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Should I Maintain the Ties of a Difficult Friendship?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalamualikum,

I need some advice. There is this sister that I used to be close with, however, for some time I distanced myself as I was unable to deal with her problems and mine at the same time. Now, I am trying to mend ties but she seems to be holding a grudge against me, saying hurtful things, regularly. Yet she claims she wants to maintain ties. Also, when we were close, she liked my brother but he has since moved on in his life.

Am I being too sensitive or am I respecting myself if I just walk away? This relationship is affecting me adversely and I am concerned about how best to keep my duties towards her without falling into the haram.

Answer: Assalamualayakum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are well. Thank you for your question.

May Allah grant you ease in this difficult matter.

Despite how your friend is treating you, it is still important for you to take the higher path and show good character. You are not responsible for what she does, but you are responsible for how you respond to her.

Is it possible for you to have an honest conversation with her about how she is hurting your feelings? It may be possible that she is unaware of how hurtful her comments are. Allah has made some of us more sensitive, and others far less sensitive. Perhaps after clarifying how you would like to be treated, she may adjust her behaviour and be easier for you to deal with.

If you feel that she is affecting you adversely, then you need to look after yourself by keeping her in your life at a respectful distance. It is unwise to cut off ties with her unless you feel there is no other way, because of the emphasis of keeping ties in Islam.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you. The womb is derived from the Merciful, so whoever keeps relations with his family then Allah will keep relations with him, and whoever abandons his family then Allah will abandon him.” [At-Tirmidhi]

Imam Al-Ghazzali has written a beautiful treatise titled “The Duties of Brotherhood in Islam”. Please consider reading it as a way for you to study the higher aspirations of true brotherhood and sisterhood in Islam. Amongst the eight duties of brotherhood described by Imam Al-Ghazzali, the one which may be relevant to you in this situation is the fifth duty – forgiveness. Please refer to some quotes from the chapter:

The poet said: “You cannot run with a brother and fail to catch him in some disarray. What man is immaculate?”

“Perhaps God will create affection between you and those you have had as enemies.” (Qur’an 60:7)

The Prophet (God bless him and give him peace) said, “Go steady in loving your friend, for he may one day become your foe. Go steady in hating your foe, for he may become your friend one day.”

Please do look after yourself in this time. Reach out to loving friends who warm your heart. Consider seeing a counsellor to help teach you assertiveness and boundary training. Make a lot of salawat every day and ask Allah to ease this trial for you.

Our Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent as Mercy to mankind, and we hope to emulate that mercy in our interactions with those around us, especially those who test us.

‘A’isha reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah is kind and loves kindness and gives for gentleness what he does not give for harshness nor for anything else.” [Muslim]

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.