While growing up, we encounter diverse groups of people, ideologies, and environments from a very young age, many of which contrast with what we have learned and seen at home. Starting with school, we may meet other children from various backgrounds who have had a different upbringing. It can be difficult to confront ideologies or ways of life that are dissimilar from our own, and at times we feel a pressure to conform to the ideals of others to “fit in.” As human beings, it is our inherent desire to belong to someone or something that, sometimes, forces us to forego our own ideals and cave in to peer pressure.

The Adolescent Years

The adolescent years are an integral part of an individual’s life. During this stage, teenagers are extremely impressionable and susceptible to outside influences, whether good or bad. It is during this time that friendships become more exclusive and intimate and parents begin to fear that their child may fall prey to negative influences and reject their family values and beliefs. It is crucial to surround yourself with influences that will make you a better person. Imam Ali (p) is reported to have said, “Beware of befriending corrupt people, immoral people, and those who openly commit acts of disobedience to God.”1  During these formative years, you should befriend those who are not only on the right path themselves but who encourage you to be steadfast in your faith and unyielding to damaging external influences. Influences, such as the one Imam Ali (p) mentions, should be approached with caution. A bad influence will eventually lead you astray.

The Positives of Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is not always bad; sometimes, it can be very beneficial. For example, if you have a group of friends who work hard in school, go to the mosque regularly, or avoid backbiting, then that will most likely influence you to do the same. Sometimes friends can persuade us to do things that vastly improves our lives and have a positive impact. It can be something like becoming more physically and socially active or avoiding alcohol or drugs. It all comes down to who you surround yourself with. If the most assertive or influential person in a friendship circle has a positive agenda, everyone else in that friendship circle will follow suit and maintain that positive agenda as well.2

Parents and Peer Influence

One thing that can counteract peer pressure is having an amicable relationship with one’s parents. Teens tend to be less inclined to fall for peer influence, if they have a strong bond with their parents and can look to them for a solid support system. When youth have a great relationship with their parents, often they do not feel compelled to fit in or please their friends or peers.2 A strong and healthy parent-child bond mitigates outside influences, because most children and teenagers look to their parents for guidance and validation.

Best Ways to Overcome Peer Pressure

Just Say No – As cliché as it sounds, saying “No”, when urged to do something that you are not comfortable doing, is very effective. Be persistent and headstrong in your faith and morals. Narrations tell us that Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p) said, “The believer is stronger than a mountain, for a mountain can be lessened whereas the faith of a believer cannot be lessened.”3

Stand Your Ground – Explain to others the reason for your refusal to do something that you are uncomfortable with. Sometimes, talking to others about your beliefs can help dissipate any tension or misconceptions that might arise. It also helps to educate those who might be unfamiliar with your values and beliefs.

Do Not Be Afraid to Seek Help – Do not feel ashamed to ask for guidance when you find yourself in a situation where you feel pressure to do something that you do not want to do. A lot of schools offer resources such as counselors and teachers, who will help you in situations where you are facing intimidation and coercion.

Surround Yourself with Positive Influences – Imam Ali (p) is reported to have said, “Sitting with people of base desires causes heedlessness of one’s faith, and invites Satan’s presence.”4 Befriend those who want the best for you and instead, of judging you for your beliefs and ideals, will encourage to stay on the right path.

1. Rayshahri, Mizan al-hikmah, vol . 2, p.1585.
2. Audrey Hamilton, “Speaking of Psychology: The Good and Bad of Peer Pressure,” American Psychological Association, Accessed December 28, 2018, https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/peer-pressure.aspx.
3. Shaykh al-Kulayni, Al-kafi, vol. 2, p. 241.
4. Nahj al-balagha, Sermon 86.

1.     روي عن الإمام علي عليه السلام ( إحذَرْ مُصاحَبَةَ الفُسّاقِ والفُجّارِ والمُجاهِرِينَ بِمَعاصِي اللّه)‏
2.     روي عن الإمام الباقر عليه السلام( : المؤمنُ أصْلَبُ مِن الجَبلِ ، الجَبلُ يُسْتَقَلُّ مِنه ، والمؤمنُ لا يُسْتَقَلُّ مِن دِينِه شَيءٌ)
3.     روي عن الإمام علي عليه السلام : (مُجالَسَةُ أهلِ الهَوى‏ مَنْساةٌ للإيمانِ ، ومَحْضَرَةٌ للشَّيطانِ)

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