5 Ways to Nourish Sisterhood

International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women. It is a day where the torch is shone upon the challenges women face, how they overcome these, how they persevere and the strength held within. However, there are layers to unravel in relation to the importance of celebrating women when they aren’t shining, when they aren’t feeling strong, when their confidence dips, when they are in need of a shoulder to weep into.

The importance of sisterhood in these times, of women supporting women and how to overcome the fear of reaching out to ask for help. There shouldn’t be shame attached to pulling back the curtain, and pouring out your vulnerability and the need to be uplifted. The importance of sisterhood is emphasised in Islam, however, how many of us can truly say we adhere to nourishing true sisterhood beyond an Instagram like, and a yearly Eid Mubarak text.  On International Women’s Day, we would like to share with you:  5 ways on how you can nourish sisterhood

1.  Love for His Sake

 “On the Day of Judgement, Allah, the Most High, will announce, ‘Where are those who love each other for the sake of My pleasure? This day I am going to shelter them in the shade provided by Me. Today there is no shade except My shade.” (Muslim)  

Many of us have friends who are like family, friends who we have grown up, cried with and laughed with. We love them, and hold a special place in our hearts for them, and wish only good for them. However, when you love them with a worldly love, it is limited. There may be times where you have fallen out, annoyed each other or even completely stopped speaking. Yet, when you love a friend for His Sake, when you base your friendship around the teachings of Islam, of how to care, how to respect and cherish one another, you will see your friendship blossom.

The Prophet (saw) said “Allah Almighty said: “My love is a right upon those who befriend each other for My Sake. My love is a right upon those who defend each other for My Sake” (Al-Mu’jam al-Saghir)

After all, how could you go wrong in a friendship with guidance from the Most High? Nonetheless, there may be times where you fall out – after all, we are all human – but understanding the importance of kinship and forgiveness will certainly help deepen a friendship.

2.  Choose wisely

The Prophet (saw) said: “Verily, the parable of good company and a bad company is only that of a seller of musk and a blacksmith. The seller of musk will give you some perfume, you will buy some, or you will notice a good smell. As for the blacksmith, he will burn your clothes or you will notice a bad smell.”  (al-Bukhari)

Throughout your life, you will meet many different people. People who you went to school with, work with, those in your locality, those whom you meet through other people – the list is truly endless. However, out of the countless people you meet daily, there are a few that stick around – that you enjoy spending time with, speaking with and making memories with.  Choosing who you decide to invite into your inner circle, and into your daily life is a decision we shouldn’t take lightly.  

After all, as the above hadith mentions, consider the impact of the company you keep. That does not mean you should limit your friends to someone who fulfils your checklist but it is important to choose wisely about who you let into your inner circle, and be aware of who you decide to invest your time in.

It is completely acceptable and encouraged to be friendly, and welcoming to those who you may not wish to develop a deeper connection with, as a kind and friendly manner is good conduct, that which is pinnacle to being a good representation of a believer. However, you should be more selective as to who you want to share your life with, as they will definitely be an influence in your life – be it a good one or a bad one.

“A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)

3. Caution with care

“Help your (Muslim) brother (or sister) when he commits a wrong and when a wrong is committed against him, someone asked, “O Messenger of Allah, I understand how I can help him if a wrong is committed against him, but how can I help him if he is himself committing a wrong?” At that the Prophet (SAW) answered, “Stopping him from committing the wrong is helping him.” (Bukhari)

The unwritten rule of a bestie is to be fiercely loyal. You support your friends through the random, quirky decisions they make. You’re there to champion them through hardships and bring out the mocktails when it’s time to celebrate. However, if we truly care about someone, we also know when to step in for some tough love. We are there to provide direction, insight and rationale when times are hard. However, being able to caution a friend with care is a skill. 

No one wants to be labelled as the party pooper of the group. However, as believers it is important to remind those closest to us of decisions they make that could be harmful for them. It is important you advise those around you gently, with love and understanding. You are at risk of alienating someone when you are pushy, or demeaning. If you tread with care, you are more likely to get a better response.

Also, be welcome and willing to hear advice from those around you. Often it can be easier to dish out, rather than to receive. Be aware of your intentions, communicate your point clearly and if possible, have these conversations face to face, so there is little room for misunderstandings.

4. God conscious companions

“Close friends will be enemies to one another on that Day, except the righteous,” (Quran 43:67)

It is important to have friends that remind you of Allah, that encourage you to do better, and be better. There are many ways in which you can use your friendship circle for good. Whether you’re reminding each other to set your Fajr alarms, or writing in your Ramadhan journal together – a God-conscious friend will always bring benefit to your life.

If you do have a strong friendship group, but haven’t made those steps to benefit each other yet, with Ramadhan around the corner why not take the initiative to set something up? If you have a goal you would like to accomplish, be it how much Quran you would like to read, or make up any missed fasts then do it with a close friend. This will help motivate you, and you can hold each accountable. And of course, you can celebrate and reward each other when you reach your goal –  after all that is the greatest part. And the good news is, you will be rewarded for the effort you put in to help maintain and blossom a friendship that is beneficial for you – as you are taking steps towards your akhirah.

5. Put the work in – it’s worth it

 “Friendship takes work. Finding friends, nurturing friendships, scheduling face time, it all take a tremendous amount of work. But it’s worth it. If you put in the effort, you’ll see the rewards of positive friends who will make your life extraordinary.”  – Maya Angelou

It seems like the most simple and straightforward point, but it’s the hardest. To create a friendship that is wholesome, you need to put the work in. We live in a world where in order to check in with loved one, you should check in with your calendar first.

Undoubtedly we lead busy lives, but to see a friendship blossom, you need to water it, give it the right amount of sunshine, and words of encouragement. You don’t need to speak or see them every day, but you need to make sure they feel as though they are cherished and loved. You can do this by checking in on them once in a while, let them know that you are thinking of them, being there at their time of need, or when they are sick, arranging a time to connect, and even by gifting.

Both parties need to make an effort, otherwise you can’t expect a friendship which is deeper than an acquaintance. You should be able to empower, uplift and encourage your friend and be a support for them when things are hard. Always remember the reward of making a believer happy, of loving for His Sake, and staying connected beyond this world.

The gift of friendship

The gift of friendship is rare, and a blessing that you may take for granted. The heartbreak of disconnecting from a close friend can be tricky to get over, as you are accustomed to having that special someone to connect with. Many mothers. amongst HHUGS’ beneficiaries, have lost their closest friends because of their situation, of no fault of their own. Many of their friends distance themselves due to fear of being associated with them, due to the nature of their situation, and this leaves them isolated, broken and disconnected.

However, as we all know, friendship comes in all shapes and sizes. After all, the friends you have now were once strangers, and people come in and out of your life for different reasons. On International Women’s Day, we would like to provide the women within HHUGS households with the gift of friendship by providing them emotional and social support through coffee mornings, Eid gatherings, empowerment and healing.

You can open your hands, and your hearts for women who have no one looking out for them. They too deserve someone to lean on. Grab the opportunity in the blessed days of Sha’ban and gain the reward of loving for His Sake.