The institution of family is one of the most sacred of establishments to mankind from a human as well as from a moral and religious perspective. No one can dispute the value and superiority of blood relations which unite two individuals together as they recognize that the blood which run through their veins is the same and the genes which they share come from the same origin. It is a feeling of belonging which gives rise to an innate attachment to such person whom you consider as “family”. Unlike other types of relations in which some may give with the expectation of return, family members typically express their love and serve each other spontaneously to any length without expecting compensation or reward.
Islam has strongly emphasized the great importance of maintaining relations with our relatives and kin and Allah (SWT) has stated in the Holy Quran: “O Mankind! Fear your Lord who created you from one soul and created from it it’s 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” (4:1). He also emphasized in Surat Ar-Ra’d, (Verse 21), “Those who join that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they are good to their relatives and do not cut the bond of kinship)” and in Surat Al-Israa’ (Verse 26),“And give to the kindred his due…”
Unfortunately, cutting relations with family and relatives have been a major problem in our communities and this matter is taken lightly by many of us. We often find two brothers living within the same radius of proximity, yet they barely meet or pick up the phone to ask about each other. Some of us sever relations simply because our sibling married their son off to another person instead of our own daughter. Financial and inheritance related dispute is yet another common cause for conflicts within the family. In many cases, the cause of the conflict is petty and minor; however, inappropriate and hurtful words exchanged between the two, coupled with the arrogance and ego problem contribute to the prolonged severed relation among relatives.
However, Islam highly encourages us to extend our hand for peace to maintain relations even if the cause of dispute is not our fault and even if we did not commit injustice to our brother or sister. When a man came to the Holy Prophet (SA) and said, “O messenger of Allah, I have relatives with whom I keep good relations, but they cut off relations with me, I forgive them, but they oppress me, I do good to them, but they treat me badly, should I get even with them (treat them as bad as they treat me)? The Prophet replied: “No, if you do so all the relations will be cut off this way. On the contrary, be generous and keep in touch with them, you will always have support from Allah as long as you stay this way.” In fact, the person who initiates the communication first will be rewarded for that gesture of peace, even if the other party refuses to respond to that call. In this incident, the Prophet (SA) wants to highlight that keeping relations with your family is a greater priority and more important than the topic of dispute or the one who caused the dispute.
It is important to note that all blood relations must be maintained without discrimination between the poor and the rich. Also, sometimes there is a false notion that if your family member does not share the same faith as yourself or is a non-Muslim, then it is permissible to cut relations with them. This is wrong and it is narrated that a companion of Imam As-Sadiq, Ibn Hamid asked him, “My relatives are not of my religion. Are any of their rights upon me?” The Imam (AS) gave the following reply: “Why not? The rights of the relatives do not become invalid for any reason (even if the relatives are unbelievers) but if the relatives are Muslim then their rights are twice as much. One is due to their being relatives and second because of their being Muslim.” (Al-Kafi)
So important is the duty of maintaining blood relations that Allah says in a Qudsi hadith, “I am the Most Merciful, I created Ar-rahim and I cut out a name for it from my name, so whoever keeps good ties with it, I will keep good ties with him, and whoever cuts it off, I will cut him and finish him off.” Interestingly, it is narrated that when Allah (SWT) created His creation, and when He finished it, the womb got up and caught hold of Allah whereupon Allah said, “What is the matter?” It responded, “I seek refuge with you from Al-Qati’ah (those who cut the ties of kin).” Allah then said, “Will you accept if I bestow My Favors on him who keeps your ties, and withhold My Favors from him who cuts your ties?” So it said, “Yes, Oh my Lord!” Then Allah said, “That is for you.”
Let us ask ourselves if we have cut relations with any of our family members or if others have closed the door of communication with us. Regardless of who did or why, let us put our egos behind our backs and follow the command of the Prophet (SA) by picking up the phone to call our brother or sister or cousin, and invite them for dinner or even for a cup of tea. By that humble action, we will have gained Allah’s pleasure and His Messenger!
If this is the mandate from Allah (SWT) regarding our obligation to maintain ties with our own family members, then what about His expectation in keeping our best relation with those who are the best family and the purest Household in the universe – the infallible members of the Prophet’s family?! In fact, we are instructed to observe “Mawada fil Qurba” (love to the kin of the Prophet) as stated in the Quran, “Say (O Muhammad, to mankind): I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives.” (42:23) The return and reward of apostleship is summarized in the love and devotion towards these divinely-selected individuals who are related to the Holy Prophet (SA). Indeed the best type of connection to maintain is the relation towards the family of the Prophet. We can certainly imagine that the punishment of those who sever the ties and connection with the AhlulBayt (AS) to be most severe compared to those who fail to maintain ties with their own relatives. Allah (SWT) says, “Would you then, if you were given the authority, Do mischief in the land, and cut off your ties of kinship. Such are the men whom Allah has cursed for He has made them deaf and blinded their sight. [47:22-23]
It is generally recommended that if we see two individuals conflicting with each other, especially two family members, we are expected to bring peace and unity between them.If we apply this concept on those who have drifted off from the connection to the purified Household of the Prophet, we can imagine the immense reward of the believers who strive by their knowledge and wisdom, to guide the people to the path of AhlulBayt and bring them closer to this lantern of divine light.