Who Is a Good Friend?

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Part 1 Description:  A two-part lesson on having good, close Muslims friends.  Part 1 discusses the importance of good friends.  Objectives:...

Part 1

Description: A two-part lesson on having good, close Muslims friends.  Part 1 discusses the importance of good friends. 
Objectives:
·       To understand the role played by friends in our lives.
·       To understand the importance of good Muslims friends and the influence of bad friends.
Arabic Terms:
·       Shaytan- sometimes spelled Shaitan or Shaytaan.    It is the word used in Islam and the Arabic language to denote the devil or Satan, the personification of evil. 
Much of our lives is spent in interaction with others.  A structure of friendship can be represented by three concentric circles that can be described as very close, close, and not-so-close but still meaningful personal ties.  An acquaintance will be in the ‘not-so-close’ category, someone you exchange small talk with as you go about your day, trade insights with online, or chat about sports.  They will be people who cross our paths regularly like coworkers, classmates, and people we run into at the gym.
Close friendships, on the other hand, display strong support and affection.  A close friend fills an indispensable role as a confidant, someone who listens and pays attention to you, is willing to help you, and has shared interests.  A close friend is someone you trust and who shares a deeper level of understanding and communication with you; someone you can rely on, someone you can really connect with, and someone with whom you share a bond of trust and loyalty.  No price tag on earth can be placed on their value and how much they mean to you.  What makes a close friend different from a very close one? The answer is the level and extent you are able to confide deeply.

Importance of Developing Muslim Friendships

Muslim friends can provide tremendous emotional support and human contact that fulfill need for human companionship and reinforcement.  The pull of healthy friendships can have an enormous effect on the quality of our lives.  With growing numbers of people living alone, either by choice or circumstance, friendships occupy the emotional space that other people fill with spouses or significant others.  Friends can link us to broader social networks and help enrich our lives.
There is no better way to judge ourselves than by the company we keep.  Even our Prophet did not go somewhere without any companions.  He kept constant good company, even though he was aided by Allah Himself.  The people who were by his side were guaranteed the highest place in Paradise.  For example, Abu Bakr was his best friend even before Allah selected the Prophet to be His messenger.  During his prophethood, he took two great journeys, one on earth and another to the heavens.  When he migrated from the city of Mecca to Madina, he was accompanied by his closest companion, Abu Bakr.  When he went from Jerusalem to the heavens, he was accompanied by Gabriel (Jibreel in Arabic), the greatest angel of Allah. 
Our greatest journey is to our final destination – Paradise – and it is important that we take the best possible companions to accompany us in this journey.  When we are faced by unrelenting temptations, our close friends are there to remind us of our purpose in this life and help us make better choices. 
Many teens hang out with their friends more than with their close family members.  Many go to school to be with their friends.  We get together with friends for many reasons, like watching sports, playing games, or studying for an exam.  Why not get together with friends to memorize the Quran or learn the basics of Islam, or study the life of the Prophet? It won’t make you a scholar, but it will instill love for learning Islam.  Having good Muslim friends will provide support and help we all need in school, college, and beyond. 
The most important questions to ask yourself is, ‘Do my friends, the people I hang out with, make me a better Muslim?’; ‘Do they help me obey or disobey Allah?’ Allah said in the Quran,
“Whoever obeys God and the Messenger will be among those He has blessed: the messengers, the truthful, those who bear witness to the truth, and the righteous - what excellent companions these are!”(Quran 4:69)
Our dear Prophet has reminded us,
A person is with whom he loves.[1]
Those we love in this life will surround us in the Hereafter.  A bad friend who pulls you down, takes you away from your purpose of creation, and pulls you towards what displeases Allah can be recognized by this verse of the Quran,
“And woe to me, if only I did not take him as a friend.”(Quran 25:28)
If a friend’s company was beneficial for us, then we will join them in Paradise; if they were detrimental to our faith, then may Allah protect us.  The Day of Judgment is scary.  All our securities, including friends and family, will leave us on that Day and we will be left with only our deeds to account for.
It boils down to, ‘Are my friends preparing me for the Hereafter?’ It is up to me to surround myself with good company otherwise Shaytan will pick me off.  If we agree, follow and are pleased with bad friends, then we will likely inherit their habits, behaviors and even religious beliefs. 
Everyone wants to belong to something or someone.  When we constantly seek company with a certain type of people, we become more like them and act like them.  It is natural.  Gang members feel a sense of identity and pride as members of their crew.  Many lose their lives or end up in prison before they realize it is too late.  Most smokers start smoking because either their friends smoke or they encourage them to.  It is almost always friends who influence such decisions.
Allah, the All-Wise also says: “Friends on that Day will be enemies one to another, except the pious.” (Quran 43:67)
Friendship based on common core of faith will benefit and extend after this life.  That is true friendship.


Footnotes:
[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim

Part 2

Description: A two-part lesson on having good, close Muslims friends.  Part 2 gives tips on how to find and make good Muslim friends.

Objectives
·       To learn about some places where one can meet Muslims to foster friendships.
·       To understand some tips to engage in conversation.
·       How to be a good friend?
Arabic Terms
·       As-Salamu Alaikum - peace and blessings be on you.
·       Eid - festival or celebration.  Muslims celebrate two major religious holidays, known as Eid-ul-Fitr (which takes place after Ramadan) and Eid-ul-Adha (which occurs at the time of the Hajj).
·       Hijab – The word hijab holds several different meanings, including conceal, hide and screen.  It commonly refers to a woman’s headscarf and in broader terms to modest clothing and behaviour.
·       Ramadan - The ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.   It is the month in which the obligatory fasting has been prescribed. 
·       Salam - The Islamic greeting such as ‘As-Salamu Alaikum’.

Tip 1.  Where to Meet Muslims?

Who Is a Good Friend21.jpgClose relationships will not happen overnight, but there are steps you can take to help you connect with other Muslims and make friends.
      Attend the Friday prayer and some other prayers on a weekly basis.  Even though it is time for worship, not socialization, you will get to know fellow Muslims who come regularly to the mosque and develop a special spiritual bond with them.
      Take a class offered at your local mosque or Islamic center for new Muslims to meet others with common interests.  Websites such as www.facebook.com andwww.twitter.com can help you find local groups or start your own and connect with others who share similar interests.
      Volunteering can be a great way to help others while also meeting new Muslims.  Islamic centers are always looking for volunteers close to Eid and in Ramadan or other major events during the year.  It provides an excellent opportunity to connect with other Muslims.
      Attend community dinners at your mosque that are typically offered every month.  Even if you are not used to the ethnic food or find it spicy, you will be able to meet new Muslims in a socially relaxed environment.
      Attend Muslim community events, conferences, and lectures either in your locality or in neighboring cities or states where you can meet people with similar interests.  You will meet new people, try new foods, and get a chance to buy clothes and books.

Tip 2.  Learn to Engage in Conversation

Some people seem to instinctively know how to start a conversation with anyone in any place.  If you’re not one of these types, here are some easy ways to start a conversation with someone new:
      Practice Islamic greeting and shake hands with confidence.  Many people struggle with saying ‘As-Salamu Alaikum.’ You have to practice it so it becomes second nature in social gatherings.  Remember, the Prophet said, “When two Muslims meet (givesalam), and shake hands, they are forgiven their sins before they part (with each other).” (Abu Dawud)
      Remark on the mosque and the Muslims around you or the occasion.  You could make some positive comments, such as: “I love the mosque,” or “The food’s great.  Have you tried the chicken?”.
      Ask an open-ended question, one that requires more than just a yes or no answer.  Ask a question that begins with one of the 5 W’s or 1 H: who, where, when, what, why, or how.  For example,
·       “Who do you know here?”
·       “Where do you normally go for Friday prayer?”
·       “When did you move here?”
·       “How is the food?”
Most people enjoy talking about themselves so asking a question is a good way to start a conversation.
      Use a compliment.  For example, “I really like your hijab, can I ask where you got it from?” or “Looks like you’ve done this before, can you show me?”
      Listen effectively.  People observed that when they were talking to Prophet Muhammad it was as if he was only interested in listening to them, he was fully focused.  One of the keys to effective communication is to focus fully on the speaker and show interest in what’s being said.  Nod occasionally and smile at the person.  The Prophet said, “Your smile in the face of your brothers is an act of charity” (Tirmidhi).   Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal cues like “yes” or “uh huh” and don’t interrupt.

Tip 3.  How to Be a Good Friend

Allah says in the Quran, “O mankind, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you may know one another.” (Quran 49:13).   ‘They’ don’t just need to know us, we need to know ‘them’ too.  We need to move out of our comfort zones.
Remember that making a friend is just the beginning of a journey into a relationship that will take time to deepen.  Becoming friends is a process that requires time, effort, and a genuine interest in the other person.  Follow some simple steps:
·       Be the friend that you would like to have.  Treat your friend just as you want them to treat you.  The Prophet advised, “None of you has faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)
·       Be a good listener.  To develop a solid friendship with someone, be prepared to listen and support them just as you expect from them.
·       Invest in the friendship.  No friendship will flourish without regular attention.  Invite your new Muslim friend for dinner and plan activities with them. 
·       Give your friend space.  Do not be too needy and be sure not to abuse your friend’s generosity.
·       Be forgiving.  No one is perfect and every friend will make mistakes.  Learn to forgive, it will deepen the bond of friendship between you.   Allah describes the believers in the Noble Quran as those who constantly strive to have clean hearts, free from malice, hatred and spite.  They supplicate for Allah’s help to achieve this,“Our Lord, forgive us and those of our brothers who preceded us in faith, and do not place in our hearts any rancor against those who believe.  Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness, Most Merciful.” (Quran 59:10)

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Jama Masjid: Who Is a Good Friend?
Who Is a Good Friend?
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