In 2011, I recently lost a close friend of mines who lived below me, but its okay because she lives about four hours away due to transferring to another university. Sometimes we never know how good we have it until it’s gone. We may get into disagreements with our friends and think it’s the end of the world at the moment, but it’s not. Friendships weren't made to be all hunky-dory. So, before she left we lived one floor away from one another in the dorms. When time allowed, we would visit each other or go out to eat. Gratefully, I think about the simple fact I was able to have a good sister to visit on a regular basis, especially when that isn't something I have now. I see sisters I know every now and then, but it isn't anything regular. The gifts and opportunities that Allah places before us should be taken as a kind gesture of mercy because He allowed you to experience something that can add to your fulfillment as an individual with needs and wants. Our friendship was a stepping-off point for realizing that having another practicing Muslim around you is not anything to take for granted because once that Muslim is gone from your absence it’s like a part of your heart has left with them. The sisterly love we had for one another was unlike any other kind of love. We weren't friends for any kind of gain, but simply because we were Muslims and understood the importance of our religion.
Memories can never replace the time actually spent with a person. Looking over old photos can be great, but at the same token it’s hard and heart-breaking. Before she transferred to another university we were very close and persistent in doing things together, even if it was simply praying our daily prayers together. We would always switch and alternate between being the imam, or the leader for the prayers. Sometimes one would give the other a hard time, but generally we would work it out. We would spend long hours sometimes talking about Islam or how we would reform this certain Islamic organization in our area. This was how we spent most of our visits. Interestingly, our visits were mostly driven by Islam. Sure, we had our issues, but we worked through them just like all friends would in a friendship. In many ways we complemented one another. We both had two completely different backgrounds and personalities, but this was the treasure of our friendship.
Many people think friends should be identical in all ways, but there is no incentive in this. My dear friend came from a Muslim family, born in West Africa, grew up fighting against her family to simply practice her religion, and was a little older than me. She came from a different reality than me and she understood I came from a different reality than her, so we accepted this important fact because we knew we were coming from two different perspectives. Nevertheless, we were both struggling in our practice of the religion in different ways. In listening to others it become logical to accept the fact that there is more than one way in thinking about things in life. We become very arrogant sometimes and think that the way we think should be the end-all and be-all of all thoughts. Our friends can challenge our own perspectives and thoughts. Friends should never be taken for granted, even if they get on our nerves at times.
In my experience with this particular sister, I saw the beauty of seeking out friendships with those who are like me in some aspects, but different than me in others. I saw how our friendship had developed and deepened over the course of one to two years, especially as we grew in our knowledge and understanding of Islam. We never backed away from hardships and we talked openly about issues. Also, in our friendship, I found the importance of communication and how relationships depend on healthy and open communication, despite whatever should and need to be said. Honestly, our friendship was all about putting trust in Allah, striving together, and being a support-system for each other. In this humbling experience I understand now the beauty of having friendships with other Muslims. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a special jewel in Islam and it should be deemed as special and never taken for granted.
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