Islam has placed tremendous emphasis on the establishment, maintenance and preservation of family kinship. Various Qur’anic verses and Ahadith instruct Muslims to be kind, merciful, affectionate and caring towards parents and relatives.
Although almost all religions advocate maintenance of family ties, Islam has taken it to unprecedented heights. A Muslim is commanded to be kind even to his non-Muslim relatives. Similarly, he is required to be kind to those relatives who are unpleasant or harsh towards him.
Maintaining the bonds of kinship (silatur rahim) enjoys extraordinary importance in Islam. Conversely, severing family ties (qat’ur rahim) can lead one to a disastrous end.
Due to the importance Islam has accorded to maintaining family ties, the rewards and benefits of doing so are indeed great. Similarly, neglect and severing family ties can have disastrous consequences on a person’s life. It therefore becomes imperative that every Muslim is soundly educated regarding this important obligation.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY TIES
Mutual dependence is an important facet of human existence on earth. Mankind could not have survived without this co-existence. The fact that Allah Ta’ala created Hawa (alayhas salaam) as a partner for Hazrat Aadam (alayhis salaam) is a classical example to prove the need for interdependence. This reality is manifest in every facet of human existence.
Communication, interaction and interdependence between human beings is an essential requirement for a normal and harmonious society. At every point in one’s life a person will be interacting with other people. Generally, the people one will come into contact with more often are his family folk. Due to the frequent contact resulting from a family relationship, it is imperative that one is always on good terms with family members.
The importance of maintaining harmonious relationships with all family members is highlighted in the following verse: “ And fear Allah through whose medium you ask one another (for your rights) and be mindful of your relatives.” (Surah Nisa)
In this verse, the instruction of keeping family ties follows directly after the instruction of fearing Allah Ta’ala, hence highlighting its importance in the sight of Allah Ta’ala. In another verse it is mentioned, “And worship Allah and do not assign partners with Him and be favourable unto parents and family members and the orphans and the destitute and the near neighbour and the distant neighbour and the traveller and your slaves. And Allah does not love one who is haughty and proud.” (Surah Nisaa)
The great number of Ahadith that instruct family kinship emphasizes the matter even further.“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.” (Bukhari)
FACTORS THAT MAINTAIN FAMILY UNITY
Regular Visits - In an era when the words “no time” have become a formidable cliché, Muslims are duty bound to keep close contact with family relatives by visiting each other regularly. The trend today is to visit someone if there is some material or worldly benefit, or only if they keep contact with us. Relatives should be visited solely for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala and to create and maintain muhabbat (love) in the family.
Mutual Assistance – Assisting one’s relatives carries two reward; one reward for assisting and one reward for bonding family ties. These noble qualities will also be a practical means of guidance for the children. In this way family relationships are strengthened and can be maintained for generations. Certain people feel uncomfortable to assist relatives if they require financial help in the form of Zakaat, etc. This manner of thought should be corrected.
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Sadaqah given to a poor person is an ordinary sadaqah, but sadaqah given to a relative serves two purposes: one as a sadaqah and secondly, an act of upholding family kinship.” (Tirmizi)
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whosever desires to have expansion in his sustenance and a prolonged life, should treat his relatives with kindness.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
Abundant Greeting – Increasing salaam to each other creates muhabbat. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) has urged Muslims to spread salaam. Those who initiate salaam are protected from pride and haughtiness.
Exchanging Gifts - Showering relatives with gifts is also an effective method of generating love between people. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Exchange gifts with one another, you will create love and goodwill amongst yourselves.” (Abu Ya’laa)
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