Maintaining Family Ties
The family is an indispensable social institution meant to serve as the first place of socialisation, nurture and spiritual training. The creation of a vibrant, stable and prosperous Muslim society rests upon maintaining and fostering healthy family ties: The Noble Qur’an says, “And be careful of [your duty to] Allah in whose name you demand [your rights] from one another, and [to] the ties of relationship; surely Allah is ever watchful over you!” (4:1) Allah refers to ties in the Noble Qur’an as “Rahim” which is a derivative from His beautiful name “Rahmaan”. This in itself indicates that fostering ties is a divine attribute which attracts the mercy of Allah in our lives in ways that we do not perceive.
A true relative
“The one who maintains a relationship with his relatives only because they maintain a relationship with him is not truly upholding the ties of kinship. The one who truly upholds those ties is the one who does so even when they break off the relationship.” (Bukhari) A true relative goes the extra mile even when his relatives go out of their way to cut ties. Fostering ties is not merely returning a favour for a favour, or responding to how the other party treats you, it is taking the initiative irrespective of how others respond. We see in Surah Yusuf how Nabi Yusuf Alayhis Salaam was unjustly treated by his own brothers! They conspired to get rid of him by throwing him into a well and then lied about his disappearance. Yet when circumstances forced them to seek his assistance he did not begrudge them, nor did he retaliate even though he had every opportunity to do so; he forgave his brothers saying: “No blame will there be upon you today. Allah will forgive you; and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.” ( 12: 92)
Serving and praying for your parents
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they brought me up when I was young.” (17:23-24) The rights of parents are mentioned immediately after our obligation to Allah. The first duty we owe to fellow man is our duty to parents. If it wasn’t for our parents, none of us would be where we are today. Parental love is such a love that is truly selfless, unconditional and forgiving. Allah reminds us that when we were once children unable to express or fend for ourselves; our parents gave up all their comforts for ours. They made sure we had the best, even when they were at their worst. When they become old, weak and feeble it is our time to ensure that we serve them with dignity, honour and kindness.
Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam has said: “Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension); the nearest to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: “I did so and so.” And he says: “You have done nothing.” Then one amongst them comes and says: “I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.” Then Satan goes near him and says: “You have done well.” He then embraces him.” (Muslim) Spousal relationships determine the mental growth, well-being, and stability of all members in a family. It makes family members feel safe and connected to one another. Happy couples produce happy children, happy children make up happy homes and happy homes provide for social stability. If the devil is able to create tension and strain between spouses, he paves the way for disintegration of society.
Fostering family ties is a distinctive attribute of a believer
Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam has said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.” (Bukhari) We believe in accountability before Allah. Our belief that we will be rewarded for whatever sacrifice it takes to foster ties will motivate us to take the initiative in mending and fostering ties.
Cutting ties could mean cutting relations with Allah Himself
‘Aishah Radhi-Allahu anha narrates that Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “The bond of relationship is suspended from the Throne, and says: ‘He who keeps good relations with me, Allah will keep connection with him, but whosoever severs relations with me, Allah will sever connection with him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Expanding your sustenance and extending your life
Not only is maintaining relations beneficial spiritually, but there are physical and tangible rewards for it in this world: Anas Radhi-Allahu anhu narrates that the Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “Anyone who is pleased that his sustenance is expanded and his age extended should show kindness to his near relatives.” (Abu Dawood)
Charity on family members earns you double the reward
Salman bin ‘Amir Radhi-Allahu anhu narrates that Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “Giving charity to a poor person is charity, and (giving) to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.” (Nasa’i)