It doesn’t matter if we are a high school student, university student, or working our way through the corporate world. Peer pressure is a never-ending presence that must be dealt with. Maybe it’s the feeling that you might fit in with your co-workers even better if just once in a while you joined them after work at the their favourite cafe. After all, there’s no harm in a little socialising after work, right?
We all want to fit in. In our human desire to feel comfortable in our surroundings with others, we must always consider the cost, for there is a consequence for every action we choose. Most of us are usually aware of who, what, when and where pressure to do wrong can surface.
It is important that we surround ourselves with righteous friendships, the kind that provides goodness, security and remembrance of Allah. The Qur’an encourages us to cultivate such relationships: “And keep your soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His face, and let not your eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this life; nor obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follow his own desires, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.” (Surah al-Kahf, verse 28).
When faith declines in the presence of beneficial friendships, you find that you are surrounded by those who stand strong in front of you, beside you, and behind you providing much needed support. When it seems you might slip and fall, they are there with ropes of faith that tie around you and pull you up and onward.
We are most likely to be similar to those we spend the majority of our time with. As the Prophet (pbuh) once said, “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, look (carefully) whom you choose to befriend.” (Ahmad)
It is important that you have complete confidence in your values and beliefs. This makes setting limits and boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable much easier. You must be completely aware of your boundaries at all times. Above all you must know what pleases and offends Allah. Friendship based on superficial principles can lead to an artificial world of false hopes and illusion. There are two ways to handle a “toxic” friendship; either try gently to influence your friend through positive Islamic inspiration, or simply end the relationship. We are all familiar with the popular saying that every relationship that we encounter has “a season and a reason” meaning some friendships will stand the test of time and last a lifetime, while others will be brief encounters. Every relationship has a valuable lesson for us to learn. When considering your friendships remember the wise saying: “Being alone is better than having an evil companion; and having a sincere companion is better than being alone.”