Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mission Ramadhan 10 - Family Matters


"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship" ~ Bukhari

The young man went to attend the weekly hadith lecture of Sayyidna Abu Huraira, Radi-Allahu anhu but the routine opening announcement stopped him. “If anyone sitting here has severed any ties of kinship (qata-ur-rahim), he should leave.” He recalled that an aunt lived in the town with whom he had not been on speaking terms. The young man quietly left the gathering and went straight to his aunt’s home. He asked for forgiveness for his past behavior and sought rapprochement. When the aunt inquired about the reason for this change of heart, he narrated the entire incident. She accepted the apology but asked him to inquire from Abu Huraira, Radi-Allahu anhu, the reason for this unusual announcement. Why did he leave all the other major sins and focus only on this? What was so special about ties of kinship? Sayyidna Abu Huraira replied that he had heard from the Prophet that our deeds are presented to Allah every Thursday night and anyone who has severed family ties has all his good deeds rejected. He did not want any such person sitting in his gathering, which was held on the same night, for fear that it could deprive the entire gathering of blessings. Another hadith explains further the reason for this fear: “Allah’s mercy will not descend on people among whom there is one who severs ties of kinship.” [Baihaqi, Shuab Al-Iman]

Maintaining the bonds of kinship (silatur-rahim) indeed enjoys extraordinary importance in Islam. Conversely, severing the ties (qata-ur-rahim), is very high on the list of enormities. At two places in the Qur’an, Allah has cursed the one severing family ties.

“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 their relatives) and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse, and for them is the unhappy home (i.e. Hell)” [Ar-Rad 13:25. See also Muhammad, 47:22-23].

A cursed person is one who is deprived of the mercy of Allah. It is an indication of this deprivation that this sin is punished in this world as well as in the Hereafter. “There is no sin more deserving of having punishment meted out by Allah to its perpetrator in advance in this world along with what He stores up for him in the next world than oppression and severing ties of family.” [Tirmidhi].

Another hadith highlights the high stakes involved here in a compelling way: “Rahim (family ties) is a word derived from Ar-Rahman (The Compassionate One) And Allah says: ‘I shall keep connection with him who maintains you and sever connection with him who severs you.’” [Bukhari]

Silatur-rahim has been defined as politeness, kind treatment, and concern for all one’s relatives even if distantly related, corrupt, non-Muslim, or unappreciative. [Shaikh Abdul Wakil Durubi in Reliance of the Traveller]. While nearly every religion has emphasized good family relations, Islam has taken it to unprecedented heights. It is a duty to be discharged without an eye for reciprocity. A Muslim is required to be kind even to his non-Muslim relatives. Similarly he is required to be kind to even those relatives who are harsh to him.

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