Being influenced by Friends and Change

Facebook is such an interesting platform to highlight personal transition among many other things. I joined in 2006 and that is nearly six years ago! I am certainly not the same person I was six years ago. I am not even the same person I was two months ago. We experience, we learn, we grow and we change. That is life. One of my favorite quotes is a quote by Muhammad Ali in which he said, “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

Life is a learning process and we hope each day we are more knowledgable and wiser (for the better) than the day before.

Now going back to facebook and the ability of this social network to highlight personal transition. And no this is not about my personal transition and no I didn’t go back six years on my account to see the changes i have undergone. I know i have undergone a great personal transition and great change over the years. I know this because I know myself, although it is quite interesting we have the ability of going back several years and seeing what we used to post, think and so on.

But this is about friendships and the influence from our friends. I have seen extreme contrasts occur in a short amount time to individuals via facebook. I don’t need a lengthy conversation with the individuals to know the large difference that has happened in their lives. That large difference can be very well demonstrated in the changes of pictures, status updates, links posted, and new friends.

Recently I saw that contrast in one of my facebook friends. She converted to Islam about a year ago I believe and she used to have an Arab boyfriend, who ended up moving back to his home country and I think it was dating him that she was introduced to Islam. Although I have not seen her in person for quite sometime, i did have several discussions with her about her life, her conversion and so forth. From our discussions I gathered she converted because she was convinced of Islam’s message. She told me this herself. We became facebook friends at the start of her conversion.

She started to immediatly wear the hijab. She deleted all her old pictures in which she was not wearing the hijab and uploaded only pictures with the hijab. We have several friends in common so it’s not like i am stalking, these updates would always popup on my newsfeed. Her circle of friends started to change, to include many more Muslims (there were usually many “mashaAllah’s occpanying her pictures).

Also she would always post statuses and links that were Islamic in nature. Then something happened. A great transition, easily visible via facebook.

Gone was the hijab and all the pictures with the hijab, replaced with pictures without hijab and in short dresses. Gone was the Islamically related statuses and links. Enter a new boyfriend and now husband, whose background i don’t know and I will not assume. But I am willing to make great bets he has a lot to do with her personal transformation.

Gone too is the Islamic akhlaq (manners). Showing up on my newsfeed were pictures of her bachlerotte party with a set of new friends and the cake was made in the shape of the male organ. So the girls with their mouths wide open are taking pics with this cake that is made like a penis for everyone to see.

Personally I was amazed at the transition I have seen in her. It’s really interesting. Yes we all change and that is part of life. We will all change one way or another. I do understand that, but it made me think about the powerful influence from our companions. Perhaps some of you may think her personal transformation before this current one was also due to her then Muslim boyfriend and the new crowd of friends she was around. And that most likely was true, although she still does consider herself a Muslim.

Either way what comes to mind is that famous hadith by the Prophet scw: “Man is influenced by the faith of his friends. Therefore, be careful of whom you associate with.”

Faith I am interpreting here as way of life and not just the aspect of worshipping God. I have no doubt this girl was influenced by her new found friends, most significantly the new man in her life. And I have seen in it in so many other cases the powerful role boyfriends can play in influencing a girl’s values/principles/actions (same is the vice versa scenario and close friendships).

Sometimes we don’t even notice how we are influenced. There is no question we are influenced by our surroundings and friendships, even if in very subtle ways. At times and to certain folks this influence can happen drastically as the example above.

My closest friends are not of my faith. We may not have the same belief system, but we have the same values. For sure the religious things that I see as a big deal such as dressing a certain way, they may not see the same, however I am very secure in my religion that I won’t be influenced by the world around me at least not drastically that I give up hijab for example and neither do my friends find a problem with my ways or else we wouldn’t be friends.

But there is no denying that does happen if the person does not have a solid foundation to fall back on and when it does happen drastic change can occur for some of us, sometimes visible for all of us to see via facebook. It’s important to be aware of our friendships and who we associate with and evaluate how our actions/behavior/beliefs/principes are being influenced.

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