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Close friendships can ward off anxiety and depression

We are social beings by nature and whilst we do not choose our family we do get to choose our friends. From holding hands in the school playground to a friendship that can span decades, our friends can be our staunchest allies. The Prophet ﷺ and his Sahaba set us a beautiful example of friendship. Indeed, the subject is so important that both the Quran and Hadith give us guidance. 

The Prophet, ﷺ, said: 

A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let each of you look at whom he befriends.” 

So we must choose wisely. 

Modern studies confirm that close friendships can indeed affect our happiness, health and Imaan. Let’s take each in turn:

Happiness

When we share our worries with our friends, they can offer advice, guidance and an alternative perspective. But just the act of talking and being listened to, without being judged, can help us to feel supported and understood. A trusted friend can often give us the comfort that perhaps a family member cannot. This can then prevent anxiety and depression. I’m deeply touched by the emotional support my friends continually give me. Furthermore, the act of giving and receiving compassion and emotional support also makes us better, more confident, more fulfilled people.  

Health  

Friends can keep us motivated if we want to create positive change in our lives. Indeed, they may even inspire and support us to be healthier. To ‘buddy up’ with someone and take part in a sport or go to the gym will inevitably encourage us to stick with it until it becomes part of our routine. I do a lot of ‘walking and talking’ with close friends, thus combining health and wellbeing. It has been said that strong friendships can even lengthen our life. Conversely, research shows that loneliness can be as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. People who are lonely are 50% more likely to die early compared to those with healthy social relationships.

Imaan

It stands to reason, that we will choose friends who reflect our personal values including faith. I find that, with friends we purposefully create a loving, caring relationship that is not bound by duty but is a meeting of the souls. 

The Majestic Quran says: 

“Believing men and women, are one another’s friends; they enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil; they perform the prayer, pay Zakat, they obey Allah and His Messenger, so Allah will take care of them. Allah is Almighty, Wise.” (The Majestic Quran 9:71)

With my Muslim friends, they are a mirror to me and I to them. We regularly share the beautiful Dhikr of Allah and because of their influence I am a better Muslimah. I’m often humbled at how much I learn from them.

Both my Muslim and my interfaith friends regularly take me to a higher spiritual level of awareness. I feel truly blessed for their presence in my life and dedicate this article to them. May Allah bless them with health, wealth and happiness, always.

I would urge you all to make every effort to nurture your close friendships.

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