Raising Boys vs. Raising Men

FD

We’ve all heard the phrase “Boys will be boys” when a boy does or says something immature or silly. However, there comes a point when a boy becomes a man. However, having the characteristics and physical traits that a man has doesn’t make one a man it makes one a male. We need to make a distinction between men and boys. A guy can be well into his mid-20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s and still be a boy. This is due to the nature of his inability to emotionally, spiritually and psychologically mature. We cannot seriously say the phrase “he’s just a kid” for 18-40 year old guys. This phrase removes any responsibility or accountability for a guy’s actions by simply writing it off as “they’re just being boys” or “they’re just being kids.”  That argument won’t hold any water in the court of law and it most certainly doesn’t in our day to day dealings with others. Our actions and words have consequences. Every action has an equal or stronger reaction.

 

Yes, we’re all learning about life in every stage of our lives, but to not be in a mode of learning, self-reflection, self-improvement and introspection at every point in your life will not help you to mature. Many guys today simply live with their egos, lusts and desires. They seek to simply feed all three (ego, lusts, and desires) and don’t care if in their pursuit of self-gratification of harming others in the process. The guys I see today are obsessed with athletes, celebrities, movies, TV shows, food, and sports. This may not be the case for all youth, but is definitely a trend I see in our youth today. The question is how can we slowly transition these youth out of this mindset to a more mature mindset of thinking deeply about life, reflecting about how they’re living life, and how to better themselves every day? The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was surrounded by youth who took on positions of leadership, took initiative and were key figures in the early history of Islam.

The question is, do we see that same level of maturity in our male youth today?

Sadly, many youth are growing up with this mentality of fast and simple self-gratification. These youth then become college students, then young professionals, and then husbands of families. Yet, as they may have progressed academically and career wise they still are emotionally, psychologically and spiritually at the level of a middle school kid. It’s scary to think that one day the youth that I see at the masjid and in our communities will be future husbands and fathers.

 

It’s easy to think and acts like a boy for all of your life. You can think that your actions and words have no consequences. You can think that everyone needs to respect you, demand respect from other and if anyone disrespects you you put them in their place by cussing them out or yelling at them. You can think that everything must come to you immediately. It’s sad to say though this type of behavior will not fly in the real world. If you have this boyish mentality in your school work, your work life, your family life, and with others you won’t live a very happy life. You’ll meet conflict after conflict, drama after drama and get yourself into more trouble than you want.

 

This is why I say there’s a difference between being a MAN and being a boy or simply thinking you’re a man because you’re male. A man is one who has good character, strong morals, ethics, and principles. A man is someone who is self-confident, respectful to others, builds people up and doesn’t tear them down. A man is someone who doesn’t demand respect, but earns it through his actions. A man is someone who respects women and doesn’t talk about them in a derogatory manner. A man is someone who doesn’t use bad language, yell at others or lose his temper. My question is where are the men today?

 

When I actually sat down to think about why there is such a level of immaturity in our male youth today I can only find one problem: bad parenting. Yes, there are different cases here and there that may be contrary to my finding, but at a core level the level of immaturity stems from bad parenting. If the father or mother doesn’t play a big role their son’s life by teaching him early on about ethics, morals, principles and values then how do you expect him to start adhering to them when he’s well into his teens? If a father doesn’t encourage his son to come to the masjid in his son’s early years and stress the importance of deen (Islam) in their lives how do they expect their sons to know the importance when they become 19 years old? We have parents going to imams, youth directors and the “cool uncle” and ask them “can you speak to my son? Can you encourage him to come to the masjid and remind him about Islam?” It’s sad that it’s come to this point where parents can’t even talk to their own children about their concern for the way they’re living their lives.

 

Another issue that leads to this immaturity is that we’re pampering our boys.We provide them early on with the latest gadgets, clothes, toys and demands early on and continue this trend into middle school, high school, and college. They learn to expect to get their demands at the drop of a hat. They feel entitled to certain things. They feel connected or attached to their gadgets and clothes. They feel that the latest brands are what make them better than others. They feel that can do whatever they want with no consequences.

 

This sets up our sons for failure in life. You can’t expect by giving your sons every luxury in this life at their fingertips while neglecting their Islamic education that they’ll be good human beings and successful in their lives. If you’ve given all the luxuries in the world to your son and not a firm understanding, appreciation and love of Islam then you’ve given your son nothing. We stress the dunya (this world) to such an extent to our sons that their entire lives are consumed by gadgets, clothes, TV shows, movies, etc. Lastly, as parents we can’t demand our kids to be more “religious” if we aren’t even practicing what we’re preaching. If you aren’t going to the masjid on a consistent basis, not reading Quran, not learning more about Islam how can you expect your son to take your request seriously?

 

We can no longer afford to continue this trend or it will hurt our community and our world. We cannot look and say in retrospect “where did I go wrong?” when our sons don’t listen to us, or they go down the wrong path or don’t listen to you when you tell them they should go to the masjid. We reap what we sew. “It’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men” as Franklin Douglass said. We cannot easily reverse years of lack of guidance and nurturing after-the-fact of realizing the wrong we did. Sadly, for most of the immature boys we have in our community it will take a tragic event or a life-shaking event to open their eyes to change their ways, wake up and mature. I pray it doesn’t come to that and may Allah protect us from tragic events (ameen), but it will take something to shake them to wake them up to change their ways and become mature adults and men.

 

 

We need to begin raising men and not simply raising boys. We need well-balanced men who live their lives with purpose, with a vision, with a mission, and understand how to live their lives with balance. We need men who live with a strong understanding of their Islamic identity, morals, ethics and values. We need men who can become strong husbands for their families. We need men who can protect our women from the ugliness of the world. We need men who can become strong leaders for our communities.

 

We need men, not boys. No more “boys will be boys,” let them be MEN.

Facebook Marriages

FB Marriage

In the Muslim community we have a marriage and divorce crises….one element that usually isn’t spoken about in detail is how we live our married lives on Facebook and other social media and  what a detrimental effect it can have on married life. With that said….let’s get started….

Marriage: A Sacred Trust

Marriage. Yes, we’ve all heard the many scholarly lectures, Quranic verses, hadith, and stories from the seerah regarding marriage.  We know it’s a sunnah and encouraged by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and many of us seek to get married or are already married. However, while many of us may intellectually know what marriage is and have an image of what marriage is, but truly don’t understand the essence and institution of marriage. We may be married, but may be struggling to piece together the marriage to make it work or maybe it’s working (alhamdullilah for those couples and keep them strong) or you may be seeking to get married.

Regardless if you’re single or married, we need to realize that in our community we have a severe lack of knowledge and understanding about the institution of marriage and thus, we have a marriage and divorce crisis in our community. Many marriages may be crumbling or not functional at all. We have emotional and domestic violence issues that are swept under the rug, we have miscommunication between husband and wife, we have anger issues, and the list goes on and on. There are several internal and external forces that seek to rip apart the sacred trust and bond of marriage. We must make sure we are not the cause to the best of our ability and ensure that our actions and words in our marriages are in accordance to Quran and Sunnah. Now that may sound vague, we hear “Quran and Sunnah” far too many times, but what is meant by that is that we need to fulfill each others’ rights and lower our wings and quell our egos. This goes for every relationship even with Allah and also with His creation. Thus, our relationship with our spouse (or future spouse) is a constant test and also a blessing for us to ensure we’re fulfilling the rights of our spouse, fulfilling the commandments of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and also ensuring our own spiritual development and connection with Allah is strong.

After your relationship with Allah, marriage is the most intimate relationship you can have with another being. It is a sacred trust and relationship that helps individuals complete according to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) half of our deen. We are familiar with the oft quoted ayahs:

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.

 [Al-Rum: 21]

It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love).

 [AI-A`raf: 189]

Now, marriage is and can be a very beautiful and dynamic relationship in which both the husband and wife benefit from one another and grow spiritually and emotionally together. They learn about one another and learn about their Creator through their relationship. It can also be very challenging experience which both husband and wife can be tested severely with outside forces or internal forces in the form of weaknesses in both the husband and wife. What binds the husband and wife together is their sacred trust and commitment to one another and their duty to Allah.

As we mentioned before, there are several internal and external forces that seek to destroy marriages. We need to look at the institution of marriage like a fort. You and your spouse (or future spouse) are the guards and must ensure that no external forces breach your fort and cause chaos and destruction. At the same time, you need to ensure that you and your spouse (or future spouse) are working on your internal weaknesses and strive to become strong and build trust, caring, love, understanding, communication and mercy between one another. There are several doors of your fort that fitnah and challenges can enter through so it’s important to remain vigilant and also guard those doors jealously when it comes to your marriage. Our definition of jealousy can often be negative, but there is healthy jealousy in marriages when it comes to protecting the honor and dignity of your spouse and your marriage. Mutually agreed rules, regulations and modes of conduct must be agreed upon by you and your spouse to avoid misunderstanding, miscommunication, and fitnah in the marriage.

Privacy, Facebook and Marriage

 FB Marriage 2

With that said, we come to the main point of this: privacy in marriage. Just as we used the analogy of the fort and several doors being entry points, privacy is one of those doors. There are several ways to destroy a marriage and removing the hijab of privacy from your marriage can destroy trust between spouses. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) elaborated on maintaining the privacy of a marriage:

“On the authority of Asmaa’ bint Yazid who narrated “that she was once in the presence of the Prophet and there were both men and women sitting. The Prophet then said:  “Perhaps a man might discuss what he does with his wife, or perhaps a woman might inform someone what she did with her husband?” The people were silent. Then I said: “O, Yes! O Messenger of Allah verily both the women and men do that.” Then the Prophet said: “Do not do that. It is like a male Satan who meets a female Satan along the way, and has sex with her while the people look on! “

[Reported by Ahmad]

Yes, marriage can be a very joyous occasion and merits celebration. However, when it comes to a point where your married life is starting to be lived on Facebook or other social media it becomes problematic. Several young couples (or even “veteran” couples) post various pictures, statuses, etc. about intimate events, moments or quotes of them or their spouse. When you share intimate moments freely and openly online or with anyone for that matter, it cheapens the value of it. As we mentioned before, marriage is a sacred trust and one of the most intimate relationships you have with another being. Thus, the love, mercy, compassion and feelings you have for one another should be considered a sacred trust. Facebook and other forms of social media you may be connected to on it who neither care about your marriage or may harbor ill-will, may backbite about you and your spouse, use that information against you in a vile way, or may be jealous and overall may hate you without you knowing it.

Imagine if we were to live our lives in real life as we communicated on Facebook. Would we literally go up to everyone we see on the street and tell them about what we had for breakfast with our spouse, what vacation you went on with your spouse, how cute/handsome/beautiful your spouse looked, etc.? The obvious answer to that is no. We would not. We value our relationship with our spouse too much to go tell strangers. When you do expose too much information about yourself and your spouse that is intimate it’s basically like opening every door to your house and letting complete strangers into your house and telling them everything that goes on in your house.

Now, this isn’t to say we shouldn’t share our happiness or joy with others, but do so with discretion.

It’s funny, when we complain about the government spying on us or invading our privacy, yet when we put private lives out on the internet for all to see it isn’t a problem. Whenever we post something on the internet or any social media platform we need to make sure we are not exposing too much of ourselves to people who don’t care or don’t matter to us. Share your intimate moments with people who genuinely care for you and appreciate your comments, thoughts and ideas—not with a random social media network of thousands of people. You want to protect your fort from invaders who may spread rumors or seek to undermine your marriage in other ways.

Now, we mentioned the good stuff people share, but what about the bad stuff? When/if we have marital problems we shouldn’t share them with strangers period. Now this isn’t to say we shouldn’t seek the advice of counselors or trained therapists, but don’t go expose your problems with your spouse or their weaknesses to the world. As the Quran says, you are a garment for them and they are a garment for you, thus, you need to cover their problems and shortcomings just as you would expect them to. If you are going through marital problems and you do post them on Facebook or any other social media you may be causing more problems than solving them. When you use Facebook as your counseling tool you’ll realize it’s really not that effective and 99.99% of the time won’t solve your marital problem.

 

The righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them guard.

[Al-Nisa: 34]

The above verse addresses women, but also pretty much should be the same mode of thinking for men as well. Protect your spouse’s honor, dignity and character. There will be several shaytaans in the form of “friends” who may drop a rumor or make a comment to character assassinate your spouse. You must know and trust your spouse enough to defend their character, honor and dignity in public. Also, exposing your marital problems essentially opens the door to your house to complete strangers and allows them to literally know what’s happening in every inch of your house. That is the ultimate breach of privacy and allows for more invaders to come and destroy your fortress of marriage.

There have been several instances of how Facebook has broken marriages and caused divorces, so why expose yourself and your spouse to so much scrutiny and unneeded attention. If you value something or someone you should protect them and not put them unnecessarily in harm’s way and allow them to potentially become targets of jealousy and evil-eye.

Think Twice

FB Marriage 3

Facebook and other social media can be amazing tools for good and education, however, as with any technology they can have terrible consqeuences. As much as social media has made us more connected it has the ability to make us more narcissistic, self-absorbed and attention-seeking. It also has the ability to make us waste a lot of time which many of us agree 🙂

  With that said, we must be careful about what we post on Facebook and social media in general, but also when it comes to information about our spouse or married life and make sure that what post or say be misconstrued, misinterpreted or used against us. We need to ask ourselves: is this information I am posting up too intimate? Is it private? Can the information or post or comment I put up be misconstrued or misinterpreted? Who is this being shared with? Am I sharing this information with people who genuinely care?

What we post and what we post about can also become the object of gossip and backbiting. Why put someone you love in that position to be exposed to such filth?

“Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record].” (Qur’an 50:18)

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet; said, “A slave (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a slave (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that he will be thrown into the Hell-Fire.”  ( Bukhari, Book #76, Hadith #485)

All in all, we need to think twice about what we post, what we post about and be more protective of our character, honor, dignity and the honor, dignity and character of our loved ones and our spouse (or future spouse).

We need to stop being so concerned with our virtual connections and stop having Facebook Marriage lives and begin having more intimate in-person relationships with our spouse and Allah.

The Illusion of Freedom

Thinking

We all believe slavery is a bad thing at any level. The enslavement of a man or woman to another man or woman is the most degrading thing ever. However, while we may think slavery of this kind has been eradicated, it really is still very much apparent in today’s society. It exists not  only in a physical sense, but a more social and psychological sense. We very much have chains on our wrists, chains on our minds, and are told to live cookie cutter lives according to how corporations, brand names, music, and movies and societal and cultural trends want us to live life. This isn’t to say culture is evil or society is completely evil, but there are very dangerous cultural and social trends that go against common sense and human nature.

We need to begin asking ourselves before we beat our chests as Americans that we’re the only country with freedom, liberty and justice for all and the ability to pursue happiness—are we TRULY free? Are you living a live as a slave to your desires/lusts, brand names, political parties, media, movies, magazines and socio-cultural trends?

1)      Are We Really Free?

We all remember the illogical statement when it comes to the Muslim world and the West where neo-cons would say “they hate us for our freedoms!”  But the question is are we truly free? Let’s forget the law enforcement and government’s erosion of civil liberties, civil rights and human rights in the US, but let’s talk about the virtual enslavement of the American population to brand names, cars, clothes, electronics, celebrity-worship/obsession, political party affiliations, etc.

Let’s give a small example of people when they say “Oh my Gosh, I can’t live without my Starbucks Coffee in the morning” or they say “Oh my Gosh, I would die without _______” These statements while exaggerated tell a lot about our psyche. Have we truly become so dependant on THINGS that we NEED them to survive? Are they really essential to our lives?

The things we own end up owning us.

We’ve become virtual slaves to almost everything and lost our ability to think for ourselves and  reflect on our spirituality, our emotional and physical health and our overall meaning in life. We become consumed in materialism and consumerism and make idols out of virtually everything. “I would die without my Iphone” or “I would die without…..” Seriously, people are dying without a lot of things in Africa and the third world and they certainly are not because of their lack of Iphones. Our so-called first-world problems really aren’t problems at all.

If this is what we call freedom then we are sadly misguided. So when we say we are free, are we truly free? Are we forcing our definition of “freedom” on others?  What is true freedom? Why is your  freedom better or more valid than someone else’s freedom? If they decide to live their lives a certain lifestyle different than yours does it make it any less better than your freedom?

2)      What is Freedom?

 

Everyone’s definition of freedom is different. A woman who decides to wear hijab or cover themselves modestly decides to do so because that’s their definition of freedom. On the other side of the spectrum we have those who decide to completely walk around completely naked or decide to pursue a lifestyle of promiscuity. Other guys decide to live lives of promiscuity too and party and decide to sleep with every girl that comes across their path. These are all varying definitions of “freedom” of people.

So what is freedom if we force our definition of freedom on others? To be truly free is to be free from others’ definitions of freedom, freedom from desire, lust, evil thoughts/actions, political oppression, economic oppression. True freedom is when you break free from all of these things and become your own person and stop submitting yourself to brand names, social trends, political trends and submit yourself to Allah and His laws. This is not to say to do so blindly, but with deep reflection, introspection and thought. Many times people say “believe with blind faith.” In Islam, there is no blind faith, there is faith with introspection, thought, and reflection. You don’t simply just blindly believe in Islam. You experience it.

Allah is the only One worthy of praise and worship and transcends all other gods we put in our lives: our desires, lusts, job statuses, nationalities, races, etc. Islam solves the solution to all of these things and asks you to break away from nationalism, desires, consumerism, materialism, injustice, and oppression. If you don’t believe me, you don’t need to look farther than the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)’s last sermon:

http://www.iqrasense.com/about-islam/the-last-sermon-khutbah-of-prophet-muhammad-farewell-sermon.html

 

3)      Our Cattle Mentality

We as a people have lost our ability to think. We’ve lost our ability to be our own individuals. We are told what to wear, what to eat, what new electronics to buy, etc. We become so consumed by social trends and fashion trends that we completely lose our sense of thinking. Do we really NEED to buy that food, do we REALLY need to buy that Iphone, do we REALLY need to watch that movie on the opening night?

Is this really freedom or are you a slave to these things?  

We follow blindly without thinking. This is dangerous and can lead to disillusionment and virtual our emotional, spiritual and physical health diminishing greatly.

4)      Our Tribal Mentality

We often times call ourselves “modern” or “civilized” but in essence we very much so define ourselves by certain things. We define ourselves by race, religion, gender, age, ethnicity, city, state, neighborhood, schools, etc. When we live our lives we decide to amplify one of those many identities and it becomes our primary identity. It may be our religion, ethnicity, nationality or age or any other number of things and whenever someone doesn’t live the same lifestyle as you, you feel they’re odd, or a threat or a social outlier. What is wrong if someone simply is being. Can we not simply coexist and not let force others to be like us? We don’t need to actively go convert people to our lifestyle or religion. If you want to invite people to the beauty of your way of life, then do so with your character and manners.

Also, if someone doesn’t dress like you, drink and get drunk like you, party like you, smoke, and they don’t live your lifestyle then let them be. Simple let people be. Your definition of “freedom” is no better than any other person. If they decide to dress a certain way or NOT drink or party then it’s OKAY. There’s no need to attack, ridicule or mock someone.

It’s funny how we talk so much about peer pressure being a problem from Kindergarten to high school, but sadly, we still have this problem as young adults and adults.

5)      Cookie  Cutter Lifestyle

It’s sad that there is so much societal and cultural pressure to fit a certain lifestyle and if you don’t fit the mould you’re seen as a social outcast or an outlier. In today’s times the truth has become the lie and the lie has become the truth. So if someone speaks out against the dangers of interest in our banking system they’re seen as a threat, if someone speaks out against the dangers of drinking or smoking they’re seen as a Debbie Downer, if they speak out against social ills, civil liberties and human rights abuses done in the name of America they’re seen as unpatriotic.

What kind of society do we live in that we’ve got our morals, ethics and values so twisted?

We talk about peer pressure and tell our children to be themselves, but when we become adults we’re faced with the same peer pressure at an even greater level. For example, if you don’t drink or party you’re seen as a social outcast/outlier. If you don’t go to happy hour at your company you’re seen as weird and unable to socialize.

Who made these rules and who made these laws of society? Who made happy hours the epitome of social status or partying and drinking the norm of socializing? Who made these rules of how individuals NEED to live and HOW they need to live their lives?

 Is it really freedom if you’re forcing others to live the way you live?

Think people. THINK.

6)      We MUST Wake Up

We are all asleep and before it’s too late we’ll be lying on our deathbeds asking ourselves “What did I do with my life? Where did all of that time go? Did I live my life meaningfully? Was I slave to my desires and did I pursue noble goals or was I living solely for myself? Did I truly live a life of FREEDOM or a life of a slave to corporations, brand names,  my job, wealth, friends, etc.?”

Break free.  Break your chains and live a life of true freedom. Be a freedomfighter and break your chains from the illogical societal presures, your lusts/desires, the gods of materialism and consumerism, socio-cultural trends, brand names, and live a life of TRUE FREEDOM.

1. The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you,

2. Until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die).

3. Nay! You shall come to know!

4. Again, Nay! You shall come to know!

5. Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge (the end result of piling up, you would not have occupied yourselves in worldly things)

6. Verily, You shall see the blazing Fire (Hell)!

7. And again, you shall see it with certainty of sight!

8. Then, on that Day, you shall be asked about the delight (you indulged in, in this world)!

-Surah At-Takathur (The Piling Up).

(Quran, Chapter 103: Verses 1-8)

10 Steps on How to Make Quality Friends

Friends 1

You may be thinking, why  do I need to learn to make friends? I learned how to do that in kindergarten and when I was little. Simple. However, for those of us who are older, we don’t often think of making friends or reflect on the quality of our friendships and relationships we have with others.

Reality begins to hit when one of our friends betrays our trust or we find is not truly a friend, but someone seeking to get some sort of benefit from you and never return favors. They may smile to your face, but seek to badmouth you, backbite about you or seek to lower your character in the eyes of others. These are not friends at all and it’s essential that you think about the type of friends you keep around you. In addition to this you want to ensure your friends are friends who truly care about your well –being and success and support you with love and caring.

The Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him)’s friend was Abu Bakr who loved, respected, and cared for the Prophet more than himself. These are the types of friends we need around us to support us when we’re weak, correct us when we’re wrong and help us with no intention to seek reward or repayment.

You want friends who also are a good influence on you and push to be a better person at all levels: emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, socially and even health wise.  You want people who have a positive influence on you.

“A person is likely to follow the faith (or way of life) of his friend, so look whom you befriend.”

-The Prophet Muhammad

(Abu Dawud)

 “The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows.. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.”   

-The Prophet Muhammad

(Bukhari)

 

With that said, here are a few ways to reflect on and improve the quality of your friendships:

1)   Stop Trying to Be Everyone’s Friend

This a fairly blunt statement, but at the very core it’s true. You shouldn’t treat your pursuit of friends like you’re a freshman in high school. You don’t have to work hard to get everyone to like you and not everyone is going to end up being your friend. This isn’t to say you need to be a jerk to everyone and cut them off, but be more aware of the way you pursue friendships and relationships. Do you REALLY need to be everyone’s friend? Do you REALLY need more friends? What good is it that you have 1,000+ “friends” on Facebook or even personally when the quality of those “friends” is poor. Are the people in your life truly your genuine friends or just mere acquaintances or even freeloaders?

2)   Categorize and Take Inventory of Your “Friends”

This goes along with the last part of what was said before. You need to begin taking inventory of your “friends.” A way to do this is to categorize  your relationships into the following categories: close friends, acquaintances, and what I call Hi-Bye people.  Based on these categories you will know how to interact with them.

The first category should include friends who essentially are your intimate friends who you can essentially tell personal matters to and you can guarantee that they will not tell others. These close friends should essentially be an extension of your family. There should be a mutual feeling of love and caring between you and your close friend. These individuals are the ones you want to keep close to you and confide in. This group of friends should be extremely selective and you should be strict about whom you let enter this circle of friends. With these friends you can confide in, tell your personal issues to and seek advice from.

The second category includes individuals who you have a friendship with but nothing more than a business or work relationship. This category may include individuals you work with, go to school with, neighbors, etc.  With this category you keep good relations with them because they either are professional or academic or just personal connections/relationships that bring some level of value to your life.  You don’t let them into your personal life, but keep your relationship with them very professional and cordial.

The third category is individuals who are either freeloaders or individuals who do not see eye-to-eye to you on things, are on a totally different wavelength than you, or to simply put it out to seek your demise or failure. Maybe that last part was a bit dramatic, but there are individuals who have some sort of jealousy towards you that you simply must put distance between you and them for your peace and sanity. These individuals you treat nicely, but make sure to keep your distance from them and tolerate them by merely taking time to say “Hi-Bye” to them, i.e. “hello how are you doing? Oh that’s great, see you later.” These people you should not let into your close friends group and do not confide in them regarding personal matters.

Friends

3)   Don’t Waste Time and Energy on the Wrong People

Once you take inventory and categorize your “friends” it’s important to ensure who you invest your emotions, time and energy into. Don’t get dragged down by the Hi-Bye people or the haters. Invest your time and energy into relationships that matter and that bring you spiritual, emotional and intellectual fulfillment.

4)   Analyze Where You Get Criticism or Advice From

Often times you may get criticism from individuals (mostly from the Hi-Bye category) about the way you’re conducting your life, your actions, etc. While criticisms may be valid 9 out of 10 time they’re not valid. When it is 9 out of the 10 times that it’s not valid, the criticism most probably is coming from someone who really doesn’t care about you nor do they care about your well-being or success.

Also, look at the manner in which the criticism or advice is given by someone offering you either advice or criticism. This isn’t to say be completely defensive about your actions and say: “I am right, everyone else is wrong,” but just think about who is saying it, why they’re saying it, the way they’re relaying it, and what the purpose is. And even if it is invalid it’s a way to understand who that person really is and what their principles/morals/ethics are. It’s also a way to learn about yourself, if there is invalidity in advice or criticism it’s a way to self-reflect and delve deep down inside to see if you truly need self-improvement or not. Your enemy exposes you your weaknesses and your friend helps you do the same.  So look at both as opportunities to learn.

Take criticisms from close friends seriously as well, but be wary of advice and criticism of people who don’t care for your well-being or success.

Ibn Hazm said: “Anyone who criticizes you cares about your friendship. Anyone who makes light of your faults cares nothing about you.”

(Abu Dawood, Hasan Hadith)

5)   Don’t Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

In life it’s easy to speak to everyone and think the best of individuals, which is great and a noble trait/characteristic. We should never discount a person and say they’re completely losers or lost or terrible people, but at the same time it’s important to watch what you say and to who. Not everyone cares about you, about your problems, your thoughts or ideas. In fact, when you do speak about yourself , your feelings, your ideas, or emotions to others they either may feel annoyed or jealous or just really not care at all. Thus, it’s important to realize who you’re talking to and be careful of what you say, how you say it and to who you say it to. Divulge only personal information to close friends and family, not every individual you talk to.

6)   Don’t Give Into Peer Pressure

A lot of times your “friends” may pressure you to do something you don’t like or are not comfortable in doing. It’s okay to say no and probably much better for you in the long run because you don’t want to ever feel that you have no control of your life or your actions. You never want your “friends” to look at you as a push-over. Be yourself, be comfortable in your own skin, your lifestyle, your beliefs, morals, ethics and values.  However, if any of these are lacking or deficient of course change them to be better!

To illustrate this point, imagine for a moment that a group of “friends” decides to go to a bar or a club and you decide not to go due to your lifestyle choice, religious beliefs or health reasons. They ask you why, they ask you why you’re being such a party pooper, why you’re so strict, etc. They may even bully you, tease you or call you names.  However, at the end of the day if you do hold your ground and stick to your principles you’ll be more respected by your friends at the end of the day than if you were to merely bend to the pressure.

Friends who pressure you to do things you don’t want to do that adversely affect you are really not friends at all, so those individuals would need go to into the Hi-Bye category. All in all, you need to learn to say no and stick to your principles. Don’t worry about what others will think or that you’ll lose friends.

7)   Balance Your Time with Your Close Friends

It’s important to invest adequate time with your close friends.  So this means ensuring you keep in contact and check up now and then to see how they’re doing to keep that relationship alive and well. Also, at the same time, it’s important to not spend too much time with them. You need time to yourself to reflect, think and improve yourself and do your own thing. Spending too much time with close friends can make the friendship lose its value and be seen as something cheap. As the saying goes, distance makes the hearts grow fonder. So balance your personal time and your time with friends.

8 ) Beware of the Close Friends or “Friends” who Use You

Often times when you’re friends with someone you will willingly do anything to help them. However, at the same time this can end up hurting you in the end. Sometimes close friends may abuse your friendship unknowingly by unfairly burdening you by asking you favors or asking for your help repeatedly. In this case you can talk to them and make them aware of the situation and explain to them how you cannot dedicate all your time to helping them solely and that it is unfair to you.

Now, for the individuals who are “friends” who call you, text you or message you out of the blue to ask you for favors or your help you should be wary about.  This isn’t to say to completely be wary of close friends you haven’t spoke to in ages, because some friendships don’t require constant contact, but be wary of individuals whose sole purpose for contacting you is to ask for a favor from you or ask for your help in some manner. These individuals can be pathological abusive individuals (not in the physical sense) who constantly abuse their connection to you and use you for their own personal gain or see the connection with you as a one-way street.

9)   Know When to Distance Yourself from People

If your close friend, acquaintance or Hi-Bye person betrays you or does something that adversely affects you it becomes pertinent (based on the offense, for example betrayal or lying) to distance yourself from that individual completely. People who are too drama-filled, egotistical, psychotic or just plain evil you need to avoid like the plague. So don’t feel bad about distancing yourself from individuals who betray your trust or hurt you significantly.

10)  Never Put Your Friends before Family

Remember that your family is more important than friends and you should never place priority over your family. Your family is your foundation and you should work well to establishing bonds of love, caring, and mercy within your family. It makes no sense for you to make friends and show them love, mercy, affection and caring when you don’t do the same to your own family. No matter how bad things are at home it’s important to do your best to respect, honor, and treat your family kindly and with compassion.