall when I started wearing hijab, some people made fun of me including those that called themselves my friends. I went on to remove it the following day because I just could not deal with the pressure. I recall one of my friends having an honest conversation with me. She asked me if the hijab was for the people or for Allah. Of course, I knew the answer. It was this tough question that gave me the confidence to continue to wear it. Had she not been brutally honest with me, perhaps I wouldn’t have maintained the firmness I have today.
Building friendships takes time and effort. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find your tribe right away. Remember to trust in Allah’s plan, and know that He will guide you to the right people at the right time. Don’t be under any pressure to be someone else in order to fit in. In the Nigerian parlance, my people would say, “You are not Jollof rice so not everyone will like you.”
I recall when I first moved to the UK, I was trying to form meaningful relationships. My daughter made some Muslim friends in school, (Alhamdulillah my daughter exudes the confidence that I don’t have yet), and she would often correct them about religious matters. Anyway, I found out one of the mothers was complaining that whenever she did something not right in the shariah, her daughters would correct her because they had heard something from my daughter. She wasn’t particularly happy about it. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that I wasn’t welcome in her ‘tribe’. I was content with the fact that I wouldn’t raise my daughter otherwise, and I wouldn’t change obedience to Him over anything else. Ultimately, I want friends who…
Communicate and don’t backbite.
For me speaking good also includes not backbiting! If you are unhappy with what your friend has done, simply have a conversation with her. Many times reporting the incident to a third party who wasn’t a part of it, often leads to other issues. And then, If you don’t tell her, there’s a good chance she will repeat the behaviour.
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful”
Overall, you should work on becoming the kind of friend you want for yourself, a friend who reminds you of your purpose, whose character impresses you and calls to the values and behavuours that Allah is pleased with. Most importantly you want a friend who would beg Allah for you.
I leave you with this dua my teacher, may Allah have mercy on Him and be pleased with him, encouraged us to make a part of our daily duas.
اللَّهُمَّ إنِّي أّعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ جَارِ السُّوءِ، وَمِنْ زَوْجٍ تُشَيِّبُنِي قَبْلَ المَشِيبِ، وَمِنْ وَلَدٍ يَكُونُ عَليَّ رَبّاً، وَمِنْ مَالٍ يَكُونُ عَلَيَّ عَذَابَاً، وَمِنْ خَلِيْلٍ مَاكِرٍ عَيْنُهُ تَرَانِي، وَقَلْبُهُ يَرْعَانِي؛ إِنْ رَأَى حَسَنَةً دَفَنَهَا، وَإِذَا رَأَى سَيِّئَةً أَذَاعَهَا
“Allahumma innee d’oodhu bika min Jaaris Suu, wa min zawjin tashayyabanee qablal masheeb, wa min waladin yakoonu alaiyya rabban, wa min maalin yakoonu alaiyya ‘adhaaban, wa min khaleelin maakirin, ‘ainuhu taraanee, wa qalbuhu yar’aanee, in yaraa hasanatan dafanahaa, wa in yaraa sayyi’ a’tan adhad’ahaa.”
“Oh Allaah, I seek refuge with you from an evil neighbour; and from a wife who causes me to grow old before old age; and from a son who will become master over me; and from wealth which will become a punishment for me; and from a cunning friend whose gaze is upon me, and whose heart is plotting and planning against me, such that if he sees something good, he buries it and if he sees something bad he spreads it.”
(Collected by At Tabaraaniin ‘Ad Dug’ (3/1425/1339) and its chain is declared ‘Jayyid’, (Good) by Shaikh Al Albaani in sisiatul haadeethus Saheehah (3137)
About the author:
Basheerah Jones is a Jannah seeker who hopes she can be a good friend who reminds others of Allah. She’s an aspiring writer who hopes to write children’s books that would inspire them to love Allah more.