The righteousness and uprightness of the family is the gateway towards a safe and secure community, and maintaining ties with kinfolks is the way to the preservation of the Muslim nation.
Islam calls for and mandates maintaining ties with kinfolks due to the great effect it has on establishing strong social bonds, as well as for the love and cooperation that results from maintaining it. Such ties include relationships between spouses, parents and children, relatives, and in-laws. All these form the community, collections of which form the Muslim nation.
It is through this structure that one can strengthen the ties amongst people, the result of which would be that love will spread, bonds strengthened and noble characters developed, which is what will produce dignified future generations; Allah Says what means:“O Mankind! Fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.”[Quran 4:1] This verse is evidence that maintaining ties with kinfolks is obligatory.
Furthermore, Allah warns us against severing ties with kinfolks by saying what means:“But those who break the covenant of Allah after contracting it and sever that which Allah has ordered to be joined and spread corruption on earth – for them is the curse, and they will have the worst abode.”[Quran 13: 25] What punishment could be worse than that of being cursed and having an evil abode in the Hereafter? This is what awaits those who sever ties with their kinfolks. Such people deprive themselves of the great reward of maintaining such ties in addition to the blessings that Allah places in their provision and lives.
Anas may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet said: “He who desires ample provisions and for his life be prolonged should maintain good ties with his blood relations.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
Abu Hurayrah may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah said:“Allah created all creatures, and when He finished the task of His creation, Ar-Rahm (i.e., ties of kinship) said: `(O Allah) at this place I seek refuge in You against my ties being severed.' Allah asked: `Is it enough that I treat with kindness those who treat you with kindness and sever ties with those who sever ties with you?' It replied: `I am satisfied.' Allah said: `Then this is yours.`” Then, the Messenger of Allah , said: "Recite this Ayah if you wish (which means):"So would you perhaps, if you turned away, cause corruption on earth and sever your [ties of] relationship? Those [who do so] are the ones that Allah has cursed, so He deafened them and blinded their vision."[Quran 47: 22-23]” [Muslim]
The question that arises after knowing the exalted status of maintaining ties of kinship in Islam is: who is considered to be maintaining such ties?
This was clarified by the Prophet when he said in the narration that was reported by `Abdullaah bin `Amr bin Al-`Aas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father:“The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it due to having it recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them); rather, the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so, despite his relatives severing the ties of kinship with him.” [Al-Bukhari] If one simply treats his relatives according to how they treat him, then it is not considered as maintaining ties perfectly; it is only considered as such if he takes the initiative in maintaining ties and tolerates mistreatment from his relatives in the process.
Some people take the view regarding their relatives that they will only give gifts if they are given gifts, and will only visit when they themselves are visited, but this is certainly not what maintaining good ties of kinship is meant to be, and not what Allah legislated; when one treats his relatives this way, then he is only just scraping the bare minimum level, and not the high level that Allah encourages us Muslims to attain.
Abu Hurayrah may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “A man said to the Messenger of Allah : `I have relatives with whom I try to keep good ties, but they sever relations with me; I treat them kindly but they treat me badly; I am gentle with them but they are harsh with me.' He replied:“If you are as you say, it is as if you are feeding them hot ashes, and you will have a supporter against them from Allah as long as you continue to do so.”[Muslim]
One of the main reasons for the current weakness of the Muslim nation is its severing of ties of kinship. How many a time do we hear of stories that would make us cry tears of blood and break our hearts?
For example: One mother struggled to raise her children after the death of their father and spent her wealth and her life raising them, but as soon as they became old enough to have families of their own, and she became old and needed someone to care for her, they abandoned her and visit her only once a month.
Also, a man did not see or hear from his brother for many years, even though he lived just a few kilometres from him. Many stories reach us of relatives who desert one another and do not see each other for years; some of them may even die while his relatives do not even know of his death, only to find out by strangers informing them.
As a matter of fact, a saying that has become widespread is: “One needs strangers and can do without relatives.” This is an evil emotion, and people who possess it have dead hearts. By doing this, these people are negligent of the saying of Allahwhat means:"So would you perhaps, if you turned away, cause corruption on earth and sever your [ties of] relationship? Those [who do so] are the ones that Allah has cursed, so He deafened them and blinded their vision."[Quran 47: 22-23]
People sever ties of kinship for a multitude of reasons; the following are the main ones:
· Worldly matters, such as disputes over wealth or real estate; brothers fight and abandon one another due to such trivial worldly matters, that is if they do not resort to lawsuits and legal action against one another.
· Being over-occupied with the pleasures of this life.
· Having a western mentality and outlook on life.
In order to cure this dangerous problem, the following must be done:
· We must have at least the minimum required level of piety and consciousness of Allah, and be aware that the one who severs such ties is cursed by Allah.
· We must remember the great reward for those who maintain good ties of kinship, even (and especially) if our relatives sever ties and desert us, as per the abovementioned narration of the man whose kin harmed and deserted him.
· We must give our relatives the benefit of the doubt, think well of them, and avoid giving an ear to evil people who try to ruin our relationships with our relatives.
· We must overlook their mistakes and endeavour to justify them in a positive manner. ‘Abur-Rahmaan bin ‘Awf, may Allah be pleased with him, was one of the most generous people of his time; his wife once said to him: “I have never seen more evil a people than your relatives; when you are well off, they visit you regularly, but when your financial condition deteriorates, they abandon you.” Upon hearing this, he, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “This is due to their benevolence; they visit us when we can afford to be hospitable to them and give us respite when they realise that we are not in our best condition.” Note how excellently he thought of them, to the point that he even made their evil actions seem like noble traits.
· We must have regular gatherings and visitations with our relatives, in which we invite people of knowledge to remind and admonish them.
· We should open bank accounts in which to deposit a monthly amount of money which we can spend on poor relatives.
We warn those members of the family who are influential not to use their authority against their relatives in order to oppress them and deprive them from their rights. We also warn everybody against undermining the rights of those most worthy of our kind treatment, namely our parents, and beware of severing ties with them.
We should never ever wrong our relatives or deprive them from their rights, because, as the wise saying goes: “Never wrong your relatives, because one never eats his own flesh when he becomes hungry.”
Finally, the only ones who rejoice at our severing ties of kinship are our enemies - so beware.