We all deal with tough relationships–whether it's a mean boss, a trouble-making friend, or a toxic partner. Relationships are a major part of our lives.
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“A person is on the religion of his companions. Therefore let every one of you carefully consider the company he keeps.”
The company we keep influences who we are. If we surround ourselves with the impure, we will indeed become impure. Negative relationships are also a test of our character–when we are confronted with negativity, meanness, and wrongdoing, how do we respond?
By looking to the words of Allah within the Qura’an, and the wisdom of the Hadith that Mohammad (PBUH) left for us, we can find solutions to the problem of tough relationships.
Toxic Partnerships and Domestic Violence
In Islam, marriage is a thing of peace, comfort, and tranquility. Violence within the home, towards one another, is not accepted. There are a number of verses that support the idea that domestic violence is wrong.
Here is one from Qura’an 9:71:
“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just,
and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity,
and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy:
for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.”
Partners are to support each other–strengthen and lift each other up. If that's not happening in your partnership, it's important to have a dialogue about it. Not talking won't fix the problem. Talking to your partner about problems you’re having is a sign that you want to work on the relationship, not abandon it.
Friends that Lead You Astray
We value our friendships–as humans, there are few things more important to us. However, our friends, like all relationships, shape who we are. We should strive to surround ourselves with good and decent people, who don’t lead us astray. We want people who push us towards the good, both in life and in our spirituality. As hard as it might be, if a friend leads away from God, action has to be taken. Allah places challenges in our way–it's difficult to let a friend go– but sometimes it has to be done. However, Allah commands us to cut off negative people in a polite and respectful manner.
“The servants of The Compassionate are those who walk upon the earth
in humility. When the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace.””
(Al Furqan, 25:63)
“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until
they change what is in themselves”
We have to separate ourselves from negativity with peace and humility. If you plan to cut somebody off, explain to them respectfully and plainly why. You could tell them something like “our relationship is leading me astray on my spiritual walk. I need to spend more time focusing on my relationship with Allah, and strengthening myself in my faith.”
“…And consult them in the matter. Then, when you have taken a decision,
rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him).”
What about relationships you can’t let go?
We don’t always have the option to cut off our relationships. What if a negative relationship in our life is coming from a boss, co-worker, or even family member?
With a boss or coworker, the first step is naturally to discuss the problem you’re having with them. Maybe your boss talks down to you, rudely. Go to your boss and respectfully explain how you are feeling. Maybe your coworker isn’t doing his share of the word. Go and talk to him in peace about the situation.
Family relationships are difficult too. Although the wish to have a good, healthy relationship with our family, that isn’t always the case. And in most circumstances, we certainly can’t cut them off. The solution is patience and trust.
Allah tells us that we need to exercise patience. He specifically commands us to remain patient through cross words. So, next time your boss speaks down to you, remember this quote from the Qura’an:
“Bear patiently with what they say (against you) and
leave their company in a polite manner.”
Relationships with family, our kith and kin, are not always easy. But Allah instructs us to do good, and act with liberality. We are responsible for how we act, and will be judged accordingly. Its important to maintain our composure and patience, always acting with kindness no matter what.
“Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin,
and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion:
He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.”