The Merits and Benefits of Keeping Good Family Relationships
- The Way to Paradise
The Messenger ﷺ said,
Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, then let him be generous to his guest, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him unite the bond of kinship, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say that which is good or observe silence. (Bukhâri)
Abû Ayûb Al-Anṣâri narrated:
A man said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, inform me of a certain deed that if I do it, I shall enter Paradise.’ He ﷺ said: “Worship Allah and do not associate anything with him, establish Salah, give Zakah and unite bonds of kinship.’
- Abundance and Longevity
The Messenger ﷺ said in one ḥadîth narrated by Abû Saʿîd Al-Khudrî,
Whoever desires for Allah to multiply his provision and increase his age, he should maintain good relations with his kin.
- Beautiful Pleasures of Life
Take advantage of every opportunity which presents itself to help them, visit them and be there for them, for the sake of Allah.
Think about that great moment when your little nephew or niece opened the door and shouted out, “It is my auntie….! It is my uncle …,” then threw themselves, innocently, in your arms. What a great blessing!
The Harms of Cutting off Family Ties
Not only is cutting one’s family ties an act of abomination, but it is indisputably ḥarâm in Islam and it is considered among the Kabâ’ir (grave sins) which will not be forgiven except through a sincere tawba (repentance), the kind of tawba which involves other people’s rights, meaning that you need to mend things with them and seek their pardon so that your tawba may be accepted by Allah, the Merciful and Oft-forgiving.
The Curse of Allah upon Those Who Sever Blood Relationships
Allah has severely warned those who cut off their blood relationships and family ties. The Prophet also condemned such people. Allah the Almighty says,
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 has blinded their sight. [Sûrat Muḥammad, 47:22-23]
All Muslims should read these above two verses over and over again, and let them sink in, because the verse right after that reads,
Do they not then think deeply in the Qur’an? Or are their hearts locked up? [Sûrat Muḥammad, 47:24]
We seek refuge in Allah, the Lord of the worlds, from the sealing of our hearts and the subjugation of our weak selves.
Even the company of those who mistreat their families and are cut off from them is accursed. ʿAbdullâh ibn Abi Awfa narrated,
One time we were sitting with the Messenger who said, ‘No one who cuts off his ties should sit with us.’ So a young man stood up from the crowd and went to visit his aunt, with whom he had had some friction, she then asked forgiveness for him, and he did the same for her, soon afterwards, he came back to our gathering circle, upon which the Messenger said, ‘The Mercy will not descend on people among whom there is a qâtiʿu raḥem (a person who severs kin ties.)’ (Al-Aṣfahâni)
Severing one’s blood ties is far from a trivial choice. It is an evil that may hinder you from entering Paradise. the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
No one who severs his family ties will enter Paradise. (Tirmidhi)
Part of the danger resulting from cutting off one’s relations can be sensed from the following ḥadîth: Abû Hurairah related,
A man came to the Prophet and said, “O Messenger of Allah, my relatives are such that I cooperate with them, but they cut me off; I am kind to them but they ill-treat me; I forbear but they are rude to me.” The Prophet replied, “If you are as you say, you are then feeding them with hot ashes; and so long as you remain the way you are, Allah will always help you and he will protect you against their mischief. (Muslim)
Imam Al-Nawâwi said,
Hot ashes’ is a metaphor for the amount of pain and agony experienced by the one who eats them. The ḥadîth pertains also to the people who behave differently. They will maintain good ties as long as their kindred do the same, but otherwise they sever them. Real cherishing of the blood relation is not observed in anticipation of reciprocation on the part of one’s kin; but the ties should be maintained for Allah’s sake only, even if this is done from one side only, and overlooking the behavior of the other side in return.
ʿAbdullâh ibn ʿAmr narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said,
A person who reciprocates in doing good is not the one who ‘joins his blood relationships’ generously; but he is one who joins with his blood relations when they sever the kinship ties. (Bukhâri)
This wonderful ḥadîth puts all things into perspective for those who are so skilled at pointing fingers, trying to justify the haughtiness of their own selves by always blaming other people, thus justifying their cutting of ties.
The Messenger ﷺ openly states that
- Regardless of their behavior you should visit them;
- Regardless of their detachment, you should maintain your ties;
- Regardless of their offensiveness, you should reward them with forbearance,
- And most importantly, never cease to include in your duʿa’ that Allah grant them a change of heart; for all the hearts are between his fingers, and He flips them as he wills.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ set for all humanity the greatest example of forgiveness and mercy after he conquered Makkah. The Makkans had tortured, killed, and humiliated Muslims for so long, and killed some of the dearest relatives of the Blessed Prophet himself. But the Messenger answered them by saying,
I would say to you what Yûsuf said to his brothers: No reproach on you this day; May Allah forgive you; He is the most Merciful of those who show mercy. Go free; you are all pardoned!
This incident never fails to bring tears to a Muslim’s eyes. In fact, any human being would be moved to tears by such nobility and mercy. No wonder ʿÂishah, when asked about the character of the Messenger ﷺ, said that his character was the Quran. Better yet, Allah bears witness that his Messenger stands on the highest plane of character,
And verily, you have an exalted standard of character. [Sûrat Al-Qalam, 68:4].
Ways to Enhance your Relationships
Here are ways for us to fortify our ties and strengthen our bonds with our kinsmen:
- Arrange frequent visits with those who live close by, on a bi-weekly basis if they are in the same town or on a yearly basis at least if they reside overseas, depending on a person’s abilities. But always remember, the least you can do nowadays is to open your e-mail software and write to them how much your heart yearns for them and that they are not at all forgotten. Otherwise, pick up the phone and tell them how much you love them and cannot wait to visit with them. Little things can make a big difference.
- In a family gathering, do not let the opportunity pass you by to clear up all misunderstandings, and do show all of your relatives your love and concern.
- When conversing with them, take interest in what they have to say, even if it is not your cup of tea. Listen to their concerns, and help them if you can, and at least give them hope and your prayers—for sincere prayers, reassurance and love are worth much more than anything else.
- Have respect for all elderly people in your family, be all ears when they are telling their stories and try to learn from their past experiences.
- Bring joy to family gatherings by creating an atmosphere of fun, sharing jokes or even getting a bit playful at times—but always within the limits of decency and without hurting anyone’s feelings.
- Be there for them, and offer to help in every way you can.
Many good deeds bear fruit that will not be seen until the Hereafter. But keeping good family relations is something that will benefit you immediately, by making this life a lot happier, lighter, more pleasant and more rewarding. Most importantly, Allah will reward us generously for every smile, every hug, every act of generosity, every phone call, e-mail or letter, every word of encouragement, every suppression of anger, and every instance of forgiveness towards your family members. Who can afford to be deprived of such an immense reward? Do not allow yourself to be of those who sever what Allah has ordered to be joined:
Those who break Allah’s covenant after ratifying it, and sever what Allah has ordered to be joined, and do mischief on earth, it is they who are the losers. [Sûrat Al-Baqarah, 2:27]