Some of my childhood friends also live in the West. We’ve met recently, and they told me about how they live their university lives.
They drink alcohol, commit zina and do drugs. That’s all they talk about.
It really hurts me to see them going down this destructive path. It is also very demotivating for me as a practicing Muslim, and makes me uncomfortable. How do I draw the line with these friends?
I would like to socialize more. I notice that most of my non-Muslim friends meet up at bars and clubs. I do not want to go to these places. How can I socialize with them without compromising my faith?
I would also like to get counsel over marriage. I am a student and interested in getting married.
How do I approach this topic with my family? How can I be more prepared for marriage as a young Muslim man still in university?
How can I show my parents as well as the girl’s parents that I am ready for this responsibility?
In this counseling answer:
Look into your school’s Muslim Students Association.
Look into other social clubs and events on campus.
Speak with local Imam/other Muslims about youth groups and events at the mosque.
Actively seek out more social events locally.
Speak honestly yet gently with your friends. Set boundaries while inviting them to do more of the halal things you used to do with them.
Speak with family about your feelings of marriage and how you can start building a foundation for marriage now.
It is my understanding that you are attending college in the United States of America; however, you are from a Muslim majority country.
It is also my understanding that you have noticed many of your Brothers adopting very liberal lifestyles in terms of their adherence to Islamic principles.
It is understandable that this is making you feel uncomfortable and you struggle to understand this friendship dynamic.
Additionally, you mentioned thinking about marriage and how to approach this topic.
My dear Brother, throughout your life it is unavoidable that tests will be presented to you. We tend to notice these tests during times of hardship. However, it is sometimes an ease and “living the life” kind of situation which causes us to struggle.
“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?” [Quran 29:2]
Please remember that your friends will impact you, your behaviors and how you perceive the world around you. In a Muslim majority country, you are surrounded by people echoing the same ideas back and forth; this puts social pressure on people to adhere to Islamic guidelines.
In the United States, social pressure is on people to adhere to more secular guidelines and assimilate. However, the USA also advocates for the religious rights of individuals which provides some benefits for you.
I encourage you to seek out your school’s MSA, Muslim Student Association. This will provide you with more Muslim friends in addition to the ones you currently have and expose you to events such as having group iftars or volunteering together.
I also suggest speaking with your local Imam about youth groups and activities within the mosque. The more you surround yourself with practicing Muslims, the easier this will be for you.
Consider for a moment the impact it had on you to see Muslims engaging in things like zina and drugs. Now, imagine the impact it can have on you to see Muslims standing firm in their Islamic practices amidst these temptations.
These positive examples of iman can bolster your own strength inshallah, and make being around the friends who engage in haram activities easier to handle.
You mention setting boundaries with your friends. It is your choice to stay away from them or to be around them. If you prefer to remain in their company, I suggest having a very honest and gentle conversation with them.
Let them know it makes you uncomfortable to hear about and be around these activities.
It is important not to speak in a way that makes them feel judged. Try to use I-statements as a gentler way to express yourself. Such as, “I feel uncomfortable talking about zina, and it makes it harder on me to avoid it”. This avoids putting blame on them but expresses how it impacts you.
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Think about the halal activities you used to do with them and invite them to do some of those again. Such as meeting for tea or if you liked to fish together, whatever it is that you all once enjoyed as friends.
It is not only fun but also better for your overall health to be social. You don’t need to attend a bar to be social with your Muslim and non-Muslim friends. Most schools have a variety of clubs and athletic programs you could consider looking into. In addition to the MSA, look at school clubs that are of interest to you.
If you want to get away from campus, I suggest looking at Meetup groups in your area or trying a new hobby to find a social group that regularly meets. For example, if you like nature and exercise you can join a local hiking group.
Many people have social lives that don’t involve intoxication or sex, you just need to look for those groups and try them.
You asked about marriage and how to show your parents and your potential in-laws that you are ready for this responsibility.
My dear Brother, I will be honest. You are still very young, have just started college and figuring out how to be a Muslim in the USA. This is not the most stable time to seek out marriage nor is it the best time financially.
I would suggest thinking about what you can offer a wife in marriage and what you hope to receive in return. Start praying about marriage and really asking yourself “what do I need to be happy?”.
Also, determine if you want an American wife or one from your birth country, as well as which country you want to live in. That answer alone can entail years of waiting and thousands of dollars.
I suggest speaking with your family about how you feel. They can work with you to build towards a stable foundation to seek marriage. It is not something to rush into, marriage is a life-changing decision.
Here is a summary of your next steps forward.
- Look into your school’s Muslim Student Association.
- Look into other social clubs and events on campus.
- Speak with local Imam/other Muslims about youth groups and events at the mosque.
- Actively seek out more social events locally.
- Speak honestly yet gently with your friends. Set boundaries while inviting them to do more of the halal things you used to do with them.
- Speak with family about your feelings of marriage and how you can start building a foundation for marriage now.
I know this is a confusing time with a lot of conflicting ideologies around you. Please take comfort in knowing it will get easier inshallah as long as you keep praying and doing your best.
Perhaps you will even be an inspiration to your friends one day!
May Allah (most honored, most revered) give you strength and understanding,
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 are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.