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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Broken ties of kinship and relationships


What is the meaning of silat al-rahm
(upholding the ties of kinship)?

Praise be to Allaah.

Islam calls for the upholding of the ties of kinship
because of the great effect that this has on achieving social cohesion and perpetuating
cooperation and love among the Muslims. Upholding the ties of kinship is a duty because
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“… and fear Allaah through Whom you demand your mutual
(rights), and (do not cut the relations of ) the wombs (kinship)…”

[al-Nisa’ 4:1]

“And give to the kindred his due and to the miskeen

[al-Isra’ 17:26]

Allaah has warned us against cutting the ties of kinship
(interpretation of the meaning):

“And those who break the Covenant of Allaah, after its
ratification, and sever that which Allaah 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 (i.e., they will be far away from Allaah’s Mercy); And for them is
the unhappy (evil) home (i.e., Hell).” [al-Ra’d 13:26]

What punishment could be worse than the curse and the evil home
that awaits those who sever the ties of kinship ? They deny themselves the reward for
upholding the ties of kinship in the Hereafter, in addition to denying themselves much
good in this world, which is a long life and ample provision. The Messenger of Allaah

(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever would like his rizq
(provision) to be increased and his life to be extended, should uphold the ties of
kinship.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 5986 and Muslim, 2557). Abu
Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah
(peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Allaah created the universe, and when He had
finished, kinship (al-rahm) stood up and said, “This is the standing up of one who
seeks Your protection from being cut off.” Allaah said, “Yes, would it please
you if I were to take care of those who take care of you and cut off those who cut you
off?” It said, “Of course.” Allaah said, “Then your prayer in
granted.”’” The Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,
“Recite, if you wish (interpretation of the meaning): ‘Would you then, if you
were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship? Such
are they whom Allaah has cursed, so that He has made them deaf and blinded their
sight.’ [Muhammad 47:22-23].” (Saheeh Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi,

Once we understand this, we need to ask: who is the one
who upholds the ties of kinship? This was explained by the Messenger
(peace and blessings
of Allaah be upon him) when he said: “The one who maintains a relationship with his
relatives only because they maintain a relationship with him is not truly upholding the
ties of kinship. The one who truly upholds those ties is the one who does so even if they
break off the relationship.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 5645).

If the relationship is merely one of returning favours and
giving like in return for like, and not taking the initiative, then this is not upholding
the ties of kinship, it is only responding in kind. Some people follow the principle of
giving a gift in return for a gift, and visiting in return for a visit, so if someone does
not give them a gift, they do not give him a gift, and if he does not visit them, they do
not visit him. This is not what is meant by upholding the ties of kinship at all, and this
is not what is required by Islam. This is merely responding in kind, it is not the higher
degree which Islam urges us to reach. A man said to the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him), “I have relatives with whom I try to keep in touch,
but they cut me off. I treat them well, but they abuse me. I am patient and kind towards
them, but they insult me.” The Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
said, “If you are as you say, then it is as if you are putting hot dust in their
mouths. Allaah will continue to support you as long as you continue to do that.” (Reported
by Muslim with commentary by al-Nawawi, 16/115). Who could bear to put up
with hot dust? We seek refuge with Allaah from cutting off the ties of kinship.

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