Social connectedness is a strong predictor of health. A Stanford study found that it increased longevity by 50%, produces lower levels of anxiety and depression, as well as a host of other benefits. So it’s not surprising that we intuitively assess our level of social connectedness with worries about whether or not people like us, or what people think about us. It’s a normal reaction, just like we’d be thirsty, hungry, or sleepy if we were deprived of water, food, or sleep. We need each other to be well. People with BFFs have a protection that is real from all kinds of trouble, in more ways than one.
I really relate to this feeling of needing social connectedness, and right now in my life, I feel very connected. However, there was a time when this was not the case. In fact, there have been repeated times throughout my life when I felt very alone and isolated from other people. I never felt alone, though, in one important way: I always believed that I had a friend in Allah (SWT.)
I feel this is something I learned as a young child, as a result of my mother being a woman of faith. She taught us to rely on Allah (SWT) for strength and purpose, the solid ground amongst the sinking sand. In my parenting, I have emphasized this with my son. He sometimes used to say, “Nobody likes me and I don’t have any friends.” A lot of children feel this way. I always tell him, when he starts talking like this, that he has the most important, best “Best Friend” in the universe because he is a Muslim, and Allah (SWT) is the Friend of the Believers.
I’m so happy for those people that have an earthly best friend. It’s a beautiful thing, and I totally respect it. But this thought—that Allah (SWT) is the Friend of Believers—is comforting to me. I have so much respect for the earthly best friend thing, and mean no disrespect to it at all. It is a beautiful thing! This is just a different approach, and fully compatible.
The Quran states in multiple places, Allah (SWT) is the Friend of the Believers. However, I think sometimes, for whatever reason, people water this down and start wondering, in a bizarre act of warped humility, who Allah’s (SWT) friends are. The Quran doesn’t say the perfect believer, or the flawless believer, is Allah’s (SWT) friend, the Quran says: Allah (SWT) is the friend of the believers. All the believers.
There is, of course, the beautiful Hadith of Imam Nawawi #38:
“Allah Almighty said: Whoever shows hostility to a friend of mine, then I have declared war upon him. My servant does not grow closer to me with anything more beloved to me than the duties I have imposed upon him. My servant continues to grow closer to me with extra good works until I love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask something from me, I would surely give it to him. Were he to ask me for refuge, I would surely grant it to him.”
This Hadith talks about how to cultivate a relationship that is closer. I mean, obviously if you think about being friends with Allah (SWT,) we’re clearly not all on the same footing. Ibrahim (AS) was obviously way ahead, as well as our Prophet (PBUH.) But that doesn’t mean we’re not Allah’s (SWT) friends at all.
This thought has been a source of endless joy, peace, wonder, and a source of real social connectedness for me, for one reason. When I look around at the masjid, I am so aware that all these believers have the same best friend as me. And Allah (SWT) is so vast, there is no worry that there won’t be enough for everyone. Every single sister shares at least one best friend with me. Have you ever had that feeling that your mother, or a good friend, introduced you to someone as her friend, and you were like, “Wow, I’m so glad to meet you! Mashallah, I know her and she’s great, so you must be pretty wonderful too!” This is how I feel about other Muslim women.
I know this is a common feeling among believers, and I’m not trying to single myself out with this – but, I just want to share it again because it is such a source of profound comfort to me. Another Hadith states, “If you love someone for the sake of Allah (SWT,) it is better to tell them so that love and friendly feelings will last more.”
So mad love to the #MuslimGirlArmy! Mashallah, we have the same best friend!