Status of relatives in lslam

When you are related to someone through blood and close-ties, they have certain rights over you, depending on how closely related they are to you.  This can be a parent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt or child.

Allah Almighty declares, “And give to the relative his due right.” (Holy Qur’aan Ch 17: v 26) Allah Almighty has also said, “And worship God alone, and do not set-up any partner to Him in worship, and be kind and good to the parents, and to the relatives.” (Holy Qur’aan Ch 4 :v 36)

So it is obligatory upon everyone to treat their relatives in the best possible manner, and to support them in accordance with their needs, and what they seek of help and moral support. And this is what is necessitated by the Islamic law, the sound human reasoning and the natural human state.

Rights of relatives
Besides parents’ rights, a great emphasis is also laid on the rights of other relatives. In Islamic terms, ‘Silah-Rahimi’ is used to denote ‘good treatment towards the relatives’.

As we have seen, in the Holy Quraan, where we are enjoined to show kindness to parents, we are also required to treat the other relatives with love and sympathy and to pay due regard to their rights.

In an earlier article we had seen that the foremost claim on a person is that of his mother, then of his father, and then we are taught that grade by grade the claim is of the other relatives.

Therefore through relationship, the relatives’ rights come after that of the parents.  The Almighty has designed the system of birth in such a way that whoever is born is tied to the bonds of kinship and these bonds carry certain claims and rights.

Thus, whoever fulfils these claims by being kind to his relatives and treating them well, Allah will “join him”, that is He will make him His own and bestow His favour and mercy on him. And whosoever will violate these claims, Allah will “cut him off”, that is He will have nothing to do with him.

Fulfilling the rights of relatives
Allah Almighty has declared, “I am Allah, I am Ar-Rahman (the most merciful), I have created the bond of kinship and named it Rahim,-which I have derived from the root of my quality of being Ar-Rahman (the most merciful). Thus, whoever shall join it (the bond of kinship), I shall join him, and whoever will cut it off, I shall cut him off.”

It has been related from the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). He said, “Whoever wants an increase in his sustenance and that the marks of his feet remain for a long time in the world (to live long) – he should be kind and helpful to his relatives.”

Basically, there are two ways to be kind and considerate to relatives. One is by giving them material support and assistance, when needed, and the other is by devoting a part of one’s time and energy at their service.

Unfortunately, many people do not fulfil the rights of relatives and transgress the bounds concerning this.

Some of them do not seek to join ties with relatives or show kindness to them; neither through wealth, nor through good behaviour, nor through the giving of occasional gifts and presents, nor through rendering help and support to them in their times of need.

Indeed, many days or months may pass without even seeing or visiting them. And sometimes, rather than seeking to join ties of relations, some people intend to severe such ties, by seeking to harm their relatives either through words, action, or both.

Family quarrels, which generally arise from the disregard of the relatives’ rights, affect a person’s health and make it difficult for this person to concentrate on work, etc.

Those who treat their relatives well and are helpful to them are free from tensions of this kind and they are happier and more peaceful.

Violation of relatives’ rights
The Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever violates the rights of relatives shall not go to Paradise.”

This declaration alone should be enough to make us realise the importance of maintaining the bonds of relations with our relatives.
It clearly shows that the violation of the relatives’ rights is so detested by The Almighty, that with its filthiness, one cannot enter Paradise.

Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “ If there were no other rewards for keeping ties of relations, except that Allah keeps ties with the person who does so, in this world and the hereafter, and that He extends his mercy upon him due to it, and makes affairs easier through it, and removes distress and anxieties by it, then that would be more than sufficient”.

However, along with all this, maintaining bonds of relations brings with it closeness to one’s family and relatives, as well as love and compassion developing between one another, and their being mutual help, in times of ease and hardship, between one another, and other such joys and delights – as is experienced and well-known.

And when ties of relations are not maintained, then each one of the aforementioned benefits turns into the opposites and great harm comes to the society.

Showing kindness to those who cut off relations
Often there are people who care little for the bonds of relationship and are rude and unjust in this respect.  Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) has enjoined to continue to treat them well and fulfil the obligations, irrespective of what they do and how they behave.

He once declared, “The one who is regarded as maintaining the ties of relations is not the one who merely does so out of reciprocation. Rather, it is the one who, even when the relatives cut-off from him, yet still he maintains ties with them.”

So a man asked, “O Messenger of Allah, I have relatives with whom I maintain ties of relations, yet they cut-off from me. I treat them kindly, yet they treat me in an evil manner. And I am forbearing and patient with them, yet they behave rudely and ignorantly towards me.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If the situation is as you say, then it is as if you are filling their mouths with sand. And Allah will continue to aid and support you as long as you continue doing what you are doing.”

When the violation of the rights of relatives is returned in a similar manner, the evil will spread in the society and that will break up the fabric and fibre of society.

Whereas on the other hand if it is returned with kindness, it may lead to their correction and it will assist in the promotion of healthier bonds of relations and thereby strengthen the fabric and fibre of society.

For further information on Islam or a free copy of the Holy Qur’aan, please contact:
Majlisul Ulama Zimbabwe, Council of Islamic Scholars
Publications Department
P.O. Box W93, Waterfalls, Harare
Tel: 04-614078 / 614004, Fax : 04-614003
e-mail: [email protected]

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