Many people ask: “Why can’t guys and girls just be friends?”
There are so many answers to that question, but I’ll touch upon one:
Friendship arises out of an initial mutual liking between two people. It starts with a smile, a conversation in class or over lunch and grows with each word spoken. When this friend makes you happy, you want to spend more time with them and be with them during their happy times, their sad times, their fun times and their down times. You want to buy them presents (which by the way “brings love” between people according to a hadith) and do things that make them happy.
For two people to be friends, they have to be really close. That’s just who a friend is: it’s someone you didn’t know before but who you took a liking enough to become close to, until they became closer to you than some of your own family members.
Imagine what kinds of problems would arise if guys and girls were allowed to be friends.
We, as human beings, are naturally nice people. We don’t avoid people as a standard; we mix with them and are nice to them, so when Islam tells us to“be firm in speech” with the opposite gender or to keep talk limited, we feel like we’re being rude.
But the Muslim brother knows and the Muslim sister knows what kind of talk is permissible and what is not. So throw the “rudeness” excuse out the window.
Remember: The nicer you are to a person from the opposite gender, the more fitnah you are creating for them.
- Do not smile at a person from the opposite gender, esp. Muslim. (If you must, then you can do it very reservedly, with pursed lips).
- Do not giggle at their jokes or “hang out” in the hallway with them, even if there are others in the “group.”
- Do not bump into them (yes, people do this stuff).
- Do not continuously go to them for advice when there are others available (the rest of the world is not dead).
- Do not be alone with them-ever.
- Do not beautify your voice when the need arises to talk to them.
- Lowering your gaze doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be fascinated by the floor (that will make you look retarded tbh); you can just look at the wall or some other object next to or behind them.
- Do not message them for no reason (if you must, keep talk limited, to the point and appropriate).
- Must you use smileys? The world will not end if you don’t. I have heard in more than one lecture: Smileys, hearts and winks make people “fall in love” online.
- Don’t stalk: how would you feel if someone stalked you? Or your sister/brother?
This is totally a reminder to myself before others.
May Allah make us all sincere people who not only call each other “brother” and “sister” but keep our interactions respectful as well.
*psst* funny side note: In India, the Hindus have a festival called “Raksha Bandhan” which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters in which a girl ties a bracelet called a “rakhi” on her brother’s wrist. So in Hindi movies (and maybe even in real life), every time a girl wants to get rid of a stalker or something, she calls him “bhaiyya” or ties a “rakhi” on him. It’s hilarious actually. I never figured out if that stops anyone from pursuing the girl.
Sometimes the best books, websites, blogs, media sources, institutions, etc. have all been introduced to me by my friends. Alhamdulillah for good friends and good company (and yes, this includes social media!)
Narrated Abu Hurayrah (R): The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
“A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend.”
-Sunan Abi Dawud
I attended an Islamic school my whole life, and many kids spend several years in the school with each other before leaving, so we all knew each others’ class standing, i.e. who was the best in math, who memorized the most Qur’an, who knew the best Tajweed, who had the worst handwriting, etc. On occasion, new students would come. If they came from a nonpracticing family, they would be bullied or made fun of. Even the teachers would sometimes ridicule them for not knowing “the basics of Islam.” I had always grown up in an ultra-conservative, religious environment with my dad leaving no stone unturned to teach me surahs and du’as and practices from the Sunnah, so when I came across kids in the 3rd or 4th grade who didn’t know how to pray or kids in 8th grade who could barely read Qur’an, I would wonder: “How? How can he not know how to pray? How can she be so bad at reading Qur’an?” because I had simply never experienced the tragedy of the answer that the students always gave whenever they were asked how they “didn’t know anything” (about Islam). They always said: “No one taught me.” I would be shocked, as well would the other kids. We would ask about why their parents didn’t teach them, if they were born Muslim or if they even cared about learning how to pray. I remember seeing shame in these kids’ eyes, sometimes coupled with fear, at other times with anger. Some of these kids left the school because they felt pressurized while others left because the teachers couldn’t handle the “bad influence” they were having on the other kids. Some of them stayed with us and learned and improved and became our friends, Alhamdulillah.
Whatever their fate, they left me with a question: Why could I never say “no one taught me”? The answer was simple: because they did. Everyone around me was constantly teaching me something. My dad, my grandma and my teachers, were always teaching me something and giving me life lessons. They never left me alone to figure things out, but instead guided me carefully along the path of learning and motivated me every time I wanted to give up.
Finally, when I was in high school, I wanted to improve my level of Islamic practice, and that’s when I realized that there was so much I needed to know. It was the time when I understood that just because I had been passing all the religious education milestones in an Islamic school and getting good grades and recognition for it didn’t mean that I knew everything. I was so used to things just coming to me that when I actually had to use my mind to understand something, it opened up my eyes to how easy I had it all along.
I remember on several occasions admitting to classmates that I didn’t know how to pray Salatul Janazah or the ‘Eid prayer (with all its Takbeeraat). I remember the shock on their faces as I choked out the words: “No one taught me.”
“But you’ve been in an Islamic school forever, how do you not know how to pray these simple prayers?”
Again, my reply would be the same as I could feel my heart crushing under the weight of my ignorance.
It was only then did I understand the pain of those kids who I had met long ago who were treated like outcasts just because they didn’t know something. No doubt, their lack of knowledge concerning our religion was detrimental, but I still think that it was our intolerance and lack of understanding that pushed them away from Islam more.
It’s true that you never understand another’s pain until you are in their shoes. You never know their hurt and their feelings until you feel it yourself.
If there is anything I want someone to take away from this, it’s the fact that Allah has gifted some people more than others, and He has gifted people differently. If you are better than others in some things, it doesn’t mean you’re better than them. If there are those who are lacking in outward goodness, maybe they have been given kind hearts. If you feel that you are better, that automatically makes you worse.
Allah’s gifts are meant to be cherished. to be grateful for and to share with others, not to stroke your own ego. It doesn’t take Allah long to take away what He Wills, as it doesn’t take Him long to give.
“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.”