How important are the blood relations? Have we ever thought about it? If a Muslim knows the importance Allah has given to blood relations, never shall any of us dare to do any injustice (in any form) to the relations.
Allah says: O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam) and from him he created his wife (Hawwa), and from both them both He created many men & women; and fear Allah through Whom you demand, and (do not cut the relations of) womb (kinship, blood relations). Surely Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.”Quran Surah An-Nisa’4:1
The ayath says…. fear Allah through Whom you demand and the womb…. The message is that if we fear Allah, we have to maintain good relations with our relatives. Therefore, Sila-e-rahmi (i.e. keeping good relations with blood relatives) is an order from Allah, not a recommendation, and it is mandatory for every Muslim to comply with this order.
The first place among the blood relatives is reserved for parents. No one among the relatives equals them in the status given to them by Allah. The details regarding status of parents in Islam are so much that it is not good to discuss them as a sub-heading. Few references are Quran 2: 215, 17:23,24, 29:8 etc. After parents, other blood relations are off-springs, brothers, sisters, paternal uncles and aunts, their off-springs (i.e. first cousins from paternal side), maternal uncles and aunts, their off-springs (i.e. first cousins from maternal side) and then other relatives as well. Spouses do not categorize under blood relations.
It is not a big task. Keeping good relations with blood relatives is fairly simple. Allah says: “Verily, Allah orders justice and kindness, and giving (help) to the relatives, and He forbids immoral sins, and evil and tyranny. He admonishes you, that you may take heed.” Quran Surah An-Nahl 16: 90
So, the command is for helping the relatives.
How can we help our relatives? It can be done in various ways:
Visiting our relatives (regularly) and be with them in their happiness and the times of sorrow (or grief); Almost everyone will agree that it is not a difficult task to do.
If someone wish to spend his wealth for good (i.e. in Allah’s Cause), the relatives command their due. And this haq is given to them by Allah. Refer to following ayath of Qur’an: “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend. Say: Whatever you spend of good must be for parents and kindred and orphans and Al-Masakin (the poor) and the wayfarer and whatever you do of good deeds, truly Allah knows it well.”Quran Surah Al-Baqarah 4:215
This Aayah confirms that if someone has been blessed in wealth by Allah, then he should spend on his relatives (as well as other people mentioned above) who are in need of financial support. Similar command is given to us in Surah An-Nahl, 16:90
This means that whenever our relatives need our physical presence near to them, we should be with them. It may be a case of marriage of any of our relatives, or a there might be a death among anyone’s relatives, or other events of joy or sorrow. It is mandatory that we stand by our blood relations in all the events of their lives, and especially when it comes to testing times.
There are some constraints which pose a challenge to us in maintaining good ties with our blood relatives. These are discussed below.
One of the biggest constraints of modern life is that we don’t have time for others. We are so much busy shaping our careers and individual lives, that our blood relatives become just a matter of formality and our meetings are limited to deaths or marriages, that too rare nowadays. People live in same city, but they have no idea about whereabouts of their relatives who also live in same city. Ask anyone about his/her so and so relative, the answer is ‘We don’t get time to meet them’. Forget meeting, we don’t even get time to talk them on telephone or by letters or any means of media.
True, man has become self-centred, and increasingly becoming so. It is only our kids and spouses who matter for us.
One of the biggest constraints is money. Normally when we talk of money as a constraint, it refers to shortage of money. But on the contrary, money acts as a constraint in keeping good relations with relatives, when it is more. When it comes to money, a man neither listens anything nor does he sees anything; money gets supreme over all things. This is the biggest cause of rupture of ties of kinship. The attachment of man with money is very dangerous.
This is yet another problem which becomes a hurdle in maintaining good relations with blood relatives. In some families, mother doesn’t want her kids to meet their paternal relatives, while at some places a father doesn’t want his kids to meet their maternal relatives. Some husbands do not want their wives to meet her relatives, while some wives do not like to keep relations with relatives of her husband, and even try that her husband also stays away from them. Somewhere it is a matter of prestige, somewhere it is because of old disputes over financial matters, while somewhere it is because of stupid clashes over minor things. Each of these acts is wrong, and against Islam.
Spending wealth on relatives holds a big significance in Islam. If any of our relatives are poor, they at first place deserve (the portion of) our Zakat. Similarly, they also demand their haq on other charity which we do. Remember, spending on relatives not only brings us hasanaat, but also brings blessings from Allah in our wealth. Refer to following hadith: Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): I heard Allah’s Messengerصلى الله عليه وسلمsaying, “Whoever is pleased that he be granted more wealth, and that his lease of life be prolonged, then he should keep good relations with his kith and kin.”Book of Al-Adab, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8: Hadith No. 5985
We have to keep in mind that spending on our relatives is their haq, and whoever is blessed in wealth by Allah, should do so and should not cease to do so as far as Allah provides him/her wealth. “And let not those among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give to their kinsmen, Al-Masakin, and those who left their homes fro Allah’s Cause. Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Surah An-Nur, 24: 22,
This Aayah was revealed concerning Abu Bakr (RA), when he swore that he would not help Mistah bin Uthathah after he accused Aishah (RA). Mistah was cousin of Abu Bakr (RA), son of his maternal aunt, and was a poor man. He had no money except what Abu Bakr (RA) used to give (spend on) him. After this Aayah was revealed, Abu Bakr (RA) resumed spending on him.
Al-Waasil means ‘one who keeps good ties with his blood relatives’. his is a general definition of Al-Waasil. However, Allah’s Messengerصلى الله عليه وسلمgave more explained definition for Al-Waasil. Following hadith tells us about this: Narrated Abdullah bin Amr (RA): The Prophetصلى الله عليه وسلمsaid, “Al-Waasil is not the one who recompenses the good done to him by his relatives, but Al-Waasil is the one who keeps good relations with those relatives who had severed the bond of kinship with him.”Book of Al-Adab, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8: Hadith No. 5991
Therefore, it is not only that we keep good relations with those relatives who are good to us; rather we have to keep good relations with those who do not keep good relations with us. We cannot make excuse that it is not your fault because the other family or other party does not want to talk to us. We have to ensure from our side that whatever needs to be done in order to restore the blood relations, we do that, and leave the rest to Allah.
So far we have talked about importance of Sila-e-rahmi (i.e. keeping good relations with kith and kin). The discussion won’t be complete without talking about what are the consequences of Qata-e-rahmi (i.e. severing the bonds of kith and kin).
Let us discuss this in two different manners, both leading to Qata-e-rahmi.
We know that a Muslim is supposed to follow Qur’an in full. Whatever Allah says to do, a Muslim has to do, and whatever He has forbidden, a Muslim has to keep away from such things/acts. On the same lines, Allah commands us to maintain bonds of blood relations. Therefore it is mandatory for us to follow it. However, whoever does not maintain good relations with his kith and kin, Allah says for such a person: “And those who break the Covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to the relatives), and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse, and for them is the unhappy home (i.e. Hell).” Qur’an Surah Ar-Ra’d, 13:25
Similarly, if someone is blessed by Allah in terms of wealth, position, power etc, and these things dominate his personality and lead him to do wrong things (including severing of bonds of kinship), Allah says following about such a person: “Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship?” “Such are they whom Allah has cursed, so that He has made them deaf and blinded their sight.”Qur’an. Surah Muhammad, 47: 22 & 23
This is an appropriate explanation for people who are obstructed by their love for wealth from maintaining good relations with their relatives. Whatever be the reason, whoever severs the bond of relationships, is not liked by Allah, and he/she is destined for Hell in the Hereafter. To remember the severity of consequences of Qata-e-rahmi, following hadith should never be forgotten: Narrated Jubair bin Mut’im that he heard the Prophetصلى الله عليه وسلمsaying, “Al-Qati (the person who severs the bond of kinship) will not enter Paradise.Book of Al-Adab, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8: Hadith No. 5984
Paradise is denied for the one who do Qata-e-rahmi.
This is one of the most important parts of the discussion. There is an event associated which needs to be talked about in order to understand the importance of this section.
A man from Al-Ansar, whose name was Imran, had a wife called Umm-Zayd. She wanted to visit her family, but her husband prevented her from visiting them by locking her in an upper room. So none of her family could visit or see her. She sent someone to her family. They came, took her down from the room and wanted to take her away. Her husband was absent at the time, so his family called on their people. Their cousins came to help prevent the wife from going with her family. A push and shove situation occurred that led to them fighting using slippers. Allah revealed following beautiful Aayah on this: “And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both. But if one of them outrages against the other, then fight you (all) against the one that which outrages till it complies with Command of Allah. Then if it complies, make reconciliation between them justly, and be equitable. Verily, Allah loves those who are equitable.” Quran Surah Al-Hujurat, 49: 9
After this, Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلمsent someone to bring peace among those who were fighting and they both agreed to resort to the decision of Allah, the Exalted. This is the third-party role of every Muslim which I am talking about. This is responsibility of all of us to ensure that whenever such a dispute takes place between blood relations among our known ones, we all should get together to get it solved. And if we sense that someone among the disputed parties is on wrong side and not willing to reconcile, we all have to oppose such a person (or a group) in all our might, strength and means till the wrong one succumbs and agrees to resort to Allah’s Will. This is what our society lacks. This calls for introspection.
It is going wrong on all fronts. Blood relations hold no values for us anymore, courtesy careers, high stakes, wealth, busy life style, self-centred attitude and above all disobedience to Allah. Allah commands us to maintain them in a healthy manner.