You May Need A New Best Friend


As-Salamu Alaykum!

You are not an island.

Look around you. You are a landlocked country, constantly sharing your borders with neighbouring countries. Sharing your thoughts, feelings and experiences with your closest friends. Together, you are one big continent - each country's decisions and actions continuously affecting the next. You are all more influential than you'd have yourself believe.

I'll throw you a bone. Unlike a real country, let's assume that your geographic location is not permanent. Your country can be uprooted, and you can decide who your neighbouring countries are. But why would you want to move? This location is all you know. Your neighbours have been around your whole life. You make a good point, but that might be the exact reason why you may need new neighbours.

Think about your closest friends. 

I met most of mine while we were in high school; some at uni; and a few, I've known since childhood. A few months ago, I started thinking. Thinking led to re-assessing. And ultimately, I started to spring-clean my closet of friends. Don't get me wrong; I didn't wake up one morning and realize I had a toxic group of people surrounding me. Quite the contrary, actually, because I have always been extremely selective with the people I let in.

But what happens when, as they do, people begin to change? Everyone picks a path in life, so what happens when you reach a crossroad? You know exactly which path you would like to take, and there is no convincing your friend to choose your path. After all, you are both adults. Do you agree to meet at a later point, when your paths cross again? Or do you become the faithful dog - dignified in your loyalty, but foolish in your judgement?
The brutal truth is, change is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a certain degree of courage to start a new school, a bigger degree of bravery to move to a new town, and downright heroism to let go of an established friendship. People assume that just because you have been friends your whole life, the friendship must continue at all costs. Even when you are running towards becoming a better you, while they morph into proverbial shackles and become enemies of progress. Selflessness in friendship is beautiful, but only when it is mutually beneficial.

There is no obligation in friendship.

Not when one party stands to lose while the other wins. It is heartbreaking that so many people are blind to that fact. So you have known your neighbouring countries for almost as long as you have existed. Things were great at first, but now, they are at war. Fundamentally, you are a great country. You are selfless; considerate; noble. You are doing well for yourself, so you offer to help. You offer your troops. You welcome fleeing refugees. Kudos to you! But then, the battle begins to spill into your fully functioning country. Your resources are being drained. You are giving far more than you are getting in return. The cracks are beginning to show.

What now? Do you allow yourself to be consumed by it all, drowning in their deterioration while they happily suck you dry? Friendship is measured in quality, so we should not settle for less, just because of the quantity of years we have known someone for. Stop making excuses. Countries trade, and that's how they survive. What happens when you have nothing left to give? I'll tell you what happens. You become your friend. You become that country at war.

A good friend gives you value for your friendship. How do you measure that value? You look at the way they inspire you to become better. A 'friend' who does not help you move towards the right direction is a shape-shifter; a foe in friendly disguise. A friend is there through the motions. They are there to push you harder. It's not all about fun and games - it's about growth and maturity through the fun and games.

And it is so important to take these things seriously; to choose your neighbouring countries wisely. There are no better words to describe the significance of your geographic location than the words of Adiy ibn Zayd (as quoted by Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Hashimi in his must-read book, The Ideal Muslimah);

If you mix with people, make friends with the best of them. Do not make friends with the worst of them, lest you become like them.

Do not misunderstand the point here. I am not asking you to wipe out all your existing established friendships. I am asking you to pay attention to the people you surround yourself with, and not be afraid to let go of the poison. You deserve better. Learn to believe that.
Have you spring-cleaned your friendship closet lately? 
What did you find?