Treatment with relatives in Islam
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
Among all religions, Islam gives great importance to the bonds of kinship and rights of relatives. They all rank in priority. In the idiomatic Arabic it is called “sila-e-rahmi” The holy Qur’an invites our attention to it time and again and at least 12 verses refer to its importance. I will mention just a few.
Aayah 90 of Surah Nahl says: “Allah enjoins justice, generosity and kind treatment with relatives…”
The third thing which has been enjoined is good treatment with one’s relatives. It means that one should not only treat relatives well, share their sorrows and pleasure and help them within lawful limits but should also share one’s wealth with them along with the rights of parents and immediate family. Prophet (SAW) has emphasized this fact in many Traditions. In the light of such Traditions a person owes rights to his parents, his wife, husband, children, brothers, sisters and other relatives in accordance with the nearness of their relationships. On the basis of this fundamental principle, Caliph Umar Farooque (RA) made it obligatory on the first cousins of an orphan to support him. In the case of another orphan, a distant cousin was made responsible to support.
Look what Prophet (SAW) demands in exchange for the hardships he experienced in conveying Allah (SWT)’s message to us as mentioned in Aayah 23 of Surah Shu’ra:
“Ya Rasul Allah, say to them: “I do not ask of you any reward for this work; however, I do seek the love of the kindred/relatives.””
Human relationship may be based on nationality, faith, ethnicity, culture, race or language etc., but the most important bondage of relationship is that of blood that is tied to the maternal womb. Holy Qur’an in Aayah 27 of Surah Baqarah says:
“But it is only the rebels He (Allah) makes go astray: who break their covenant with Allah after it has been confirmed, who severs/breaks the bonds [of relationship] that Allah has commanded to be joined, who spread corruption on earth – these are the losers.”
“Breaking of relations” also implies “abuse of relations.” It may be by abusing one’s faith in honest relationship with you, in betraying their trust in you, in exploiting and abusing their confidence in your honesty and sincerity, in being hypocritical by being simply pretending to love outwardly without being sincerely committing yourself to their love. Such a betrayal of trust can be in one and many ways, but result will certainly cause Allah’s displeasure.
Allah (SWT) has used the word “Fasiqueen” for losers, which reflects the repugnance of this crime in Allah’s sight.
In one of the traditions, Prophet (SAW) advised that the word “Rahm” [mother’s womb] has its root in the Allah (SWT)’s attributive name “Rahman”. Allah (SWT) is most loving and caring. He addresses the mother’s womb [blood relationship] and addresses it as such: “whoever respects relationships established through you, I will establish relationship with him, and whoever disrespects and violates relationship with you, I will severe relationship with him/her.”
Bukhari and Muslim quote Prophet (SAW) as having said that blood relationship will hold Allah (SWT)’s Throne in the Hereafter and proclaim: “whoever enjoins the relationship mandated by Allah, may Allah enjoin relationship with him/her, and whoever breaks that relationship, may Allah break relationship with him/her.” Aayah 1 of Surah Nisa highlights the relationship in these words:
“O Mankind, fear your Lord, Who created you of a single soul, and of the same created his mate, and from that pair spread countless men and women over the earth; fear that Allah in Whose name you demand your rights from one another, and abstain from violating relations between kinsfolk; note it well that Allah is watching you very closely.”
This Aayah beautifully explains the basis of laws and regulations about Human Rights, especially about the smooth running of the immediate and extended family. On one hand, the people have been urged to fear Allah so as to escape His displeasure; on the other, they have been reminded that all human beings have sprung from one and the same parents and are thus closely related to one another. “…He created you from one single soul.” At first one man was created and then from him the human race spread over the earth. Therefore they should strictly observe the ties and obligation of kin-ship as all of us being the progeny of one father Adam (AS) and one mother (Eve).
Once a person asked: “Ya Rasul Allah, please tell me something to do which will take me to Paradise.” Prophet (SAW) replied: “Do not attribute any partnership with Allah, pray sincerely, give alms, and fulfill the rights of relatives.” (Bukhari)
Jubair bin Mut’im quotes that whoever disregards the rights of relationship wouldn’t enter Paradise. (Bukhari).
Abu Hurayrah quotes Prophet (SAW) in these words: “Whoever wants that his livelihood be blessed and may have a longer/healthier life, he should abide by the laws of respecting the value of kin-ship.”
Prophet (SAW) said on one occasion: “One who fears Allah, honors the bonds of kin-ship, invites to what is good and forbids to what is bad is a successful.”
Prophet (SAW) advised Abu Zar (RA): “Love the bonds of kin-ship even with those who break relations with you, and say what is right, even if it is bitter.”
Abu Bakr (RA) said: “There are two sins which warrant punishment in Here and in the Hereafter: one is oppression, and the other is disregard of kin-ship.”
Prophet (SAW) said: “Allah’s Mercy doesn’t descend on a nation, in which people violate the rules of kin-ship.”
Eminent Jurist Abul Lais Samarqandi writes that the disregard of kin-ship is such a serious sin that one who commits it is not only a looser, but he deprives from Allah’s mercy even those who may be in his company.
Abdullah bin Masood (RA) once went to an assembly and wanted to make a supplication for the common good. Before raising his hands, he asked those to leave the gathering who disregarded the rules kinship. He warned that Allah (SWT) doesn’t accept supplication even if there was one person in the assembly of supplicants who disregarded and disrespected the bonds of relationship and thus violating Allah (SWT)’s mandated laws of kinship.
Prophet (SAW) once said: The one who keeps giving charity and continues to extend love and care to relatives, Allah (SWT) gives him a long healthy life, protects him from a bad end, and shields him from calamities & hardships. (Targheeb)