In this counseling answer:
• I suggest that you ask yourself: do your “friends” possess these qualities? Do they make you feel good about yourself and relaxed? Are they loyal and trustworthy?
• I would also like you to make a list of why you have let them verbally abuse you.
• Consider taking up a new hobby or sport to feel good about yourself.
As-Salamu ‘Alaikum brother,
I am so sorry to hear about what you are going through. The first question that goes through my mind is: are these friends Muslims? Surely, no Muslim friend would ridicule, make fun of, or otherwise harm someone, especially if that person is a friend. In fact, in the Qur’an states:
“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (49: 11)
Looking at this verse, it is very clear that insulting one another by nicknames, scoffing, and defaming is, indeed, haram and those who do not repent are considered evildoers. Such behaviors today are often part of the profile of bullying. In fact, dear brother, it appears you are being bullied. Usually, when people bully or make fun of others, it is because they have deep-seated fears and insecurities. According to MuslimMatters, “Verbal bullying: includes teasing, name-calling, taunting, and racial slurs, as well as spreading gossip or malicious rumors.”
You state they make fun of you and say you are fat and ugly. You also stated they make fun of your mother and her appearance. This is most appalling.
Concerning your own self-esteem about your looks and weight, I ask, by whose standards do you see yourself: by your friends’ standards or your own? I also invite you to explore your own self-esteem issues in relation to your honor, integrity, and as a servant of Allah (swt), for Allah (swt) created you and loves you, and no one has the right to treat you in such a way and say bad things about your beloved mother. While you stated they are the only friends you have, I will tell you what my own father taught me. He said that it is better to have no friends than having friends who are callous, unkind, liars and evildoers.
Brother, I suggest that you ask yourself: do your “friends” possess these qualities? Do they make you feel good about yourself and relaxed? Are they loyal and trustworthy?
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Robert Rowney, D.O., a certified psychiatrist and the director of the Cleveland Clinic mood disorder unit, stated that there are certain habits that genuine friends possess, which make them more like family. These habitats or traits include encouraging us to accept ourselves. They give us gentle reminders when we do wrong; they listen to us and respect our feelings. Their presence calms us and makes us feel good. They are kind, they have our backs, they are forgiving and they want the best for us. Again brother, do these friends have these habits and traits?
I would encourage you to look at what your definition of a friend is. That would be a very good place to start. Please, make a list of the qualities you believe a friend should have and be mindful of Surah Hujrat, verse 11. Allah (swt) made us brothers and sisters in Islam to build one another up in a positive loving way. Then make a list of qualities and behaviors that a bully may have or someone who really doesn’t care about us. Compare your list. Which category do your friends fall in?
I would also like you to make a list of why you have let them verbally abuse you. You stated that you have no other friends, but I suspect there may be more reasons than that. Please, do some deep introspection concerning this and pray to Allah (swt) for guidance in regards to uncovering why it is that you have let this continue. You do not deserve this; this is not what friends do.
It also sounds as if you may want to explore more activities and things that will give you an opportunity to meet nice brothers; ones who will value and respect you for the wonderful person you are. There are many ways to meet others such as cafes and clubs with special interests like scuba diving, history, chess, learning a new language, and so forth.
Also, consider taking up a new hobby or sport to feel good about yourself. Go to your masjid and see if there are any groups for brothers there. Volunteer somewhere! The more we get out and meet new people, explore new things in life, the more we tend to feel better!
I understand that you may have grown up with this group of friends and feel a strong bond with them – perhaps even a sense of brotherhood. But now that you are older, it may be time to change what was once thought of as childhood teasing (which is still not acceptable), to zero tolerance for being bullied and made fun of. You are a grown man who deserves respect and kindness.
I suggest making your lists. Review them carefully, pray on this matter and decide if these are friends who, in case they change their abusive ways, are healthy to be among. It may be that you will have to make a choice. You may choose to stand up against them (if you feel that deep down they are true friends) and state that you will no longer tolerate any name calling and abusive words towards you or your mother. You must, however, stick to your convictions of honor if you chose this option, meaning if they continue, you must cut off the friendship.
Option two is that you just cut off the friendships with them as you have deemed them to be unhealthy with no hope for change. In this case, dear brother, please review the above options and others to find true friends. They are out there!
Please let us know how you are doing. You are in our prayers.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.
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